Wednesday, March 2, 2016

We've Got a Bigger Problem Now

The results of one Super-Tuesday do not bring the Apocalypse. But together with other new phenomena it points to a frightening change in politics within and between countries and powers.

The decline of politics  was predictable, but I had not foreseen that it should proceed with such a speed. It has been underway for a long time, but has suddenly accelerated over the last two years, partly furthered by the terror from the Islamic State, the related influx of refugees from Syria and the efforts by Mr. Trump.

1) Europe has seen a decisive turn to the worse. Right wing parties profit from the fear of refugees. East Europe sees the same racist and in addition new autocratic tendencies. Also the old hitherto responsible political parties in Europe are more and more infected by shortsighted populism. The EU is viewed with hostility, the UK could even be on the way out. And the whole Union is weakened by these developments and by general centrifugal tendencies to a degree rendering decisions almost impossible.

2) In the USA the Tea Party people and obstruction from the right wing in Congress already seen for some years was bad enough. Now we have Mr. Trump, who makes even Mr. Cruz look responsible. We can just hope there is substance inside even if judging from his oral behavior there is none. That a self-declared Socialist like Sanders wins so many votes in the Land of the Free is also a sign of the changes, even if he looks infinitely much more sympathetic than Trump.

The changes in the American political landscape are beyond anything seen before and cannot simply be viewed as the known occasional anti-establishment tendencies having popped up from time to time before. A type like Trump may not become president in 2017. But the way is now open for this kind of men. And also from outside the presidency such politicians can have a very obstructive and destabilizing influence.

3) Other countries typically, but not only in the Middle East, like Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia are also affected by the decline inn both internal and external matters with unpleasant consequences for the stability inn their regions.

The only major bastions of institutionalized functioning stability left could soon be China and Germany. Germany is also on the wrong way. A limit to the influx of refugees seems necessary to stop parts of the population from turning to right wing racist parties.

Instability in a major power can lead to, but does not necessarily imply less power in the world. For competitors to the USA: do not expect advantages from its destabilzation. Its power is not as totally dominant as that of Rome 2100 years ago, but still is tremendous. The Roman picture of simultaneous competing leaders fighting each other, each conquering new provinces, is unlikely, but changing populist US presidents could launch rows of new  adventures abroad both political, on the Internet and even military, destabilizing the world and swallowing new areas into the American sphere.

Through a Europe dissolving into particularism and right wing populism, a Unites States dominated by erratic irresponsible politicians and other countries behaving like children we may be entering a world much more chaotic than the one we know. A world where it takes much talent to navigate.

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