A world in turmoil | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 02, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:42 AM, November 02, 2018

A world in turmoil

We show two traits when caught up in a political impasse before a general election and in responding to the government's offer of a dialogue when it comes to the opposition.

First, we tend to benchmark success stories of rapprochement to 1989-90 remembering a tripartite agreement which had worked well till the election. But going to the post-election sequel, its provisions to strengthen democracy would suffer a slippage.

The second trait has been the oft-repeated revisiting of the electoral issues mainly because of fundamental amendments to the law guiding an election which the opposition couldn't find itself in agreement with.

Since the differences over the interim election-time government keep recurring to create an avoidable disquiet, they need to be resolved once and for all through mutual accommodation. The change in the air palpably is that nobody wants a replay of January 5, 2014-type election. And one can take heart from the fact that the opposition seeking a dialogue with the government received a green signal promptly, and that the opportunity didn't have to be wrested from the ruling party through any movement. The rest, one only hopes, would follow in pursuit of the same spirit.

I can think of three more compulsions for a satisfactory resolution of the contentious issues. In the first place, fair, inclusive, participatory and credible election will give the AL an unquestionable mandate to carry forward its widely acclaimed socioeconomic development programmes. Secondly, there will be a shot in the arm of the FDI inflow which is currently on the decline. In fact, local and foreign investments that were shying away apprehending political unrest would start pouring in.

Significantly, we have to keep our antenna high on the rapidly changing international situation which, overall, is turning from bad to worse. But we have competent foreign policy and security professionals to keep analyses handy on all diplomatic or geostrategic developments. We should not be caught unawares of any important unfolding dynamics indicating a change in equations.

In this context, let me reiterate that the world has turned topsy-turvy, thanks to the Trump presidency in the US and a general fall in global and regional leadership standards perceptible in a confusing, albeit unpredictable, scenario. Unfortunately, the vision of multilateralism today appears to be only confined to the UN Charter.

The rise of the far-right and the emergence of autocratic and dictatorial regimes across the board have received an impetus from Trumpian chauvinism. Trump abandoning the role of the US as a superpower, riding on his America First hobby-horse, letting China and Russia try and fill the resulting vacuum, and his waging a trade war with China have combined to unsettle the world's politico-economic equilibrium.

The repercussions are going to be far-reaching. Of course, there are some “red lines” for China, US and Russia that the countries will try to not cross. Such checks and balances we may have to identify and do research and keep tabs on, so that we can fine-tune our policy approaches to the inputs garnered.

All over Europe, left libertarian democratic forces are on a retreat in the face of far-right inroads. Also, a surge of green parties in reaction to the agenda of undermining climate change can be seen. The German Chancellor's electoral reverses in Bavaria in particular are a case in point; she might hang the gloves after what remains of her current term in office.

Brexit and a sweeping right-wing tide all over the world have made the Germans feel strategically beleaguered. “We are herbivore power, surrounded by carnivores,” the Guardian writer Charles Grant was told by a senior German government official.

“In the years after 1989, we assumed that the world was converging towards the liberal, rule-based order we Germans espouse. But now we see reversal—in China, Russia, Turkey, central Europe and the US,” the official was quoted as saying.

Luckily for Bangladesh, the political far-right has been on a retreat with Jamaat having lost its registration as a political entity for its role in the Liberation War.

Particular attention may be drawn by Bolsonaro, the newly elected president of Brazil, who is known as the “Trump of the Tropics”. He has already made an unprintable chauvinistic remark against Congresswoman Maria do Rosario of the leftist Workers' Party who accused him of “inciting rape”. Signifying an aversion to climate change, Bolsonaro has also downgraded the environment ministry.

To end with a Trump update: He has deployed 5,400 American troops along the Mexican border, the same number of soldiers that he had placed in “independent” Afghanistan!


Shah Husain Imam is Adjunct Faculty, East West University, commentator on current affairs and former Associate Editor, The Daily Star.

Email: shahhusainimam@gmail.com

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