A vacuum in the world order


We are witnessing the unraveling of the world order that emerged in the aftermath of the Second World War and have no idea what tomorrow will bring.

US President Donald Trump is tearing down all the fundamental principles of American foreign policy. The overwhelming vote at the United Nations’ General Assembly meeting against his decision on Jerusalem in December highlighted the lack of allies and isolation of Trump’s America. Everyone is stunned. Even the Palestinians and the Arab world are reserved in their reactions, as everyone is afraid.

Behind the scenes, a tug-of-war is evidently unfolding between the president and the deep state that expresses the continuation of American policy. It is hard to predict the outcome of this battle of wills regarding crucial issues such as North Korea or Iran.

However, America’s departure from traditional values and principles is creating a vacuum. The vacuum left by the US will be filled by one or more powers. Vladimir Putin’s Russia is already exploiting it systematically and China is pursuing a policy aimed at expanding its influence. Other leaders, such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are eyeing a similar role.

Meanwhile, Europe does not know what direction it should take. It can no longer depend on America for security, as it had for many decades. Furthermore, there is no leader who can express the bloc’s ambitions and unite its member states behind a single purpose. German Chancellor Angela Merkel appears to be in political remission, while France’s Emmanuel Macron, despite an impressive start, is failing to become convincing.

Where does Greece fit in all this? It obviously has no other choice but to remain anchored in Europe and forge alliances. The problem is that Greek prime ministers always believed that if something went wrong with Turkey, our larger and skittish neighbor, they could always turn to the White House. These days, however, no one can be sure how a crucial phone call to the US president would play out. Trump might say “Erdogan is a friend, so you two need to try and make up;” he might express an unwillingness to intervene; or he might follow the old recipe of sending a special envoy to ease the tension.

Meanwhile, it is not certain whether Erdogan would pick up the phone to a Trump call or even a European official for that matter. He might actually prefer Putin’s intervention.

There is too much uncertainty and it is not likely to abate anytime soon, so caution and prudence are the order of the day.