Insecurity – the new normalcy and stress tests for politicians

Insecurity – the new normalcy and stress tests for politicians



Although I receive and process lots of information, an uncharacteristically high volume for someone who should be engaged mainly with professional analysis of projects and business risks, I never cease to be surprised when people at the top start to fret publicly in the media and to justify their actions by the potential risks of international events. Some even dare to translate their own insecurities – real or staged – into innuendos to the electorate, on the one hand to lower public expectations for a quality management response, and on the other – to highlight their own indispensability.


Television studios become the arena for frequent displays of outright hysteria which in fact are a decoy for simple mediocrity. In the absence of other content, we are bombarded with verbal “refugee” speculation in a relatively quiet period with a moderate to insignificant level of the number of such people entering the country. There are no new facts about refugee hordes at our gates, but the hysterical ones emphasize what has happened or could happen, exposing the net present value of a possible future disaster.


I could confidently refer to several events with a higher probability of occurrence and even such that have indeed occurred already, with more profound implications for our country than the refugee crisis. However, it is not politically correct to discuss them and they bear no interest for the media and the party elite, although they will have a much more significant and lasting effect than the actual subjects of mass media craze.


In France and Germany refugees rape, terrorize and plunder. At home, due to the lack of such problems or other stress-inducing events, foreign “news” are on the menu, served conveniently in such a way that the trouble “out there” numbs our conscience and convinces us that although there are no refugees in our country or related murder or rape, the echo of the terror in European cities should not fade away but remain to support the careers of local politicians and media stars, until after the elections, at least.


In fact, serious crimes occur in Bulgaria too, but they are the work of local characters, most of whom go unpunished, uninvestigated and untried. Yet, we are persuaded to follow the horrible events in France and Germany and criticize Hollande and Merkel for not coping with their problems. We have no problems because we are in the midst of a judicial reform. These reflections are not for prime time. It is even less appropriate to talk about the actual, tedious and boring unresolved issues, or about the complete control of the state by group and oligarchic interests.


It is easier to lead Bulgarians to some imaginary world in which macho heroes are catching refugees as Pokémons and where there is room for verbal bravery in people who cower when facing real problems, but destroy those who think differently, whether Bulgarians, allies or partners. If you worship Orban, Trump, Putin and Erdogan, you are “in”, but if you “ask” simple questions about unfinished work and unassumed responsibility, you are “out”.


Worst scenarios are always possible in history, but they are rarely so simple, albeit the opposite would suit traditional thinking better. Wars occur not because they are unavoidable, but because those in power are not doing enough to curb the aggressors and instead of confronting them while the threat is still lesser, they try balancing and pacifying acts.


If too much is going on in the zone of extremities, it is a definite sign that our senses are tired and blunted, and the world has found a new normalcy and new standards. As someone who for many years has been engaged in the theory and the consequences of globalization, my current argument is that the world has not become any more risky or dangerous. Today we do not give more sacrifices in war or terrorist acts. There are more deaths from stress-related diseases, lack of care or compassion and empathy.


We are made to believe that we should close our borders and take extraordinary measures against terrorism and have special legislation to be sustainable in the event of emergency. And all because we did not do our work properly, or we do not accept the natural need for change or because we do not see reform as our first and foremost obligation.


If you have not realized yet, apart from being an EU border, we are a NATO border as well. Hence we are carrying out projects for railway alternatives to the Bosphorus and coordinating plans with Greece.


Gloomy forecasts for Turkey should not be discounted after the failed coup attempt and subsequent events, at least, by people who have been following Erdogan’s evolution in the last fifteen years, marked by consistency and regularity.


So we tremble in fear that Turkey could turn against Europe and activate its refugee weapon. The truth is that we should have had a plan B a long time ago, alongside our NATO allies and the EU.


Whatever they say in Ankara, what the Kremlin ideologist Alexander Dugin said at the Eurasian forum in the Turkish capital before July 15th is a clear sign that Moscow was unsurprised by the “coup”. Dugin’s words completely fit into the strategic direction of Russian foreign policy – unification and coordination of all resources for building an anti-Western Union.


You may choose not to believe it, but since Putin came to power, Islam has been playing a key role in its internal and foreign policy. The Soviet Union had some shenanigans with radical Islam abroad, but inside the country there was only room for Soviet secular Islam preached in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. Today, Putin has joint plans with radical Islamists with the help of Kadyrov, for whom the laws of Sharia are more important than the laws of the Russian Federation. He said it publicly and no-one dared to react.


