From 9/11 to 11/9: The era of global political depression - and how to exit
It would not be wrong to announce the onset of a global political crisis following Donald J Trump's (un)expected victory in the US presidential elections.
Just look at the events from 9/11 to 11/9 to understand the imminent global political crisis. We said “Hello!” to a new millennium as the US reacted to 9/11, and the first 15 years passed with severe political and economic crises.
The same analyses written as fantastical science fiction theories 10 or 15 years ago are now regarded as realistic predictions
Political fault lines were broken as a result of the US occupations in the Middle East. A global financial crisis manifested itself in the north, and then a “wave of populism and lack of politics” rapidly emerged.
The “populism of the rich and white” rather than that those aggrieved by globalisation has yielded its initial outcomes. The political earthquake resulting from the “Brexit” in Europe has created a Tsunami effect in the US.
Alarm bells are now ringing for everyone.
The age of exits
The new period, which could be named “the age of exits”, helps the global political crisis grow ripe with each exit.
Evidently, the approach of escaping from crises rather than facing them is not a sound or sober strategy. As uncertainties increase exponentially, the chances for regional and global cooperation are draining out.
Yet, with these descriptions and categorisations, the only direction to which the world is heading is nowhere but the revival of conventional warfare.
The bitter question we must ask is whether or not, and to what extent, countries, leaders, political movements and the business world fathom the approaching crisis.
Exits from the system, from areas of conflict and from cooperation do not yield more security or prosperity for any of the individual actors. We are going through a period where remaining in the system creates deadlock and leaving the system leads to hot crises.
As very strong political and economic waves come to rise at the peak of the telecommunications revolution, we do not have any idea even about where and how they will hit.
The sins of the north
Out of this chaos, the most critical deduction we should make is the necessity of upgrading the World War II order politically and the Bretton Woods system economically before they become entirely useless.
It's not an order that will disappear in the foreseeable future, but if it is not subjected to profound reforms soon, the global political depression that has started will only deepen.
The north unjustly sucks all of the benefits out of global capitalism and expects, in quite a conformist manner, the south to pay for the ensuing costs completely. This is not only an apolitical attitude, but also an approach that cultivates and nourishes conflicts.
Refusing to pay the price after occupying Iraq and Afghanistan; sharing only the profits of the global finance system; supporting, in favour of the status quo, the bloody suppression of the Arab revolts, then closing its eyes to the refugee crisis; and trying to maintain the position of decision-maker without undertaking any inkling of responsibility in global crises… A very long list this is, indeed.
That is reminiscent of the vicious cycle experienced before the subprime crisis in 2008. The situation today is no different from the circumstances then when, although all players were aware of the crisis, investments were made into junk bonds expecting that the balloon would not burst.
The same attitude has been exhibited since 9/11, poisoning the political atmosphere.
When science fiction is fact
In the face of the ongoing depression, there seems to be no other way of resolution but to return to politics.
Otherwise, in order to exit from the global political depression, the first approach will be to take steps to maximise power unilaterally. It is highly probable that a global disorder, where everyone acts on their own, is going to generate waves of chaotic power maximisation which, in turn, will bring about war.
The 'disorder' which the south has experienced for the past century has now emerged in the West and the consequences of it will be seen not in the long or middle-run but in the short-run.
From the ironic and risk-averse concept of "no boots on the ground" onwards, a fast transition into a period of "uncontrollable boots on the ground" will follow.
As transactional international relations increase, shifts in geopolitical axes will speed up, and even the concept of geopolitics itself will face the risk of becoming meaningless.
All these are disaster scenarios. We do not know whether or not they will materialise. But it is certain that we are entering the period of end-of-world projections.
The same analyses written as fantastical science fiction theories 10 or 15 years ago are now regarded as quite realistic predictions.
The end of order
It seems impossible for the existing global order to survive under such strong centrifugal forces. If a period of speedy reforms in international institutions is not launched and a positive agenda is not formed in regional cooperations, the chaotic waves will inevitably amplify day by day.
Twenty-seven years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, another 9 November brings to power the man who claims he will build the 'greatest wall of the modern period'
In brief, we ought to see that we have come to the end of the order based on the equilibrium of the global imbalances of the past century.
As the south has been very cognisant of the situation and paying the price for the last century, the north deepens the global depression by preferring populism among the rich instead of understanding and negotiating with the south.
Twenty-seven years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, another 9 November brings to power the man who claims he will build the “greatest wall of the modern period”. So we must proceed under the uncertainty caused by the global political depression.
Even the politically correct order does not seem maintainable within the north itself. The “disorder” which the south has experienced for the past century has now emerged in the West and the consequences of it will be seen not in the long or middle-run but in the short-run.
In a period of disorder, as every country is preoccupied by its own exit, steps must be taken swiftly so we will not end up in a new phase of global and regional great conventional wars.
Is an exit from the age of exits possible? We do not know. All we know is that the answer to the global imbalances brought about by neoliberalism is not a chaotic populism of the rich hostile to politics.
- Taha Ozhan is a member of Turkish Parliament and chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee. He is an academic and writer. Ozhan holds a PhD in Politics and International Relations. He frequently comments and writes for international media. His latest book is Turkey and the crisis of Sykes-Picot Order (2015).
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.
Photo: Iraqi forces self-propelled howitzer fires towards Tall al-Tibah, south of Mosul (AFP)