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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 13-Oct-19


Sunday 13-October-19

Standing on the Brink: Brexit, Impeachment and Climate

Wherever you are, it seems we are standing on the brink of momentous events at the moment.

In the UK, if a deal is not found between controversial Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the EU by next weekend, he says Britain will leave the EU without a deal, leading to predicted trading chaos and economic misery. His hard charge, including sacking 20-odd of his own rebellious MPs, has led to multiple defeats in Parliament, yet as this is being written there are 'at last' signs of an impending deal after last-minute talks with the Irish PM.

It may seem like madness, but in terms of pure negotiation tactics, it all makes sense. A critical goal in negotiation is to persuade the other person that you are ready and willing to walk away. It is also a tactic to ask for things that may seem ridiculous (such as giving the DUP, one of the Northern Ireland parties, a veto) so that you can trade it away later for something you really want. If this works for Boris and a deal is found, there are more challenges in getting both the UK Parliament and the EU Members to agree to whatever deal is being cooked up. The question is still open as whether he (and his people) are genius negotiators or bullying klutzes. Well, we'll see.

Meanwhile, in the USA, the impeachment of Donald Trump looks more and more imminent. He was caught red-handed trying to blackmail the Ukranian president into investigating Trump's political rivals, yet there is a long way before he pays for this and other misdemeanours.

Trump's playbook looks a lot like other strongman authoritarians, albeit in what has been seen as one of the bastions of democracy. He seems to have a close control over Republicans, who are still supporting him (although many seem strangely silent). He is also stonewalling attempts to subpoena anyone who might testify against him. He has often been compared to a mob boss with a very coercive style, using subtle threats and putting loyalty above all else. After the Mueller damp squib nobody believes he will be impeached until he is, although most believe he will be. He uses the law as a sword and a shield, tying up opponents in court until they give up or lose. Can he do he same here? Again, we'll see.

And perhaps more importantly than these momentous side shows is the climate question. We all are experiencing high temperatures, hurricanes and other record weather events. Scientists are ringing the alarm bells more than ever. A Swedish schoolgirl stands before the UN and brilliantly berated them for their tardiness. Protesters are on the street and even Boris Johnson's father seems involved. An interesting other tactic being played here is naming. Global Warming has been changed to Global Heating. Hmm. I'm not convinced. Sounds like an energy company. I might use something more impactful, such as 'Global Destruction'.

An interesting example is Extinction Rebellion in the UK, which have taken to such active tactics as blocking roads by sitting in them, even as hundreds of them are arrested. Certainly, they have been very successful in gaining the attention of the press. Yet the power of capitalism and global markets seems unstoppable. Trump is a denier and Johnson seems not to care too much about this as political distractions take priority. And yet, if we get it wrong, billions may perish.

Nero reputedly played the fiddle as Rome burned. Now, selfishness rules again as politicians seem to be pursuing personal goals, rather than leading us into any hopeful future.

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