Stunned by the quick succession of recent events, Dominique Moïsi provides a brilliant analysis of the unrecognizable world which is emerging with Trump’s arrival.
Columnists are at the heart of a newspaper, especially when, like Dominique Moïsi, they are involved with such dedication, belief and with the particular modesty often seen in great writers, never completely sure that they’ve met the expectations of their first readers, the journalists. Over the years, Moïsi has sent us his “view of the world” each week. The titles of his columns reflect the subjective view of a man of vast geopolitical learning. He roams the planet with unaffected delicacy, and because of this trait, he is listened to by those in power. Moïsi never tires of providing deep analysis of the upheavals seen throughout the world.
These very columns, which were published every Monday in our paper, can now be found in a new book, co-edited by Les Echoes and by Muriel Beyer and her team from Éditions de l’Observatoire. Reading these columns, a landscape takes shape, one which the author defines simply: “Less from America, more from Russia, yet less from Europe, a Middle East in complete implosion, a China which is ever more authoritarian and national, an axis from Moscow to Ankara to Tehran and a terrorist threat which has diversified and spread.” In the lengthy preface to the book, Moïsi describes his amazement at a world which, in his view, has become “unrecognizable.” Here are some extracts.
The Time for Demagogues
“Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States ... The clock by the television doesn’t merely show the hours, it also shows the days, and the coincidence of the dates really strikes me. Today is Nov. 9, 27 years to the day that the Berlin Wall came down. In politics this was the greatest day of my generation, at least for those of us who 'are in love with Democracy' and who never thought that their 'dream' would come true so quickly. With each following Dec. 9 we saw change. However, what I’ve seen in 2016 could be the complete opposite of what I lived through in 1989 and could be the worst political defeat of my generation.”
The End of a Period of Peace
“The decades that we’ve seen since the end of World War II under the protection of the Americans have on the whole been years of peace, of prosperity and, of course, progress. They have been characterized by unquestionable success. As Martin Wolf reminded us on Jan. 6 in the Financial Times, globally, income per capita rose by 460 percent from 1950 to 2015. Also in the same period, the percentage of the population living in extreme poverty dropped from 72 percent to 10 percent and life expectancy rose from 48 to 71 years. However, figures are one thing and perception of reality is another. The overriding feeling of 2017 is one which is predominantly negative. Rising inequalities within developed economies, an increase in migratory movements, a general feeling of a loss of control over the future and, even more worryingly, over our own identities. Winter is approaching, or rather, it has already set in.”
From Hope to Fear
“There has been a reversal of order. The world has brutally moved from hope to fear. America has passed from having a role model status to being the exact opposite. Yesterday, the U.S. was a stronghold of democratic values, the ultimate protection against blunders committed throughout the world, despite having committed some of their own like Vietnam and Iraq. The U.S. has brutally switched its position and is now at the forefront of populism.”
“Eight years ago, Barack Obama had just been elected president of the United States. At the time, I had anticipated and hoped for his victory. I celebrated his victory. In this uncontested victory of the democratic candidate I saw a definitive collapse of the 'wall of skin color' after that of the 'wall of repression' in Berlin. In a slightly chaotic way (and sometimes tragically such as on 9/11) history made sense and was still progressing in the ‘right direction.’ A cycle of good had just reopened with Obama’s election … but from the very beginning of his administration, doubt progressively started to mix into my joy. I remember this period. I was teaching at Harvard and I could really appreciate the gap that existed between the brutality of the crisis and the beauty of the words of presidential speeches.”