Media publications during Christmas were full of hopes that the coming year would bring peace and quiet into our life. Alas, it was wishful thinking. The first month has seen confusion in Europe, something reaching the level of panic. Its leaders look helpless and lack resolve. They seem to have no time or ability to think in a strategic way, hiding from their people behind a bureaucratic wall, engulfed in arguments over petty issues and ignoring real problems.
Shortsighted policies and inability to look ahead are becoming a common trait for some of the modern European leaders. In 2016, UK and Italian prime ministers initiated referenda only to step down from power.
In an article published on Jan 7, the Economist made a pun out of the name of the new UK prime minister: “Theresa Maybe does not really know what she wants.” She took over the power with a clear ambition “to correct the “burning injustices” faced by the downtrodden, and reshape “the forces of liberalism and globalisation which have held sway...across the Western world.”
“Yet after half a year in office there is strikingly little to show for this May revolution (see Briefing). The strategy for Brexit, which is due to be triggered in less than three months, remains undefined in any but the vaguest terms, and seems increasingly chaotic. At home, the grand talk about transforming society and taming capitalism has yielded only timid proposals, many of which have already been scaled down or withdrawn. The growing suspicion is that the Sphinx-like prime minister is guarded about her plans chiefly because she is still struggling to draw them up,” continues the Economist.
Some of her statements reveal she might be out of touch with reality. The 19th and 20th centuries have long gone but she often says things as if the UK is still living in an empire on which the sun never sets.
Some Indian and Chinese journalists politely pointed out that the British PM still has an illusion of living in the 19th century. This nostalgia may prevent the government from addressing burning issues like Brexit, or migrants, or middle class concerns.
Many journalists have again raised the issue of the US’s and UK’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 based on intentionally false intelligence, which makes Tony Blair and George Bush war criminals.
Amid contradictory projections there is a clear acknowledgement that the world is facing unprecedented challenges and has come to a very dangerous line where at stake is the very survival of humankind despite unpredictable environmental disasters, climate change, epidemics, water and energy shortages. The situation is exacerbated by ongoing crises caused by economic, ethnic and religious factors. For the first time since 1945 we are seeing a real multipolar configuration. This drives the need for an effective multilateral system of international cooperation based on trust and mutual respect as well for multilateral efforts to establish a new world order.
Head of MGIMO’s Center for Partnership of Civilizations,
Veniamin Popov