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Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Forest - Globalism, Nationalism, BREXIT and the Israeli-Turkish Rapprochement - July 2, 2016

There are times when it is important to perceive the forest that includes the trees upon which we tend to focus. Now, may be a time to look even more broadly, at the landscape in which the forest sits, especially in regard to BREXIT, the British movement to exit the European Union, and recent developments in Turkish relations with Israel and Russia.

BREXIT- This week, a slim majority of voters in Great Britain voted to leave the European Union, slim enough that it is quite possible, after the consequences of the results became known, that a majority of British voters do not currently support the decision. The immediate consequences were the drop in value of the British Pound and in falling stock prices, though both have moderated since. Long term consequences for Britain could be more severe, including the dissolution of the United Kingdom. Scotland voted overwhelmingly for Britain to remain in the European Union and there has been a growing movement to declare Scottish independence. It may also be the case that England, perhaps also Great Britain as a whole, emerge stronger apart from the EU, something that could promote nationalist movements against the EU among other EU member nations.

BREXIT in relation to American election politics. It is not surprising that many have compared BREXIT to the success of the election campaign of Donald Trump. One of the major issues discussed by Trump, immigration, had been a primary issue in the discussions of BREXIT. More significantly, however, is the issue of nationalism. Trump's campaign slogans, "Make America Great Again" and "America First" are both nationalistic sentiments. One newspaper in Britain copied Trump's statement and stated post-vote, "Make Britain Great Again." Trump's comments on the BREXIT vote may be found here and are focused on "uncontrolled immigration." Immigration is one of many related issues connected to the assertion of national sovereignty.

Nationalism vs. Globalism- This is where the broader landscape comes in. We're not looking at a forest anymore; we're looking at a landscape including forests. If you see BREXIT as a nationalistic reaction to Globalism, an assertion of British, or at least English, nationalism in opposition to a European identity and European control, you begin to see how BREXIT connects with numerous other issues around the world.

Donald Trump represents an assertion of nationalism against the globalist mindset of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and much of the GOP establishment as well. Multi-national corporations tend to have a globalist outlook. Laborers and small business owners generally think with a nationalistic mindset, "How does this policy affect my job, my family, my factory?" Nationalists think of protecting jobs and businesses against foreign competition. Globalists think about expanding markets and international trade. Of note, dialogue within the United States about "states' rights" is also a nationalist vs. globalist discussion, one that has been a part of American political dialogue since the beginning of the nation. Policies that affect certain regions or industries are ones that could fit into this debate.

For example, a key issue through which it is easy to see the nationalist vs. globalist divide is Climate Change. Globalists prioritize the impact that climate change has or may have on the world's climate with substantial concerns for effects occurring in distant lands. Nationalists prioritize local impact. "Why should I sacrifice jobs here to keep the water an inch lower in a place that I will never visit?" In regard to environmental concerns, nationalists would focus on conservation efforts such as creating parks, but not so much on limiting production of greenhouse gases for example. Globalists would cause local harm by shuttering coal plants, for example, in order to affect a change that would potentially be imperceptible locally.

How much would the people of West Virginia notice the weather being impacted by the shuttering of a single local coal plant? Likely not at all. How much would the shuttering of that single coal plant impact the community in which it operates? Hugely. I am not discussing positions on the "science of climate change" or really about how to address it. What I note here is that the concerns of globalists and nationalists differ even if they admit that there is climate change taking place and that it is caused by human activity. A mining family in West Virginia could well believe that climate change is taking place and that people cause it, but still believe that the mines and plants should operate.

Globalist institutions focus on multi-national concerns, not necessarily ones fully global in scope. Such institutions certainly include the United Nations and all of its affiliated organizations, but also the European Union, the Arab League, the former Soviet Union, the former British Empire and religio-political organizations. The latter once included the Roman Catholic Church at times when it wielded substantial political power. Today, the primary religio-political globalist organizations are Political Islamist ones that seek to create an Islamic Caliphate. The Islamic State is one example of this, but so are the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda, all of which operate multi-nationally and have the goal of creating a global political entity.

