Coalitions in a global village

Coalitions of the willy-nilly

How do you build a coalition in a globally interconnected world? It seems not very easily. Barack Obama has faced this in our response to Vladimir Putin’s meddling in the Ukraine. He now faces the same problem with ISIS in the Middle East. Coalitions are not as easy to form when joining one may be the cause of problems at home.
It is much easier to join forces when you represent a homogenous population in opposition to the population you face. It becomes much harder to stare down your own citizens. Such is the case of the EU, and the US, in this new global world order. If ISIS were composed of Christian fundamentalists, any response would have to take into account a large Christian population in the US that may not appreciate drones shooting their own.

The global village

There lies the problem. We are no longer a homogenous population. Thirteen million Muslims live in Europe, mostly in France, Germany, and Italy. Only .8% of the population of the US is Muslim; but that is 24 million people. That is not a huge percentage of the population. Still, it is a significant number if you consider that if in the EU, only one percent of the total Muslim population embraced a fundamentalist form of Islam like ISIS, there would be 130,000 radical fundamentalist Muslims in Europe. The idea of joining a coalition to stamp out ISIS may cause world leaders to pause and reflect on the consequences of such actions. 
On the other side of the global village sits Vladimir Putin. A significant number of Russian speaking people merged with the population of ethnic Ukrainians over the long period of the Soviet Socialist Republic. Some of those people were separated from their ethnic origins when the USSR failed. They wanted to be a part of the Putin revolution, whatever that is.
Putin didn’t take the Crimea. They joined him. We don’t like it. Most of the EU doesn’t like it either, but short of rolling tanks across the border, there is not a whole hell of a lot we can do about it. To further complicate matters, the EU has over the past several decades become heavily dependent on the sale of energy from Russia. So, now we have a strong coalition opposing Russian actions in Eastern Europe that has to tread lightly or freeze this winter.
This is an interesting complication of globalism. Hurting your neighbor hurts you too. If any trading partner is willing endure some pain, as Putin seems willing to do, they can act unilaterally knowing that anyone who opposes them will also suffer.

The meddling factor

Don’t think for one minute that this subject is not being discussed in the US and in the EU. America is a meddling nation. We stick our noses in a lot of places, I think mostly for all the right reasons, and sometimes for our own interests. But perhaps following this president will result in another debacle like it did when we followed the last one. Perhaps we should mind our own business. A lot of people feel that way, especially in the US. They are tired of wars that don’t solve anything. They want to fix some problems at home.
For so many reasons, we cannot. We helped start this. The Arab spring did a lot. Invading Iraq did a lot more. Our bad policy decisions in Iraq, and in Iran, will keep us there for a long time. And the oil just complicates things. And ISIS is a new, better form of terrorism that needs to be eradicated. ISIS is the Taliban organized. Nothing could be worse.
The advantage of becoming part of a global economy is that often, you cannot strike out at your neighbor without hurting yourself, which is also the disadvantage of being a part of a global economy.  You cannot shoot first and worry about the consequences later. Very often the shot hits you as hard as your enemy. We are all learning how to play a new game.

 

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