Monday, 15 August 2016

What would a Donald Trump Presidency mean for European security?

In less than 100 days’ time Donald J. Trump could plausibly have been elected President of the United States. Now admittedly this is looking less likely than it once did. Trump is badly behind in the polls. He’s spent the last couple of weeks insulting the family of a dead American soldier, calling on a foreign power to hack the emails of his rival and possibly hinting that rival political figures could be assassinated. His ratings amongst significant chunks of the American population, specifically African-Americans and Hispanics, are rivalled by the likes of Ebola. And yet three months is a long time in politics. Long enough, considering the level of media attention he can deploy, for Trump to reinvent himself. Long enough to for some unexpected event, say a major terrorist attack, to fundamentally alter the focus of the campaign. This means we still need to take the possibility of a President Trump very seriously, and need to consider what it could mean for European security. Because the potential impact is enormous.

One of the few things that Trump’s critics and admirers agree on is that he is unlike any recent Presidential candidate. This is especially the case with foreign and security policy. Since 1941 one of the key focuses of American foreign policy has been the defence of the liberal-democratic or ‘free’ world. There have certainly been exceptions to this, generally where American Government have concluded that in certain countries immature liberal-democratic institutions would allow Communists (or more recently Islamists) to assume power. In these circumstances they have often concluded that a military and/or nationalist dictatorship is preferable. But broadly America has committed herself to the defence of the liberal-democratic world, most prominently through NATO in 1949 (which is primarily an American security umbrella over much of democratic Europe) and through commitments to protect various far-Eastern states, most prominently Japan. Trump, unlike any serious Presidential candidate in my lifetime, has cast doubt on these commitments.

In an interview with the New York Times, published on 20 July, Trump would only commit to defending NATO members which had ‘fulfilled their obligations to us’. This is directly contrary to Article 5 of NATO, which compels all NATO members to come to the assistance of any other member which is attacked. He didn’t, in typical Trump fashion, go into details so it’s not clear how Trump defines NATO countries ‘obligations’ to the US. Perhaps he is referring to the NATO recommendation that its members spend at least two percent of GDP on defence. At present only five NATO countries (USA, Britain, Greece, Poland and Estonia) fulfil this criteria. According to NATO’s own estimates 15 of its members, including the likes of Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, spent less than one per cent of their GDP on defence in 2015. I can understand why this irritates many Americans – indeed I’m somewhat surprised this hasn’t become a major political issue earlier. America has committed herself via NATO to fight to defend much of Europe, despite the fact that relatively few European countries can be bothered to maintain serious armed forces. Indeed much of Europe, especially liberal Europe, has responded with an impressive level of ingratitude. Anti-Americanism remains one of the few prejudices acceptable to liberal Europe, where the view that American culture is bigoted, militaristic and uncaring is widely shared. And yet it’s almost certainly because of the strength of this same American culture that Europe’s children haven’t spent much time killing and dying in trenches since 1945. 

But I’m not sure Trump is referring to countries which meet the two per cent GDP target – this feels rather two structured for him. More likely Trump will defend those European countries which he likes and sympathises with, whilst the rest with be subject to his ‘deals’. Trump clearly, for example, has some genuine attachment to Britain. His mother was British born, and Trump was concerned enough to repeatedly back Brexit during the recent EU referendum campaign. However I’m not at all sure that Trump has any real interest in, or concern for, some other parts of Europe. Most significantly I doubt he much cares about the Baltic States. This, combined with Trump’s obvious admiration for, and affinity with, Russia’s President Putin, could potentially have dramatic consequences.

Trump has a long history of making pro-Putin comments. In October 2007 he told CNN’s Larry King that Putin was ‘doing a great job in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia period’, whilst in July 2015, shortly after joining the Presidential race, Trump asserted that ‘I think I’d get along very well with Vladimir Putin’. More recently Putin has returned the complements, describing Trump in December 2015 as ‘bright and talented’ and as the ‘absolute leader of the presidential race’. This mutual admiration has already had policy implications. It appears that Trump’s allies worked to block an attempt at the Republican Convention to include providing ‘lethal defensive weapons’ to Ukraine in the party platform. When asked if he’d recognise Russia’s seizure of Crimea Trump replied that ‘I’m going to take a look at it’. Short of promising to return Alaska to Russian rule I’m not sure Trump could have done much more to please the Kremlin. It’s also worth noting that his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, used to work for deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovynch, a key Putin ally.

