Mention a time of hope. Twenty-five years ago, when the pillar first appeared, the world was free. Soviet communism collapsed, the US called for a disagreement, and China entered the stock market. The European Union removed the demons of patriotism. The UK soon became known as the “Cool Britannia”.
You would not have thought that history had failed to turn around to judge that the 21st century would be a reflection of democracy and the economic system.
Modern policymakers are struggling with a world created by the forthcoming conflict between the US and China, and the rivalry between democracy and tyranny and the conflict between nationalism and patriotism. Britain is also the poorest man in Europe. If this sounds hopeless, you could add to the potential effects of climate change being man-made.
The simple explanation is that the west was captured in the 1990s by a hopeless naive. Victory over the Cold War continued. Living conditions were rising. It was possible, pre-Facebook, to think that the internet is a good global group. In any case, it is human nature to create what will happen in the future. Is history not straightforward?
Europeans were innocent of this crime. The continent’s civil rights activists made the same arguments as US neoconservatives in promoting a major cause of democracy. America had a gun but the EU had its “stable” power. The largest areas in the world were supposed to be, Europeans.
The biggest shift since the US-led post-Cold War has been replaced by intense competition, with right-to-left and right-of-way raising national interest rates including European integration, as well as mercantilist global economic turmoil. In the era of “brave” dictatorships, led by Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia, democracy is in hiding.
And now Western policymakers are at risk of mistakenly recognizing China as the biggest problem in the former regime. The U.S. and its allies, we are told, need to use their power to accumulate wealth to address these threats. What we need is more submarines in the South China Sea.
Given Beijing’s outrage, the protests are deceptive. I also change, for not accepting what has been happening since the 1990s. Yes, China has grown much faster than almost anyone thinks. But the meaning of the decline in Western democracies is mainly in the west.
The US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are part of the story. It was designed as a powerful power show in the US. Instead, cheap and impartial disputes helped to define the boundaries of the Pax Americana. Only the powerful have promised to reform the Middle East. Instead, as we saw last month in the fall of Kabul, Washington was forced to cut and run. The whole world will see this.
The failure in the Middle East, however, cannot be compared to the devastation caused by the 2008 global economic crisis.
The economic downturn that was evident was evident before the Lehman brothers collapsed. The incomes of those who were not wealthy had begun to decline as a result of market movements and open markets. It was also clear that the rewards of equality were reaped by the rich and the affluent. The shock, however, described the turnaround, a powerful shock.
Those who want to talk about the successes of President Donald Trump, the UK Brexit vote, or the terrorist attacks taking place in Europe should not go too far. The rise of the financial services industry and the idea of governments to exacerbate the crisis for the working class and low middle class has severely affected democracy.
What Trump has understood, like many others, is that the dignity of voters in politics has been established. Belief in a democratic society – in favor of the rule of law and the institutions of government – has the impression that the system is merely a matter of justice. There have been changes so far since the accident, but not enough.
There was nothing wrong with the ability of the Cold War promoters. It is still difficult to see how the world could function without a free democracy and a global system of law. What hope was lacking at the time, and Chinese observers are now ignoring, is hiding behind the reliance on democracy at home. Obviously, China is a threat. President Trump’s second term could be very dangerous.
Perhaps history would say that the great hope of the 1990s is being shown today by a great hope. It is a judgment I want to leave to others. For a politician, 25 years in the same position is enough. That’s my last part. I will continue to write from time to time as an FT assistant editor, but I think I should go in search of a better understanding, history.