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Seismic shifts in global influence?

  • Investment Manager
  • Blog post submitted on 23rd November 2017
Markets1

With a few notable exceptions, namely North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia and a few others, people have the power to approve or disapprove of the management of their country through their vote. Therefore I find it difficult to dissociate the current global political situation from what constitutes the people’s choice.

It is also true that within the different levels of democracy you even get Putin and Erdogan, but one may question “is it fair to doubt their democratic credentials when popular support is massive, and when the bulwark of the West voted for Trump?”

Simple put I am just repeating de Maistre in different words; “People get the government they deserve.” Subsequently, the world is being led according to our collective will. Thus, allow me to add that probably the only reason liberal democracy does not collapse is because, by nature, liberal democrats are more predisposed and, in our society, allowed to make noise than, let’s say, the silent and dormant fascist or communist.

Unfortunately, the golden era of western ideology is probably past its peak, and it’s very last champions appear more vulnerable each day. New hopefuls are taking up the vacancies being created, but few of these seem to have the will to defend what we took for granted for decades. The sign that the balance is shifting is increasingly apparent as evidenced by recent events.

Russia

Two years ago Bashar al-Assad went to Russia seeking help as US backed rebels had the Syrian president on the run. This week Assad was visiting President Putin again, but this time round it was all smiles and congratulations with the Islamic State largely routed and rebels out of the picture.

Yesterday, leaders of Iran and Turkey flew to Sochi to map out the future of the region. Meanwhile Superpower United States is left as a spectator, significantly outplayed at every move. If these negotiations stick, Russia will have turned around its fortunes in the Middle East, a clear sign that Russian global influence is once more ascending.

Germany

Angela Merkel has challenged her rivals to either toe the line or face voters in a new election. Coalition negotiations collapsed as FDP head Christian Lindner took a hard line over issues like immigration and burden-sharing in the European Union.

Twelve years after being elected chancellor, Merkel’s former allies are wary of another deal after coming out of previous coalitions on the losing end. The SPD in particular was heavily penalised in the last election for being seen as the toothless partner within the ‘grand coalition’.

It is also a sign of Merkel’s waning support and influence after Europe’s refugee crisis helped send her party bloc to a historic low in September’s election while bolstering anti-immigration parties like the Alternative for Germany.

Whatever the outcome, Germany and Europe will have to come to terms with the idea that the person that steered the EU through its worst crisis will not be there ever. While Merkel does not currently have a challenge to her leadership right now, an election is always a gamble; just ask Theresa May.

Britain

The business exodus out of London has begun. This week London lost the EU’s banking authority to Paris and the medicines regulator to Amsterdam. Meanwhile, Theresa May is finding it increasingly difficult to hang on to her post of prime minister.

Now it seems that May’s Cabinet has agreed to pay more in the divorce settlement with the European Union; €40 billion according to some sources. A clear sign that Britain’s negotiating strategy was full of holes from the beginning.

The reaction of ‘brexiteers’ and the public in general is not expected to be cheerful should this agreement materialise, as it mocks one of the main Brexit selling point, that of Britain not sending funds to Europe any longer.

There is also the notion that Britain can no longer hold its own in the International arena. Definitely, thus far Brexit talks have served to highlight the massive disparity in negotiating power between the EU and Britain. If ever there was doubt the Britain is no longer a global power, Brexit is making the point clear.

The United States

The majority of Americans say Donald Trump has not accomplished much during the first nine months in office. To be fair, expectations following his election were only moderate; roughly 100 days into his presidency, 42 per cent said he was doing a good job. By November this year that figure went down to 35 per cent.

The public have identified four main areas in which the president has not delivered namely, economic performance, dealing with racism, improving health care and dealing with the threat of terrorism. To these I would add stepping back on environmental commitments, turning back to protectionism and mucking up foreign policy.

The gaps in global influence that he United States is losing are huge, but China and Russia have been quick to take the opportunity. Ground lost will be hard to win back. Maybe the United States Empire’s best days are over.

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