Bulgarian native “patriots” and nationalists are deceiving themselves in that they rely on the Orthodox connection with Russia to build a defense against the radical Islam of Erdogan’s Turkey, while in reality Orthodox Putin is building a strategic alliance with the latter against the West.


Russian Eastern Orthodoxy to which our Synod uncritically gravitates, and Islamizing Turkey have a common denominator – their non-acceptance of, even hatred of the West and European civilization in general, its values and norms that require respect for human rights and freedoms, both individual and group.


Bulgarian politicians who talk about the need for “considering the interests” of Moscow prefer to deal with the virtual Vladimir Putin rather than real one. They do not comprehend the Russian president or the total absence of religious and moral anchors in his policies beyond the current usefulness and interest. You can describe in every way our relations with Russia today, but not “fraternal”, “Slavic” or “selfless.” If you do not believe this, look at the bill to be paid by us.


Putin’s Islamic leanings are not only expressed in the absence of federal control over Kadyrov, the construction of mosques in Russia or his special relations with Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but also in his systematic attempts to direct the destructive power of radical Islam towards Western capitals forcing Western leaders to seek protection from Moscow.


Putin’s Orthodoxy and Erdogan’s Islamic card are the two sides of the same neo-imperial policy based on revenge and excessive ambition. In pursuing one’s goals, all methods are justified, including enforced geopolitical toying with refugees, playing games with terrorist organizations, cooperation with cyber caliphates or any other opponents of the West.


The earth tremors caused in Europe as a result of Trump’s presidential campaign are without precedent in post-war history. Russia’s intervention in the US election campaign shows not so much the power of the Kremlin but the weakness of America with its self-imposed isolation and its total inability to openly name its adversaries, battle them and defeat them. The cyber-attacks on the headquarters of the Democratic Party convention and the conditional response by the state are a sufficient enough example. No foreign leader to date, neither from Europe, nor from Israel or Asia, has succeeded in intervening so openly and brutally in sovereign American democracy as Vladimir Putin managed to do. And this was achieved not at his peak of financial power and political popularity but at his weakest. Still, Putin is an authoritarian leader who has a critical advantage over his Western opponents who are forced to maneuver in an environment of media and political competition, lulled instincts for self-preservation, and blocked mechanisms of democracy for self-defense.


After Brexit and Trump, neither NATO nor the EU can be what they were. The question is whether we will emerge from the crisis stronger or will seek salvation each for themselves, as Moscow is prompting.


The rift in relations between the allies is once again most likely to occur in respect of sanctions against Russia. Putin is “on the ropes” and has nothing to lose.


While we are panicking about the consequences from Brexit, we fail to realize that Britain’s exit from the EU, provided it happens, will not be a surgical act. The more time progresses, the more obvious it becomes that British politicians are trying to find a way to pass the hot potato to “the next one in the chain.”


Despite nationalists’ aspirations, the nation state cannot take revenge over globalization and integration processes, both regional and cross-continental because it is impossible to manage sustainable and effective global challenges on an interstate level. The “second leg” of nation states became possible because globalization is partially reversible due to the human factor errors and the unpredictable global economic and political cycles. However, nationalism is doomed as it always brings about new conflicts and wars. In this perspective, suggestions of Armageddon are an attempt for self-fulfilling prophecies by nationalists, proposing that we insulate ourselves by national borders and policies. No means of defense – individual or collective – are enough.


Even if we aspired so to do, it is unlikely that there will be a return to the levels of militarization and of social and economic life of the Cold War. The question we all must answer is whether we are willing to spend more for defense and security, and what type of defense and security is needed. If we are to defend our country at the expense of personal freedom, the battle is lost in advance. The likelihood of another world war is zero. It is a manipulative thesis, aiming to stress us and justify the need for “emergency” and for a “national unifier”.


Attempts for “soft” positions by Bulgarian politicians presented eloquently as moderate or balanced as a way to squeeze through terrorist attack threats, reveal profound ignorance of the genesis and the driving forces of modern terrorism. It is increasingly becoming the field of dirty war of political strategies and intelligence services and not the product of religious extremism it was.


Once numbed by stress and panic, one is ready to accept any outrage which is the doing of politicians, as well as further losses from new energy Grand Slams as well as the quiet erosion of the Euro-Atlantic course.


It is time to protect Bulgaria from the stress caused by Bulgarian politics and prepare for a new normalcy of the world – daily media emergencies, reactions without preliminary plans, without ready schemes, atypical risks and new possibilities. To summarize – a world in which damages come on their own will and where we must work hard for benefits.


By Ilian Vassilev

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