Stefan Zweig explains the great breaking points which caused a change in history with the following words in his book, Decisive Moments in History; “The tragic and fate-determining moments, in which a single decision that has passed through the ages are compressed into a single calendar, a single hour, and often a single minute, is quite rare in a life of a person and in the course of history. This is why I called these moments the Moments when the Star of Humanity Shines; because they are, just like the stars, shedding light on the darkness of the past without changing (…) Because history does not need those helping hands in such unique moments when it reaches its perfection.”
The year 2020 became such a point in human history, one of those great breaking moments that Zweig mentions in his book. But it was nature that turned the course of history this time with a pandemic, unlike the other human-based breaking points that Zweig described.
PAST EXPERIENCES OF HUMANITY
Of course, we are not going through a major pandemic for the first time in human history, and the past holds many experiences that could shed light on our future.
While the Bubonic Plague, Cholera, Typhus, and similar outbreaks caused major destruction throughout history, they also changed the political, social, and economic fates of the regions where they severely hit.
During the plague that ravaged medieval Europe, it has been recorded that approximately 30 to 50% of the continent’s population died.
And the political result of that great destruction, which was recorded in history as the “Black Death”, was that the Catholic Church losing its great power, as it was unable to do anything against the face of the pandemic.
Another example is the Spanish Flu, which spread all over the world in 1918, at the end of World War I.
Nearly twice as many casualties during the great war or nearly 50 million people have died due to the pandemic, while perhaps the bankrupt economic system of Europe was paving the way for a second world war to come.
It is possible to expand the list with SARS, which hit Asia at the beginning of the 21st century, or AIDS which spread throughout the world, especially in Africa…
Today, we are again going through a pandemic that has caused a severe destruction. But thanks to the help of advanced medical methods, and most importantly, the survival instinct that exists inside the human soul, there are signs that this pandemic will finally be over soon enough.
Now the question in front of us is, what political and social changes will we witness in short, medium, and long terms in the post-pandemic world?
PLAYING THE WORLD POLICE IS NOW OVER
It is clear that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated some political changes, and we are already beginning to see the results.
The developments show that recession has been deepening for the alliance of the West, led by the United States.
The data about the internal balances of the United States is enough to confirm this point:
While more than 600 companies, mainly in the energy sector, went bankrupt during the pandemic, the unemployment rate in the US has doubled (around 3.5 % this February, and 7% this December).
Around 350,000 people have died in the US as well due to the inadequacy of the health system and lack of necessary measures.
Deepening ethnic problems within the country and the still-debated Presidential elections have made it even easier for the world to understand the destruction in that country.
While the United States has left its European allies alone in the face of the pandemic, it also failed to assert the claim of “world police” especially in West Asia.
While the European countries could not manage the pandemic properly, we witnessed mass street movements with the receding economic situation.
‘THE EU – A CAVE FULL OF JACKALS’
The following was said by Matteo Salvini, the leader of the main Italian opposition party, after his country was left alone in the face of the pandemic, and shed light on the fate of the EU; “I hate and despise the EU. A far cry from being a ‘union’, this is a den of snakes and jackals. First let’s beat the virus, then think about Europe again. And, if necessary, say goodbye. Without even thanking it.“
Meanwhile in the East, China which is seen in the West as the origin point of the pandemic, has successfully controlled the pandemic within its own borders, while on the other hand bringing aid to different parts of the world, especially Europe.
China, which has taken “pandemic diplomacy” into foreign politics, has also started to follow a clearer politics in the areas of conflict.
And as Russia continues its fight against the pandemic with its own vaccines and the measures it has taken, it has also maintained its positions in foreign policies and played a more effective role in the Middle East and the Caucasus through its alliances with Turkey and Iran.
If we list the possible events that might occur in global politics, in light of the data that is currently available;
1. A new process has begun in which Chinese and Russian ties in Europe have strengthened, as US influence over the region has weakened
2. The fate of the European Union has become even more questionable. As the future of the union is expected to be discussed in the future, some rising popular movements could overthrow the US-backed governments on the old continent.
3. US influence has diminished in West Asia, especially in Syria, forcing it to resort to actions like the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, which has created a worldwide public outcry and can be defined as an act of terrorism. Some other risky actions by the United States and Israel can still be expected in the future.
4. The pro-American Saudi Arabia-United Arab Emirates bloc could be fallen apart in the Gulf after Trump’s term is over.
5. Israel’s efforts to “normalize” with the Arab countries are unlikely to be carried on, against Iran and the forces it supports in the region. The decisive factor will be the attitude of Russia and Turkey.
TIME FOR TURKEY TO MAKE CLEAR DECISIONS
In summary, the process by which the global balances have shifted from the West to the East have accelerated as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While Turkey has been carrying its balance of politics on for many years, it has begun to gravitate towards Asia in line with the global trend.
Developing relations with Russia and China are the main element driving this shift.
On the other hand, Ankara’s policies towards the United States and the EU, show that the doors are not fully shut for the West yet.
2021 will be a year in which changes in the world will take place even faster. We are now entering a process in which Turkey will also have to make clear decisions in relation to the new international balances.
Despite the vaccine studies and the advancing treatment methods worldwide, the fluctuations and the uncertainties due to the pandemic will be around for a while.
Charles Dickens points to the only reality of the times of great destruction, with the following lines he wrote about the Plague outbreak that struck Great Britain in the 19th century; “Dead, your Majesty. Dead, my lords and gentlemen. Dead, right reverends and wrong reverends of every order. Dead, men and women, born with heavenly compassion in your hearts. And dying thus around us every day…“
Dickens is right… Her Majesties’ own are dying in the pandemic, and not even the Queen herself is safe. But it doesn’t end there.
Today, we are witnessing the death of the self-appointed sovereign of the entire world, the United States.