“With all the major conflagrations that have broken out in the world recently, including this week’s news that the peace treaty with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) in Colombia did not win support, it can seem our post-World War II world order is falling apart — or is it?” said University of Washington History Department Chair and Professor of International Studies Anand Yang to over 100 students, faculty and the public gathered on the evening of Oct. 3 in Thomson Hall 101 for “The Hot Summer: Europe, the Middle East and U.S.”
[Click the video to view “The Hot Summer” Oct. 3 panel presentations]
During the two hour panel discussion, which was moderated by Prof. Yang, four UW faculty gave short presentations and fielded questions on political trends, especially toward conservatism, historical context and challenges to democracy resulting from recent events ranging from Brexit, the Middle East refugee crisis, terrorism in Europe and the Middle East, to an attempted coup in Turkey, alongside an unusual U.S. election.
Two panelists, Jackson School Professor of International Studies Daniel Chirot and Associate Professor of History Margaret O’Mara emphasized the similarities between the 1920s and 1930s in the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world to today’s state of foreign and domestic politics.
While not as bad as depression-era times nearly 100 years ago, “strongholds of liberal democracies are losing faith in themselves,” said Chirot. He focused on the global spread of xenophobia movements and the rise of anti-semitism, and the increasing influence of radical Islam.
O’Mara highlighted historical isolationism as similar to what’s happening today, from fear of foreign ideas, to increasing skepticism of established institutions and leaders, a geographical divide between rural and city populations, the tightening of immigration quotas, and disengaged young people.
“Our [current U.S. presidential elections] have been 50 years in the making,” she noted.
All the panelists commented on the rise of conservatism and right-wing politics across any number of countries.
Sabine Lang, associate professor of international and European studies and chair and director of the Center for West European Studies, gave her observations on where Germany is headed in the current European crisis, and related fallout from Brexit.
She explored media claims that Germany is pivoting from its welcoming culture of 2015 to one of “taking back sovereignty” in 2016 following the entry of well over one million refugees, and the effect of the rise of right wing politics in Europe in general on Germany’s position in
the European Union.
Jackson School Director Reşat Kasaba, an expert on modern Turkey and the Middle East, analyzed the current situation in Turkey in the aftermath of its July 15 attempted coup and Istanbul airport bombing this summer. At his request, Director Kasaba’s comments were not recorded.