September 25, 2021 – Insights
Maybe it was the persistent overhang of grey clouds. Or the quick half day visit by President Joe Biden, shortened by the need to tend to his party’s domestic policy agenda. Either way, this year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) lacked the traditional firepower that sets New York City ablaze in September. And in some respect, the lack of clarity reflects the global mood.
France is miffed. Germany will elect a new leader. Britain is looking to separate itself from its European counterparts by lauding the U.S. at every turn. Meanwhile, Russia received very little outcry over its recent “democratic” municipal elections while it put the clamps on natural gas outputs on the eve of a forecast chilly winter.
The U.S. sought to steady its global voice in the wake of the Afghanistan withdrawal and China watched as markets reacted wildly to the Evergrande debacle. And COVID-19 continues its steady march. There was virtually no talk of supply chain issues, which is literally bringing global commerce to a halt. So where does this leave us?
The next significant meeting of the global order will occur to discuss climate change in Glasgow early November. Already there are doubts about what specific commitments the UN’s COP26 summit can produce. Underlying this global disorder is the often looked axiom that all politics truly are local.
Elected leaders must continuously reconcile their domestic political obligations to voters with loftier worldly aspirations that captivate the elite. History shows that the former will always trump the latter. The sharp increase in the price of natural gas in Europe crystallizes this tension as COP26 nears and leaders seek agreement on emissions cuts.
The pandemic has taught us to be patient, accepting a world that inches along and relegates other issues to the sidelines. That patience will end, though. Parents want kids in school and nations want a return to normal. Politicians who are not perceived as focused on solving these problems and looking ahead will soon be left behind.
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