The old division of the world into East and West did not die with the end of the cold war. In fact, it is still going strong - and looks set to grow in importance over the coming years and decades. China is on the rise, and Asia as a whole will outstrip the United States and Europe combined in total geopolitical power by 2030. The dominance of 'The West', led by America, is coming to an end; but does that mean that China will become the next superpower and 'The East' will become dominant? The answer to that question has yet to be decided.
The fact that the answer to this question - perhaps the most important question of our times - has yet to be determined, you can bet that there are a lot of people working behind the scenes to sway the outcome. You can bet also, that issues arising out of this question will inform policy making across a wide range of areas, on both sides.
What I would like to suggest here is that there is a single factor which could do more to determine who rules the world over the coming decades and beyond than anything else - and that factor is the outcome of the war in Syria.
If Sunni rebels overthrow Assad's regime in Syria then the West will effectively win dominance over the Middle East and its vital oil supplies. The Sunni kingdoms, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are already steadfast allies of America. With Sunni Muslim supremacy across much of the Middle East, under the guidance and leadership of Western Allies, and a strong American military presences in Shi'ite Iraq, Western power in the Middle East cannot easily be challenged.
But with Assad still in power, the so-called 'Shia Cresent' of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon are a forced to be reckoned with. This countries are generally hostile to the west and maintain a close relationship with Russia and China, apart from Iraq which is at best ambivalent towards its 'saviours' in the west. As the power of China rises to eclipse that of western nations, this alliance could easily become the dominant power.
Perhaps this is why nobody seems to want a peaceful solution in Syria. Everybody seems to want a military solution which will end in one side winning, rather than a negotiated solution, and perhaps that is because they believe that the game being played out in this proxy war is a 'winner takes all' game.
The Middle East is not only important because of its oil reserves - it is also literally the place where east meets west, the no-man's land between the territories of the two superpowers of the 21st century.
The two sides in the Syrian conflict are also broadly representative of the two sides of the equation which will determine who rules the world. Will the old world maintain its power, or will we see a 'new world order'? We could find out soon, as the conflict in Syria reaches its end-game.