Populism and trade wars

Finally, it was easy to choose my last pre-election subjects, after following media headlines. Populism, it's rise and fall, it's risks, and that constant talking about a certain eastern neighbor of ours. And then came Trump with his new trade war levels against Huawei. The EU has its work cut out, now more than ever.

The many ways to see populism

First of all, when combating populism, I think we shouldn't do it with populism. "Populism is the one, biggest and only threat, period" does not show signs of an intelligent opinion, neither does shouting Russia constantly. One would do wisely to look at the reasons for the populist rise, like how the common worker changed from beloved to arch enemy in the eyes of too many establishment parties. Or how people's fears are being ridiculed. There may be no statistical points to support this fear but fears live outside mathematics.

On the other hand, polls show that tomorrow, populists parties will most likely make gains in only a handful of countries, whereas social democrats and other pro-EU-parties will be making gains in far more countries. We've so come to believe that populism is on massive rise that we didn't bother to check if that's truly the case. Naturally populists will gain more votes, and naturally that means we need to care. People do not vote for them out of stupidity, but out of concern. If you address these concerns, you can fix the issue. If you keep blaming people for voting populists, they will do so in greater numbers.

There's no point in addressing populists on their terms. Do not fear their topics, but look at them with determination, knowledge, and keep your cool. Refuse to give ten second answers, and demand that the tough issues get the time needed to understand them. Stop acting terrified whenever they speak, stop shouting, and start showing the skills which EU needs. Anger is not one of them. Oversimplifying complex problems is not one of them either. To beat populism, you must do better.

America's trade war on everything

Trump certainly hasn't been shy about making new enemies, while the list of friends seems limited to Israel and Saudi Arabia. In trade wars, the latest hit was Huawei, in what is generally seen as a way to make homeland politics with foreign scapegoats. However, this is about the EU, not USA. My issue is how easily EU corporations bow down to US demands. The EU is based on open trade, but in fact everything we do in business is subject to US interests. In fact, we're so comfortable with total US dependence that most EU countries have delegated a majority of their information storage and online services to US controlled providers. If our own institutions don't trust or in any way support our own business, how can we expect anyone else to?

Then there's Iran. Even with the many, many problems their country has, they have followed the rules of the nuclear agreement. They trusted EU to do the same. They had to learn that the EU cannot be trusted, as all of our businesses ceased operations in Iran the moment USA so wanted to be done. This gave the hardliners there more fuel for oppression. Again, the EU has been but a secretary for Trump, without a shred of independence. We must start offering support to any EU companies that uphold the law and play by the books. We must continue to build and strengthen our open position and start making some demands across the Atlantic as well. If we are to continue being friends and allies, in peace and war, it has to be mutual. Nobody denies the importance of NATO and thus the importance of the United States for our continued prosperity, but this cooperation must be mutual.

Go vote

Most countries are voting tomorrow. Again, I hope you spend the few minutes needed to vote, and then feel good about yourself. Left, right, up, down, for or against, as long as you make your voice heard. As for myself, I'm retiring for about a week to heal an injured bone, and perhaps I'll be back one day to analyze the election results.