A combination of Trump’s disinterest in defending liberal-democratic principles, and his warm relationship with Putin, means it’s far from clear he would defend the Baltic States (and indeed other parts of Eastern Europe) in the event of Russian aggression. This carries two substantial risks. Firstly, perhaps a little counter-intuitively, it makes an armed conflict between Russian and Western powers more likely. This is because it significantly increases the chances of miscalculation by either side. The Russian Government knows that it needs to avoid a full-scale war with NATO. If such a war was fought conventionally Russia would almost certainly lose, and if it was fought with nuclear weapons everybody would lose. Now at present Moscow has a pretty good idea of where the red lines are. Ukraine and Georgia yes, but the Baltic States and Poland (integrated into both NATO and the EU) no. But with a President Trump, a man whose decision making seems to be primarily based on gut feelings, it would be hard to know. And this significantly increases the chances of Russia and the West stumbling, at least somewhat accidentally, into conflict.

The second big danger of course is that it would undermine the liberal-democratic (or Western) alliance in general. If America under Trump won’t fight to protect the Baltic, or other NATO members near Russia, will the Western European powers? I’m far from convinced. And if that happens then what, if anything, will NATO stand for? Parts of the NATO alliance have long been a fiction – the idea that Turkey would fight Russia to protect Estonia is fairly ludicrous.  But this hasn’t mattered too much because America’s commitment has seemed secure, and the US is by far the most potent partner in NATO. If this changes then NATO, the shield of liberal-democratic Europe, could collapse either partially or completely.  According to NATO’s own estimates the alliance spent $900,473 million on defence in 2015. However the same figures estimate that of this $665,688 was accounted for by the US.

Support for Article 5 in parts of Europe has long been shaky. According to a 2015 poll 58% of Germans, 53% of French and 51% of Italians don’t necessarily think their country should use military force to defend a NATO ally from Russian attack. However in the poll 68% of respondents, drawn from eight NATO member states, believed that the US would take action if Russia attacked a NATO ally. In the absence of American support it’s likely that the proportion of Europeans favouring military action in these circumstances would be even lower. As such a Trump Presidency could gravely undermine the security of liberal-democratic Europe.

A Trump Presidency would have enormous consequences. Its implications are truly revolutionary, for America and much of the rest of the world. For Europe it means that the assumption we have maintained since 1945, that America will be prepared to fight to defend liberal-democratic Europe, may no longer be true. As a result if Trump becomes President, or looks like he will, European powers should significantly increase military cooperation (though not political integration). They should also substantially boost military spending, despite the impact this will have on our social security systems. The first duty of any Government is to defend its people. The Governments of some European powers would do well to remember this. 

Monday, 8 August 2016

Will the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction continue to prevent nuclear war?

The Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) thesis is the argument that two states armed with nuclear weapons are unlikely to engage in a nuclear war, on the basis that it would be so destructive for both countries. In practice this also makes it less likely that these states would engage each other in a conventional war, as it risks nuclear escalation. There is clearly some truth to this. The balance of probability, in my view, is that some form of conventional war would have taken place during the 1945-90 Cold ‘War’ had the main actors not been nuclear armed. There might have been a war between the American led anti-communist block and the USSR, or communist China, or indeed a more intense conflict between the USSR and communist China (as opposed to the relatively brief border war which they actually fought).  But whilst, because the stakes are so high, nuclear armed adversaries are less likely to go to war, this doesn’t make it impossible nor, given enough time, necessarily improbable. MAD is only partially correct. Its behaviour is like that of an old and fat cat to a rat infestation. It makes it less likely, but by no means impossible. There are I think three primary scenarios in which MAD fails – making a nuclear attack from one nuclear armed power on another plausible. These are:

