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Thoughts for 2018

New geostrategic alliances and discordance


Peter von Elten, former CEO Schroder & Co Bank AG, Switzerland

Dr. Peter Mörtl, CEO Premier Suisse Group, Zürich/Geneva



The year 2016 has brought profound changes with the elections in Great Britain, the USA and Italy, which will have a far wider effect as the usual potential of periodical national elections. The long-term effects are only to be expected, but are social political in line with what we will observe in the coming years in the Netherlands, France and Germany: Many citizens are deeply insecure and are no longer adequately represented by the traditional parties. They demand that unbridled globalization, which is blamed for decades of stagnation of wages, is being stopped, and they are worried about their jobs because of immigration and technological developments. They complain about the growing inequality and the creeping expropriation through the zero-interest rate policy. Right-wing conservatives and populist forces are gaining ground by promising a departure from transnational structures and a return to national interests.


Research by leading international organizations show that globalization has lifted nearly one billion people from developing countries from poverty. It also proved to be profitable for the richest classes, while the lower and middle classes were among the losers in the western world. A reform of the international economic order is called by many sides. The elected President Trump, has taken up this need and has entered the White House on the wave of dissatisfaction with easy-to-understand recipes and great promises such as the foreclosure and the absolute primacy of national interests. His previous nominations to the Cabinet and his often-unorthodox actions suggest that he will implement his credo "America first" with determination.


In addition, 2017 will not only be characterized by economic and political restructurings,  but also by a religiously disguised reality and a continuing seething crises in Syria and the Middle East, including Turkey.


For thousands of years we have been fighting in our latitudes in the name of the Torah, God and Allah, for alleged domination in Europe and Central Asia. If this was dictatorial or monarchical based on a symmetrical warfare, we have been dealing with an asymmetrical, cell-based warfare since bin Laden, with neither the NATO, a European alliance, a local militia nor the police force can cope with. For two decades, the West has been trying to counter this asymmetric  terroristic warfare through the classical military strategy, but without success, combined with indescribable suffering of the civil population. The discussion of a "structural reform", which has now been launched in Germany by Secretary de Maziere, and the desire for a central, federally managed protection against terrorist attacks, clearly shows the powerlessness of the classical political leadership in one of the most important countries on earth. No wonder so, right-wing populist à la Trump resonated well with the voters, because, as Luther already put it , he was “looking at the crowd’s mouth”.


Syria and Turkey raise the asymmetrically driven terrorist and religious problem that is prevalent among us on an international level, as both countries are strategically important partners, playballs or locations that are directly affecting Europe, the US and Russia, far beyond ISIS or PKK: Syria as a lynchpin between Israel and Iranian long term interests, and Turkey as the gateway to the Black Sea, the Balkans, and for two years as the "paid" tolerated refugee collection point of Syrian refugees to protect the Central Europeans. On this level, the three powers will need to prove how they will move their pawns and horses on the chessboard and avoid a checkmate for all of us.


We wish everyone a happy new year, good decisions and serenity in the face of the exciting challenges ahead.


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