As I watch COVID 19 unravel across the world and think about the countries still to be hit, I also think about the interconnected nature of the international community. And I wonder what the post World War 2 architects who designed many of the international institutions we have today, would think of the situation we find ourselves in.
The United States, a country whose previous bout of isolationism came an abrupt end on 07 December 1941, could be entering a new period of distancing itself from the world. An isolationist government is withdrawing one of globalism’s primary architect nations. President Donald Trump’s down scaling of U.S. involvement in organizations like the World Health Organization, U.N.E.S.C.O. and others points to either a belief that globalism is bad, or a misunderstanding – deliberate or otherwise – of how the international community works. Along with international and internal appointments of people who do not believe in their agencies and their respective missions, this could be pointing to a mistrust in the global community.
Despite Trumpian isolationism taking hold in America, much of the world seems to be veering towards a more and more globalised society. Trade agreements are aimed at breaking down economic barriers. Bodies such as the European Union and African Union, military alliances such as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and A.(N.Z.)U.S. are aimed at addressing governance and security across international regions. The hard borders that used to be defined by border crossings, fences and guards are gone.
But have we become too globalised? When one thinks about the barriers that have been abolished and the COVID19 outbreak now engulfing nations, would the existence of them have slowed down and/or contained the virus? Would having to fill out a medical declaration as part of a regular border check help to contain the virus? Electronic Travel Authorisation’s might be intended to save a whole lot of questions at the border, but are they on their own enough to certify the suitability of a person wanting to enter a country? In the European Union someone who picks up the disease in France, might reach Poland by train before they realize that they have it.
In recent years, those borders that once had crossings, guards and fences are starting to become hard borders again. This time it is not Cold War geopolitics driving the problem, but a continual influx of economic migrants from Africa, from the former colonies of European powers that to this day do not seem to want to admit their historic culpability. Many of these European nations still have background activities they want to conduct inside their old colonies, such as France’s security and intelligence apparatus collaborating with the Algerian authorities to prop up a government of questionable repute.
Another example of globalisation’s excesses is well highlighted by the inane rules that the European Union has come up with for basic everyday items such as banana’s. The fact that European Members of Parliament are perceived to lack accountability, and that no E.U. Parliamentary election has had more than 50% turn out, tells me many Europeans do not much care for it.
In Africa, the African Union, a multinational governing body representing many of the poorest countries on the planets poorest continent, faces a host of issues. Corruption of officials is probably the major one, but also the weak legal frameworks in most A.U. member states, makes it difficult to achieve the goals that Western institutions such as the World Bank and the I.M.F. set. And those bodies themselves are hardly known for having a good understanding of African nations and their societies, never mind the billion or so inhabitants.
Africa, often perceived as the poor mans continent for obvious reasons, is most probably the least understood and certainly the least respected. France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Britain and Portugal for the most part did not teach their colonies how to build a functional legal system; hold democratic elections or what sound economics look like. As a result the millions of near destitute people you see living in what to many of us would look like squalor, unsurprisingly move to greener pastures in any way they can. And decades of this has now seen flash points developing where migrants desperate to escape their hell move into low socio-economic areas, that start to resemble ghettos. Drugs, violence, monetary rackets are the norm.
And it is out of the push back against this, that hardliners like Marine Le Pen and the Front Nationale, Alternative for Deutschland and other hard right wing parties and individuals are getting their support. Just as Mr Trump is pushing back against Latin America for sending so many immigrants – legal or not – these people are pushing back against the migrants. And because none are seeking to address the causes of them coming, or helping their nations of origin to so, the very globalised society promoted by these international bodies is undermining itself.