  1. Insanity/hate: MAD works on the assumption that those with access to nuclear weapons behave rationally, and care about preventing the destruction of their supporters at least as much as they want to destroy their opponents. A leader who hates his enemies more than he loves his own people, and history has thrown up plenty such examples, may decide to deploy nuclear weapons even if likely to invite a nuclear reply. This is particularly plausible in the case of a power-crazed dictator, confronted with either a popular uprising or foreign invasion. If Hitler had been able to deploy nuclear weapons from his bunker in 1945, even if his enemies had been similarly armed, my guess is he would have done so. We should also recognise that world leaders do occasionally go mad, by any reasonable definition of the term. If they have access to nuclear weapons, and there aren’t sufficient checks-and-balances to stop them being deployed (most likely in an autocratic dictatorship) it’s possible that they might decide to use them.  
  2. Belief in an afterlife: MAD works on the assumption that those with access to nuclear weapons care more about this life than any potential ‘afterlife’. For a decent proportion of humanity this is simply not the case, and of this a tiny proportion believe that destroying their enemies facilitates a pleasant afterlife.  If you believe that killing large numbers of your Gods ‘enemies’ makes your assent to heaven more likely, and that it either doesn’t matter or is a bonus if your killed in the process, then mutually assured destruction is no longer an irrational act. Almost anything becomes rational if it guarantees you an eternity in paradise (indeed beyond getting into paradise this life becomes almost irrelevant), and if large numbers of your supporters die as well that’s not necessarily a bad thing – you may have arranged their transition to heaven as well. The world’s two biggest religions by number of adherents, Christianity and Islam, have both produced bodies of believers who believe that killing, and dying fighting, the enemies of God guarantees entry into Heaven (for example Christian Crusaders and a variety of fundamentalist Islamic groups). This could well lead to groups or individuals who would launch a nuclear attack if they could, in the full knowledge that it would lead to MAD. There are a number of, generally rather small, Islamic fundamentalist groups who would probably deploy a nuclear weapon if they could, even if it were to invite a nuclear reply. Groups like ISIS have produced large numbers of suicide bombers prepared to die in order to harm their enemies, and it’s likely they would be prepared to deploy nuclear weapons using the same rational.
  3. Disparity of destructive impact: Some countries are much bigger, and much more densely populated, than others. As a result it’s possible to imagine a scenario in which, should a nuclear war occur, one combatant would suffer significantly more than the other. In practice this is only likely to occur if the countries concerned only have a handful of nuclear weapons, say less than ten, and most currently nuclear armed states have considerable or vastly more (the exception being North Korea which is estimated to have around eight). However if additional countries develop nuclear weapons they may do so in small numbers, activating this scenario. Iran is around 1,648,195 km2 in size. Israel by contrast only has 22,072 km2. If both countries only had a few nuclear weapons you can just about imagine a scenario in which Iran decides to launch, on the basis that it will suffer a lot less than Israel (though this may be complicated by having one of the holiest shrines for Islam in Jerusalem).

What should we conclude from the obvious flaws to mutually assured destruction? That, whilst it certainly makes nuclear war less likely than conventional war, it far from prevents it. There are two main, somewhat interlinked, conclusions. Firstly it emphasises the importance of nuclear non-proliferation. Broadly speaking the more countries have nuclear weapons, the more likely one of the scenarios when MAD fails will come to pass, leading to nuclear war. It’s worth noting that the failure to stop one country developing nuclear weapons risks several countries developing them. Pakistan decided it needed nuclear weapons, which it eventually got, after the first Indian bomb was tested in 1974. This is one of the reasons why it was so important to stop Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb. If Iran got the bomb it’s likely that at least one of the Sunni Muslim states of the Middle East would have attempted to reciprocate. The most likely candidates would be Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and maybe even the UAE (whose rulers seem to like big shiny things which convey status). And to be blunt a Middle East with multiple nuclear armed powers would be a powder-keg.

The second conclusion is that it matters enormously what sort of political systems nuclear armed countries have. It is especially important to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands countries which are led by, or are likely to be led by, Government which are likely to trigger one of the three scenarios outlined above. Broadly this means regimes which are dictatorial/autocratic, allow few checks on executive power and/or are led by those who value an ‘afterlife’ over this life, and think violence can help them secure it. I would say that, because nuclear weapons are so uniquely awful, it would almost certainly be better to live in a world without them. I say that recognising that this would make conventional warfare more likely. But this isn’t an ideal world, and nuclear weapons are here to stay. As such it’s crucial that nuclear arms are maintained by a small number of liberal-democratic states, to avert a world dominated by nuclear armed tyrants. At present five states which could reasonably be described as liberal-democratic are nuclear armed (America, Britain, France, India and Israel). I would say three or four is the ideal number. It certainly needs to be more than one – the rise of Trump in America has shown how potentially unstable even the most advanced democracies can be, and we’d be foolish to put all our eggs in one basket.

