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Geopolitics Hot Summer of 2015 is Getting a Lot Hotter

Commodities / GeoPolitics Jul 28, 2015 - 06:15 PM GMT

By: Atlantic_Perspective

Commodities

Bill Gates says there was never a better time to be alive. Has he ever been to Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Somalia, Burundi, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Mexico, Venezuela, Ukraine, Greece, Moldova and the whole of Central Asia, just to name a significantly big number of countries and regions?

Bill Gates, just like most people sitting at the top of the human pyramid, looks at the world from the perspective of indicators, totally disconnected from the real world.


Top decision makers cannot look at individual cases or exceptions to make decisions. For them, it´s all about the “big picture”, the trends and the macro indicators. This apparently logical approach to decision making, overlooks the most important element of society: people.

Politicians, economists and investors make decisions based on statistics and ratios. Basically, numbers. But behind each number, statistic or ratio, there are people. Unlike numbers, people behave in totally irrational ways, moved by dreams and aspirations, religion and political manipulation.

Economists in particular, tend to totally overlook the human factor. And more often then not, economists get surprised because the economy “didn´t behave as it should”. A 1% reduction in disposable income can have an impact from 0 to 20% in household consumption. What really matters are the expectations people have going forward. But economist have no way to measure expectations, optimism, pessimism or outright anger.

In peaceful, optimistic contexts, rational measures tend to be well accepted. But in countries, companies or situations charged with negative tension for whatever reason, “the right thing to do” may prove to be an outright disaster. Let´s take Greece as example:

Any rational person will look at Greece´s finances and conclude the obvious: the country is bankrupt, therefore public spending must be reduced. This is not an ideological point of view, it´s the obvious mathematical conclusion. But behind this obvious conclusion, there are people with expectations and dreams about their future. For these people, macro numbers count very little or nothing at all. Each individual Greek wants his/her pension to be as high as possible. Citizens want free public services and the lowest possible taxes. This is not rational at all, but this is how humans process reality: from their own personal perspective.

Any government in this context, in Greece or elsewhere, risks being overthrown by the angry populace. Or by a military commander or religious leader offering the solutions for all problems.

Economists and CEOs are not used to think about or process emotions. People good at dealing with numbers are usually very bad at dealing with people. But when the numbers affect the lives of thousands or even millions of people, economists and CEOs are actually dealing with people, wether they like it or not.

Going back to Bill Gates. By looking at health statistics and economic indicators we may indeed perceive the world from a rosy perspective. What those numbers don´t say, is that the world is currently going through one of the most tense periods in human history. Never before was immigration such a global and widespread problem. Never before religious fanatics had or could have access to weapons of mass destruction. Never before in the history of mankind so many people lived in cities, totally dependent on complex food distribution channels, that will literally collapse if the internet goes offline or fuel becomes unavailable for a few days.

Human emotions have the power to obliterate nice powerpoints in a matter of days or even hours. Europe is on collision course to a social explosion. The pressure from immigration and Islam - both seen by most Europeans as a threat – will sooner or later cause a violent response. This violent response can erupt out of chaos or be institutional, as soon as a far right party takes over power in Europe. And it will. Several countries in Northern Europe are basically waiting to be the first, not to mention France itself, who could be the first to make a swift turn to the right.

Immigration is not just a European problem. The US, Canada, Australia, Turkey, China and many others also have immigration problems. In some countries, immigrants are already treated as criminals. As the immigration pressure rises, the defensive response will become harsher and harsher. Add to that the threat of terrorism, and it is clear to see that the gates of the global world are closing.

Hot and getting hotter

As the world becomes less embracing and more divided, the chances of conflict increase. We already see widespread conflict across the world. The economic and health indicators that make Bill Gates so optimistic can become history in no time. More and more parts of the world are moving backwards, not forward. Several countries in the MENA region have already collapsed, and others like Tunisia, Jordan and Lebanon are very close to. Even the “powerful and stable” Turkey is at risk of becoming the new Syria. As chaos spreads and doors close, civilization is replaced by the law of the jungle.

Optimists might argue that war and violence are part of the human essence, and that despite that we´ve still managed to evolve and prosper. This is absolutely true. What is also true, is that between periods of growth and prosperity, entire nations and even regions were destroyed. 70 years ago Europe was a pile of ruble. Before the Renaissance, Europe lived a thousand years of darkness during the Middle Ages. In the long term, everyone will be better off. But in the long term all of us will be dead.

The hotspots for a hot summer in 2015

1. Syria and Iraq can soon be joined by Turkey. First in a low intensity conflict, mostly in Turkey´s Southeast, with clashes between the army and the PKK. But if the conflict gains traction, the more than 15 million Kurds scattered all over Turkey can fuel mass social upheaval. Turkey is one of the most politically polarized countries in the world. The 4 parties in parliament can barely share the same room. The potential for widespread violence is very significant.

2. North Africa is the other side of the Middle East coin. Radical Islamists have managed to keep tourists away from Tunisia and Egypt. But all over North Africa, people want Islamist governments. Only brute force has kept that from happening, with Algeria and Egypt being the best examples.

Until when can the military keep the Quran away from the corridors of power? The Persian Shah was very successful in this mission until he wasn´t. Sooner or later, Islam will take control of one or two countries in North Africa. The economic crisis brought by the collapse of tourism in this region, has the potential to fuel a hot fall.

3. Venezuela is at breaking point. The country is bankrupt and society is absolutely divided in two. The potential for civil war is very real. The closer Venezuela gets to default, the closer the country is to civil war. For Maduro, it will be literally kill or be killed.

4. Europe: with immigrants reaching the shores of Italy and Greece literally by the boat load and the far right rhetoric gaining traction, immigrants are literally a few boats away of being considered criminals and treated as such.

Sweden, one of the most peaceful and welcoming countries in the world, is now suffering from an overdose of kindness. Malmoe, Sweden´s 3rd largest city, is on its way to the 100th bomb explosion just this year. Immigrants are basically bringing into Sweden their “dialogue methods”. How long will the peaceful Swedes remain peaceful as their peaceful Malmoe becomes Beirut? The “Sweden Democrats”, the far right, anti-immigration party is scheduled to get 20% of the votes in the next election. What happens when this or other similar parties eventually get elected in Europe?

5. China: as the Shanghai stock market crashes and the economy slows, the Chinese Communist Party will be tempted to get into war to distract the masses and rally them around the red flag. Why and against who is China going to war with? To guaranty ownership rights over a few rocks (The Spratly Islands), lost at sea thousands of miles away. As for the who, take your pick: The Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam. Any of them will do.

The global statistics never looked so good. Why then, are so many people willing to risk their lives to migrate in almost certain death conditions, only to be denied entry if they manage to reach their destination alive? Why are there so many people blowing themselves up and willing to join wars thousands of miles always instead of living “the statistical good life”? Why are there so many wars going on with more soon to come?

World leaders of all sorts are well advised to look at the world´s national, regional and global emotional condition, with the same interest as they look at statistics. For Mr Gates, this is indeed the best time ever to be alive. For billions of people, it´s not. That´s the Atlantic Perspective.     

Copyright © 2015 by The Atlantic Perspective.

The Atlantic Perspective is an opinion blog, aimed at explaining and providing solutions to some of the world´s most relevant issues.

www.atlanticperspective.com


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