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International balance sheet 2021–2022: The war in Ukraine clouds everything

First it was the COVID-19 global pandemic, and then the impact of the new fall of Afghanistan into the hands of the Taliban, now it is the war in Ukraine that has captured the world’s attention. And it does so with the same effect as on so many other occasions when, unfortunately, the entire international agenda seems to be reduced to a single issue, on which debates, analyses, and more or less successful responses are concentrated. Meanwhile, the rest of these unresolved issues on the agenda, which drag on year after year, are diluted in an increasingly invisible fog in which, paradoxically, the lack of will and inaction to deal with them in a resolute manner shine through.

Both the economic and political models, social market economy and parliamentary democracy, respectively, seem to have reached their limits, subject to a deterioration accumulated over decades, and incapable of resolving the problems that their very application has generated, however many positive contributions they have historically made to the well-being and security of a large part of the planet. Added to this is an international order with clear imbalances and limitations in managing the current forces of globalization. An order that, although it claims to be guided by values and principles that are valid for the whole of humanity, responds rather to the defense of very particular interests by those who have had the opportunity, after the end of the Second World War, to impose it in their own image and likeness with the clear intention of preserving their hegemony over any possible rival. And today this has its own name: the United States – determined to maintain its position as world leader – and China – the clearest candidate for the same position. The result is a global competition that defines much of today’s agenda and points towards greater levels of tension, with the Indo-Pacific now the main centre of gravity in world affairs.

Meanwhile, we continue to pay the consequences of the dysfunctions caused by these models and this competition between global powers, while waiting for alternative models to emerge, before it is too late, that will make it possible to overcome nationalist resentments and double standards when it comes to attending to the common needs of the 8 billion people who already inhabit the Earth. The diagnosis of the ills that afflict us is well known, as is the perception that, as Pepe Mujica, former Uruguayan president, has just reminded us, “we are not in an era of change, but in a change of era”. What is still lacking, therefore, is the political will to adopt the necessary measures to change a course that endangers the existence of the human species on this planet.

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