The counter-point to this is that, as I mentioned earlier, it’s of vital importance to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons amongst unstable/authoritarian/theocratic states, if need by via the use of force. To put it bluntly it’s my view that if nuclear proliferation expands significantly beyond the current nine nuclear armed powers, then nuclear war becomes all but inevitable. And a nuclear war would be so horrific that it’s worth almost any price, including a bloody conventional war, to avoid this danger. No one knows exactly how many people were killed when American planes dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, though a total initial death toll of 120,000 is almost certainly on the conservative side. The nuclear bombs advanced nations currently possess are significantly more powerful than those deployed in 1945. I’m very glad the Iranian Government came to its senses, and agreed to a reasonable settlement with some of the main world powers in July 2015 over its nuclear programme. But if it hadn’t agreed I think there would have been a strong moral case to fight a conventional war with Iran, to prevent nuclear proliferation amongst autocratic, unstable and theocratic regimes. In short, if we allow significant nuclear proliferation, we will probably at some point have to face nuclear war. 

Friday, 5 August 2016

Jeremy Corbyn has defended a number of ultra-authoritarian regimes – his opponents should draw attention to this

Jeremy Corbyn has serious question to answer about his commitment to democracy. That’s quite an assertion, but one I think the evidence supports. Let me be entirely clear – Jeremy Corbyn is not an enemy of, or a threat to, British democracy. Nor is he ideologically opposed to democratic institutions – he’s not a revolutionary Marxist. But he has defended, and associated with, a concerning number of ultra-authoritarian regimes. In short he has defended enough that, whilst I don’t doubt his commitment to democracy in the UK, it’s far from clear that he supports it in all developing countries. Some of the regimes he has defended have been of the left – most notably the ‘communist’ dictatorship which rules Cuba and the authoritarian left-wing Government which controls Venezuela. But some aren’t. He has also defended ultra-authoritarian Governments of the far-right, in particular those of Iran, Hamas and Hezbullah (which can reasonably be treated as a Government on the basis that it de facto controls parts of Southern Lebanon). These regimes have little in common with Corbyn’s ideology, beyond opposition to ‘Western’ values and institutions.

I’ll start with Corbyn’s more ideologically explicable, if no less morally indefensible, association with ultra-authoritarian Governments of the far-left. Corbyn is a longstanding supporter of the Cuban Solidarity Campaign (CSC), a British group which supports the Cuban Government. Indeed, on 11 July 2016, the day when Theresa May became Prime Minister, Corbyn chose to address a CSC meeting in Parliament. Unfortunately Cuba is an authoritarian dictatorship – its Government persecutes political opponents, including independent labour organisations. Amnesty International reports that ‘government critics, including journalists and human rights activists’ are ‘routinely subjected to arbitrary arrests’, with the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation reporting that 8,600 politically motivated detentions occurred last year. Amnesty also notes that the Government controls ‘access to the internet…limiting access to information and criticism of the state’, whilst subjecting critics to ‘politically motivated criminal prosecutions’. Corbyn needs to explain why he hasn’t just defended an authoritarian dictatorship, but gone out of his way to do so.

Corbyn didn’t just vocally support the government of Cuba, he also supported its authoritarian counterpart in Venezuela. Now admittedly Venezuela isn’t quite a dictatorship of the Cuban model, but it’s no liberal-democracy either. Amnesty International’s 2015/16 report on global human rights stated that ‘Human rights defenders and journalists continued to face attacks and intimidation. Political opponents of the government faced unfair trials and imprisonment’. Corbyn though had a rather more rosy view of the Venezuelan Government, and in June 2015 lavished it with praise as he addressed a rally of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, a left-wing pro-Chavez group. Once again he went out of his way to support an authoritarian regime, and one which had a track record of taking its country in a more autocratic direction.

