If humanity should have learned anything by now, it is how important the international world order is in the big scheme of things.
When it breaks down, or gets chopped up, or morphs shape into something else, and the wheels of power and relationships alter, the consequences and implications are pitilessly enormous.
An over-the-shoulder cursory look at the nineteenth and twentieth centuries surely is enough proof: from revolution to global wars, from empires to rogue and nasty states, from homicides on a personal to a massive scale, to downright genocide, holocaust and ethnic cleansing.
The international world then is important, but also embraced by that very loose word ‘order’ which means so much and so little: it implies something workable, static, when in fact it is unstable, dynamic, even fragile in political terms.
Look how the Cold War came and went and has now returned; the post-Cold war hopes appear bludgeoned, where the second world war killed and displaced millions it has now become replaced by displacing migratory patterns not seen for centuries.
The lauded world of Trump and Xi, USA and China, claim a new era but which pulls in different directions with unknown consequences: aka the dilemma of North Korea.
As for the European Union, it remains fragmented with little more than market economics at its heart, when its security should be its priority in a world order showing strains unseen for many decades.
Notice, in the European Union how one of the largest economies has decided to leave its principal institutions: the UK can hardly talk about anything else or rather more about who will be Prime Minister in a post EU order of things rather than any strategic thinking.
Yes, the UK is going to become, it is promulgated, a ‘global free-market Britain’, or a ‘Socialist Britain’, whatever any of that means: a nebulous series of proposals with nothing linked to the existing ‘order’ of the EU or the wider international context. With no wider context we are left with slogans.
As for the rest of the other States of the European Union, the talk avoids Brexit’s consequences except perhaps as a passing opportunity to enrich some state economies, or maybe raising worries on how to ensure the EU institutions can balance their books in the midterm. A game of auditors it seems whilst bigger blocs are picking up the investment in the new technology of contemporary warfare and reshaping relations (e.g. Russia and China).
Of course, what might be happening (Brexit and the EU together) is the reshaping of the EU order of things: it is talked about at the margins but its consequences are not laid bare. The soft words of integration from the EU Commission and the External Action Service are in sharp contrast to the demands of the individual states.
In other, simpler words, as the world order appears to be shifting ground and almost unbelievably the talk of nuclear weapons becomes almost common place, the EU is having to shape-shift and the implications of this for the European, let alone the global context, as History has taught us, are massive.
We need to look much more closely at the global context of such ‘local’ issues: we need to draw the dots together a little more accurately if we are to perceive what might happen next.