Ascoltando il discorso, di poche ore fa, del Premier britannico Cameron e ragionando sul dilemma strategico della Gran Bretagna mi son tornate alla mente le parole dell’Eurasia Group sui rischi globali per l’anno in corso:
There are three current global trends that matter most: China is rising, the Middle East is exploding, and Europe is muddling through. Set against a G-Zero backdrop, the structural losers of these trends are the JIBs, countries impacted most directly and problematically by changes now underway in the geopolitical order.
These countries find themselves in very similar positions, for three reasons. 1) Their special relationships with the United States no longer carry quite the importance, or centrality, that they used to. 2) They sit just outside the major geopolitical changes underway, and have few available means of playing a constructive role in them. 3) Key domestic constraints in all three countries (political, social, historic, and otherwise) make it particularly difficult for them to respond effectively to the challenges posed by these changes. Japan faces a much tougher relationship with China, one that’s far more difficult to navigate than other countries in Asia. Unlike other Asian countries, where China’s leaders believe that the power balance (and the presence of Chinese minorities) benefits them sufficiently to allow for an incremental strategy, Japan is too big for that. Further, Japan doesn’t have as much importance for China to be concerned about the potential downside—China no longer needs Japan’s investment dollars because it can get much the same technology from South Korea and Taiwan. Accordingly, China is increasingly prepared to provoke. With the new Japanese election, the potential for Japan to give the Chinese further excuse to lash out is high. Dangerous geopolitical conflict is on the horizon in 2013. It’s probably the single most important, and dangerous, geopolitical conflict on the horizon in 2013, and Japan has little capacity to avoid it.
Great Britain is damned if they do and damned if they don’t with the European Union. If they stay in, they will become more marginalized as the Eurogroup plays a larger role; they are increasingly “takers” on a bunch of regulatory issues. If they don’t, they face a Europe that will be increasingly heading in a very different direction in terms of economic and regulatory models. Great Britain’s “best of both worlds” with Europe will become unsustainable—Britain won’t necessarily exit (certainly not this year), but its decision to remain at the margins of the continent and its changes will prove economically problematic.
Israel faces the erosion of moderation and mounting tension between Shia and Sunni extremists, who will compete for influence. The countries they could historically work the most closely with in the region—Egypt and Jordan—are now under tremendous domestic strain and are likely to become at best problematic occasional colleagues, at worst directly antagonistic. Turkey hasn’t the same domestic turmoil, but Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sees advantage in being ahead of the crowd and has turned against the Israelis, and the traditional alliance with the United States buys them less than it used to. The good news: They have the security advantages. But that’s increasingly the only good news they’re seeing. Given all the trouble, it’s a critical time for the Israelis to get truly serious on resolving the Palestinian conflict, but with domestic political trends in Israel moving the country in the other direction, that’s implausible.