Next War? Pick one in the List!
Regular readers of this Letter understand well that the big majority of my topics are limited to the analysis of social, economic or geo-political events and tendencies.
The present letter shall however also contain the results of my fantasy about what could happen in the world over the coming years. I would not dare to call it forecast or anticipation, so lets call it fantasy.
Although some of those scenarii may look a bit pessimistic, or too stretched to be true, I still believe they are possible (or probable for some of them), looking at the level of irritation of western elites, not able to impose their views and governance system to countries like China and Russia, we all know that. Another interesting social aspect is the evolution that we can observe since a long time already, in the way people interact between each other, and this from the elite to the populations. Let me a bit more clear on that.
Confrontation postures have become a de-facto standard over the past decades in international relations, and the first example that I can remember is the famous "Evil Empire" used by Ronald Reagan talking about the Soviet Union. Such terms were never employed before in modern time diplomacy. The 3rd Reich was not called that way before the war, even in the western press, too happy to see the defeat of communism in Germany and Italy. But since Reagan, such tone is regularly used by western and in particular US diplomacy, a tone reminding more of Hollywood film slogans than of well mannered diplomacy.
George Bush loved to point his finger at "Rogue States" or to the "Axes of Evil", and a more hypocrite Obama declared in 2015 that ISIS is the "face of evil", while supporting ISIS in his failed plans to get rid of Hassad in Syria.
All this reached a new high with the election of Trump at the White House, a man of little diplomatic skills. Can you imagine De Gaulle or Kennedy calling developing countries "shithole countries"?
This trend towards disrespect and violent terms are spreading among all levels of the political and media elite. Who still remembers Hillary Clinton asked what happened in Libya, shaken by a vicious laughter and saying "we came, we saw, he died"? Look at recent declarations by US politicians, suggesting that hitting Trump with a baseball bat would be right? Not to mention calls for assassination.
All those signals are given by the elite, and are not without significance and impact on the way people react to events and to other people. The level of intolerance is growing very fast. It may sound strange in a society where "tolerance" is praised like the universal value and ideology. You must be tolerant when migrants come to your town, or when LGBT sexuality is teached at school. But in day to day life, tolerance is decreasing and people have more and more problems to even listen to opinions they do not entirely support.
Expressing support for family or traditional values make you a fascist and the discussion is stopped. Expressing sympathy to socialist or communist values makes you a commie that needs be shut-up for the sake of the Markets. At all levels of society, reasonable arguments and common sense have lost their value. What is left are groups confronting each other and living in their closed bubble.
The Facebook phenomena illustrates that very well. After Crimea in 2014, John-The-Facebooker de-friended all friends supporting (even weakly) the Russian position. After Trump's election, he de-friended all Trump supporters, and then de-friended all people tired of the LGBT story. John is now with fewer friends, but they can nicely comfort each other that they are really right and that all others are assholes to be hit with baseball bats. The same scheme of course applies the other way, for Trump lovers, LGBT haters and Russian trolls!
Pay attention to the words and the body language of many politicians, opinion leaders, journalists. Try to detect the level of kindness they communicate. In most cases, not much. But selfishness, narcissism, intolerance and unlimited ambition are there in most cases. Look at videos of Maxine Waters or Hillary again! Alternatively, look at Sarkozy!...
Additional confusion and sources of conflict come from the fact that the simple right vs. left paradigm no longer exist. As detailed in a previous Letter (3D Politics), many people have a sectarian opinion on three major parameters: 1) liberal or controlled economy, 2) liberal or traditional social life and 3) sovereign state or internationalism. As a simple example, the Hungarian Orban is for controlled economy, traditional social life and sovereign state. Brazilian Bolsonaro is for liberal economy, traditional social life and internationalism. Both are hardly compatible, but both are called fascists by many in the press and the public.
Now what should be expect? Nothing very nice.
The present western elite is not accepting to lose or even share World leadership. Culprits have been pointed out long time ago, China and Russia being the named enemies. I am not making anything up here, just read what is written and listen to what is said.
