Apple Pie Origins
The “Made in America” Weimar Republic-like chaotic violence last spring and summer reached a crescendo of intensity with the dramatic assault and occupation of the US Capitol building in early last month with the temporary “planting” of the Confederate battle flag. Notwithstanding the following week the Inauguration was held, a lawful and peaceful transition but under a police state level of security underscoring the present-day brittleness of American democracy.
Because the impossible has become the plausible, certain present-day governments must be shaking in their boots fearing a surge of social upheaval and threat to their control. If the US, a beacon of political stability and civilized democratic practices, can come to the brink of implosion with the urging of elected political figures at the highest levels, then such an insurrection is not only likely, rather inevitable elsewhere. Think of this situation as the 21st century domino effect with its genesis originating in the US.
France and Germany | Turning Point Elections
The US, a democratic empire with respect to dwarfing every other nation in economic and military might and a longer and deeper running democracy, fissures are appearing in its socio-economic-political model. European democracies such as Germany and France have their respective growing legitimately elected ultra-conservative political parties which are making dramatic gains in government representation and have gained a certain level of respectability with the mainstream.
For ultra-conservative and perhaps radical political elements, America’s beacon of light has a darker and more sinister hue that has tacitly “legitimized” the next level of political aggressiveness because it is either silently supported or not challenged by their well-educated mainstream demographic.
And like their American counterparts who reach back to a delusional revisionist past chanting the mantra, “Make American Great Again”, European homegrown radicals and sympathizers espouse their own version of an undemocratic, ruthless and racist era such as the Third Reich and France’s colonial empire.
The political crossroads for Germany and France are looming on the horizon. Germany has major federal elections this fall. France’s presidential elections are scheduled to take place in May 2022. With the departure of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, there is no dynamically strong incumbent to serve as an anchor for democratic principles against ultra-conservative parties like the Alternative for Germany.
In France Marine Le Pen’s popularity is surging and according to several highly regard polls, she’s within striking distance of seriously challenging President Macron to whom she lost in a landslide in 2017. Keep in mind that President Macron was an unknown who came from nowhere in forming his own party and within a year of its formation had captured the Elysee.
The ultra-nationalists in both countries are gaining traction because of the pandemic-induced recession and deteriorating economies not to mention draconian lockdowns. Without a strong and noticeable economic recovery in the near future public sentiment will doubt the ability of traditional centrist parties and seek the alternative light, albeit a dark one, in the form of torches.
Russia | Krashing the Kremlin
Although many illiberal democracies and autocratic governments might be reveling in glee over the siege at the US Capitol building that counters the US pro-democracy advocacy, only the most near-sighted of them can’t ignore that those mob scenes may be a preview that could occur among their own citizenry. If such an insurrection could occur in Washington, DC on large scale and come within a whisker of harming high-level government officials, then anything is possible.
In the past weeks protests have swelled across a wide political-socio-economic demographic swath in 100 cities from Moscow to Vladivostok despite brutally cold weather. This has compelled Russian law enforcement to arrest and detain thousands, more than the “usual suspects” including over 80 journalists.
Nonetheless it’s not the thousands unarmed protestors that keeps Putin & Company up at night. Though visually impressive, the number of protestors doesn’t come close to threatening the present-day leadership. Rather Putin fears the erosion of political power in the upcoming legislative elections in September 2021 for the 450 seats in the State Duma of which United Russia the ruling party has 343 seats.
Strangely Putin is manifesting his own Twilight Zone déjà vu demise in the potential disintegration of his personal empire in the same way he witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union. The sentencing of his political nemesis Alexi Navalry for 2½ years makes it difficult to determine how this will play out with future protests. But like all ultra-nationalists, the tighter the grip, the more brittle the control.
With respect to security, five years ago Putin had Cassandra Complex-like foresight to establish special National Guard as a counter-measure for such contingencies. My article entitled Putin’s SS – The Kremlin’s Bodyguards published 30 December 2016 described the consolidation of several security services to form a 350,000 man force based exclusively in Moscow under his direct command.
Turkey | Overlooked and Under-Appreciated
The country that the mainstream media frequently overlooks with respect to their socio-economic situation is the crushing poverty that the pandemic has caused the general population, pushing many in the middle class into poverty for the first time in generations. This situation is creating and stoking a potential social unrest tinderbox that Erdogan’s government is ill-equipped to resolve economically with some form of relief funds.
According to a 2019 Income and Living Conditions Survey of the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) 17 million Turks live below the poverty line in a population of 81 million. The survey’s definition of “poor” is when incomes are 60% less than the median income. In Turkey that translates to 21.5 million poor families.
The 2020 survey, which would encompass pandemic related issues, won’t be released until this upcoming September. For this reason the present-day economic suffering is anecdotal rather than quantitative. Although Turkey’s presidential and general elections for the 600 member Grand National Assembly aren’t scheduled until 2023, popular discontent is growing rapidly and can boil over well beforehand.
Instability in Turkey is a critical concern for the rest of Europe because Turkey is a buffer between Europe and the anarchistic situation in the Middle East not to mention the hundreds of thousands of refugees.
The burning questions is, “What are we in for?” The clumsy, uncoordinated, haphazard and incompetent efforts by vaccine manufacturers and governments to distribute the vaccine and continued imposition of draconian lockdowns serve as a catalyst for conspiracy theories of a masterplan orchestrated by a shadowy elite. It’s perfect public relations fodder for opposing political groups who realize that they won’t have a better opportunity than now to challenge and replace the present-day governments whether at the ballot box or otherwise.
The depth of the discontentment among a wide & deep swath of the mainstream demographic in many countries is articulated in The Atlantic’s article entitled The Capitol Rioters Aren’t Like Other Extremists, published 2 February 2021. In sum the majority of the protestors are first-time protestors, middle age professionals, with no affiliation with ultra-conservative or radical groups.
Similarly in Russia the demographics of the protestors include many first-time protestors who are middle age across the political spectrum from Stalinists, nationalist and urban professionals, not the stereotypical narrowly defined reckless youth.
Worldwide discontent occurring simultaneously in key countries that will compel these governments to batten down the hatches and focus their efforts domestically making international cooperation more difficult. Finally international cooperation on a myriad of issues will be exacerbated should there be a dramatic change in political parties in the aforementioned countries.
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The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.