I realize that most of my readers seek news and commentary
about domestic politics and public policy when they link to
this website. I think that most of them also expect occasional
posts about history, food and dining out, culture and the arts,
and even a few relevant personal stories from my life. I also
post reports and analyses about events outside the United
States, especially regarding global politics. The world is a
very big place, and with more than 200 sovereign nations,
there are obvious limits to what can be said usefully in a
short essay about foreign matters.
We Americans can be insular about the rest of the world
sometimes, and such indifference does not often work to our
benefit, nor does it contribute to a positive state of global
conditions. You don’t have to read spy thrillers or watch
disaster movie to know that life in the 21st century is full
of dangers from totalitarianism, terrorism, epidemics and
Nature’s assorted problematic vagaries.
There are global political disruptions now taking place,
and most of them began well before President Donald Trump
appeared on the international stage.
In particular, a ”mutiny of the masses” emerged in Europe
decades ago when a grass roots resistance began actively
opposing the attempt to transform the healthy economic
cooperation of the European Union into a single political
unit that would abolish the sovereign states created over the
previous millennium. In recent years, massive refugee
immigration poured into Europe from Turkey, the Middle
East and former colonies. This immigration was intended to
fill EU employment needs, but the refugee communities often
have not integrated themselves into their new host cultures,
and major local tensions have arisen.
The former Soviet Union peacefully disbanded in the early
1990s, and adapted to a more capitalistic and democratic
society ---albeit one reduced in size and population. More
recently, however, the Russian leadership has reasserted
some of its former aggressive and nationalistic behavior,
particularly directed at some of its former satellite nations.
With their huge populations (each now about 1.3 billion
persons) China and India are taking on an increasing
economic role in the world. China adopted many free
market economic strategies, but retained totalitarian
Marxist political rule. Now its former policy of changing
its leadership every ten years has been replaced by a
seemingly permanent one-man rule, and it continues to be
an aggressive player not only in Asia, but also in Africa and
South America. India’s primary conflicts are local, that is,
with Pakistan nd China, but its technological and economic
weight is now being noticed worldwide.
The Middle East, a seemingly perpetual “hot spot,”
continues to be unsettled, although some of the
relationships between its major player nations are now
going through rapid change as the hitherto universal
Arab conflict with Israel is now more complicated as Iran
as emerged as a regional power which threatens Egypt,
Saudi Arabia and several smaller Arab states.
South America’s chronic inability to escape its oligarchal
past, in spite of its tremendous resources, continues as
the major nations of Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina remain
politically and/or economically unstable.
All of the above was happening before Donald Trump came
on the scene with his disruptions of U.S. domestic and
foreign policies. In particular, he has reversed most of the
more passive international policies of his predecessor Barack
Obama, and asserted a much more aggressive U.S. trade
Mr. Trump’s actions have therefore altered the strategies
on both side of the political chess board, and thus altered
many expectations of political, military and economic
The reader might agree with President Trump or disagree
with him. The reader might like or dislike what is taking
place now In Europe, Asia, and South America. But
regardless of any of our opinions on these places and the
figures leading them, none of us, I think, has the luxury
of ignoring them.
There are no “distant” places on this planet of ours any more.
Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.