Power and Global Disorder in 2018
BSSB.BE Brendan Carr 17/12/2018
Germany The Baltic
* Brendan Carr interviews Peter Zeihan, a Geopolitical Strategist and Futurist. Peter is the author of The Accidental Superpower which is featured in the Navy Reading Program. They discuss practical insights for everything from personal finance to nuclear warfare.
IN THIS EPISODE
-How to use geopolitics to makes sense of a changing world for ourselves
-How to invest your money to make sure that it grows even in a changing world
-Peter’s take on who will be using nuclear weapons in the future
International relations now play out in increasingly diverse ways:
- beyond conventional military build-ups, these include new cyber sources of hard and soft power, reconfigured trade and investment linkages, proxy conflicts, changing alliance dynamics and potential flashpoints related to the global commons.
- Assessing and mitigating risks across all these theatres of potential conflict will require careful horizon scanning and crisis anticipation by state and non-state actors alike. Actors with a global presence are likely to have to become increasingly adept at calibrating their responses across divergent political and legal systems.
- Four related developments stand out as potential sources of disruption over the short and medium term. The intensification of strong-state politics is affecting both large and small states, while global norms are eroding and tensions growing between major powers. These two trends fuel two others: increasingly aggressive geo-economic agendas and the mounting pressures faced by small states.
At a time of geopolitical flux, re-establishing the state as the primary locus of power and legitimacy offers governments—and citizens—an increasingly attractive strategic anchor. In particular, nationalist agendas and the external projection of a strong state can be an effective strategy for governments seeking to redress perceived international humiliations, past or present. In China, for example, President Xi Jinping calls for “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” to put the country’s “century of humiliation” firmly behind it. In the United States, President Trump seeks to “make America great again” after decades of being “taken advantage of.”
Widely differing variations on the state-centred theme can be seen around the world: among these are Emmanuel Macron’s effort to restore France’s standing with his “Jupiterian” presidency; the United Kingdom’s desire to “take back control” by leaving the European Union; stronger nationalism in Japan under Shinzo Abe; Vladimir Putin’s focus on rebuilding Russia’s international status from the rubble of the Soviet Union; the erosion of pluralism in Turkey as Recep Tayyip Erdogan bridles at his domestic and international opponents.
The intensification of nationalist and strong-state narratives creates risks both domestically and internationally. The profile of these risks will vary in each case, depending, among other things, on the way in which power is obtained and asserted, and on the ends towards which it is used. One domestic danger is that the interests of non-state actors will suffer.
If the protection and projection of state power becomes more central to policy, then the rights or protections enjoyed by individuals, businesses and civil society groups become more contingent on leaders’ perceptions of the state interest and—sometimes seen as the same thing—consolidation of their own personal power.
There are numerous instances to point to, along a spectrum of widely varying severity. An extreme example is the flight of Rohingya people from Myanmar. Other recent examples include the purge in Turkey following the attempted coup in 2016 and clashes over the separation of powers in Poland.
Internationally, two main risks arise. First, the danger of miscommunication and miscalculation between states is heightened by the absence of a clear rules-based international order or a settled balance of power. Concern about possible conflict involving North Korea is a prominent example: the volatile clash between the strong-state instincts of Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un during 2017 has created uncertainty about the strength of the norms created by decades of work to prevent nuclear conflict.
- The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: Brendan Carr