Mikael Gorbachev has always been credited as the “father of Perestroika” in the USSR. One of the aims of this process was to bring the USSR out of its crisis in the 80s. Ironically, it marked the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union, as it plunged into an abyss of financial crisis. Despite its setbacks, Perestroika marked a beginning of a new era – of democracy, peace and unity. It gave birth to Glasnost”, aimed as a policy for transparency” and “openness”. So when, In October 1986, Gorbachev and Reagan met in what, was later known as the Reykjavik Summit in Iceland, a new Soviet foreign policy was first officially declared.
The meeting marked a considerable breakthrough which eventually made possible the signing of the INF Treaty (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty) in Washington on December 8, 1987. In November 1990, in Paris, a so-called “Charter for a New Europe” was born, and we saw communist governments in Eastern Europe overthrown; the Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet troops withdrawn from Afghanistan. Vladimir Putin has never forgiven Mikael Gorbachev for ceding Russian hegemony to its satellite states, and you wonder why he paid a courtesy call to Crimea? A new era was born; to form global and international ties and relationships, around the ethos of democracy, peace and unity. This new wind of change saw the establishment of the EU and European citizenship when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993.
Fast forward to present day politics, and you would be forgiven to think that the world is spinning at full pelt, on its axis. Hot on the heels of the Arab Spring was the New World Order to recalibrate the political landscape in the Middle East, and to nullify the perceived growing threat and influence of Iran in the region. Regime Change became a new word in the world political lexicon. What followed, and what happened in Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Syria stays in Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Syria. The rest is history. You write your own version.
Large scale globalisation started in the 1820s. In its unadulterated form, globalization is primarily an economic process of interaction and integration that’s associated with social and cultural aspects. The world was seen as one, and the aim was for all of the world’s humanity to eat from the same table. But the process has undergone a lot of alchemy, and now seems to have gone full circle. But globalisation led to the creation of economic jungles, as we also witnessed the birth of filial infanticide and cannibalism; the tendency in some animal species for the parents to eat their young. With globalisation, we saw how young, feeble and vulnerable economies were swallowed up by large scale conglomerates across the world. To all intents and purposes, globalisation has proven that the rich and powerful now had new means to further enrich and empower themselves at the cost of the poorer and weaker. It is no wonder why countries across the world engage in mass protests on an annual basis.
So as the powerful nations gobbled and swallowed everything and anything, the greedy and rich, wanting all for the greedy and nothing for the needy, mass migration on a global scale has become an on-going pilgrimage, as citizens from poorer nations gravitate towards those rich greedy ones. Migration has now replaced the bedtime stories, the pillow talk and discussions around the dinner table. Jingoism has conveniently replaced patriotism, and nationalism for globalisation. As powerful nations embark on their insular approach to the demands of world economies, we are seeing the dismantling of global ties, brick by brick as the wind of de-globalisation goes full circle.
Since Donald Trump became the tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500, he has championed the way in tearing up every treaty that the United States signed up to. He has pulled out of the Paris Agreement (on climate change), the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP), and The UN human Rights Council and, UNESCO. He wants to include Russia in the G7, has threatened to pull out of World Trade Organisation (WTO), and has questioned North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). He has begun pulling out of the Iran Nuclear deal, has renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA- subject to ratification by congress), renegotiated the South Korean trade deal (Korus) and signed the Singapore Agreement. His most recent forage into the locker of treaties was to announce that the US will pull out of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty; one of the main treaties credited as an insurance policy against the arms race and for maintaining world peace, if any. It is one thing to pull out of economic ties, but an entirely different one to threaten world peace. Now you know why some political corridors across the world are jittery.
There is no denying that there has been an upsurge in migration. Europe has seen an unprecedented influx, and this has led to European nations erecting border and immigration posts inside many African countries to stem the tide on the ocean migration. Donald Trump shutdown his government for the longest time in history, because he could not get the money he wanted to build a wall on the Mexican border. Globalisation was aimed at breaking down these very barriers, but because it has gone full circle, we are now seeing those same barriers being erected to keep out the by-products and unintended outcomes of the very globalisation. Kapish? Protectionism is fast becoming fashionable for the big boys in the playground, and the society for self-preservation is gaining traction.
