The world recently commemorated the 75th anniversary of the D-day landings in Normandy. As Western leaders gathered to listen to the voices of freedom that liberated Europe and keep resonating in the beaches of France, the world is backsliding into a wave of nationalism and authoritarianism.
Throughout the West, socio-economic grievances are threatening the foundations of peace established in the aftermath of World War II. Migration waves and emerging crisis have propelled a backlash to international integration. Societies have become more divided, allowing the rise of radical political movements, eroding public legitimacy on democratic institutions.
These are the results of undress inequalities created by the 2008 economic crisis and enhanced by current uncertainties in the world’s economic future. As globalization became the leading force shaping the world, global institutions, traditionally supported by the US and its allies, are struggling to keep pace with rapid changes and new challenges.
The U.S. government continues to perform an erratic behavior in the international stage, weakening traditional partnerships and failing to uphold a narrative consistent with the values of the post-WWII order. On the contrary, there has been a strengthening of controversial alliances with strongmen and an isolationist foreign policy.
New centers of power have emerged emboldened by the current vacuum of leadership. China’s outstanding economic development is enabling itself to increase its gravitational force, creating its own economic integration and geopolitical grip in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. This expansion is characterized by the support of a variety of types of governments, including many non-democratic regimes with troubling human rights records.
Russia as well has proved to be an actor capable of causing harm to democracy by exploiting social media and promoting a crisis of disinformation. Sowing distrust and division are the pillars of the country’s strategy, aiming to keep destabilizing the west and to increase Russia’s sphere of influence in the world.
America’s lack of willpower to denounce global attacks and setback on democracy is leading to questioning its resolve to comply with its commitments to peace. A peace that seems at risk by the incendiary policies of populism.
As it has been historically proven, populism creates an illusion of rapid prosperity. It allows leaders to promote ideas contrary to democracy, validating them by the use of scapegoats and fake news.
American economic protectionism hurt global prospects for growth. Its unilateral policies not only alienate its most important allies but also risk the stability of non-developed nations that are strongly dependent on international trade.
75 years after D-Day, nationalism is resounding once again. While alternative non-democratic models continue to gain momentum all around the globe, a crisis of legitimate leadership is threatening the spirit of Normandy. Freedom, Peace, and Multilateralism.