By Ismail Veli……..
As in the past, the 21st century has seen the world in wars, conflict and a refugee crisis to compare to the worst in human history. With the advent of space technology, advances in science, medicine and global travel at unprecedented levels in our history it seems incredible that the world is in such a mess.
It’s hard to pinpoint any single cause, there are many reasons for this. The inequality among people is nothing new, but expectations have been growing. The collapse of dictatorships due to either foreign or domestic opposition. Accessibility of travel, media and TV that brings the lifestyle of wealthy countries to the doorsteps of even the poorest household. Collapse of the old order between east and west, growth of religion and cultural conflict exacerbated by interference and sometimes lack of it have all played a part in the chaos.
With so many complications another big failure seems to be a lack of direction of political leadership. Strong leadership should in theory help bring some kind of reconciliation to an increasingly dangerous world. War and conflict is nothing new, but the destructive power of modern weapons and the ability of even individual acts of terror has reached global proportions not seen in past history.
Under Barack Obama the USA has taken a more isolationist policy. On my last visit to the US many ordinary people I spoke to were simply fed up with their country sending their sons across the globe to interfere and lose their lives. The involvement of past US governments in other countries may have caused much of the problems, but the present government’s inability to help solve severe issues has not gone un-noticed .
The Iraq and Afghan debacles, and more recently Libya and Iraq has brought the West’s insincerity in dealing with dictators to the attention of even its own populations. The ensuing migration and exodus from these conflicts includes African and other Asian countries. We have today a refugee problem at what can be described as biblical proportions.
This exodus has increased the right wing or more to the point racist groups desirability in the increasing call to help stem this flow. Many people not associated with the right wing parties are also concerned with immigrants that bring a different religion, culture and way of life to the doorsteps of the west. Some of these concerns are no doubt genuine, but some are based on xenophobia and delirious delusion not much short of paranoia. Asking the questions are easy, solving the problems seem to be almost impossible.
The EU as always is fragmented and incapable of taking foreign policy decisions that come close to dealing with the enormous problems. The recent referendum vote by Great Britain to leave the EU has brought the future of the EU into focus. There is a growing realization that without reforms the EU in its present form is incapable of taking decisions that can reverse its internal issues much less take anything remotely assertive in its foreign policy dealings. Strangely despite the growing interference of Russia in its neighbours affairs and military assertiveness, its economy is not attractive enough to attract immigrants.
Despite all the statements of ”We stand united,” after every terrorist attack, each country seems far too pre-occupied by its own disillusioned population, and the lack of leadership has been found wanting. Merkel is under pressure due to her open door immigration policies, the British, Brexit vote has thrown the main parties into turmoil and has brought changes to the ruling Conservatives, who though claiming ”Brexit means Brexit” are in no rush to trigger article 50, which leads some to believe that they are playing for time to drag the Brexit negotiations into 2019, if so this would coincide with the elections and possibly transfer the exit to the next government, possibly in the hope that a new government may help the British see the error of what some perceive as a big mistake out of fear that the Brexit vote may lead to a prolonged period of political and above all economic uncertainty. No leader has the courage to state this, but politics is a strange profession and nothing can be taken as a foregone conclusion. The uncertainty of Britain’s exit is of great concern to the EU as their fear of contagion is very real.
A year ago the prospect of Donald Trump even remotely becoming the President of the most powerful country in the world was simply unthinkable, but it can no longer be ruled out. His statements that he will build a wall on the 1000 mile US, Mexican border is set to upset not only Mexico but possibly Latin America. His racists statements that no Muslims be allowed into the USA has the potential to irrevocably damaging its relations with around 50 Muslim countries. Perhaps one thing that has escaped people’s attention is that he has pledged to cut back the US commitment on spending in Nato, this is a direct pressure on Europe to pay at least an equal amount to the Nato military budget. His claim that Europe’s economy is larger than the US and therefore are simply leaning on the US has some merits, but the structure of the European economies are such that they will simply be incapable of fulfilling such a demand if forced to do so.
The world is walking a tightrope of political, religious and economic turmoil, if the worst scenarios come to fruition, and the west fragments even further, the world may yet witness an unprecedented uncertainty that will leave a legacy of chaos and danger that may be the direct result of an inept lack of leadership not seen for decades. It’s unlikely that the resulting problems will be ended anytime soon. The world is a much more dangerous place than it has been for a long time.
Whether we are religious or not perhaps we should all start praying a little harder, but above all we all need to reflect on working for a more tolerant, conscientious and humane approach to our growing problems, failing that, we as humans will be much more divided and poorer for it.
Can we really afford that?