It is little coincidence that far right groups and religious extremists compete for relevance on the global stage, with immigration and terrorism used as their respective signatures angsts. Many see the issue of immigration as one that makes for good reading and readily for scapegoat value; to identify all the ills of our modern-day societies. Donald Trump classified Mexicans coming to the USA as rapists, drug dealers and criminals; while the continent of Africa is a collective “Sh…hole”; to demonstrate his regards. He But the last time I checked, his father Frederick Christ Trump was born in New York in 1905 to German immigrants, Elizabeth Christ and Frederick Trump. His mother Mary Anne MacLeod was just 18 when she first arrived in New York; having travelled from her home on the Scottish island of Lewis like many other immigrants today, in search of domestic work. Hmmmmm
The European Union was founded in the aftermath of the Second World War, with the aim of ending the frequent and bloody wars between neighbours; and to create a sphere of peace and stability. The six founding countries are Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Britain joined the Union on the 1st January, 1973 following which the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November, 1989 symbolised the breaking down of barriers in a globalised world. But the new wind of change blowing across the Atlantic has seen Britain embroiled is a Brexit conundrum.
Sadly, no one told us that “no man is an island, and no man stands alone”. With America sleep walking its way out of its position as the World Leader, and with Britain threatening to make itself a vassal kingdom, are we about to see the reversed edition of Perestroika? The scramble from centre stage will definitely induce a power vacuum; and with China emerging as an economic power house, and with Russia dying to reassert itself on the world stage, it is conceivable that there will be no shortage of replacement candidates .As proof of the Kremlin’s hunger, Russia hosted talks with Taliban delegates and members of Afghanistan’s high peace council; as peace broker between Islamist rebels and the US-backed government in Kabul. Russia also initiated talks on a Syrian peace process co-sponsored by regional powers Turkey and Iran.
The US has had an active military presence inside both countries; an intervention against Islamic State in Syria in 2014, and invasion in Afghanistan to dismantle al-Qaida and topple the Taliban since 2001. Although the Russian meetings produced few concrete results, they demonstrated Russia’s search for a greater role in international diplomacy. Many commentators see this as a diplomatic coup, and that Russia will be just too happy with mopping up duties, and take home the prize of statesmanship, after the US has done the donkey work.
It is unquestionable that the world has never been so polarised so far. In Britain, those who oppose Brexit ( Remainers) see it as an exercise of national self-harm behaviour, while those who support ( Brexiteers) see it as an exercise to “take back control”( of what, you hasten to ask). Both sides have sought refuse in their respective political echo chambers with inherent consequences. Brexiteers believe, in spite of the permutations of a doomsday scenario, that BRITAIN HAS DECIDED. Remainers see it as an exercise of eating one’s cake and having it back. Both sides are so locked into this political arm wrestling that the very foundations of British democracy is undergoing a serious stress test.
But what are the implications of Britain brexiting Europe? The list from Remainers reads like a Nicodemus bucket list. One silent but rarely mentioned implication is the potential for an intra-Brexit. In the independence referendum of September 18, 2014, the majority in Scotland voted to stay in the United Kingdom. Recent polls show that Scotland has 62% voting to stay in the EU; compared to 55% 2 years ago. If Britain leaves the EU in March this year, will Scotland feel that it “is being dragged out of the EU against its will?” If that should be the case, will this trigger another referendum on Scottish independence; as expressed by the Scotland’s first Minister? If Britain should make a success of Brexit, will that embolden pro Scottish independence voters to take a leaf out of Britain and take the plunge to independence; armed with the belief that it could regain free entry back into the EU? And if Scotland should take such a lead, will the vassal nations follow? Obviously, many in the home nations would try and avoid or dissuade such an outcome. But what if the Scottish people also say that SCOTLAND HAS DECIDED?
Brexit does not start and end with Britain leaving the EU. The potential ramifications could be unthinkable, but worth a thought.
Don’t forget to turn the lights off when you leave the EU.