Corbyn was also prepared, on 1 June this year, to address a May Day rally in London which featured multiple communist flags, including those of the CPGB (Communist Party of Great Britain), and even banners depicting Lenin and Stalin. Perhaps Corbyn didn’t see the Communist flags. Perhaps he doesn’t have eyes. In any case an ardent democrat would clearly object to having communist flags waved in support, in the same manner that they would if flags of the British Union of Fascists were flow. But Corbyn didn’t. It’s inconceivable that even a junior Conservative backbencher would address a rally featuring fascist flags, and portraits of Mussolini or General Franco. And yet the Labour leader is prepared to address a rally featuring Communist flags and banners of Bolshevik tyrants.

As I mentioned earlier Corbyn doesn’t just associate with Governments of the authoritarian left. Even more shockingly, he is prepared to defend those of the radical (usually religiously fundamentalist) right. Take for example Iran. Corbyn has been a regular on the state funded Iranian Government propaganda channel Press TV. This isn’t a TV station which happens to be based in Iran, it’s one which actively promotes the positions of the Iranian Government. And the Iranian Government is a dictatorship, one which butchered pro-democracy protestors in 2009. It’s a Government that believes homosexuality should be prohibited, sometimes even punished by death, and that the state should regulate what women can wear.  It is, in short, an appallingly reactionary religiously conservative dictatorship. Any true defender of democracy and human rights would run a mile. And yet Corbyn does the opposite. In 2012 he even spoke at an Al-Quds day rally in London, Al-Quads day being the annual event initiated by Ayatollah Khomeini to protest against Israel. Hezbollah flags, and other extremist symbols, are regular features of these rallies.

Corbyn has also had associations with Hamas and Hezbullah, the Palestinian and Lebanese Islamist groups which rule Gaza (as a dictatorship) and parts of Lebanon (though unofficially). Corbyn has referred to representatives of both groups as his ‘friends’, and invited them to meetings. Hamas is institutionally anti-Semitic, and runs Gaza as a theocratic dictatorship. According to that neo-conservative stalwart Amnesty International, Hamas in Gaza restricts ‘freedom of expression, including by arresting and detailing critics and political opponents’. It has also ‘used force to disperse some protests’, whilst ‘torture and other ill-treatment of detainees is relatively common’. Both Hamas and Hezbullah deliberately target civilians, predominantly Israeli, during periods of conflict. And yet Corbyn has described them as ‘friends’ of his own free will. He was under no pressure to do so. It’s not like when Conservative Cabinet Ministers are compelled, for diplomatic reasons, to find warm words for authoritarian regimes.  Corbyn chose to do so, and it’s revealing that of all the regimes in the Middle East he has associated with some of the most authoritarian, whilst reserving his sharpest criticism for the country, Israel, which has the strongest democratic and liberal institutions.

So Corbyn has serious questions concerning his commitment to democracy – and so far he has singularly failed to address them. Whilst there’s no suggestion that he’s ideologically opposed to democracy, or in any way a threat to democracy in the UK, he has chosen to defend and associate with a worrying number of dictatorial regimes. Some of these have been on the hard-left, others the far-right. Nothing unites them beyond a dislike, which Corbyn at least partly shares, of the ‘West’ and its values. Corbyn’s opponents for the Labour leadership need to draw attention to this, and make it clear that he’s not just (fortuitously) unelectable. His past associations make him morally unacceptable as leader.


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

We need to prepare for Governments of the radical right in Western Europe

If you want to predict the future of politics in Western Europe ask yourself one question. Are Western Europeans prepared to live like Israelis? This isn’t a reference to Israel’s climate or ecology. It’s a reference to political violence. For decades Israeli citizens have lived with the knowledge that a violent death could be just around the corner. That they, or their families, or their friends, could be butchered by an enemy who regards the defenceless as legitimate targets. Does the man who just got on your bus have a bomb strapped to his torso, or a knife in his rucksack? That car driving you see coming towards you – is it driven by a father doing the school run, or a terrorist preparing to use his vehicle as a weapon? For decades Western Europeans, with the exception of small minorities (mostly concentrated in Ulster and the Basque Country) haven’t had to worry about these questions. Now, increasingly, they do – and the political fallout will be significant.

