At the outset my thanks to Dr Hanif Hassan Ali Al Kassim, and Ambassador Idriss Jazairy who lead the Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue for organizing this panel discussion at a critical moment in history. The Centre, is one of the few actors for peace and cooperation between the Arab world and Europe. As a representative of global civil society, I think it will be more meaningful if I speak without the constraints of diplomacy, and I make frank and unfettered reflections.
The Austrian elections show clearly that media have given up on contextualising events. To do that, calls for a warning about Europe’s future, as a vehicle of European values is required. Europe has been weakened by all the recent elections, with the notable exception of France. Common to all, France included, were some clear trends, that we will hastily, and therefore maybe imperfectly, examine.
Generally, media have failed to analyse why the result of German elections is the worst possible. Merkel is not a winner, but a leader now in a very fragile position, who will have to make many compromises and pay now for her mistakes. Let us make at least the most important four points of analysis.
Politicians are so busy fighting for their jobs, they hardly seem to notice that they risk going out of business. Democracy is on the wane, yet the problem is nowhere in Parliaments. Common to all is a progressive loss of vision, of long term planning and solutions, with politics used just for power.
Immediately after the vote on Brexit, thousands of young people marched in the streets of England to show their disagreement over the choice to leave Europe. But polls indicated that had they voted en masse (only 37 percent voted), the result of the referendum would have been the opposite.
Let us stop debating what newly-elected US President Trump is doing or might do and look at him in terms of historical importance. Put simply, Trump marks the end of an American cycle!
George W. Bush, the Republican bridge between Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump as U.S. president, declared that the United States was the only democracy in the world. The election of Trump now makes this traditional American rhetoric impossible. Trump received 3 million votes less than his opponent Hilary Clinton ....
With the inauguration of Donald Trump on Jan. 20, the new leadership of the most powerful nation has signaled it is breaking away from the rest of the world. Here, a few thoughts...
Is the demise of Renzi really a local affair? There is no doubt that a referendum on a constitutional change can be a matter of confidence in him, having personalized the issue to a point that it became basically a vote on the young Prime Minister. But if you look at the sociology of the vote, you find that the No vote was again coming from the poorest parts of Italy. A case study is Milan. Voters living in the centre voted Yes, and those in the periphery voted No. Is this not similar to what has happened in Brexit and in the US elections? And Renzi fell into the same trap like Cameron, calling for a referendum on a very complex issue and putting at stake his own credibility and prestige, to be swept away by an unexpected tide of resentment. Lamented Renzi: "I had no idea I was so hated”.
From the city of Cuzco, where the Inca culture was subjugated by the Spanish conqueror, I am watching how the world inexorably leads to a different measure of history. And given the impossibility of drafting a complete analysis, these are some of my scattered observations.
The joint military manoeuvres between the Russian and Chinese navies, armies, and air forces has kicked off. It's a clear message for Washington, which has recently strengthened its action in Asia, indicating that as a country that overlooks the Pacific, it wants to play an important role in the continent, aimed at containing the Chinese expansion.
The media are increasingly reporting events in a basic manner, and have by and large abandoned the process of deep analysis. Now is the moment to focus our attention on terrorism. This topic be will remain a pressing issue for quite some time. We now know that terrorism has many causes, which can be rooted in religion to feelings of social exclusion and from a desire for glory to the actions of a damaged psyche.
A Chinese curse is “May you live in interesting times”. That meant that too many events would disrupt the essential elements of harmony, on which the Chinese pantheon is based.
We certainly live in very interesting times where every day dramatic events pile on us, from terrorism to coup d’etat, from climate disaster to the decline of institutions and ever increasing social turmoil. It would be important, even if very difficult, to look in a nutshell why we are in this situation now - "lack of harmony" . So here goes a dramatically compressed explanation.
A sign of the time is that Germany is raising a revolt against the President of the European Commission, Jeam-Claude Juncker, whom Chancellor Angela Merkel imposed in 2014 after a strong fight with David Cameron, then a powerful British PM. The group of Visograd, , formed by Poland, Hungary, Slovaquia and the Czech Republic, which resurged from ashes, to become an anti Brussels voice, has requested to bring back the Commission under the authority of the States. When Merkel organized a meeting of the leaders of the six original founders of the EU, in Berlin, she invited Donald Tusk, the President of the Council, but not Jean-Claude Juncker, who is the President of the Commission. And Wolfgang Schauble, the German minister of Finance, has launched an appeal: “it is time to bring back Brussels under the control of the states. “
William Shakespeare would have loved to witness the Brexit. Many of his themes are evidently present: friendship and treason; truth and lies; deception and betrayal.
The Europeans went to bed Thursday night, with exit polls giving a comfortable margin of victory for those who wanted to Remain. The following morning they awakened to find that the real result was the opposite.
Specialists in polling say that this happens when electors do not feel comfortable to say how they will rally voters because they are not comfortable, on a rational level, with what they will do. In other words, voters act because of their guts, not because of their brain.
Allow me a rare personal anecdote. In 1965 I met Lord Hume, who had just left the post of Prime Minister and we had a mutual sympathy. Lord Hume invited me for lunch at the Chamber of Lords. Over an extremely delicious rump of Scottish lamb, I asked if I was allowed to ask a complex question. I explained that I had started my professional career as a Kremlinologist, which had served me well in following British foreign policy. One day London was looking to Europe as its compass, and another day, to Washington. All this on the basis of small signals, difficult to detect. Could his Lordship explain to me how to address this dualism?
No mention in the media of the dangerous increase in the tension between Europe and Russia and yet Nato has just made operational in Romania a missile system, the ABM, which the United States has declared will protect it from “rogue” states, like Iran.
A new spectre is haunting the world. It is not the spectre of communism, as Marx’s Manifesto famously proclaimed. It is the spectre of fear, which has increasingly become the rationale behind politics. And, as the old proverb says, fear is not a good counselor.
Greece is again in the media, because a new negotiation is due between the embattled country and its creditors. The North-South divide of Europe is coming back with force (while the East-West relationship is increasingly looking as beyond repair). The German minister of Finance, Wolfgang Schäuble , has come back with his peculiar view of the economy as a branch of moral and ethical discipline, and not as a reading of reality. He has asked the Greeks “to not get distracted” by the refugees crisis, and not forget their primary task, which is to pay their debt. The request is to cut 2% of the Gross National Product; in case there will not be a 3.5% budget surplus within 2018.
When the blasphemous anti Islam cartoons published in 2006 by a Danish newspaper left 205 people dead, the then Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Ekmeleddin Mehmet Ihsaoglu, went to see Javier Solana who was responsible for foreign affairs of the European Union. The position of the EU was that there was no islamophobia at all, and this was an isolated incident. Since then, this has been more or less the position of the European institutions.