Some talk about a coming World War 3, and the possibility of terminal nuclear confrontation. I however do not believe this shall happen (unless by accident), as the risk for the elite is too high, to be roasted like simple people or spend the rest of their life in a luxury underground bunker, a perspective event worst than being roasted for slightly claustrophobic people like me!
I believe we shall see the continuation and the multiplication of local wars where the US and some of its allies indirectly confront Russia and China. The regions at risk are the ones where past conflicts have not been totally solved, or where local leaders come into direct conflict with the western leadership, that can be identified as multinational business forces rather than governments, those ones having lost most of their power. Trading in non US dollar terms is for example considered as a risk for the "old" system, as it reduces the flow of liquidity to the US to support the US life style.
I said multiplication of wars, because populations in the West are starting to be less disciplined and refuse to support the current system. Recent election results in the EU are significant, like in Hungary, Italy and to some extend in Germany. The current elites need to divert attention to new conflicts if they want to delay the end of their world...
The Middle East
This is the place where the most obvious proxi war took place in Syria, but the same is valid for Iraq or even Afghanistan, Yemen, and of course Libya. It is visible that the west is interested in a long lasting conflict in Syria and do nothing to support a complete stop of war operations. More provocations can be expected, including attempts to destabilize the Lebanon. Saudi Arabia shall continue its bloody war in Yemen, and the emotion around the Kashoggi case shall be soon forgotten. A direct confrontation between Saudi and Iran is however not probable, as the risks of uncontrollable expansion of the conflict (including large destructions in Israel) are too high to be supported by the US and EU.
The wound is still open since 2014, and pushing Kiev to attack the Donbass and provoke Russia is probably an option. An attack on Crimea is less probable, as this would be a frontal attack on Russia. But keeping a looming war at the doors of the EU is a good strategy to focus the attention of the European populace.
Here again, we have an old conflict that was initiated with an active support of EU, in particular Germany, and like Ukraine is a reminder of old frustrations of regions that fought side by side with the Nazis to stop communism. A destabilization of Kosovo, FYR of Macedonia is not excluded, as it would create a new source of fear, even closer to the heart of Europe.
After the decision of Trump to exit the INF treaty, chances to have Russia posting mid range missiles in the region are quite high, that shall probably lead to the deployment of US missiles in the EU. I do not expect combats there, but the atmosphere shall become much worst, close to what happened in the 70's. An increase in NATO military presence in Poland should also push Belarus to get closer to Russia, eventually to join the Russian Federation.
It is clear that the Trump administration decided to "reconquer" the region, and the recent win of the pro-US candidate in Brazil, very certainly supported by the US, is a good example. In parallel, Russia is talking about installing a military base in Cuba, and China is showing a growing interest in Cuba and Venezuela. I think the probabilities are high for a new front to be opened there, for example with a conflict between Brazil and Venezuela and/or Bolivia, each of them supported by their "sponsor". The effect should mainly be on the US population, feeling more insecure and then less prone to ask for big changes.
The Pacific Ocean
The confrontation between the US and China is already happening in words. A probable evolution could involve a provocation and a limited conflict involving China or a Chinese ally, and one US ally in the region. Again I do not believe in a direct US-China conflict, that would make WW3 far too probable.
The other wars
The above conflicts may delay a growing dissatisfaction within western populations, but only for a limited period of time. Looking at the increased aggressiveness and intolerance between groups of opinion, I believe that civil conflicts inside some of the western countries are probable. The first candidate I see are the US themselves, where here again, sequels of an old war (the Secession war) are still apparent, and became more visible with the growing wall of misunderstanding and intolerance between Trump voters and liberals. The high number of fire arms in the country and the verbal escalation in the dialog between parties make the probability of a new civil war grow before our eyes.
What would be the outcome? The split of the country in 3 or 4 entities, but this could be the object of a separate Letter!
Europe should not see such developments, but violent regime change is on the table, especially in France.
All the above shall for sure boost the financial results of western weapon manufacturers, at least for a while. How shall those conflicts be resolved and the new World Order be established? Look at Syria today to get an idea!
But the scenario may also turn into a general conflict, even by pure accident or misunderstanding, something that I would illustrate with one of my preferred cartoon joke: