WARWICK POLITICS SOCIETY
THE HOME OF STUDENT POLITICAL COMMENTARY
Perspectives is a termly magazine run by the University of Warwick Politics Soci ety. All of our content is written, edited and published by students here at Warwick, providing EVERYONE from all disciplines a platform to express their opinions about international, domestic and local affairs.
Perspectives goes to print once a term, whilst our online edition is up dated weekly to give us students a chance to have our voices heard.
We also have a podcast segment where we hold fornightly discussions to discuss pertinent political issues. We will be inviting interested writers/ podcasters on board!
FANCY WRITING OR RECORDING WITH US?
No prior experience in writing or recording? Fret not! Past experience in writing and journal ism isn't a requirement - all we need is your opinion. If you've got something to say (a per spective to give us, you might even call it), JOIN US NOW!
WE ARE HIRING!
Interested to pitch, edit and design articles? Here's your chance! We are looking to hire a team of self-motivated Deputy Editors and a Design Editor to help us for the academic year.
SCAN HERE TO JOIN
Profile: Maia Sandu by Will Kingston-Cox
Kenya's Election: The Ongoing Battle for More Democracy by Shu Yu Lim
The US Midterms: What Can We Expect? by Will Allen
President Petro: Colombia’s New Hope by Louis Samarasinghe
The Sri Lankan Economic Crisis. A Warning Ignored. By Ryan Lee
Taiwan: Made in China? A War Far from the Strait and Narrow by Daniel Sillett
Jetzt kommt der Winter - Winter Befalls Germany Amidst a Generational Crisis by Zach Roberts
Knesset Elections and the PIJ: Scapegoating the Gaza Siege by Selma Saik
The Erosion of Democracy in Australia by Devina Singh
Need to Know: Draghi's Demise and Italy's Elections by Zac Hills
Missing in Action: UK Economy Neglected by the Absence of Fiscal Policy by Finlay Healy
Boris Johnson's Legacy - Is 'Johnsonism' here to stay? By Ravi Maini
Book Review: Lost Kingdom by Eric Sun
Book Review: Liberalism and its Discontents by Ng Kah Long
Western's Europe's Passiveness Towards Climate Change: Too Little, Too Late? By Jhanvi Mehta
WHO IS SHE?
As the first female president of Moldova, and both the founder and former leader of the Party of Action and Soli darity, Maia Sandu seeks a more liberal, equitable, and West ern-centric Moldovan polity. A staunch Europhile, she defeated her pro-Kremlin rival, Igor Dodon, in the previous election, on a pledge to pursue meaningful cooperation with the European Union. This aims to address the systemic malfeasance in public of fice, and reverse years of societal poverty. Sandu, a Harvard-educated economist, broke social bar riers in the post-Soviet state to become presi dent, fighting off misogynistic attacks from her opponents, and the perceived stigma of being an unmarried woman in office. Her rise to power serves as inspiration to young women across Eastern Europe.
CRISES AND CHALLENGES
Geopolitically, the war in Ukraine has stoked fears of war in Moldova, drying up economic investment. Transnistria – the pro-Kremlin separatist state in Moldova’s easternmost region – could be utilised by Putin as a base for an attack on Odessa. Worse still, it could be eyed up for violent annexation by irredentists in Moscow. Socioeco nomically, most Moldovans have been plunged into energy poverty with Russian gas exports becoming non existent. Inflationary and recession ary forces threaten to further weaken Moldova’s ailing economy. Domes tically, the focus on anti-corruption and overturning economic inequali ties requires top priority. Yet conflict spreading into Moldova proper would place these reforms on hold indefi nitely. How can these crises and chal lenges be navigated? For Sandu, the answer lies in European integration and a transparent liberal economy.
MOVING CLOSER TO EUROPE
Sandu addressed the European Par liament, declaring that “[Moldova] belongs in the EU.” She outlined how the war in Ukraine threatened the political and socioeconomic security of Moldova, and that inte gration with the EU would provide Chisinau with some much-needed military, political, and economic support. Sandu’s government then formally applied for EU member ship, with the political bloc unan imously accepting Moldova’s can didacy. Accession to the EU would provide Moldova with considerable financial assistance and investment.
To secure political stability in Mol dova, Sandu must strive to overturn the decades of economic inequality and impoverishment. This is best achieved with european integration.
RISE TO POWER
Sandu’s political success is attributable to her steely de termination to restore trust in the relationship between Moldovans and its politicians. After serving as Educa tion Minister, Sandu launched her political platform: the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS). Sandu’s party stands for both economic and social liberalisation, pro-Europeanism, and anti-corruption. These val ues saw Sandu elected as Prime Minister of Mol dova in 2019, as well as being voted Moldova’s most trustworthy politician. Her cabinet made significant progress towards her goals, enabling her landslide presidential victory against Dodon in 2020. Sandu’s power was con solidated in July 2021, when the PAS won a landslide parliamentary majority. Such a hold on the levers of power is a requi site for Sandu to lead Moldova through the crises and challenges it faces today.
'WAR ON CORRUPTION'
Underlining all of Sandu’s policy po sitions is her determination to stamp out corruption in Moldovan poli tics. With trust in Moldovan politics historically tenuous, Sandu’s war on corruption – driven by a desire to end “the rule of thieves” – has pro vided her with the political capital re quired to consolidate power and en act change. Last June, Sandu launched a parastatal anti-corruption body to facilitate Moldova’s economic liberali sation and increase transparency. This includes ending the ‘Russian Laun dromat’, Moscow’s systematic money laundering scheme in the country. Sandu’s insistence on anti-corruption has not only strengthened her domes tic support but aided the facilitation of liberalising Moldova’s economy.
SEPTEMBER 2022 5 FEATURE Will Kingston-Cox is a third-year His tory student from Birmingham, UK.
KENYA'S ELECTION: THE ONGOING BATTLE FOR MORE DEMOCRACY
William Ruto, Kenya’s former Deputy President, is now the fifth President of Kenya. According to the results of the recent election, he took 50.5 percent of the vote, narrowly beating Raila Odin ga’s 48.9 percent. Ruto’s win was a hardfought one. He had been the underdog throughout the election, with opinion polls and media houses speculating Odinga to take home the presidency. Closely after the election, four Independent Electoral and Boundar ies Commissioners (IEBC) held a brief press conference denouncing the legit imacy of the election. The IEBC Chair man, Wafula Chebukati, had previ ously made the unilateral decision to announce the election results, despite grave concerns about mathematical er rors in the vote count and the untrans parent tallying of votes in 30 constituen cies. Odinga swiftly swung into action, holding a press conference outing Che bukati and calling for re-election. This is largely reminiscent of Kenya’s 2017 elections when Odin ga, again, denounced the election as unconstitutional. That was on the grounds of the alleged hacking of electronic election results. Similar to the current situation, this issue was brought before the Supreme Court. However, this odd alignment of events seems too coincidental and almost deliberate. These four IEBC commissioners had been appointed by former president Uhuru Kenyatta, who threw his support behind Odin ga. This raises doubts about Odinga’s claims. Could the IEBC’s press con ference have been an orchestrated and opportune ploy for Odinga to seek re-election? Even if Odinga does not become president after the possible re count of votes, he could very well, once again, sow political and ethnic discord in the country. This would destabilise Ruto’s presidency, adding fuel to the economic fire of stagflation and wide
spread unemployment. Both outcomes seem to be in Odinga’s favour. For him, there are negligent consequences. Odinga’s repeated claims of rigging expose the fundamental stress ors of Kenya’s electoral system. In 2017, he claimed that the IEBC’s database was hacked and the results had been altered. The IEBC’s ICT manager died two weeks after the exposé. A coinci dence? Perhaps not. In this election, Odinga has successfully dredged up more dirt, citing the illegality of Ven ezuelans voting during the election. Ultimately, there is a structur al problem with Kenya’s voting system. Kenyans have traditionally doubted the legitimacy of the vote-counting process, even after several attempts at overhaul ing it. The electoral commission lacks punitive measures to hold commission ers accountable should they be suspect ed of election-rigging. At the same time, the electoral commission requires more powers to scrutinise individuals elected to the helm. In a country ridden with corruption and divided along the lines of ethnic allegiance mired with political leanings, it is almost impossible to source for “clean” commissioners that can be objective. Admittedly, Kenya’s elections have become more transparent since the founding of IEBC. However, it still has a tremendously long way to go. This ugly debacle within the IEBC may further raise suspicions within Kenyans, incen tivising more to withhold their votes whilst increasing disillusionment and political apathy towards the status quo. However, there is a silver lin ing to this election. This election has revealed Kenyans breaking away from ethnic voting blocs, steering instead towards politicians with similar eco nomic and political alignments to their own. With more democratic elections following suit, that paves the way for competent politicians who are better equipped to restore Kenya’s glory as the
economic powerhouse of East Africa. The profiles of the running candidates in this election drastically differ from that of 2017’s. Ruto, a selfmade billionaire, champions the ragsto-riches story, and is touted as Kenya’s ‘hustler-in-chief”. On the other hand, Odinga was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, having been the son of Ken ya’s inaugural vice-President. This elec tion has been coined “hustlers versus dynasties”; an apt representation of the starkly different backgrounds of both politicians. Comparatively, the 2017 election between Kenyatta and Odinga featured two dynastic rulers from two of the country’s largest ethnic groups. Ethnic fissures had already existed and were tapped on during the elec tion, resulting in an extremely violent post-election period. 2022’s election, which employed a different political rhetoric of solving economic concerns and corruption, is therefore speculat ed to not be as fraught as 2017’s. Eth nicity seems to have taken a backseat.
The Supreme Court has dis missed Odinga’s eight petitions to annul the results of the 9th August’s election, citing petitioners’ falsifying evidence. Odinga has been a good sport in this regard, accepting the election results. Against the backdrop, the more im portant concern is for Kenya to relook at its electoral committee to prevent the recurrence of mudslinging politics.Shu Yu Lim is a second-year PPE student from Singapore. SHU YU LIM
THE US MIDTERMS: WHAT CAN WE EXPECT? WILL ALLEN
The 2022 midterms will rewrite the balance of power on Capitol Hill for the next two years. This cycle will also determine far more than just con trol of Congress: across the country, elections have the potential to oblit erate abortion; tear down democ racy; and launch presidential bids.
With President Joe Biden’s approval rating floundering in the 30s, and three-quarters of voters saying the country is heading in the wrong direction, the Democratic party ap pears on course for a car crash in No vember. Prominent Democrats have been acknowledging this, quietly put ting clear water between their cam paigns and the deadweight White House chains to their candidacies.
Yet for all the persistent fac tors that spell doom, the race to control Congress remains much closer than many may have expected. One New York Times poll found a majority of all registered voters want Democrats in control after November; yet another found a majority of likely voters want ed the Republicans. FiveThirtyEight, a polling company, thinks the Sen ate is edging towards the Democrats, whilst Politico instead thinks the Re publicans will clinch it. Just what the country wants remains a mystery, even when considering that midterms per sistently punish a president’s party.
The Senate is a prime example of the confusion ensuing in this cycle. The upper chamber is ripe to fall to the Republicans, but the Democrats appear to be consolidating a favourable shift toward them. This strange phenom enon comes down to multiple factors that cut both ways for the parties. Re publicans have plenty going their way. The current 50-50 majority in the up per chamber makes recapture a walk in the park; especially so considering the party has multiple pick-up oppor tunities where vulnerable Democratic
incumbents are seeking re-election. What muddies the picture is the very party itself. In their undying loyalty to Trump, Republicans have selected abys mal candidates – candidates that propel Democratic candidates in critical races, thus nulling their pick-up opportuni ties. With polling on a knife edge, who controls the Senate should remain a nailbiter until election night or, in déjà vu, a January run-off in the peach state. While the Senate remains in flux, pollsters expect Republicans to sweep the House of Representatives. Almost all factors swing hard in the party’s favour, such as the brutal 2021 redistricting that effectively shredded the current Democratic majority of four before a single vote had even been cast. As a result, Democratic candidates can expect a shellacking that will shrink their ranks and finally complete the burial of their party’s once bold agenda. Also on the ballot this year are a record number of abortion measures. These measures are sure to turn out voters everywhere; the petition alone which sought a referendum in Michigan garnered 730,000 signatures (well over the 425,000 required). Already, a Kan sas measure that hoped to curtail abor tion was defeated in dramatic fashion with a high turnout. These initiatives vary greatly by state, though. In Dem ocratic states like Vermont, ballot mea sures are set to shore up reproductive freedoms. Meanwhile, in states such as Kentucky, similar referenda are likely
consequential for the future of Ameri can democracy. It sounds like hyperbole to say these midterms could bring de mocracy into its endgame, but a glance at the slate of Republican candidates on offer exposes this reality. The current primary season has bequeathed con trol of the Republican party to Trump and his election lies. Repeatedly, the party has purged those who sought to defend the 2020 election, which in cluded the casting aside of those from revered political dynasties. Arizona is the most striking embodiment of the new party. Fronted by Kari Lake, the state party is working to tear down de mocracy in service of Trump’s ‘Big Lie’. Victory in November will see many of these Trump zealots assume control of positions with the power to chal lenge any future election that doesn’t go their way, and ultimately tear down the very democracy that elected them. The future, then, hinges on sev eral marquee races. The potential loss of a unified Congress will test President Biden’s dated vision of bipartisanship like never before. A colossal rematch in Georgia will test the mettle of Stacey Abrams and her future in the Demo cratic party. In Florida, a strong re-elec tion for Trumpier-than-Trump Ron De Santis may be the springboard he needs to launch a 2024 bid that can rival the former President, who of course is open ly readying his own bid to escape reali ty. The future of Congress, abortion, and democracy itself, will all live and
PRESIDENT PETRO: COLOMBIA'S NEW HOPE LOUIS SAMARASINGHE
On 19th June, the Colombian people elected Gustavo Petro to the highest office in the land, succeeding his fellow anti-establishment rival, Rodolfo Her nandez, with 50.42% of the vote. With strict term limits of a single 4-year pre miership, there has been no shortage of Colombian presidents. Yet Petro stands alone from those that held his seat before him. He is the first left-wing Head of State the South American nation has had.
Petro has had a colourful his tory, ranging from being a guerrilla fighter in his youth and a more than commendable tenure as mayor of Bo gota. His credentials evidently speak for themselves. The question then remains: can Colombia’s radical new President bring an end to the historical issues that the divided country has faced?
A popular candidate through out the election – being his 3rd attempt at the presidency – did not stop numerous death threats and attempted murders on him and his running-mate Francia Mar quez – who was the first black vice-pres ident. The violence during the election was so severe that an open letter, con taining the signatories of 20 countries, was written condemning the violence. Petro’s desire and conviction have rubbed off Colombians. While Petro was always a strong candidate, it was his ability to connect to the ‘left behind’ that gave him the final push to best Hernandez by the slightest of margins. Colombia’s rural jungle in terior has long been underdeveloped, struggling with the problems of the Narcos as well as exploitative, commer cial oil extraction. With Colombians in
these areas feeling exclud ed from politics, many came out for the first time to vote for Petro. Petro is not only popular with the Indigenous population and farmers but also much of the youth, who view him as an anti-establishment hero dis mantling the traditional conservatives. Colombia has gone through its fair share of political troubles: with a civ il war (that still continues in some ca pacity today) since 1964 with left-wing rebel group FARC; the infamous drug trade and its consequences; and succes sive Governments each as corrupt as the predecessor. The former president, Ivan Duque Marquez, had a lawsuit filed against him by his own citizens alleging bribery and fraud. This, alongside his permittance of what the Humans Right Watch called ‘egregious abuses against mostly peaceful demonstrators’ by the Colombian National Police, proved to be the final straw for the electorate, paving the way for Petro to take over. So what can be expected of Petro? Whilst a youth career as a Gue rilla rebel – having been a high rank ing member of left-wing group M-19 – may raise some eyebrows, after an 18-month incarceration period in 1985, Petro denounced the use of violence as a political tool. It was Petro, a sena tor at the time, who in 2006, exposed the ‘parapolitics scandal’; a multi-level governmental attempt to utilise para military groups for their own gain. However, his tenure as mayor of Bogota is most telling of the kind of politician Petro is. One of the more influ ential positions in Colombian politics, Petro’s single term as mayor of the cap ital was certainly eventful. In attempts to limit the violence on the streets, fire arm prohibition was brought forward; while raids on Narcos-related groups were carried out, delivering crime-fig ures unseen for decades in the capital. Although Petro has set a strong
agenda in tackling corruption and the Narcos, it is his version of social de mocracy which has resonated most with the women, youth, and interior across Colombia. His commitment to public investment can be seen with the expansion of Bogota’s public transport, which was heavily subsidised by the mayoralty. His presidential plans only expand upon this as he promises to fix the privatised healthcare of Colombia and oversee large agrarian reforms, in cluding what is essentially a wealth tax. Such left-wing measures may strike fear into the neoliberals of the West all too familiar with the situation in Venezuela. However, despite Petro’s desire to reopen diplomatic channels with Moros, seeing Colombia head in that direction would be of huge dis credit to Petro. His desire to reduce Colombia’s reliance on fossil fuels, to provide greater economic security and tackle climate change, show a marked change from that of their troublesome neighbour. Venezuela’s over-reliance on oil created levels of hyper-infla tion not seen since pre-war Germany. While Petro may simply be seen as part of the Latin American Pink Tide, a political phenomenon which has been taking place since the advent of the millennium, his position as the first leftwing President of Colombia represents a unique challenge. Will he be able to tackle the systemic corruption still pres ent across the other offices? Are his brave new ideas the solution to the growing in equality in Colombia? And most impor tantly, with just one term in office, will Petro be able to push through his radical proposals, against the ingrained conser vatives, who have long held the keys to power? The next four years in Colom bia will prove an interesting watch.
Louis Samarasinghe is a third-year History and Politics student from Surrey, UK.
THE SRI LANKAN ECONOMIC CRISIS, A WARNING IGNORED.
Former president Gotabaya Rajapak sa’s escape from Sri Lanka sounds like the writings of an amateur fiction writ er overzealously adding dramatic flair in his first political thriller. Rajapaksa missed four flights as he was afraid of reprisals from his own citizens were he to join the public immigration queue. He exhausted all means of escape in cluding considering naval patrol crafts and private charterlights - stretch ing the use of his legal immunity to its maximum possible interpretation - all to escape the internal turmoil. Everywhere he went, Rajapaksa was met with widespread condemnation, from the Maldives to Singapore and now to Thailand. It seems like Ra japaksa is a universally reviled figure. Staunch Rajapaksa supporters - albeit only a small number left - assert that the crisis was caused by economic issues, and not due to Rajapaksa’s poor governance. Whilst there is merit to this claim, this is not the entire story. As of 2021, tourism in Sri Lanka has grown to be a significant source of revenue, occupying one-tenth of its GDP. How ever, in 2019, following the COVID-19 pandemic, tourist pax drastically dipped and then tanked from 1.9 mil lion tourists to 71,000 in March 2020. It is easy to draw the conclusion that Sri Lanka was crippled by the hae morrhage of tourism income. However, this innocent narrative belies the true causal factors, being poor leadership and short-sighted economic policies. The incumbent government was warned as early as 2014 – way be fore the 2019 Bombings or COVID-19 –when it first came into power by the In stitute of Policy Studies (IPS) that they were heading into an economic crisis. IPS observed that Sri Lanka was facing a period of slowing growth and stagnant exports thereby leading to a trade defi cit, with immediate action to be taken.
While then Prime Minister Ranil Wick remesinghe did present a strong eco
nomic policy to attempt to address the situation, the coalition govern ment could not unite to push the policy through.
The poor eco nomic situation was further exacerbated by government officials recommending policies that either caused more confusion or further inflamed the situation.
From the Finance Min ister “playing with bud get numbers” to show a more optimistic but unrealistic out look, to the President, Prime Minister, and Finance Minister each implement ing misaligned economic policies, these mistakes compounded and snowballed; eventually turning the 2014 economic prognosis by IPS into a scary reality.
With the resignation of Ra japaksa and the swearing-in of the new president Wickremesinghe, op timists cling onto the belief that there is a chance for Sri Lanka to recover.
After all, it was Wickremesinghe who crafted the economic policy that was well-regarded by IPS back in 2014. However, there are many political ob stacles that may impede his progress.
Firstly, he is essentially an independent in a parliament that has already shown itself to be disunited. Wickremesinghe’s party, UNP had a major split in early 2020, quickly fol lowed by the worst defeat in the par ty’s history in the 2020 Parliamentary Elections; only receiving 2.15% of votes cast, winning only one seat in parlia ment. Without his own base of support within parliament, and with a messy multi-party government that has re fused to unite even during crises, Wick remesinghe is likely to face an uphill battle for any policy he decides to enact. Secondly, Wickremesinghe has close ties to the deeply unpopular Ra
japaksa family, making him unlikable to the public. The Rajapaksa Family controls the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Party and has a simi larly negative reputation to ex-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Many Sri Lank ans accusing them of nepotism and for causing the economic crisis. This asso ciation with Wickremesinghe is toxic as his victory in the parliamentary elec tion is largely portrayed as being due to his close ties to the Rajapaksas. Wick remesinghe seems like a puppet of the Rajapaksas, allowing them to consol idate power while seemingly stepping away from politics. This fact is not lost on the public, who often question Wickremesinghe’s mandate to govern. The only hope at this point is to secure a bailout from the IMF. Wick remesinghe is currently in talks with the IMF to secure to bailout package to attempt to stabilise the Sri Lank an economy. Even if the bailout solves immediate economic issues at hand, Wickremesinghe cannot rest easy. It is likely that further long-term problems will rear their heads should he be un able to stabilise the government
Ryan Lee is a second-year PPE student from Singapore.
TAIWAN: MADE IN CHINA? A WAR FAR FROM THE STRAIT AND NARROW
In February 2022, I wrote an article on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. I predicted that, although stupid and reckless, war was likely. While nobody has official ly declared World War III, the polar isation between the West and Russia meant we were effectively at that stage. Now, I find myself writing about yet another potential invasion, this time concerning China’s military escalation in Taiwan. Which way will Caesar’s thumb point towards this time? As with many modern mil itary conflicts, understanding the background sheds light on why there is tension between China and Taiwan in the first place. The key date in the China-Taiwan story is World War II. A civil war had erupted between the Chinese nationalists and Mao’s Com munists. Mao’s victory in 1949 saw the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) take control of Beijing; while the national ists fled to Taiwan. This is the crucial part of the story. While China argues that Taiwan was originally a Chinese province merely occupied by nation alists, Taiwan claims that this marked their separation from the Chinese state.
Is Taiwan an independent sovereign nation?
The technicalities suggest that Taiwan is an independent sover eign state. This is because Taiwan has its own constitution, democratically elected leaders and its own military forces. Therefore, Taiwan has all the characteristics of an independent state.
There are, however, some problems with such blanket simplicity. Firstly, Taiwan’s status is highly condi tioned by one’s perception of controver sial history: was Taiwan a mere postwar breakaway, or a newly independent state formed by (effectively) Chinese exiles?
Second, geographical proximi ty conjoins the two states to some extent. While Taiwan is politically sovereign, its economy is highly dependent on China and its geographical proximity means it is within arm’s length of Beijing.
Finally, the legal waters are extremely muddy. This is not helped by the United States’ official position on the matter, which is one of “strategic
ambiguity”. In other words, Washing ton officially recognises “One-China”, maintaining its stance that the highest Chinese governmental authority resides in Beijing. Yet, President Biden has si multaneously pledged military support to Taiwan, providing the necessary weapons in the case of a “non-peaceful” intervention by mainland China. This has kept Beijing seething as it indicates a subversion of the US’ stance - indicating Biden’s blatant lip service towards China.
China’s aggressive foreign policy
Well, as is all too familiar in what seems to be fast-becoming a 21st-century trend, China believes that history gives it the right to invade and reclaim Taiwan as part of the single Chinese state. Additionally, in what is a stinking reminder of Putin’s ag gression towards Ukraine, China has demonstrated its military firepower in Taiwan’s backyard. The rile-up of in creased Chinese military exercise in the Taiwan Strait has resulted in a diversion of ships and aircraft within the region.
This modern form of the cold war, reinforced too by Kim Jong-Un’s tendency to test his new atomic toys on someone else’s territory, barely infring es international law by a hair’s breadth.
The situation has been made worse by American aggravation. Nan cy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, defied Beijing’s warn ings and visited Taiwan at the begin ning of August. This was a landmark meeting: Pelosi was the first House Speaker to visit Taipei for 25 years.
Whilst I agree with the demon stration of Western unity to Taiwan, considering that Taiwan possesses all the characteristics required to be recognised as a sovereign state, Pelosi’s move seems rather foolish. This is because it express ly violates the official American position of "strategic ambiguity". This threatens another war, meaning the US would be fighting on two fronts: Russia and China. And any Tom, Dick or Harry can see why that would be a problem.DANIEL SILLETT
US' UNCLEAR INTENTIONS MAY VERY WELL FORCE CHINA'S HAND. THIS MAY ESCALATE INTO A FOURTH TAIWAN STRAIT CRISIS.
This is not to mention China’s military assets – which is what makes war with China so frightening. Taiwan only has approximately 169,000 troops at its disposal. In comparison, China boasts an army of over 2,000,000. That is with out counting the 1,400,000,000-strong total population, a large proportion of whom could quite easily be drawn into any war effort under a falsified message of national need and security. Indeed, Chinese state media has pumped out reports claiming that Pelosi was touch ing China’s “red lines” - a nationalistic rhetoric that drums up fervent support for Premier Xi. This retaliative propa ganda is already high in circulation. And the US wasn’t the only Western state to rile up the Chinese ivory towers. Liz Truss, the UK's cur rent Prime Minister, “summoned” the Chinese ambassador to explain his country’s actions, which threatens peace and stability in the region. These comments were poorly received by Beijing. Foreign ministry spokesman Weng Wenbin claimed that this was a “double standard” deriving from the UK’s hypocritical and imperial past.
Arguments against war
It’s difficult to argue with that. Despite being a strong advocate of Britain on the global stage, I will readily concede that many stages along the road to becoming a Great Brit ain were violent, colonial and wrong. Having said that, two wrongs do not make a right. Imperialism of the past cannot be the justification for impe rialism of the future. Societies change as humankind matures and develops with scientific and moral progress. To sail against that modernising tide is blasphemy to united human progress.
For starters, war is a costly process. We have seen the implications of Putin’s blind nationalist agenda rip ple across the globe. The epicentre of unjustified violence and death has pro duced tidal waves of soft power. The cost of living crisis currently embroiling the UK is a direct aftermath of Putin’s aggression. And that’s not to mention the monetary cost of aid and military equipment to support Ukraine’s fight. These costs would only be made worse by a second war frontier in China. When humankind is fight ing its greatest ever existential threat – climate change – infighting and pure selfishness are not what we need. Furthermore, China and Tai wan are both significant to the world. Like Russia and Ukraine, these two countries are paramount to global trading. Leaving aside the monumen tal importance of the Taiwan Strait for shipping goods, China is the world’s largest exporter and, effectively, makes the world economy go round. Here we have yet another global superpow er whose nationalistic greed threat ens to throw a spanner in the works. Additionally, Taiwan is the world’s largest producer of computer chips for phones and laptops. Chinese control of this would be extremely con cerning, given the persistent threat of cyberwarfare that emulates from its shady operations, such as 5G technolo gy. And any destruction of such produc tion operations by warfare will produce yet more turmoil, waste and cost surges to a world already running on fumes.
With all this on the line and a burning desire to be the hero of any mo ment, it is unsurprising that the US has reacted strongly. Rightly so. But Pelosi’s personal actions are not the best way to have gone about this business. The UK didn’t send Lindsay Hoyle to Ukraine – we sent Boris Johnson, the interna tional face of our nation. Therefore, if President Biden had gone to Taiwan, it
would be a different story. But Pelosi, an individual who is not the US global diplomat-in-chief, has thrown a dag ger in China’s back from her own arm. And that sort of personalised attack has provoked China early on, unnecessar ily souring the already-decrepit rela tions between the world’s superpowers.
All things considered, will there be a war?
Interestingly, a survey implies that almost two-thirds of Taiwanese residents think there will not eventu ally be a war with China. This may be an understandable demonstration of strength and nonchalance, but we have already seen it is naïve to underestimate the persistence of a power-hungry state. Whether this is a reflection of newfound populism, state-media manipulation or historical gremlins coming home to roost, the 21st-century continues to produce a plethora of divisive uprisings. That’s why I think China will invade Taiwan. But not yet. Xi Jinping will want to get over the line for a third term to put him amongst the greats of Deng and Mao, but the selection process doesn’t happen until autumn. He may also want to wait to examine his gener als and ensure they are better than Pu tin’s, otherwise China faces humiliation. Nevertheless, come 2023, I suspect China will move in on Tai wan. The groundwork is already in place with the so-called “ring of steel” around the island. The egoistical desire is certainly there. And China’s West ern enemies are already preoccupied with one tyrant, so when better to si lently attack through the back door? However, this time, it’s not Putin’s one-man-band. It’s one-billion-strong China.
Daniel Sillett is a third-year PAIS stu dent from Bury St Edmunds, UK.
"IMPERIALISM OF THE PAST CANNOT BE THE JUSTIFICA TION FOR IMPERIALISM OF THE FUTURE."
JETZT KOMMT DER WINTER - WINTER BEFALLS
GERMANY AMIDST A GENERATIONAL CRISIS
Six months ago in February 2022, Olaf Scholz, Germany’s Chancellor, an nounced that the second Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Europe would not be going ahead despite be ing fully built and ready for operation. This was, of course, in light of political tensions between the West and Russia over the War in Ukraine, having been decided that it would be immoral to help fund Vladimir Putin’s invasion by doubling gas imports from Russia, as Nord Stream 2 would have done. Not only was this billions of Euros and ten years of work down the drain, this also worsened a devastating energy crisis as European nations began to fear how they would be able to power themselves through the upcoming winter months.
European consumers were al ready facing record high energy prices amid a wider post-pandemic cost of living crisis. Now with Gazprom, the Russian-state-owned supplier, limiting its supply to Europe, German legislators are desperately searching for solutions. Next-year electricity rates in Germa ny are currently almost six times as much as they were this time last year, with the price doubling in the past two months alone. The market is being driv en by fears that there will simply not be enough energy to power Europe this winter - a crisis many saw coming de cades ago with a plummeting supply of natural resources on a global scale. But the war in Ukraine has brought this crisis forward to a time where even the most advanced nations aren’t ready yet. The emergency plan in Ger many is to save gas now and store it for later. Hannover was the first German
city to do so: turning off hot water in the showers and bathrooms of city-run buildings and leisure centres, whilst municipal buildings will only be heat ed from 1 October to 31 March at the bare minimum temperature of 20 de grees. Many cities are now following suit, with a 15% savings target set by the European Commission in July. Ger many, which is more reliant on Russian gas imports than other European coun tries, is under pressure to lead the way.
Gazprom claims that the sup ply issues are merely technical. Yet the Ukrainian elephant in the room, and Europe’s near-unanimous condemna tion of Russia’s military action, sug gest otherwise. Nonetheless, the crisis of energy is far more than just a result of Russia’s actions. Europe’s dependen cy on resources like gas was going to prove an issue sooner or later. This is perhaps the worst case scenario, how ever, with gas now being treated as po litical capital, and the everyday citizen facing the brunt of the consequences. The debate around energy and its sources has always been a po litically complex one. In the words of Timothy Mitchell, a political theorist,
IMAGE 1 & 2 Flickr / TV6 News & Just Click's With A Camera ZACH ROBERTS
“The amount of oil and gas left for hu mans to exploit is a question of human choice and technical ingenuity.” The fact that we will run out of natural re sources is a scientific given; the ques tion, therefore, is what replaces it and when. In 2017, Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson made headlines by stating that “converting to 100% [wind, water, and solar] energy systems is technical ly and economically feasible.” Those who oppose such a change argue on grounds that it would upend and dev astate economies with all industries having to change their means of power. In Germany, however, the de bate surrounds nuclear energy instead. In 2011, the German Government of the time legislated a plan to take all of its nuclear energy plants offline by the end of this year. Yet, in light of the cri sis, three-quarters of Germans want nuclear plants to remain operation al, whilst forty-one percent want to build new plants. Chancellor Scholz recently said that an extension of the lifespan of nuclear plants could "make sense" despite his coalition partners - the Green Party staunchly oppos ing nuclear power due to its signifi cant threat of disaster and subsequent threat to life and the environment. Right now though, it is certain that Germans will have to ride out this current wave of shortages and restric tions on energy usage. Yet it is obvious that this is not a long-term solution. So the question left to answer is what will that solution be? Nuclear? Renewable? Will this finally encourage European nations and others to create a consen sus that can simultaneously address the energy and climate crises? Only time will tell. But if the lack of prepara tion for this crisis is anything to go by, then I for one am not optimistic.
Zach Roberts is a third-year Law and PAIS student from Aylesbury, UK.
KNESSET ELECTIONS AND THE PIJ: SCAPEGOATING THE GAZA SIEGE
Just months prior to the upcoming Knesset elections, incendiary attempts to elicit Hezbollah, Hamas, the Pales tinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) or anyone into an act of violence – that would be used to justify bloodshed – were futile. Losing patience and needing an oppor tunity to exhibit his commitment to keeping Israel ‘safe’ ahead of the elec tions, Prime Minister Yair Lapid decid ed to embark on the bloodshed anyway.
The ‘pre-emptive’ airstrikes that the IDF launched on the 5th Au gust against the PIJ killed Taysir al-Ja bari, a senior figure presumed to be commander of the northern branch of the organisation. In character with pre vious ‘pre-emptive’ Israeli airstrikes, they also resulted in the deaths of in nocent civilians, with the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza report ing the deaths of 36 people, as well as the wounding of 253. In retaliation, the PIJ launched just over a hundred rockets into Israel; all of which were intercepted, resulting in no casualties.
The PIJ is a Palestinian Isla mist organization formed in 1981 by Gazan Islamic fundamentalists: Dr Fathi abd al-Aziz Shaqaqi, Abd al-Aziz Awda, and a few others, in the mould of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood itself was advocating both peacefully, and later militarily, for
the implementation of a fundamentalist interpretation of scripture that would be the dominating influence behind government policy. Bankrolled by Iran and later Hezbollah, the PIJ is consid ered the most radical organisation in the Gaza strip, not least for its penchant for belligerence. The PIJ is thought to be at the forefront of armed resistance and rejects all diplomatic avenues to peace with Israel; instead advocating for the destruction of the state, as well as the establishment of a sovereign Islamic state in the occupied lands. It is worth noting, however, that sufficient crack downs on the PIJ – spearheaded by the Israelis and supported by the Palestin ian National Authority – that began in late 1990 have significantly weakened the movement, with the organisation thought to have less than 1,000 fighters.
The PIJ aside, the tradition of blockading almost two million people in an area of 365 square kilometres and bombing them every time an election is on the horizon is profoundly sadistic. Yet it has become common practice for the Israelis. Emboldened by what can only be described as an embarrassing ly sparse international condemnation, this uncalled for cruelty has become common practice for Prime Ministers trying to bolster their political clout at the expense of innocent Palestinian lives. Indeed, the electoral success of successive right-wing Israeli govern ments signifies popular support for such brutal policies, which have become synonymous with protecting the Israe li public and the sanctity of the state.
More recently, the Israeli gov ernment admitted responsibility for a further airstrike that massacred five children playing at a cemetery in Gaza. That was just mere hours before a ne gotiated ceasefire on 7th August, and after the blame was initially placed on a misfired PIJ rocket. It was only a few months ago that Shireen Abu Ak leh, a Palestinian-American journalist,
was shot and killed by the Israeli De fence Force (IDF) in the Jenin area of the West Bank, covering the occupa tion forces’ illegal annexations, whilst wearing a blue vest with “PRESS” em blazoned on the front. The IDF also shot at journalists who came to her aid.
An AFP journalist, Al Jazeera, and the Palestinian Ministry of Health all declared that it was an IDF soldier who killed her. Their accounts were cor roborated by sequential probes by the Associated Press, CNN, the New York Times and The Washington Post. All this was whilst IDF spokespeople in stead suggested that the shot was fired by a Palestinian, despite there being no combatants but themselves present. Despite overwhelming evidence prov ing Shireen to have been martyred by an IDF soldier Anthony Blinken, the Secretary of State in the United States, declared the US would ‘follow the facts’ and wait for the results of an internal Is raeli investigation, that no doubt would exonerate itself. This initial denial and readiness to blame the Palestinians for the deaths of their own has become Israel's modus operandi; lying to the press until the evidence is irrefut able to deflect criticism of its brutality, at which point the story will have dis appeared from headlines, the victims resigned to anonymity and injustice.
Concerns about the outbreak of an all-out war in Gaza have unsur prisingly reappeared, however as Gazan researcher Tamer Qarmout, of the Doha Institute of Graduate Studies put it, “[T] here is no appetite for war”. Gaza has never recovered from a twenty-year siege that has trapped and crippled its residents. In the words of Qarmout, “it just lives from conflict to conflict”.
Selma Saik is a second-year History and Politics student from London, UK.
THE EROSION OF DEMOCRACY IN AUSTRALIA DEVINA SINGH
It has recently come to light that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Mor rison was self-appointed the joint min ister for health, finance, treasury, home affairs and resources since March 2020; before losing power earlier this year. These self-appointments gave Morrison decision-making powers in these min istries, in addition to his Prime Minis terial powers. This has come as a shock to both voters and former ministers. Karen Andrews (Minister of Home Af fairs under Morrison) has also called for Morrison to resign from parliament, ar guing that his self-appointment “under mines the integrity of the government”.
Morrison swore himself in as joint health minister, fearing that new powers afforded to former Minister of Health, Greg Hunt, via an emergency trigger in the Biosecurity Act would give Hunt control over the entire coun try. The changes in the Act meant that Hunt could issue orders at odds with “any other law” and couldn’t be stopped by parliament. Morrison, ironically, wanted more “checks and balances”, believing that one minister should not be able to wield that much power. It seems that Morrison was then unable to stop himself, and swore himself into four other ministries besides health.
Governor-General David Hur ley had sworn Morrison into this gov ernment of just one person - something that is frighteningly undemocratic. Whilst it can be argued that Hurley was only acting on the advice of the Prime Minister at the time, many critics still berated Hurley’s poor decision to ap prove the appointment without ensur ing public disclosure. More blasphe mous was the fact that besides Hurley, many people were in the know. Morri son has disclosed that there were people in his office who were “directly respon sible for managing these specific things”.
