Are we heading for a Donald Trump version of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, as the new administration starts to prepare for the big one even before it assumes office? Yes, it would appear that Donald might even drag all of us into a war with China and, if that is not enough, there he is praising Britain’s decision to leave the EU, having a go at Angela Merkel, and telling us that NATO is obsolete.
Then there is the other big news; “Theresa May has delivered her much-anticipated speech on Brexit” and the portents would appear to suggest that a far from ideal globalisation is unravelling into something even more sinister. With Trump threatening to put up trade barriers and little England trying cherry pick the best of all possible worlds, are globalisation, the post-World War 2 order, and the European project doomed?
Perhaps, but, more importantly, with the new administration in Washington already threatening China, it might be that not only is the post-WW2 order about to be buried, but also that the United States, and the little island off the coast of Europe, are about to seek their saviour in xenophobia, racism and in a search for autarky that can only come about through a war. A war which will bear a lot of the traits of that conflict which became all the more certain after the 30th of January 1933.
Still, solace can be sought and it can be found in the fact that the world that Germans woke up to on the 31st of January 1933 was no different from the one they went to sleep in the previous night. Similarly, the world will not be a noticably different place on the 21st of January 2017 and nothing is inevitable. That is why resistance has to be possible.
Indeed, if we are looking for a big positive at the moment, it might be found in the fact that resisting the new xenophobia and the inevitable war-mongering that will accompany it, should mean that we also don’t return to that Washington Consensus and those neo-con wars that Trump’s own new wars will superceed, while in fact simultaneously pursuing the continuity that the hegemon demands.
For, just as Nazi Germany’s search for autarky and “Lebensraum”, deemed Germany’s imperial “Weltpolitik” to be superfluous, or to use Trump’s vernacular, “obsolete”, there was still a continuity in German foreign policy that can be traced from Bismark to Hitler. Similarly, the new administration in Washington will see itself in the tradition of a hegemon who is used to getting its way. Therefore, in resisting Trump it might very well be that we can also avoid returning to the unilateralism of an arrogant super power and instead establish a new multilateral global order.