The Euro-American Shift

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There are certain pressures that reverberate throughout the globe that can manifest in different realms, including the economy, the military and the legal system. As the world evolves, so do these pressures. They normally affect countries one by one, but sometimes they can impact multiple countries at the same time. We are now in the midst of a transcontinental systemic crisis affecting many European countries as well as the United States.

In these regions, the forces being brought to bear have resulted in a loss of confidence in the state and the cultural matrix. There is a culture war, focused on issues ranging from gender to the movement of people, driven by economic and political forces. Long-standing cultural norms are being restructured, a shift frequently overseen and endorsed by the state. The movement of people across borders brings with it diverse cultural values, poverty-driven crime and the difficulties of social integration. Former U.S. President Donald Trump has challenged these changes with a force that has surprised and alarmed his opponents.

Amid the pressures generated by the fear of unemployment is a sense that the state has lost interest in the well-being of poorer citizens in favor of migrants. With that comes a fear that their country’s long-standing moral values will be deemphasized and new ideals constructed as new groups are granted legitimacy over older generations.

This all generates a political response against not so much parties of a particular political leaning but those parties in power. In the United States, the challenge comes from the confrontation between the Democratic Party and the radical wing of the Republican Party. Democrats are seen as heedless of the moral values that were dominant in the past and the dangers of migration.

In Europe, many of these issues are still in play, coupled with the sense that European unification has favored some countries over others and that the political system has not satisfied many people’s needs. In some cases, traditional concerns over distribution of wealth have also been at the root of the battle. The political trajectory is mostly against left-wing parties, with the details of the challenges varying, though resistance to migration is a common thread.

Overall, incumbent parties are the targets of the frustration. The incumbents, irrespective of their ideology, are held responsible for the public’s grievances. As opposition parties – even sometimes those on the left – take on issues like mass migration and shifting values, they begin to tilt elections in their favor.

The U.S. election is a model of this tendency. Trump is focusing on delegitimizing Democrats and Republicans who are more conventional, in favor of a new political structure. A similar dynamic is taking place in Europe, where the left-wing parties are moving to recognize the moral claims of newly energized parties skeptical of European unity, migration and changes in cultural norms. The Euro-American world is thus undergoing a routine but dramatic shift.

George Friedman

George Friedman is an internationally recognized geopolitical forecaster and strategist on international affairs and the founder and chairman of Geopolitical Futures.

Dr. Friedman is also a New York Times bestselling author. His most recent book, THE STORM BEFORE THE CALM: America’s Discord, the Coming Crisis of the 2020s, and the Triumph Beyond, published February 25, 2020 describes how “the United States periodically reaches a point of crisis in which it appears to be at war with itself, yet after an extended period it reinvents itself, in a form both faithful to its founding and radically different from what it had been.” The decade 2020-2030 is such a period which will bring dramatic upheaval and reshaping of American government, foreign policy, economics, and culture.

His most popular book, The Next 100 Years, is kept alive by the prescience of its predictions. Other best-selling books include Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe, The Next Decade, America’s Secret War, The Future of War and The Intelligence Edge. His books have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Dr. Friedman has briefed numerous military and government organizations in the United States and overseas and appears regularly as an expert on international affairs, foreign policy and intelligence in major media. For almost 20 years before resigning in May 2015, Dr. Friedman was CEO and then chairman of Stratfor, a company he founded in 1996. Friedman received his bachelor’s degree from the City College of the City University of New York and holds a doctorate in government from Cornell University.