“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” ~Isaac Newton
This is not a political rant or a suggestive post on what we as the United States need to do moving forward in foreign policy but rather a look at how one event in international politics can lead to great changes in world diplomacy.
Yesterday the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. This existential move now threatens the entire stability of the EU and its quest as a unified economic powerhouse that began following WWII.
In 2011 the United States pulled troops out of Iraq, leaving a de facto Shiite government in place at a time where the nation’s stability lingered in the hands of an unfit military and militia groups. The Shiite government soon emplaced century-old tactics between Shiite and Sunni and gave power to Shiite politicians and families while oppressing Sunni groups. This led to distention and eventually the rise of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) led by the Sunni radical Al-Baghdadi. The void of the US and allied troops left the Iraqi military weak and unable to suppress the ISIS uprising. The terrorist group quickly took over large portions of western Iraq and soon spread into Syria. Because Syria was engulfed in a civil war the Al Assad Government of Syria was unable to protect its Eastern front which eventually led to an almost autocratic ISIS nation spreading across Western Iraq and Eastern Syria.
The war-torn nation eventually led to large groups of Syrian refugees spreading from Iraq and Syria to the European Union as men, women, and children attempted to flee the conflict zone. Destabilization of the region leaked into neighboring countries, causing larger swaths of refugees trying to escape to the EU who welcomed the refugees in the millions.
The massive influx of refugees into the EU created an acidic political climate among European leaders who argued over the decision as to whether they could and or should support the fleeing refugees. One of the major opponents of the refugee sanctuary was Britain, a nation that offers its high residence levels of public services at the expense of the taxpayers. UK leaders argued that their economy was unable to support the large amounts of refugees who migrated within the EU and were not paying taxes. The burden of taking care of the refugees began to destabilize the economy and eventually led to the UK leaving the European Union.
The exit of the UK from the EU now threatens the world economy and will undoubtedly create a period of economic turmoil. While the EU, UK, and world economies may stabilize quickly, we will most likely see a period of panic and political discontent among allied nations.
While this isn’t the only reason, the UK left the EU it is certainly a catalyst. One could argue that the UK set itself on a course to leave the EU years ago however the reason geopolitical events play a vital part in could be blamed as the missing piece. Also, refugees are also fleeing from war-torn regions of Africa, so we can’t say the influx of refugees originates solely from Syria. However, they do hold the lion’s share. In the end, it is important for world leaders to look at how short-term political actions can create a large negative impact on international affairs.
What else can happen from here?
A weaker EU arguably strengthens the Russian might that threatens surrounding nations, Europe, and the United States. An exit creates a destabilized region in which any number of powerhouses will step up to fill the power vacuum. While it’s difficult to see how this will affect the EU economy, it could lead to some nations such as Spain and Greece who struggle to keep themselves out of economic turmoil to tank. Also, this departure may push other countries within the EU to leave in fear of going down with an already sinking ship. In the end, Britain’s departure could lead to the complete separation of the EU and a completely destabilized region.