Six months into 2016 and the world looks decidedly nervous and edgy from a geo-political viewpoint. A dramatic oil price plunge has pushed producing nations into near crisis as the international scrap for market share follows a bid by a collapsing OPEC cartel to fight off American production. China’s economic woes continue to destabilise markets the world over. The USA is clearly becoming more hostile, even warlike towards Russia, who in turn appears to be gearing up to defend itself from increasingly belligerent and aggressive NATO commanders who are facilitating Europe’s encirclement of Russian borders. The latest weaponry pointed directly at Moscow does not help relations. The Western occupation of Middle Eastern countries continues to inflate the refugee crisis that in turn forments a highly toxic undercurrent of nationalism that is literally tearing the European Union apart.
The catastrophic failure of western foreign policy in the Middle East looks set to encourage Islamic terrorism in Europe. In the meantime populist rebellions emerge as rising inequality in the West sees neoliberalism literally devouring itself in an orgy of profit taking with the ensuing cost to humanity and the world ecology.
After the catastrophic events of two world wars and the peace that followed, the world order is crumbling. Capitalism and social democracy are both failed models as both seemed unable to curtail their extremes. At the moment there is nothing to replace either of these ideologies and so conflict, one way or another, looks set to dominate and dictate world economic events in the years ahead.
Add to the mix unsustainable growth, climate change, species destruction along with new technologies that enlarges globalisation it seems just as inevitable that resources will be fought over not negotiated.
After World War 2, America boasted 40 percent of global economic activity. Thirty years later that world domineering number had fallen to 23 per cent and last year was just 16 per cent of world output. America’s struggle to keep up has seen it actively attempt to destabilise more than fifty countries, 38 successfully toppled over the decades in its brutal struggle for economic domination as it asserts a global hegemony without care or accountability.
The US is obviously still the worlds strongest power militarily but it has seen collaborations such as China and Russia challenge that position strategically. Russia’s willingness to engage in Syria and support Iran is testament to its new found global confidence with China watching its back whilst it flexes its muscle in the South China Sea. US military resources are stretched to its limits.
The world order based around a state of relative international peace regarded as being overseen by the US, known as “Pax Americana” has come to an end. There are currently 17 countries involved in armed conflicts where 170,000 people lost their lives last year alone. That does not include terrorist groups with a grievance lying in wait all over the world to enact their version of vengeance.
Peaceful consensus applied by American muscle and strong-arm diplomacy along with its use of economic sanctions is no longer the world order of tomorrow as new technologies provides critical infrastructure and tactical advantages to their ‘partners’ as they are grudgingly known. Allied to that is the simple fact that as American economic activity continues to decline, so does its wealth and therefore ability to fund expensive wars all over the globe.
An increasingly globalised world is diluting the single power model. For the rest of the world, managing America’s declining influence will become a serious problem. Trump and Clinton are the embodiment of that failure.
As for Europe, it has it’s own tension strings pulling in different directions. Wave after wave of refugees from war torn territories and economic migrants from third world countries arrive, all of whom were let down by the West. This is the result of a joint global effort in failed foreign policy by all concerned. The net effect is a rising tide of nationalism from both ends of the extreme which was the essence of the last European conflict.
In the meantime, the United Nations is as impotent now as the League of Nations was when it fell into oblivion and is now just a club of businessmen and lobbyists. It has totally failed in preventing wars through collective security and disarmament and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration. It, like NATO is dominated by American neocon extremism, causing havoc on what remains of world peace.
The West has proved beyond any doubt that it cannot afford never-ending social welfare, the same with its hegemonic activities leading to grotesque inequality.
Trans-National trade agreements are no longer seen as trade agreements but more a hydra-like corporate take-over of civil life and hard won liberties. Millions are protesting TTIP, TTP, CETA whilst unelected bureaucrats negotiate away democratic principles behind closed doors.
The rise of nationalism, particularly in Europe is the result of the latter, believing that undiluted free trade has hollowed out domestic job markets. For Europeans, they have already had to deal with lower wages from their own Eastern borders as well as dealing with cheap imports from Asia but the prospect of more job cuts delivered by their own politicians in secret talks with a foreign power and uncontrollable immigration is a step too far.
Of course extreme nationalism creates new threats to the world order. Far from a 28-nation bloc trading freely with a common goal the EU is slowly heading down the road of protectionism and rapidly closing borders enforced by its people not its politicians. A wave of anti-refugee rallies and protests has swept across Europe. PEGIDA or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West held large protests in Prague, Amsterdam, Calais, Dublin, Warsaw and Birmingham and clearly demonstrate an alarming rise of popularity.
Germany, now beset with enormous political issues emanating from the very public arrival of over one million refugees threatens to bring down Angela Merkel’s government. The EU referendum in Britain which centres around immigration threatens to break up the entire EU project and if Marine Le Pen captures France’s presidency in 2017, a wave of nationalism across Europe will seem inevitable. Poland has ditched the previous government’s idea of joining the Euro, so has Hungary. Austria very nearly had a far-right head of state in an election which saw a poll of 49.7% against 50.3% for the left-wing elected candidate – the centre ground not represented at all.
There seems to be no Plan B to replace the failing ideologies of late. Conflict is a human condition, a pre-set reset and the bleak prospect of America’s failing economic and political domination looks set to plunge the West into the abyss in a last desperate attempt to keep its empire from inevitable collapse. The failure of the European project will be a catalyst to conflict as a vacuum could well be created with the fall of power within the walls of its parliament, the dissemination of its unpopular MP’s and their equally unacceptable trade agreements.