Our team has chosen to place 2016 under the sign of a “general strategic retreat”, affecting all levels of social organization, starting of course with the national levels, but not only.
This retreat (or fallback) will not yet represent in 2016 the end of the global mobility, of the international exchanges or of the internet, and the world will still be a global village this year. Nevertheless, we will see walls getting built, regulations being imposed, flows getting controlled, armies strengthened, markets fragmented … all this not on an international basis, since the failure of the global governance reform is striking, but on the basis of the only available political entities on the market: nation states, religious and ethnic groups, certain supra-national organizations and the local level.
It is the end of the great global orgy; everyone goes home … with a severe hangover.
And the gaping doors will gradually close in on a new stabilizing global configuration. 2015 has seen important changes in strategic alliances. The Western camp has been fragmented; some fragments have even separated, while confidence in new allies is still not there.
The best example of all this is provided by this great change in the balance of alliances in the Middle East. For the “Western camp” and particularly for Israel, the enemy is no longer Iran, but Saudi Arabia. Yet, the awareness of this fact has taken too much time: Saudi Arabia and the militant Wahhabism are released, while confidence is still not restablished vis-a-vis Iran. In these circumstances, the best solution is… retreat.
Europe finds itself in a similar situation. Its troubles with Russia have cut it off from its Eastern flank, and although efforts are being made to reconnect with the big neighbour, damage in terms of confidence is there. On its South-South-Eastern flank, Turkey, which should be a key-partner had Europe been working on something else than its EU integration, has now engaged into growingly diverging paths from Europe. As for the US, the Ally by excellence, there are not many people in Europe able to make a positive assessment of the transatlantic relationship in recent years. The huge migration flows targeting Europe as a result of the major strategic errors, in which the ally has pushed us, represent the straw that is breaking the camel’s back, leaving the EU now embarked on a huge plan of internal consolidation… retreat again.
Japan has also understood that it could no longer rely on the declining power of the United States for protection, and it is obviously not from China that it will claim that protection. China is certainly a key regional player, but the stormy past between these two powers, and the medium-term uncertainty on Chinese hegemonic ambitions, compel Japan to regain control of its own defence system. Retreat.
This strategic retreat, accompanied by rather worrying increasing military expenditures, could have been avoided if the major Western actors had played their intelligent role of “transition facilitators”. From this point of view, the G20, a European initiative, was a good attempt, but the efforts were too small and too counteracted by an American establishment unable to understand global developments and contribute positively to them.
Certainly there was the historical year of Obama’s mandate (2015) which let Iran’s and Cuba’s reintegration in the international game happen, but all this came too late, too little, too contradicted by the growing tensions and worries.
The conditions are not met for the multi-polar world to meet around the same table to face together the great global public issues. The trust is gone. Even between new allies: for example, it is unlikely that the Sublime Porte and Mecca will become “best friends in the world” overnight, in a profound and sustainable way. Attempts at unnatural alliances like that are doomed to not go beyond 2016, and they will inevitably be accompanied by a fallback from both sides.
As for Saudi Arabia, this country has much to do in terms of internal social stabilization, knowing that it will be more and more forced to dissociate from the monsters, such as Daesh, which its social pathologies have generated.
BRICS countries will also be focused on themselves this year. Brazil is there for no one else than for its own problems of political infighting, of failing economy, of declining currency, and of social tensions. Suffice it to say that its contribution to transnational efforts such as BRICS, MERCOSUR, OAS, etc., will not be significant this year.
China has said and repeated that its priority is no longer its trade balance, but the development of its domestic market, of its infrastructure, of its social system, etc. Its growth points are no longer intended to feed the world’s growth. Accordingly, China takes care of its borders and the protection of its territory by investing in the modernization of its national defence system, and it is not what happened to Russia in 2014 that will dissuade China from moving on in this direction.
India is still open to the world, but we anticipate that in 2016 it will also have to show greater reserve. Its presidency of the BRICS will be the target of all sorts of manipulations from all sides. Modi’s attempts to balance its external relations between the US, Europe, China, Russia, Japan, and Pakistan may end like those of Erdogan in 2011. The Indian prime minister is possibly getting close to being trapped in his country’s rapprochement with Japan, sustained with ideas of high-speed trains, but also with anti-China hints, a rock he had clearly identified at the beginning of his term as one to avoid by any means. It is therefore likely that India will have a very low BRICS presidency in 2016 (failing to exploit its global integration potential we identified a few months ago), and it will probably focus primarily on its social organization, its technological innovation project and its military budge… retreat again.
Let’s go back for a moment to Europe. This is probably the only region in the world that will withdraw on something other than its national level alone. The reactivation of the tools of national sovereignty is being done in collaboration between both national and European levels. We will speak more in the ups and downs section of this GEAB about the Schengen case, with regards to which we believe that reinforcement and not weakening will take place. This area is getting stronger… at the request of the member states… similarly for the European army issue, the European coordination of national intelligence agencies, etc. The transfer of sovereignty tools (management of borders, armies, intelligence…) towards the European level, in agreement with and on the basis of the member states, is well and truly underway and will remain among the trends of 2016, bringing concomitant strengthening of both national and European levels.
According to LEAP, it is appalling to see that the continent’s political integration phase is starting up in an inward turning movement and not on the basis of a democratic aspiration. This is what made us anticipate in our latest issue that Europe was about to enter a new dark epoch of its history. Visibly, all the conditions are fulfilled for that.
Only internet and the huge transformation of social structures that comes with it, let us hope that Europe (and the world) could get quicker out of a confinement phase that seems impossible to sustain in the long term in this 21st century. But the ferment of social chaos that establishments see in this tool makes us fear that the “internet Revolution” turns into an “internet Terror” during 2016: no longer a tool of freedom and openness to the world for its citizens, but the instrument serving surveillance and propaganda for “order instaters”.