The Europe-Africa Seesaw Facing a New US
In the 1990’s, the US bombed Serbia under the pretext of its mistreatment of Albanians living in the province of Kosovo: currently, citizens of both countries are demonstrating against the austerity measures of their respective governments. Meanwhile, in France, the Yellow Vests held their 23rd weekend of rallies, following a second “Assembly of Assemblies”, while the Macron regime upped the ante by adding troops to its civilian police force. And although the Nordic countries have for decades contributed the most to development, the arrival of African migrants in Finland (whose education system is considered the best in the world!) allowed a far-right party to surge, as had already happened in Sweden and Norway.
While unrest was spreading in Europe, on the other side of the Mediterranean, the people of two of the largest North African nations, Algeria and Sudan were ousting leaders who had liberated them from colonialism. The new generation are determined to modernize their countries so that fewer of their friends will risk death by drowning to reach Europe. Given this wave of democratization, it was a surprise when the Egyptian people voted to extend the presidential mandate of Al-Sissi from four to six years, meaning he could remain in power until 2030. The American backed former general based his request for time on the need to achieve reforms, and apparently, a majority of Egyptians believe that is a valid reason.
By 2030, the Russian and Chinese governments may still be authoritarian, while the countries of Europe, having failed to adopt a federal system in the nineties, may still be stuck in separate neo-liberal tarpits. as Africans continue to surge toward their shores. Oblivious to the fact that Caucasians constitute only 16% of the world’s population, voters have been flocking to the far-right instead of seeking to improve African living standards. Capitalizing on the situation, Steve Bannon recently chastised the Pope for not getting on board with the supremacist agenda, while encouraging far right leaders to organize a group in the European Parliament.
Ironically, while challenging the decades-long preponderance of the left and center in Europe, Bannon’s influence on Donald Trump liberated the American left from a century of oblivion. Bernie Sanders, the first member of congress to openly declare himself a democratic socialist, was sidelined from the 2016 Presidential race by a Democratic leadership determined to maintain the party’s centrist policies. As a result, 40 of Sanders’ followers were elected to Congress in 2018. Among them, two Muslim women forced a vote to condemn racism of every kind, while Alexandria Ocasio Cortes bolstered the campaign against President Trump’s efforts to close the southern border to Hispanic immigrants.
Cortes’ grass-roots primary campaign ousted a long-time Democratic incumbent, and when she arrived in Washington, the media recognized her as a born politician, shortening her name to the snappy AOC. In March, surrounded by her allies, she broke with the tradition that junior members sit quietly in the back, presenting nothing less than a Green New Deal and participating in a climate-change sit-in of the office of Nancy Pelosi, who had just been elected as the first female Speaker of the House.
Pelosi has been in Congress since 1987, and was recently recognized as the most powerful women in the country for standing up to Donald Trump without losing her ladylike calm (something Hillary Clinton never managed to do). She continues to hold the Democratic centrist fort in the face of the electorate’s growing interest in socialism. When asked by a journalist how she would handle the new, left-leaning crop of representatives, she asserted “I’m the progressive!” But like a remote slap in the fact, the next day, Time magazine listed AOC among the hundred most influential people of 2019.
Deena Stryker is an international expert, author and journalist that has been at the forefront of international politics for over thirty years. She can be reached at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.