Israeli-Turkish Diplomacy- Some have argued that issues related to Kurdish nationalism have driven the Turks to rapprochement with Israel. I believe that this misses the larger picture that Turkish nationalist concerns superseded PM Erdogan's globalist pro-Muslim Brotherhood thinking. From a globalist perspective, yielding to Israel on the blockade of Gaza is as bad as it can get. In so doing, Erdogan essentially gave up a major battle for Hamas, his Muslim Brotherhood ally. There is no doubt that Al Sissi's government in Egypt also demanded that the blockade be left in place and Egypt is itself a nationalist oriented government.

Erdogan chose to prioritize Turkish national concerns, inhibiting the Kurdish nationalist movement, ensuring the flow of natural gas, improved Russo-Turkish relations and combating Islamic State terrorism over and against opposition to the enemies of the globalist oriented Muslim Brotherhood for whom Erdogan's government has been a primary patron. Israel could well have been instrumental in helping with Russo-Turkish rapprochement and the Israeli-Turkish rapprochement opens the door for Turkey to work with the Israeli, Egyptian, Jordanian and Saudi strategic alliance against both the Islamic State and Iran.

While Israel officially will pay $20 million to the "victims" of the Mavi Marmara, seemingly officially admitting guilt, virtually going unnoticed in the media is Erdogan's somewhat shocking public statements in opposition to the organizers of that flotilla. Erdogan slammed the group for not seeking or receiving his permission to set sail. Added to fact that the agreement leaves the blockade of Gaza in place, the combination amounts to a substantial abandonment of the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestinian project. Israel was already allowing humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, so in essence the new agreement will result in little change in regard to Israel's relationship with Hamas.

Hamas finds itself in far worse of a strategic situation in 2016 than it has been in before. The naval blockade is intact. Egypt has severely constricted tunnel access in and out of Gaza. Now, Hamas has lost the diplomatic and economic pressure on Israel that Turkey could have brought to bear.

Looking back at how we arrived here, Turkey had been a primary beneficiary of President Obama's foreign policy tilt toward the Muslim world during his first term, being seen as the exemplar of a democratic and Muslim state, but, during his Pres. Obama's second term in office, because of the rise of the Islamic State and the failure of the Free Syrian Army and its Muslim Brotherhood allies to win the civil war in Syria, Turkey has suffered substantially, facing both significant national threats and political isolation.

Just consider this for a moment, over the past year alone:

  • Turkish allies in the Civil War in Syria have been largely defeated by Assad's forces, the Islamic State, and the Kurds in different locations,
  • Turkey shot down a Russian fighter plane, potentially involving NATO in a fight it had no desire to enter, not to mention acquiring for Turkey a powerful military enemy with substantial concerns along its borders, and 
  • Since Turkey's natural gas supply comes from Russia also had the potential of causing severe national harm even without a war, 
  • The nation was flooded with refugees from a civil war in Syria that Turkey helped to promote,
  • Led by Germany, NATO arrayed warships between Turkey and the European mainland in order to curb the flow of refugees flowing through Turkey,
  • Terrorists were allowed to cross through its borders into Syria to fight for the Islamic State against the Assad regime and the Kurds only to then have those Islamic State terrorists conduct terrorist attacks against it, including the most recent attack in Istanbul,
  • There was a strengthening of the Kurdish national movement in Syria with the potential to join the well established Iraq one in creating a broader Kurdish state potentially leading to the strengthening of the Kurds within Turkey,
  • Diplomatically, the nation was all but disregarded by the major Arab powers who have ended up as strong strategic allies of Israel and lastly,
  • Turkey watched Israel be upgraded in status by NATO at the same time that Russia, China, India and Brazil have all improved relations with Israel.

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