Darkest before Dawn?
Entitled ‘Darkest Just Before the Dawn?’ LMC 2017 considered the severe challenges facing the West and sought to identify the opportunities that may arise in these bleakest moments.
The past year was remembered for dramatic, unprecedented and unforeseen events such as the UK’s decision to leave the EU and the election of the populist leader Donald Trump. Such episodes, conveying population’s fatigue with mainstream, have challenged the values of the Western liberal democratic order, caused fractures in our institutions and radicalised party politics.
The EU’s apparent inability to handle immigration, prevent terrorist attacks and revitalise the economy has produced dissatisfaction and fed populism amongst its populations. The bloodshed in Syria still seems endless and insoluble. Russia’s growing militarism, use of disinformation and malicious cyber activities have demonstrated its determination to exploit every crack in the West’s solidarity and to change the world order. China, among others, is quietly determined to assert that there are other ways to live and other rules to follow. Daesh continues to spread its networks throughout Europe, demanding constant alertness. Influence operations in the cyber space challenge our on-line way of life and demand new solutions.
As if this were not enough, dealing with climate change and its consequences remain global questions. These are the ingredients of a strategic challenge to the West. They demand not just responses, but fundamental adaptation and change.
There was a good reason to be gloomy but this was not a strategy. It was no longer possible to ignore the flaws in the existing world system. These testing times demanded unity and action, rethinking and restructuring. It may have been dark, but we looked for ways to help the dawn to break again.
Estonia, which holds the Presidency of the EU in the second half of 2017, and the LMC 2017 was a perfect place to consider solutions.