Rising nationalism threatens more conflict and war

There should be no mistake: nationalism is on the rise. And as countries become more nationalist, we should assume and expect global tensions to rise, and perhaps more wars.

Global security used to be based on something called "collective security": the idea that countries would work together to solve their problems.

With the invasion in Iraq in 2003, against the will of the United Nations, the myth of collective security gave way to the reality of US-imposed governance. 

The US is a powerful country, but as time goes on, its power is challenged by other countries like China (globally), Russia (regionally) and even Iran (subregionally). 

Collective security, whatever its flaws, has the chief benefit of making countries talk about their problems to ease tension.

With nationalism on the rise, we should expect there to be a lot less talking and probably a lot more saber rattling. And, perhaps, a lot more shooting.

Why is the West pivoting to nationalism?

It's not a difficult thing to piece together. People are upset and tired with the way things currently work, and in particular, they are upset and tired with the political class that is charged with fixing problems. There is fatigue in every major democracy with a political system that bestows monopoly power on a handful of political parties which have been fully captured by powerful interests. 

I suspect that as the economic system continues to chug along without significant changes, and as people's lives continue to get mostly worse, this political fatigue will worsen and you will soon see some real characters in power. The US is already witnessing this. But it is chilling to think that what we are seeing today is not the end, but merely the beginning; that we are not near the conclusion, but are writing the prologue. And in such an environment, we should expect to see nationalism worsen and eventually metastasize into compromised and destructive forms of government where fundamental rights have no meaning. 

Dialogue is the only way out of this mess. It seems easy, but sometimes messy problems have simple solutions. Hand-washing cured a lot of disease. Dialogue is basic hygiene in international relations. Its absence is not just sad; it will, one day, turn deadly.