Not so good times for political taboos

The UK is saying no to a European treaty (again after over 50 years abstinence from this), Canada going to bail out of the Kyoto treaty's restrictions ... it's apparently season for breaking political taboos.
I wonder what this is going to mean for formal alliances.

Might some countries bail out of such alliances when the cost/benefit ratio turns red?

Maybe this is rather about emboldened national interest-led foreign policy that heralds an age of less cooperation on international issues?

Will the taboo-breakers be worn down or replaced soon by opposition politicians as was the Polish Kaczinski government (which proved to be very 'uncooperative' in the EU)?

Maybe there's going to be more foreign policy action/activism once foreign politicians begin to think that they're not expected to get everybody into the same boat (think: OIF)? Would such non all-inclusive actions be unwise because naysayers have good points (think: OIF)?

I don't think anyone can be sure about his/her ability to predict these things, so I'm not even going to try. Foreign policy might become more interesting in the next years, though.

S Ortmann


  1. I've never been for cooperation on international issues to the same extent as others have been (with certain exceptions). Even on things I agree with I am a more we won't bind ourselves to it, but we will work towards it, mostly I just don't trust the others to do what they said they would do. There are times it would make sense to have cooperation on some international issues, but that would be the exception.

    It is true that it is hard to predict how it will go in the real world. I do rather dread how politicians may mess it up either way.

  2. I see reorganization and chaos, but the boat will still have the same players. Less money bodes ill for "go it alone" foreign policy. There's simply no money, other than debt in electronic ledgers, to keep doing what we're doing. The fraud of the current economic system is coming to an end. However, Germany is in charge of Europe for better or worse. You will have all the responsibilities the US has assumed since WW II, and begin to bare an even larger financial responsibility (not less) as we retreat. Whether the Euro makes it through the year, or next year, is irrelevant. Germany is still the biggest player with the most to lose. If your neighbors fail so do your exports, taking you down the same rabbit hole. Other countries can't get by without you financially and will have to dance to whatever tune you play, although you'll be constrained by the harsh realities of extracting to high a price from them. For those reasons I believe the European Alliances will strengthen, not weaken, although the bloated bureaucracy known as the EU may go.

    America is in trouble but at least we have the luxury of being defended by our oceans and the ability to isolate our "dirt borders", for our own purposes. What happens to us is largely based on our economy recovering. How that goes is uncertain but we do have some history that's largely positive. Our strength lies in returning to non-intervention and production. I'm not sure we're there yet, but we're close.

    Surely there will be alliances based on temporary need, but organizations like NATO will fade. The concerns of Europe are not necessarily the concerns of the US and everyone will be able to admit that. But the concerns of Holland are surely the concerns of Germany.

  3. Pretty interesting times are coming it seems.

    Thinking about political taboos.

    Britain alway worked to prevent a unified Europe, in any form might that unification might be. Nothing really new here. Of course political discourse has to be full of statements about partnerships, frindships etc, but they don't mean anything.

    With declining EROEI and peak conventional oil, reserves which were previously not exploited are right now the hot topic of the energy industry.
    Exploiting oil shales produces a lot of CO2 emissions. So Canada can either stop them and further down the line stop supplying North America with enough oil or get out of the treaty. No way the american and canadian political class can sell to the public major decreases of quality of life - whatever it means - due to the Kyoto treaty. They are but the first I think. All others will follow.
    Conventional oil production means low CO2 emmisions. Shale oil means high CO2 emmisions. Their political position changed accordingly. No real taboo here, just peak oil.

    About predictions just a sort of personal opinion/observation.
    The last 300 years showed us 2 survivers/winners: Russia and England in their various imperial forms. Nobody can predict anything as you said but I would bet on them to overcome. We have no idea what they will have to overcome, but I believe they will nonetheless. Not based any facts , just on their CV.

  4. “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.” ... Henry John Temple, 3d Viscount Palmerston