Mmegi Online :: How will the world deal with the turbulence ahead?
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Thursday 19 April 2018, 18:15 pm.
How will the world deal with the turbulence ahead?

Global politics have drastically changed direction in the last six months and the world is heading towards a three-year turbulence, which will be harsh, and potentially catastrophic, writes Mmegi Staffer, BAME PIET
By Bame Piet Thu 13 Apr 2017, 14:13 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: How will the world deal with the turbulence ahead?

The world’s most recognised international organisation the United Nations has just appointed António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General who took office on January 1, 2017. Guterres is yet to make his maiden international trip and already there is exchange of missiles and verbal warnings across nuclear powers.

The world’s economic superpower United States of America has recently appointed a new Chief Executive Officer in Donald Trump who has no background in diplomacy and politics. The man has already tested his arsenal by firing 59 missiles into Syria, in a conflict that has been going on for the last six years. The missile attack has not amused Syria’s allies, Russia and Iran, who have made a promise that any further US missile strikes will be responded to with equal amount of force.

In Europe, the European Union (EU) is engaged in a bitter divorce with the United Kingdom,(UK) the first of its kind since the EU was established more than five decades ago bringing peace, trade, food security, environmental protection, democracy and rule of law among member states and beyond.

It looks like it is going to be a messy divorce, as already evidenced by the reaction to the UK referendum last June and Prime Minister Teresa May’s subsequent triggering of Article 50 of the EU Treaty on March 29.  The divorce process is expected to last three years, a period during which the UK will be expected to sign out of all Treaties it has entered into and to honour all its obligations.

“It is not going to be an easy negotiation with the UK,” Alexander Baum, the EU Head of Delegation in Botswana and SADC region said.  Baum was presenting at the University of Botswana Public Lecture held on Tuesday evening with the theme ‘The EU in times of Resurgent Nationalism – A bridge Over Troubled Waters’.

A holder of a Master’s Degree in Economics and Business Administration, who is now EU chief diplomat in SADC region, Baum chose his words carefully not to cause alarm in a continent that has seen it all.  From slave trade, colonialism, unfair trade arrangements, civil wars and unconstitutional change of governments with aid of third invincible forces.  Africa has also borne the brunt reckless activities of the West such as financial meltdown and climate change among others.  Africa has relied on the West for development aid and the departure of the UK from EU has obviously stirred anxiety.

Baum said the EU is facing a serious challenge of an upsurge in nationalism and populist politicians in member states who are taking advantage of the fear that is currently absorbing the continent as a result of it’s shrinking population.

“In the early 1900 the EU accounted for 30% of the global population, and today it is at less than 10%.  This has created an atmosphere of fear.  In addition, an average person in EU is 45-years-old, while in Africa and average person is 21-years-old,” he said.  This has created fear, insecurity and a boom of loud-mouthed politicians, who preach doom.

He cited the run-up to the UK referendum saying the information that was fed to the public was scary, but false.  Baum stated that the EU is a very strong bloc that has strong regulations from migration, agriculture, business, competition, and others, the regulations, which make it difficult for poor quality goods and services to find their way into the continent.  With 28 members, he said, it is amazing how the continent was able to maintain the stringent regulations that have


seen companies being fined billions of Euros for breach of the regulations.

Several American companies such as tech, banking, and aviation have been fined billions, whilst some mergers that were deemed to be anti-competition were denied/halted.

Baum explained that the EU establishment is unique in that member states handed over their law-making powers to a superior power in Brussels and made laws.

“However, the same presidents and ministers who made laws in Brussels would turn around when they got home and condemned the laws they created,” Baum.  This, he added, created a feeling that there were some invisible humans making laws for Europeans because the leaders also condemned Brussels.

People, especially the old, uneducated and unemployed grew disillusioned and resistant to Brussels.  On the other hand, Baum said, young and educated Europeans are fine with the EU regulations and laws and want the status quo to continue.

Brexit, he stated, will be a long and painful process that has potential to leave broken hearts, but should be concluded in the prescribed three years otherwise there will be heavy losses if the period elapses before the process is concluded. 

As EU faces the messy divorce, the US on the other hand has brought on board a President who seemingly hates people that are not of his race and has stated that his reign will be guided by the ‘America First’ principle. 

He has been labelled a populist and a nationalist.

Speakers at the Tuesday event said nationalism is not wrong as long as it does not pose a threat to unification of nations. Professor Emmanuel Botlhale said nationalism that has recently resurged is one that is cheap for the perpetrators, with no long-term benefits.

“It is a situation where people choose between the low hanging fruit and the high hanging fruit.  They have chosen the low hanging fruit, which is convenient but with less benefits”.  He said that the populism has triggered racism and Islamophobia in the US and around the world. In neighbouring South Africa, he added, xenophobia is a new phenomenon that can also be attributed to populist politics.

Although the EU scenario is unique, as it was born after many years of war in the region, Baum nonetheless cautioned other regional blocs to approach regional integration with extra-caution.  He said that he has been to several countries in the SADC region but observed that many people do not understand what SADC is about.

“Communication is very important.  The EU did not do enough to communicate with the ordinary people and very little was known about it. When the EU President speaks there is very little attention paid, and many people do not know him.  Very little of EU information reaches the people.  SADC should also do more to communicate its policies to the ordinary people for them to embrace it,” he advised.

He added, “Governments should be committed, there should be solidarity, as well as willingness to compromise”.

He also indicated that Brexit was influenced by UK/Britain’s powerful media that also controls politicians and public opinion and the EU policies had many inconsistencies.

He said nobody knows which country will follow Brexit, but was confident that it is too early to conclude that the EU was falling apart.

With the world politics taking a new direction, the next four years will be turbulent and signs are that world peace is no longer guaranteed under the prevailing circumstances.

EU is not at peace with itself, the US has employed a very unstable CEO, whilst Russia is preparing itself to take over.

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