Europe in 2015: a geopolitical disaster in the making?

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Dalibor Rohac sees five things in Europe that remind him of the 1930s.

He writes: "Historical parallels are, at best, incomplete. But that does not mean that there is nothing to be learned from juxtaposing the past and the present. Much like in the 1930s, today’s Europe has five distinct elements of a geopolitical disaster in the making."

His list of threats that history will repeat itself consists of these five areas:

  1. A dysfunctional monetary system
  2. A rising revisionist power
  3. A lack of leadership
  4. A crumbling system of international cooperation
  5. Losing the battle of ideas.

Not the types of problems that would be easy to surmount even in 2005 or a similar period of economic boom. Even if fewer than five issues are as serious as Rohac argues then political risks are surely great.

My personal reaction: I disagree with the fourth point and would dispute a few other characterizations. More international cooperation would be beneficial in plenty of areas but there is still a lot more international cooperation than the proverbial visitor from outer space (who might form beliefs based on reading opinion polls) would have expected.

I am not saying we shouldn't have higher aspirations, but expectations should be anchored in what is possible. If much of the European public has concerns about globalization some outcomes that look like "do-nothing politics" or "lack of leadership" might actually be just manifestations of representatives attempting to be responsive to what they perceive as citizens' preferences...

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