Global leadership in confusion.
So you think you are confused here in the USA?
Spare a thought for the Latvia’s 2 million people, about the same as Queens, sharing borders with Estonia, Lithuania and Russia. After centuries of foreign rule Latvia won its current independence when the last soviet soldier left in 1991.Despite the daily subversive hacking from a still resentful Russia, today this beautiful little nation is prospering as a member of the European Union.
But that is where the confusion begins. The European Union has no more idea how to lead its 27 members than can the White House lead its 50 States and they need leadership now more than ever.
The virus has exposed multiple fissures in Europe. There has been no preparation and no agreement over pan national policies to cope with a pandemic. The Latvian Prime Minister, Krisjanis Karins, has spoken about the “complete lack of coordination.” Happily his nation sees the E.U. as a project worth implementing. It has prospered with its uniquely moving singing revolution, its beautiful scenery and its growing economy. Latvia is almost a poster child for the community. But the growing exasperation of its leadership is becoming palpable – different national borders reopening at different times, with different protocols, different political impulses and priorities. A new and terrible reality has arrived. The coming weeks will become the testing ground for dealing with the corona virus. It will no less be the test for the European Project as a whole and possibly its economic and political breaking point. The European region is facing collapse on all fronts. The overall economy has declined nearly 4% in the first quarter, both France and Spain have just recorded gdp falls of between 5% and 6% – the sharpest on record. They both, along with all of the other southern member states, are reliant on tourism and about to feel the full force of the virus’ economic impact on an already collapsing summer season.
Latvia is a small nation – but in reality they are all small nations when compared with the economic and physical scale of the United states. They are struggling to confront a concatenation of challenges without the support of the one nation whose strong sense of values, of neighborliness, of honesty and of the power of law had always been there with them in the past. We had the power, the technologies, the global coverage that they did not have and on the whole we had used it wisely. But today the United States Administration no longer has the ability to lead at home, and it has turned its face against its leadership role abroad. Absent a miracle – this is going to be a terrible summer.
Have a good day, James.