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Sunday, April 9, 2017

The international/western political order is under deep stress with the real possibility of a makeover of the existing political structures and systems to meet the new economic, social and military objectives made clear by electorates on both sides of the Atlantic. However, the “Russians are Coming” and through an unlikely source!

The fightback against a post-WW11 European multi-lateral system linked by several historical strands across the Atlantic to the United States and Canada, started in Britain last year when elements of the middle and lower socio-economic classes voted to exit the European Union. Those elements of the British society had lost faith in the political and economic constructs of the European Union to deliver jobs and to fight-off the threat posed to their traditional social and cultural values and lifestyles.

Persuaded by a similar logic, ie, that the United States was being taken advantage of in its trading, security and economic relationships not only with Europe but more so with China, Mexico and the Pacific Rim countries, the US electorate, even if in a minority, voted for disengagement from a number of multilateral trade groups and a yet to be clearly articulated new relationship with US allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the security network of North America and Europe.

Coming elections in France and Germany hold further possibilities for the far right of those countries to vote with the US and British electorates.

Desperate migratory escapes from Africa, parts of Asia and a Middle East in turmoil pose challenges to the comfort, well-being and security of the North Atlantic civilisation. At the centre of it all is the fear of “Radical Islam” and its deadly threat to the comfort and security of post-war European and American societies.

The possibility of a further gravitation away from the political, economic and military constructs developed after 1945 will inevitably lead to the evolution of new political systems to manage the inevitable changes.

Though the outlines of a new political order to accommodate those who want change are far from being clear at this stage, political systems which increase and preserve the economic power, the social privilege of the wealthy and lead in the direction of ethnic purity and superiority are visible and can be heard in the voices and slogans of those wanting out of the existing order.

Listen closely to the Democrats in the United States and the disturbed voices of the far right in Europe to hear the contending and contradictory sounds of societies pulling apart. How traditional conservative and democratic politics will fare against the surge of the new Republicanism of flag waver President Donald Trump, even if he may be uncertain in his dancing steps, will become discernible over the months.

On the European continent, the British Labour and Conservative parties, the German Chancellor’s coalition Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union and the traditional Socialists and Republicans in France are in a fight for remaining in charge. They are up against the emerging non-conformist parties such as Marine Le Pen’s far-right populist movement and Emmanuel Macron’s centre-left formation, both being anti the present established order.

One major instigator, even provocateur of the political conflict emerging, is the very crafty, cunning and dangerous Russian President Vladimir Putin; he is the most ambitious, deliberate and expansionist-minded of world leaders today.

Reconstruction of a Soviet Union out of the humiliation of the 1990s is the obvious objective of Putin: if he has to disrupt, possibly throw into confusion the American and European established political order, then so be it. Indeed, that is what he has to do to achieve his objectives.

In testimony given to the US Senate Intelligence Committee, Roy Godson, Professor Emeritus Georgetown University on Government and Clint Watts, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Research Institute Program on National Security, outlined what they perceived to be the very deliberate attempts of Russia to derail the established US and European political systems.

There can be no disputing Putin’s efforts to re-balance the power in Europe and to change the international political order in which his country and Government are relegated to a place lower down the international economic, military and political pecking order. The poor second place Russia holds in the military stakes and being back-of-the-line amongst the economic powers clearly aggravate Putin.

China, with its objective far more directed to attaining the economic power held by the United States and its western allies since WW11, is advancing. Chinese President Xi Jinping is being deliberately deaf to the blustering rhetoric and hubris of Donald Trump. President Xi will at this point do nothing to harm the relationship with its major trading partner.

Politically, China and the US stand apart on support for North Korea, Iran and in the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. However, the Chinese government is not likely to engage in military posturing and conflict over those differing positions.

Soon enough, President Trump will be forced into the open to take a stance against Russia; he will not be able to remain on the sideline just being offended by the deadly chemical attacks of Syrian president Asad and the continuing aggression, in word and deed, of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

The political possibilities are complex, far from being the old “right” versus the “left” construct. The short-term outcome could intensify conflict or lead to at least tolerance in a more just world order.


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