Current PM Anthony Alba nese remarked that the appointments were a “misleading of parliament”,
warning that Morrison would be held accountable. Following the exposé, Morrison apologized saying that he swore himself into these positions to handle emergent crises during the pandemic - “These were extraordinary times and they required extraordinary measures to respond”. As to why he nev er announced the appointments public ly, Morrison said that disclosure would undermine the confidence of his minis ters and alarm the public. He said that it “would have caused unnecessary angst in the middle of a pandemic and could have impacted the day-to-day function ing of the government”. Not disclosing them, however, has done a lot worse. This move has serious reper cussions for democracy in Australia. Morrison not only undermined his own cabinet but also destroyed all trust from voters. The self-appointments meant that Morrison was running a “secret government” behind the backs of the
pillars of democracy are representa tion and accountability. Morrison's actions meant that millions of Austra lians were stripped of representation on a national stage. His secrecy makes it incredibly difficult for any form of accountability, whether from the peo ple, media or politicians to take place.
publicly appointed government. Even though it hasn’t yet been ascertained whether the appoint ments were illegal, they are certainly un democrat ic. Two of the
The appointments aren’t just a blight on Morrison, but on the in stitutions of democracy and premier ship. Whilst a majority of the minis ters themselves weren’t informed, the fact is that there are people who were - and they chose to not inform any body. Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce was aware of Morrison’s additional powers at the time. Joyce chose to remain si lent out of fear that his party (the Na tional Party) that was in alliance with Morrison’s Liberal Party would lose control of one of the ministries Morri son had assumed powers of. Morrison’s self-appointments seriously damage the relationships between governments and their voters, as Australians and the rest of the world are left wondering how much they can really trust their leaders. The Australian electorate se verely punished Morrison at the polls well before the world learned of the in credibly harmful legacy that he left be hind, even if there were no illegalities found by the Solicitor-General. It is how ever a bigger ethical and moral question than the legality of this case as many feel that Morrison has seriously undermined the workings of any responsible govern ment, and eroded the social contract be tween a government and its electorate.
Devina Singh is a second-year History and Politics student from Gurgaon, India.
THEY WERE EXTRAORDINARY TIMES AND THEY REQUIRED EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES TO RESPOND.
"A BLIGHT TO DEMOCRACY AND PREMIERSHIP."
SUPPORTING THE STUDENT VOICE IN PAIS
In PAIS we value your feedback; we know this is a challenging time and we want to do all we can to support you to succeed. Based on your ideas, we have put together an exciting agenda of events, activities and opportunities this term and beyond - please check our emails, social media and webpages for more details.
Academic support for students is a top priority in PAIS so please:
- Sign up for our Virtual Common Room chats on a range of topics including essay writing, wellbeing and the liberated curriculum.
- Benefit from our online workshops on essay writing for second years and finalists
- Benefit from our online workshops on preparing for your online open book exams.
In response to your feedback, we have put together detailed online guides on making your study choices, including which modules to take, which assessment methods to choose and advice on applying for postgraduate study.
We want to hear from you and have a number of opportunities for you to feed-back on your course throughout the year including via your Course Reps and our end-of-year module evaluation surveys. There is also the National Student Survey (NSS) which will open for finalists on Monday, 8th Februarywe would love you to complete it!
Following your feedback, we are running an Employability Series with a number of exciting speakers from a range of careers speaking at events this term. Details will be shared shortly.
Events and Seminar Series
Embed yourself in the PAIS research culture and attend our Wednesday Research Seminar Series which is open to all PAIS staff and students. Finalists are also encouraged to join the Burning Issues: Geopolitics Today MA lecture series which focuses on contemporary world politics.
Follow Us on Social Media to find our more: www.twitter.com/PAISUndergrad www.facebook.com/paiswarwick www.instagram.com/paiswarwick #WeArePAIS
NEED TO KNOW:
DRAGHI'S DEMISE AND ITALY'S ELECTION
After a year and a half in office, It aly’s prime minister Mario Draghi — one of a mere handful in postwar history to be appointed without pri or electoral experience — has been ousted by a return to traditional Ital ian turbulence. In a desperate last bid to resuscitate political support before elections scheduled for 2023, the declining populist Five Star Movement withdrew its support for the government on 13th July over proposed relief for energy bills amidst rampant inflation. A week later, right-wing parties Lega and Forza Italia — also former support ers of Draghi — dealt the final blow to his premiership by abstaining in a pivotal confidence vote. Draghi’s rise to power as an emergency suc cessor to Giuseppe Conte largely predestined his unfortunate fate.
Draghi required support from the Five Star Movement, a big-tent populist party that became the largest in Parlia ment in 2018, in order to survive. In June, they irreconcilably split after For eign Minister Luigi Di Maio led over fifty colleagues in establishing a new party, Civic Commitment, due to his party’s lacklustre response to the Rus sian invasion of Ukraine. Now hover ing around just 10% in opinion polls, Conte’s Five Star Movement chose to sabotage Draghi’s premiership in an attempt to whip up anti-establish ment sentiment. Draghi was a victim of the Italian system itself, which requires cooperation from par ties primarily concerned with competing for votes, mean ing that his raison d’être as an independent reform er was no longer tenable.
The unity of the right, however, has not inspired similar collectivity between the left and cen tre. The centre-left Democratic Party, repulsed by M5S’s politicking, formed a pact with the more radical Green and Left Alliance to unify the progressive vote, causing the centrist party Azione to form their own alliance with the liberal Italia Viva. Citing the left’s supposed lack of loyalty to Draghi and disagreements over nuclear power and eco nomic liberalism, Azione put cen trist ideological purity ahead of resisting the nativist racism and Putinism of Italy’s ascendant farright. Similarly, leftists opposed to vaccination mandates, the EU and the Russo-Ukrainian War have established their own minor and hopeless alliances. These divi sions vastly improve the chances of a rightwing landslide.
Italy’s newest voting system — in which 37% of representatives are elected on a majoritarian basis and other seats are allocated proportionally —means that the election will be decided by allianc es. A united right-wing front contain ing Lega, a hard-right party led by the Trumpesque Matteo Salvini, and cor rupt former prime minister Silvio Ber lusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia has been formalised — but neither men is expected to lead the next government. That honour befalls Giorgia Meloni, leader of the national-conservative Brothers of Italy, despite having won just 4.4% of votes in the 2018 elec tions. Meloni’s party recent ly won over disillusioned right-of-centre voters by never joining Draghi’s government, unlike Sal vini and Berlusconi. Her sudden fortune is because of fanaticism rather than achievement or quality.
WHY THE RIGHT IS LIKELY TO WIN WHAT NEXT?
With Meloni seemingly unrivalled, a new era both domesti cally and internationally may soon be heralded. Meloni, who previously defended Mussolini and denied her party’s fas cist heritage, may become the first far-right populist to seize power in postwar Western Europe, empowering France’s Rassemblement National and Spain’s Vox for future elections. Despite her criticism of Putin and justifying supplying arms to Ukraine, the Russophilia of the wider Italian right may return Italy to passivity towards Moscow. Meloni also lacks the credibility to secure vital recovery funds from Europe as Draghi aspired to do amidst mounting debts and sluggish growth, potentially leaving Italy in a fiscal quagmire without a powerful, unifying alternative. Conservative, as well as progressive Italians, have little to be optimistic about.
Zac Hills is a second-year Histo ry and Politics student from Leicestershire, UK.
SEPTEMBER 2022 17 FEATURE IMAGE 1 & 2: Flickr/ Luca Zeus40 & Haluk Beyazab WHERE DID THE LEFT AND CENTRE GO WRONG?
MISSING IN ACTION: UK ECONOMY NEGLECTED BY THE ABSENCE OF FISCAL POLICY
We are in an interregnum. Over summer, while the Conservative leadership election was ensuing, the government’s self-assessed mandate was to do as little as possible. Their vacation, sometimes literal, from policy-making, has only sown un certainty and disillusionment in the efficacy of the political process. The lacuna of governance is evident in the Bank of England’s August fore casts, predicting five consecutive quarters of contraction from the last quarter of this year. The depth of the recession implied is likely to be alleviated at least in part by policy intervention: the new government will do something to solve the un bearable level of inflation. They will have to, right? Currently, the only active macroeconomic policy-mak ing agent is the Bank of England.
