Tuesday, June 12, 2018

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: The Old Order Is History

Global civilization goes from one order to another. The transitions
in times we now call “ancient” went slowly and violently. As times
went on, the transitions went more quickly, but alas, no less
violently. The peoples of the world used to be  compartmentalized
geographically.  There were unconnected. Some civilizations
considered themselves “advanced” --- those in north Africa, the
Middle East, Asia and Europe. In addition, there were aboriginal
civilizations in the rest of Africa, North and South America and
Australia and the Pacific Island. As the "advanced" peoples
discovered the lands of the aboriginal peoples, they occupied and
conquered them. After about 5000 years, the dappled settlements
of various peoples became a truly global civilization.

The first true world war was the Seven Years War (1756-1763), and
it involved all of the European great powers as well as their
empires and local allies on all the world’s major continents. In one
of history’s great ironies, it was set off one afternoon when a very
young British officer mistakenly ambushed a French parol near
Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania. The name of that young
British major?

George Washington.

The Napoleonic wars in Europe followed. The 19th century order
after that was a European construction called the “chandelier
balance of power’ which lasted almost a century until a single
anarchist shot the heir to the throne of Austro-Hungary. Of course,
before this act in Sarajevo, events and politicians had put the
conflict on the calendar, and when this World War I was finally
suspended (but not really terminated), a Second World War

By 1945, the globe and its peoples were connected as never before,
and the appearance that year of a nuclear weapon, made the
prospects of worldwide violence much diminished. What followed
was a so-called Cold War which was primarily ideological, and
concluded with the survival of democratic capitalism and the
failure of totalitarian communism. Thereafter, a series of
regional and violent wars took place in Korea, Viet Nam, the
Balkans and the Middle East involving the remaining
superpower, the United States of America and its various
challengers and allies.

What was an incipient new order in 1914, and was transformed
first after 1945, and then after 1990, into an aging world order,
soon found the implacable forces of history creating a new world
order --- one now in its gestation.

This new world order involves peoples from the old order, and,
no surprise, peoples and cultures which are newly arriving to
positions of power in the world.

Interestingly, the new players are not entirely new, but come from
prominent civilizations of the past when the world was not so
interconnected. These include China, India and the Islamic
worlds which owe their re-emergence now to their sheer
population size --- each with more than a billion persons.

The old players include the United States and Europe although
these entities are clearly now on defense as the new players
emerge and grow in economic power.

I have set down this super-condensed and simplified survey of
global history with a specific purpose in mind. It is to try to
make more understandable events and personalities now
disrupting and occupying the global stage.

It will be difficult and unsettling to those immersed in the
catechisms of the old order to recognize and understand the
new order.

The central international political figure today, like him or not,
is U.S. President Donald Trump. He does not occupy that
position by some kind of default. His predecessor, Barack
Obama, could have been the central figure, but for reasons of
his own temperament and ideology, he chose to create a
vacuum of global power. No vacuum of diplomatic, military
and economic power lasts more than a nanosecond of political
time, and various figures, major and minor, from all over the
world quickly moved to take full advantage of the new global

It is not necessarily true that only Donald Trump inevitably
would become president, but I think it was inevitable that, if
he did not, someone like Mr. Trump would have emerged.

My European and American readers who are immersed in the
old order will disagree with this hypothesis because they
either consciously or unconsciously resist the coming of a
new global order.

Donald Trump’s strategies of adaption to the new global order
are not necessarily the only potentially successful ways for the
United States to make a transition between the old and the new,
but he is the only elected American politician who currently
has a strategy.

The recent G7 meeting in Canada is a case in point. Most of the
leaders present at that meeting subscribe to the tenets, issues
and circumstances of the old order. Even as they do so, the
leaders of Europe are witnessing the foundations of their own
nations, and the European Union (EU) specifically, crumbling
under their feet. They put on faces of outrage at President
Trump for not going along with their assumptions mired in the
past, but Mr. Trump’s popular support with voters is growing,
not declining.

Mr. Trump has been telling the world, to the contrary, that it’s
time for political and economic reality. The imbalances between
the U.S. and its allies, in military and economic terms, are no
longer viable. The Western establishments have been burying
their collective heads in some desert sand.

No one knows what forms the new world order will take. No one
knows what events, human-made or natural, lie ahead. How the
current negotiations on the Korean peninsula will turn out are
unknown. How the global economic structures, always in
transition themselves, will behave is unpredictable. Is the role
of the U,S, to preserve and grow democratic capitalism in the
new order?

But it won’t be mere words or pieces of paper that will determine
the new global order.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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