Happy New Year to Bad Attitudes readers! I hope this year brings you whatever you need.
And I’m hoping that for the world, too, though in the latter case I remain somewhat skeptical. In the US, as we stare down the barrel of a Hillary Clinton presidency, with a possible challenge from Jeb Bush, it’s good to be reminded that other civilized countries — perhaps I should omit “other” — are not as locked into the old order as we remain. In fact there are active movements to change that order, for example in the two parties I mentioned in a previous post, Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain. The ranks of both parties were empty a few years ago, and now the powers that have controlled the government to the benefit of their own class at the expense, both fiscal and moral, of the rest are feeling the heat. The level of panic is evident in their actions, such as the surprise call for snap elections in Greece after the third failure of the legislature to elect a president, a largely honorary role in that country’s system; the maneuvering among old-order parties in Spain to overcome existing differences and partner against the new power that has arrived so recently yet seems so fearsome; and even the uncertainty in the UK about the upcoming election and the probability of another coalition of convenience or some other form of minority government.
As usual, Seamus Milne puts it better and more clearly:
The powers that be in Europe are determined to prop up a failed economic model regardless of the cost — as they will be in Britain if Labour wins the general election in May. The aftershocks of the breakdown of that neoliberal regime are still being felt across the world economy — in falling commodity prices, capital flight, stagnation and recession. But the interests that depend on it won’t let go without a serious challenge.
That’s just as true in terms of global power. The US and its satellites, including Britain, may have suffered a strategic defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan — symbolised by last weekend’s ceremony to mark the end of Nato’s combat mission, held in secret for fear of Taliban attacks. But they’re not letting go either. Some 13,000 troops are staying on as “trainers”, just as thousands of western troops have been returning to Iraq for the war against Isis — the al-Qaida breakaway spawned by their own invasion and occupation — with talk of a major assault in the spring.
In the same spirit, every effort was made at the time of the Arab uprisings of 2011 to hijack, control or crush them. Some of the results can be seen today in the disaster zone across the Middle East, the growing power of the western-backed autocracies of the Gulf, the brutality of Egypt’s new dictatorship and the maelstrom in post-intervention Libya, whose civil war is likely to intensify in the coming months.
Here’s hoping the world finds ways to cope, and we all live long and prosper!