22nd January 2017

"The man on the podium raised his right arm in salute. The crowd were in a frenzy, screaming themselves hoarse 'ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer.' There was even a band playing nationalistic music...The crowd whispered that in front of them stood their saviour - the man who promised to give them at long last their prosperity and a better life..."  Extract from Lamplight (authl.it/4q0) by Olga Swan
Yesterday Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the USA, bringing with him a new era of nationalism, alongside Putin of Russia, Modi of India, Xi of China and Erdogan of Turkey et al. Their talk of international relations takes us back to the 19C world of sovereign powers following their own national interests. Here in France, the V-P of France's Front Nationale declared 'French independence soon'. Reminded me of my own words in Vichyssoise (amzn.to/2bg3kkG) after the French - like the current US voters - voted in the 'wrong' man, Petain, who then went on to 'collaborate' with Hitler: "Gentlemen, I propose armistice with Hitler..." Will Trump soon 'collaborate' with Putin? This world of mutually-congratulatory nationalism is ruining all the post-war endeavours of so many presidents and other global leaders, and threatening the very existence of Nato's guarantee to Europe. This nationalism we've seen before. Always starts with high hopes and crowd fervour and always ends in tears.  I'm old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis. Are we heading for another similar nationalistic leader clash against maybe Xi? Let's hope Trump doesn't end up like Petain: tried and condemned by his own countrymen!

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