SOME THOUGHTS ON…. the World in 2018

For someone who studied international politics during the late 90s and early 2000s, what is going on in the world or rather, what has unravelled in the 2010s is quite perplexing. As students, we were tacitly taught that the world was getting to better, higher places, as further we were from the terrible mishaps of the mid-20th century. Countries seemed to develop stronger ties through commerce, global communications, development and common understandings on human rights, amongst many others.

Illustratively, in less than 50 years European countries evolved from enemies to associates, having gone from two terrible World Wars to a very friendly and institutional relation, erasing borders and sharing a common currency.

And even if the end of the Cold War meant a surge in intra-national conflicts (think of Rwanda or the Ex-Yugoslav dissolution, amongst many others), there was also a rise in multilateral approaches to these challenges and the strengthening of the international community through a growing importance of the individual as a relevant international subject (i.e. the “Responsibility to Protect” comes to mind).

It seemed that this was the set course for the international sailboat for years and years to come…Clear skies ahead.

Or so we thought.

Pendulum theories might come and go (no pun intended) signaling that evolution in the international political realm is not lineal, but rather a sort of back and forth.

The last few years have come as a shocking proof of this: How could we have imagined Russia invading and taking over the Crimea Peninsula? Who would have thought that the British people would vote out of the European Union? How could we picture the resurgence in right-wing nationalism in Northern Europe and other parts of the world? And going to all-out and dark extremes: who could have imagined that a reckless and seedy reality show businessman would one day become president of the U.S.?

Well, all of it happened. There has been a rapid shift in the international landscape and this shift has shown to be nothing if not very consequential.

Lately, I find myself wondering if we are coming to a period of extreme reconfiguration, if we are repeating in some sort of way that far, yet very familiar 1914. Asking if we have lost the set course of this international sailboat. I hope not.