“That the Cold War ended in our lifetime without a general war and a nuclear exchange is the greatest shared boon, a true miracle of our own times. Nothing beats that – it is the thing that trumps it all”. These words were uttered two years ago by distinguished Peter Hennessy, the distinguished British historian, on BBC Radio 4. It’s revealing such a profoundly true observation is so infrequently made.
Far from celebrating the end of the Cold War, and its peaceful denouement, the Western establishment appears to long for a return to the bad old days of East-West loathing and mutually assured destruction.
Rather than building on the successful defusing of a 40-year stand-off, recognizing the vast benefits of cooperation and trade, politicians in Washington and London seem intent on renewed conflict with Russia. This sentiment has grown stronger, of course, since the outbreak of rhetorical hostilities over Ukraine.
“Storm clouds gather over emerging markets”, boomed The Financial Times’ influential leader column in mid-January. This inclement headline was whipped up after the paper choose to focus on a “disorderly adjustment scenario” outlined across just a few paragraphs of the latest edition of The World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects. The 150-page tome is, in large part, about the Western world, not emerging markets. The question at its heart is whether the “advanced” economies, having remained sluggish since the 2008 sub-prime collapse, are now staging a proper return to growth.
“For the first time in five years,” reads the opening lines of the World Bank’s report, “there are indications a self-sustaining recovery has begun among high-income countries – suggesting they may now join developing nations as a second engine of global economic growth”.
Economies across Africa and Asia, in other words, along with the emerging markets of Latin America and BNE’s home region of Eastern Europe and Eurasia, are performing quite well. These nascent capitalist societies are the “engine of global economic growth”, says the World Bank.