Welcome to Axios World, where two evenings a week we break down what you need to know about the big stories from around the globe.
Situational awareness: "U.S. bars entry to 16 Saudis over Khashoggi killing, " per AFP.
llustration collage of author, Dr. Jonathan D. T. Ward and the cover of his book, China's Vision of Victory.
By the time China's ambitions of displacing the U.S. as the dominant global power were widely understood, Beijing's success had already begun to feel inevitable.
Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party has exploited America's desire to "sleep through difficulties," writes Jonathan Ward in the new book, "China's Vision of Victory." He contends that the outcome of the battle for global supremacy remains to be determined, but that the U.S. must quickly and dramatically change course in order to prevail.
The big picture: “The objective is dominance in global affairs on a longer-term time frame," Ward told me. "So, ideologically the idea is to restore their position — restore because they say they used to be the world’s supreme power and now they’re going to return to that — by the year 2049, which is the centennial of the founding of the People’s Republic of China."
Bottom line: “Essentially it's full steam ahead on pretty much every human activity, from space to seabed, with the objective of becoming the world’s leader in all of these things. And with that, you build a foundation of power that is absolutely beyond what can be achieved by any other nation."
But, but, but: Ward emphasizes in his book that the U.S. "retains enormous advantages in terms of economic and military power, a global alliance system, and leadership in the innumerable institutions built under the Pax Americana."
What to watch: "What will it mean for the prevailing norms in international relations to be decided by an authoritarian state where freedoms of speech, press, and assembly are extinguished for its citizens and those under its power?” Ward writes that if we lose the next decade, we'll soon find out.
Xi Jinping shakes hands with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and adds Italy to the list of countries signed up for the Belt and Road Initiative. Photo: Sheng Jiapeng/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images
“A contest between the United States and China will be a close-run thing," Ward writes. "However, a contest between China and the democratic world will be impossible for China.”
The bottom line: "That’s the Chinese approach. And they have to convince the Europeans they’re benign. They’re not benign.”
Why it matters: “What you have to think about in Europe is, what would it mean for your superpower partner to be defeated by authoritarian China, and for [China] to replace it as the global power? That’s the existential question, in addition to what they might do in Europe, around Europe."
Forces loyal to Libya's UN-backed government arrive in Tajura, a suburb of Tripoli. Photo: Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images
Forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar, the warlord who already controls eastern Libya, are nearing the country's capital of Tripoli.
The latest: At least 51 soldiers and civilians have been killed in clashes between Haftar's Libyan National Army and militias loyal to the U.N.-backed government. Thousands have fled. Thousands more are now trapped, and Haftar's forces today hit the airport with an airstrike.
The backdrop: Libya has been plagued by violence and power struggles since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Haftar was at one point a top general under Gaddafi but later worked to topple him. He "is expected to face stiff resistance from powerful militias from the western cities of Misrata and Zawiya," per the AP.
Meanwhile, to the southeast...
The Trump administration today designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), the first time the U.S. has applied that label to an element of a foreign government.
Big picture: To add a group to the FTO list, the State Department must demonstrate it has the "capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity" that threatens Americans or U.S. national security. The U.S. first designated 30 groups in 1997 after Congress passed an anti-terror law, though some have since been removed.
1. Behnam Ben Taleblu of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies writes that the move ramps up the Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign against Iran.
2. Jarrett Blanc of the Carnegie Endowment argues that move "imposes few if any new restrictions" and carries significant risks.
Trump-Netanyahu 2019? A giant election billboard in Tel Aviv. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty
On the eve of Israel's elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed credit for President Trump's IRGC decision.
What to watch: Axios contributor Barak Ravid previews tomorrow's vote:
A commemoration of the genocide at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo: Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images
25 years ago, the killing began in Rwanda. It lasted 100 days and claimed 800,000 lives — about 10% of the population. Rwanda marked the anniversary on Sunday.
The BBC's Flora Drury was at the commemoration:
Tending to a flock of geese at a farm in Turkey's eastern Van province. Photo: Ozkan Bilgin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
“Nationalism, particularly on the far right, is re-emerging. We know where that leads. Europe knows better than anyone where that leads.”— Barack Obama, speaking to young European leaders on Saturday in Berlin
“Obama felt like a president for the Germans, as if he was made for them. The feeling has stayed. The contrast with Donald Trump has even reinforced it.”— Coverage in the Tagesspiegel newspaper
"I saw him speak in Berlin in 2008, and I think his charisma and his message strike a chord with everyone. But I also think he's a political rock star, and we're fascinated by that in Germany, we don't have anyone like that."— An attendee, speaking to Deutsche Welle
Thanks for reading — see you Thursday!