It is of course important to get things in perspective. The risk of being killed by terrorists in Western European countries is very low. But it is increasing, and the threat is starting to have a noticeable impact on ordinary people’s lives in a number of European states. France is probably the most extreme, and worrying, case. France is confronting something like a domestic insurgency. Since the beginning of 2015 there have been serious Islamist attacks roughly every few months, killing more than 230 people. France has been in a state of emergency since November 2015, has thousands of troops patrolling the streets and has called up 10,000 police reservists. In addition, as of January 2015, an estimated 1,200 French citizens had gone to fight for Sunni Jihadi groups in Syria. It’s almost certain that the number is now somewhat higher.  Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister, said the French would have to ‘learn to live with terrorism’. That is, to live like Israelis. But what if the French people aren’t prepared to? That’s when things get truly disconcerting.  

If the population of France, or some other West European state, aren’t prepared to live like Israelis they will turn to the right. This is especially likely considering the extent to which the political centre in much of Europe has been eroded by both the Eurozone crisis and broader concerns about national identity (fuelled by the migration crisis). If the people do turn to the right, in my view, they have two chief options. The first is to back a broadly traditional Conservative, who has bolted on some policies from the populist/hard right. Sarkozy in France is probably the best example of this phenomenon. The second is to support a party of the hard or far-right. By this I mean a party that at least partly rejects the liberal-democratic-capitalist consensus which has dominated Western Europe since 1945, from a nationalist direction. In this category I’d put the French Front National, the Dutch and Austrian Freedom Parties, the Swedish Democrats and others. None of these parties are fascist, and all at least publically commit to democracy (which may or may not be an illusion). There are a handful of genuinely fascist parties in Europe, but it’s very hard to imagine any of these getting into power – with the possible exception of Hungary’s Jobbik (which remains highly unlikely).

Of the two choices traditional conservatism with a dose of populism has the advantage of seeming the less risky choice. They promise to confront terror without fundamentally transforming a countries political and/or economic system. However the radical-right have the advantage of seeming more genuine – they have spent decades establishing themselves as the authentic voice of anti-immigrant sentiment. Even if a hard-line conservative does win first (say Sarkozy wins the French Presidency in 2017 with promises to close extremist mosques and strip dual nationality terrorist suspects of their French citizenship) it’s far from clear that their policy solutions will address the issue. And if they don’t that just leaves the radical right.

So, to answer my own question, I don’t think Western Europeans are prepared to live like Israelis. As a result I think it’s highly likely that a party of the hard or far-right will take power in a Western European country in the short-to-mid future, and European liberals need to start preparing for this eventuality. I’m not sure which country it will happen in, though I’m prepared to have a guess. France, Austria and the Netherlands seem most vulnerable. All have parties of the radical right which are currently topping polls (the Front National, the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) and the Dutch Party for Freedom).  The FPO candidate, Norbert Hofer, has a reasonable chance of winning the re-run Austrian Presidential election on 2 October. He lost by only 0.6% of the vote to the Green Party’s Van der Bellen in the original vote in May, which was annulled by the Austrian Constitutional Court due to irregularities. Most disturbing though would be a Front National/Le Pen victory in May 2017. At best this would paralyse and polarise France, with Le Pen engaged in constant battles with a moderate legislature. But even in this scenario France would cease to be a reliable member of the liberal-democratic alliance.

So what should liberal-democrats do? Of course they need to listen, including to people’s concerns about immigration and cultural identity. But they also need to be ready for Governments of the nationalist right in Western Europe, possibly in France. France would clearly be the nightmare scenario. If France turns to the Front National, then two of Europe’s three serious military powers (and nuclear armed states) would be controlled by authoritarian nationalists. That is France as well as Russia, with Britain holding true to liberal-democracy. Certainly liberals need to start taking defence very seriously indeed – large parts of Europe are already incapable of defending themselves without American support, and this would become conditional in the event of a Trump Presidency. In particular Britain needs to maintain her nuclear weapons (a scenario in which nationalist run France and Russia are the only nuclear armed countries in Europe is unacceptable), and our political unity (if the UK breaks up it will clearly endanger our security – and consequently that of our allies).

Europe could be on the brink of a revolutionary moment – an event on the scale of the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, or even the Russian revolution of 1917. A Front National victory in the French Presidential election, or a Trump victory in the American Presidential election would have a dramatic impact on world politics, and effectively end the post-1989 liberal-democratic consensus in most of Europe. And the probability of one of the two winning must be over 50%. In any case it’s time for European liberals to awake to the seriousness of the danger, and start preparing to deal with the radical right in power.