In March this year, the Office for Budget Responsibility described, in orthodox terms, the task of the Bank of England as ‘bringing de mand back to the economy’s supply potential.’ Inflation, an expression of excessive demand, currently rests at 10.1%. By returning supply and de mand to a non-inflationary equilib rium, the full productive potential of the economy might be achieved. What does this actually mean? This innocuous statement really translates to a stern prescription: squeeze incomes and kneecap de mand until this country can afford less than this country can make.
Thus, when it comes to taming in flation, the Bank is left with only the bluntest of tools: raise the cost of money precipitously so that businesses and individuals can no longer viably borrow, thereby suck ing demand out of the economy.
This is the deliberate policy of in ducing a recession. Accordingly, the
major central banks are engineer ing a liquidity drought, and a defla tionary credit crunch. Indeed, the amount raised in European corpo rate bond issuances is the lowest in 20 years, and funds raised in Euro pean equity markets are down 92%.
second-round price increases that costly energy incites. Since 2000, the preponderant pricing mecha nism for energy is through the fi nancialised commodity markets, where much of the oil traded is re ally a financial instrument – deriv atives hold a cumulative amount 25-50 times the real oil these in struments derive their value from.
But hold on, what is the cause of this inflation? Inflation is a gener al macroeconomic phenomenon in experience, yes; but it is specific in origin. The surge in energy prices will account for 6.5% of the UK’s 13% total inflation forecast by the Bank in the fourth quarter of 2022. That, therefore, explains half of the UK’s inflation, itself discounting the
In sum, energy bills are set to rock et. Cornwall Insight, an energy con sultancy, suggests that by 1st April 2023 the energy price cap will reach £4,426. Auxilione, another energy consultancy, predicts it even high er at £5,038. The UK’s total energy bill will reach nearly £400bn, or 16% of GDP. This slice far exceeds the ‘stable range’ of national ener gy expenditure of about 8%. One report from York University finds that with energy bills in this range, fuel poverty – spending over 10% of one’s net income on fuel – will blight 54% of British households by October and two-thirds by Jan
"THE BANK IS LEFT WITH THE BLUNTEST OF TOOLS: RAISE THE COST OF MONEY PRECIPITOUSLY SO THAT BUSINESSES AND INDVIDUALS CAN NO LONGER VIABLY BORROW"
uary, rising to 71.7% in Northern Ireland. Already, bill-payers are in arrears to the tune of £1.3bn. The immediate effect, therefore, of en ergy price increases will be the con traction of the economy, as a result of the immiseration of the populace and the inability of the industry to turn the lights on. It is not hyperbo le to call to attention the avoidable deaths that will ensue. Already, the U.K. economy has shrunk by 0.1% in the second quarter of this year.
THE UK'S ECONOMY IS SET TO CONTRACT 2.8 - 3.8% IN 2022.
Here is the crux of the UK’s current economic woes, to say nothing of its latent ills. The drivers of inflation will now likely tip the country into recession. The orthodox remedies for inflation, apart from activist fis cal policy – which would most like ly alleviate energy cost pressures on households – deliberately commit violence to incomes to bring down demand. Thus, the illness and cure inflame. Both will likely bring about a recession. Liz Truss has seemed to delight in promising no fur ther
‘handouts’ to people, whilst Rishi Sunak bragged about defunding deprived urban areas. In deed,
the government, in both June and July, is almost in primary surplus. This means that in a time when the economy is slowing or shrinking, the government – minus payments on the debt accrued to bondholders – is taking more out of the economy than it is investing into it via fiscal policy. The government is absent, and abetting contraction. The lack of timely fiscal intervention is tan tamount to gross negligence. The victim is the UK economy.
Finlay Healy is a third-year History and Politics student from London, UK.
UK'S INFLATION COULD TOP 22% DUE TO SOARING ENERGY PRICES. THIS IS LIKELY BROUGHT ABOUT BY RUSSIA'S INVASION OF UKRAINE. COST-PUSH INFLATION COULD STRANGLE THE ECONOMY IF THE UK DOES NOT DEAL WITH IT PROMPTLY.IMAGE: Flickr/ Andrew Milligan sumo & Alisdare Hickson
BORIS JOHNSON'S LEGACY - IS 'JOHNSONISM' HERE TO STAY?
Since Boris Johnson stood at that infa mous podium outside Downing Street to announce his resignation, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Brit ish media have pretty much forgotten about him. Updates on Johnson’s lame duck premiership have been unusual ly sparse, with the majority of attention now focused on Liz Truss. But while at tention moves to the new Prime Minis ter, it is worth asking what Johnson has achieved - and what he has left behind. Insofar as the uniquely out landish degradation of moral and po litical standards can be given a name, Johnsonism is it. A governing style in which scandal and sleaze are deemed to be trivial, if not novel, occurrences. Pub lic acceptance of the PM’s mismanage ment is all about relativity, and we can reasonably bet that Johnson himself was very aware of it. The bigger the scandal and the more there were, the more John son’s other mistakes appeared as mi nor gaffes in comparison. For instance, Johnson’s supposed suggestion during the pandemic to ‘let the bodies pile high’ barely sank in before we were bombard ed by another set of scandals. In John son’s world, perhaps scandal is thrill ing, an unsettlingly fantastical game of
Tory Jenga. How many bricks can you pull away before it all falls down? How many rolls of Johnson’s golden wall paper does it take to break the camel’s back? Whilst the jaws of sleaze engulfed the PM, Number 10 revelled in a toxic mix of mismanagement and scandal.
There will likely be no shortage of politi cal biographers keen to grapple with the thorny subject of Johnson’s legacy, espe cially on Brexit. In his defence, he was initially laser-focused on this, pushing a deal through a previously paralysed Parliament. Yet beyond taking the first step, the emerging difficulties prove the ‘oven-ready deal’ was, is, and will con tinue to be underwhelming. The Brexit deal negotiated with the EU is harming industries from farmers to musicians, and causing issues in Northern Ireland. For much of British industry, Johnson’s Brexit will probably not be remembered in a positive light. His government itself agreed to a separate trading protocol for Northern Ireland, only to then denounce it as unworkable and flawed soon after. The chaos of a hasty EU with drawal was followed by Covid contracts going to Conservative donors, with £37 billion being spent on largely ineffec tive NHS covid test and trace systems. Whilst Johnson did oversee an impres sively-fast vaccine rollout, the billions lost by the Treasury to rampant fraud in the furlough scheme, and their sub sequent reluctance to try and recover it, paints his government as being irrespon sible with taxpayer money. With the gov ernment also voting to not extend free school meals to the most disadvantaged
children during school holidays, John son’s conservatism will be remembered as both the hand that gives (peerages to Conservative party donors, for in stance) and the hand that snatches away. This all raises a crucial ques tion: does being unpredictable, defen sive, and even boisterous in the face of scandal afford Johnson a unique place in British political history? After all, he will certainly be remembered for it. Unique maybe, yes; but not for the right reasons. In a parliamentary system of gover nance, being accused of deliberately mis leading parliament should theoretically be enough to remove even the proud est PM from office. Except for Johnson. Drowning in a toxic sea of scandal, John son’s lifebuoy was to tear up the norms and conventions integral to public and parliamentary trust in the executive. At the same time, shameful yet regular U-turns on issues such as banning LGBT conversion therapy showed how, for the former PM, indecision and culture wars took precedence over people’s lives. What now for Johnson? A quiet return to the Tory backbenches like his predecessor, Theresa May? Only time will tell. Will Johnsonism outlast John son’s premiership? Truss worked in his Cabinet. Could she be Johnsonites in the making, willing to turn a blind eye to persistent violations of the ministerial code? Johnsonism might live on stronger before the next general election. Equally, it may hobble through the next two years, condemned to the cobwebbed fringes of British politics where truth and account ability remain expendable. For the sake of their party, and indeed for Britain’s place in the world, Truss must perform one final U-turn: a move away from the precarious path of Johnsonism.
