Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Reasons to be Fearful – 1,2,3

  1. Putin
  2. May
  3. Trump

Possibly in that order!

Putin

Putin is the most dangerous because even though his objectives are very clear (respect for him within Russia, and respect for Russia outside Russia) there are very few moderating influences.

Reason to be fearful:

  1. In the next decade he could dramatically change the world – particularly if (i) the EU is distracted by Brexit and the ongoing Euro crisis, (ii) Trump is disinclined to help defend Europeans that he sees as un-American free-loaders who offer little to advance his agenda.
  2. Trump seems to admire Putin (“the strong man”) more than the Eastern Europeans who threw off the Soviet yoke. What causes this “seeming admiration” is not clear – but for Putin it represents both a triumph and an opportunity to advance his agenda.

May

May is next because of her tendency to mould herself to fit the demands of those around her. She used to be for remaining in the EU, morphed into a “leaver” after the referendum, and now she seems to be emerging as a hard Brexiteer. This plasticity is a danger, and there are few effective moderating influences in the British State. We have not woken up to the fact that the Referendum result has led to a right-wing coup. I suspect that the likes of Bone, Cash, Redwood, Fox and co cannot believe how easily they have gained almost total control of the political agenda.

Reason to be fearful:

  1. She is going to be the figurehead of an undertaking that is going to distract the EU for at least two years and possibly encourage further departures that may undermine its very existence. (May says she wants to see a strong EU to trade with, but many of her “moulders” want to see the end of the EU.)
  2. She is going to lead the UK into a new free-trade ultra-capitalist world that outside the likes of Singapore may be disappointingly short of other substantial economies willing to adopt a similar approach. I am unconvinced that a Singapore-Light city-state model offers a better economic or social model than what we already have – despite its problems.
  3. The resultant hardening of British Politics combined with exiting the EU could endanger both the UK Union and the Peace Process in Ireland.

Trump

Trump may be third, but that does not mean he is significantly less dangerous. He represents change – but unpredictable change and it is not clear how the likes of Putin,  Xi Jinping, and various Middle East leaders will react. We are told that we should take him seriously but not literally. That is not a very good basis for conventional diplomacy.

Reasons to be fearful:

  1. Within the US, he represents the next iteration in the corruption of the electoral process; the last election was nasty and it is not clear whether he just said what he thought he had to say to get elected (which if adopted by future candidates makes rationally choosing in future elections next to impossible) or whether he really will do everything he said he would do (which is more honest – but policies like “lock her up” are the tactics of the despot).
  2. Outside the US, he seems reluctant to commit to NATO – which may embolden Putin to directly or indirectly engineer a take-over of Ukraine (whilst the EU’s attention is on other things) and then, if he gets away with it, to start nibbling away at NATO’s eastern front. I very much doubt that Trump, with his protectionist America First approach, cares about the Baltic States, the Balkans or the Visegrád Countries. (I think the US is safe from Russia deciding that the sale of Alaska to the USA was a bad deal and trying to take it back.)

I rank him as less dangerous than Putin (dangerous because of the power he wields) or May (dangerous because she is being used) because I suspect and hope that the US state and system may be able to exercise some control and I think Trump ultimately is a pragmatist businessman rather than a dogmatist politician. (And that assumes that the Don is not there merely to set up the American system to suit his future business interests.)

But it is a rocky road and I see the above three as more dangerous than:

  1. Radical Islamists (who may none-the-less take advantage of the chaos that the top three may cause)
  2. Xi Jinping (whose ambitions in the South China Sea should not be underestimated)
  3. Overwhelming migration by refugees (which should be the symptom that galvanises the world to address the major root cause problem facing the world).
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