“The Decline of the West, and How to Stop It” Solana and Talbott, The New York Times, 19 October 2016

"Ever after World War II, the United States, Canada and much of Europe have constituted a vast zone of peace, prosperity and democracy becoming an example for the rest of the world. That achievement is in jeopardy."

Last year has seen one catastrophe after another for the West, in addition to the already critical situation caused by the economic crisis that began in 2008. In Europe, a rash of terrorist attacks has increased security concerns. Brexit in the UK has raised fears of a contagion of other departures from the EU. And, an influx of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and North Africa have inflamed social anxieties. Meanwhile, the election campaign in the United States has revealed a similar issue: Many Americans are pessimistic about the future and nostalgic for a seemingly better past. As in Europe, there is widespread mistrust of elites and experts, and feverish enthusiasm for anti-establishment populists as well as a skeptic look towards globalization. Such events and circumstances bring the threat of protectionism in economics, isolationism in foreign policy, and a resurgent nationalism and xenophobia in politics. However, not everything is lost. If the West has learnt something from the last 70 years, it is that internationalism is the only path to achieve both political, economic and social progress. Thus European leaders must convince their citizens of the advantages of staying in the EU, thereby avoiding a political disintegration. To do so, the union’s institutions need a restructured decision-making process while improving cooperation. A "united" EU must be a top priority for the incoming United States administration as well as addressing domestic problems such as the gridlock between the executive and legislative branches and an downward turn in the public mood. Concerning globalization, Western governments must work to cement a new political consensus that will restore public support for free and fair international trade. "Restoring social progress on this scale will succeed only if it has buy-in from all segments of society. But the innovation and direction must come from the top .......this generation of Western leaders faces the greatest and most consequential test in 70 years."

 

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“The Decline of the West, and How to Stop It” Solana and Talbott, The New York Times, 19 October 2016

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