Ravi Maini is a second-year PAIS and French student from Leicester, UK.
"DROWNING IN A TOXIC SEA OF SCANDAL, JOHNSON’S LIFEBUOY WAS TO TEAR UP THE NORMS AND CONVEN TIONS INTEGRAL TO PUBLIC AND PARLIAMENTARY TRUST IN THE EXECUTIVE."
ERIC SUN BOOK REVIEW
LOST KINGDOM: A HISTORY OF RUSSIAN NATIONALISM FROM IVAN THE GREAT TO VLADIMIR PUTIN
Russia is a nation at a political cross road. How should Russia define itself geographically and ethnically? Who are the Russians? How has the notion of being ‘Russian’ changed over time? These are the questions Lost Kingdom: A History of Russian Nationalism from Ivan the Great to Vladimir Pu tin by Serhii Plokhy looks to address, and it does so in impressive fashion.
The title of the book is somewhat mis leading, for its account of the history of Russia and Russian nationalism does not just start at Ivan the Great; it also does a surprisingly good job at giving the reader a concise sense of the legacy of the medieval East ern European kingdom which built the foundations of Russian national identity, the Kyivan Rus. That develops a logical theme for the rest of the book to not only follow the identity of ‘Russians’ as we know today, but its neigh bouring and former sub jects in Ukraine
and Belarus too. In fact, not only does Plokhy do a great job at examining Russian nationalism, but shocks the unfamiliar reader of Russian histo ry through a focus on people whom nowadays we would not call Russians. Lost Kingdom explores Russian na tionalism often through their lenses, giving us a timeline not only of how ‘Great Russians’ see themselves, but
In today’s geopolitical climate, this book is a recommended read for any one wishing to understand the com plex relations between Russia and its neighbours, particularly Ukraine, be yond the headlines. That being said, this is not the most accessible piece of work in the world, especially for those unfamiliar with Orthodox Christian ity and Eastern European history. The terminology and geography mentioned, especially in the early chapters, can be confusing. Overall, though, this is a well-researched and increasing ly timely book to pick up in 2022.
Eric Sun is a third-year PPE student from Reading, UK.IMAGES: Basic Books, Flickr/ Pedro Szekely & Mima vladimir
NG KAH LONG BOOK REVIEW
LIBERALISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS
‘The End of History’ - three de cades on: Fukuyama revis its the Liberal order, tack ling detractors old and new.
Fukuyama advocates for non-liberal outliers of economic success such as China. He pos tulates that China's economic growth will plateau due to polit ical limitations. However, this is unwarranted as China's innova tion has continually flourished, despite its political status quo. Fukuyama also lambasts China for its human rights violations. Yet, this critique is liable to Eu rocentrism - a lens that clouds Fukuyama’s prescriptions. Chi na’s pragmatic development in Africa offers, at times, a count er to misplaced Western donor democratic strings-attached arrangements. Additionally, as suming liberalism’s universal ity ‘outside the Islamic world’ is upheld again; he raises the conundrum in Western states: subvert Muslim traditions for individualistic rights. Is this new challenge, now within Western borders, not a fur ther erosion on its universality?
Regarding capitalism, Fukuyama brilliantly challenges the Rea gan-Thatcher minimal state doctrine.
While he elaborated little on capi talism back in the roaring eight ies, he now calls boldly for clas sic liberals to change their minds against widening inequality erod ing liberalism’s egalitarianism.
Fukuyama argues that the heart of modern lifestyle - media - is evalu ated as dangerous, owing to public mobs. While many theorists await the new medium to take shape before introducing legislation, Fukuyama goes down a different route: social mores. In so doing he also targets the major flaw of the West in confront ing China - its internal divisions.
In summary, the book does not present an optimistic tone on the liberal state’s victory. Those who believe this a renunciation of Fukuyama’s ‘End of Histo ry’ assertion, may consider he was rather nuanced back in 1989, as opposed to what his sound bite term has been misappropriated for. He still leaves the same critical problems unan swered - paternalistic state successes and the Middle Eastern politi cal consciousness.
Ng Kah Long is a second-year EPAIS student from Singapore.
IMAGES: Macmillan Publishers, Flickr/ piotr doroba, huneycuttaddison & frontpersatuannasional
WESTERN EUROPE'S PASSIVENESS TOWARDS CLIMATE CHANGE: TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE?
A deadly heatwave in Western Europe has triggered intense wildfires, disrupted transportation and displaced thousands of people. More than five countries in Europe have declared states of emergen cy or red warnings as wildfires, fuelled by hot conditions, burn across France, Greece, Portugal and Spain. These events have occurred against the back drop of renewed commitments to pre serve the environment through COP26 and the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. Moreover, fears of a great climate back slide have been ushered in following an energy crisis facilitated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This article will defend the case of Western Europe not doing enough to tackle climate change.
Europeans have been aghast to know the EU has imported over 90 percent of its gas supplies, and with Russia providing over 40 percent of it (accounting for 27 percent of oil im ports and 46 percent of coal imports to the EU). This reliance on fossil fuels signals Western Europe’s green betrayal against the continental goal of achiev ing net zero emissions by 2050, and urgently questions whether Europe’s dangerous dependency on fossil fuels and autocratic states will hamper the ability to bring about their commit ments to net zero emissions to fruition. Climate change has ampli fied the heat on Europe’s accumulating catalogue of crises. After July, another heatwave flounced on France, Spain and Britain in early August. The European continent consequently faces a wors ening drought, its worst in 500 years, which entails dire implications for food pricing, biodiversity and nature, and en ergy security. River flows have fallen by a third on average, seriously impacting food production and river transporta tion. This comes against the backdrop of the metastasising food crisis, and en ergy costs that have skyrocketed as a re sult of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Furthermore, multiple forest fires have been seething across France since the start of summer, releasing a re
cord amount of carbon emissions. This is the equivalent of Spain facing forest fires in mid-July that have been driv en by global warming. The European Forest Fire Information System has es timated that July 2022 held the highest record for burnt area in France. Addi tionally, this summer, the EU’s Coper nicus environment observation measure has stated that France has recorded the highest carbon emissions resulting from forest fires this year since initial records from 2003. As a result, the number of trees to absorb carbon dioxide have re duced, endangering vital ecosystems and creating high ozone pollution.
Whilst the IPCC has noted that technology can have an integral role in tackling global warming, the inherent is
a broad level, however clean energy is not explicitly favoured over fossil fuels. The risks of little action over the climate crisis outweigh the reliance of experi menting with electric forms of trans portation over less efficient technology. An alarming development is EU mem ber states have subsidised fossil fuels. Prior to the outbreak of war in Ukraine, the European Commis sion aimed to categorise fossil gas as a “sustainable” source of energy in its investment taxonomy. This move un dermines the EU’s standing and credi bility in providing global leadership in tackling climate action, and demeans the necessity to increase energy securi ty in Western Europe. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has posed a huge challenge to Western European energy systems with soaring fuel prices; this should act as an incentive to build energy effi ciency measures and accelerate the pro cess of decarbonisation, shifting away from reliance on imported fossil fuels. The recent heatwave poses an opportunity for Europe to jolt itself into bringing about meaningful change on the climate front. Replacing depen dency on fossil fuels from Russia with a reliance on fossil fuel supply from oth er nations is unsustainable if Western Europe is serious about slashing carbon emissions and achieving net zero targets. Decisive action is essential on energy and climate policy through switching to domestic renewable energy sources.IMAGES: Flickr/ Alisdare Hickson & Victoria Pickering
Jhanvi Mehta is a third-year History and Politics student from Leeds, UK.