Remember when millennials were bucking the system, and verbally giving the previous generations the finger with phrases like “Whatever, grandpa” or “OK, boomer”? Now it’s happening on a geopolitical scale.
High flying economies, predominantly in Asia, but including countries like Brazil, Mexico and Turkey, are thumbing their noses at EU, NATO and OECD policy wonks trying to give them advice or insisting on reforms. From climate change to economic growth to population management, the old-world Mother Grundys are finding that their admonishments are falling on deaf ears.
“It’s our turn to boom,” says a prominent Indian policy maker, “and we’ll deal with things in our own way. We’ve sorted out the Delhi smog problem, and millions of our people are being lifted out of poverty. So what if we’re not meeting western standards? We’re not the west!”
China is less outspoken, but equally impervious to bullying from the Davos crowd, despite having double the carbon emissions of the United States. Though the mandarins nod politely and are seen to be leading the field in clean energy and smart healthcare, back home the reality is that the Mandate of Heaven comes first, and that means putting China ahead of global issues. Almost like “America First” but with Chinese characteristics. We all saw how the 2019 trade war backfired on the US.
And who can blame them? While Europe, Britain and America languish in the doldrums, the new powerhouses are surging ahead. They’ve discovered that they can quietly say “OK, NATO” and get away with it, while they get on with growing their economies.