by: Claire Gatinois, Le Monde
Will the economic and financial crisis degenerate into violent social explosions? Tomorrow, will there be civil war in Europe, the United States and Japan? That's the rather alarming conclusion that the experts of European think tank LEAP/Europe 2020 lay out in their latest bulletin dated mid-February.
In that edition, which addresses the issue of the crisis entering a phase of "global geopolitical dislocation" in the third quarter of 2009, the experts foresee a state of "generalized every man for himself" in the countries stricken by the crisis. That panic would then conclude in logical confrontations, in other words, with partial civil wars. "If your country or region is an area where firearms are in mass circulation" (among big countries, only the United States is in that situation) LEAP indicates, "then the best way to deal with the dislocation is to leave your region, if that's possible."
According to that association, made up of independent contributors from European political, economic and diverse professional circles, the most dangerous regions are those where the system of social protection is the weakest.
Thus, the crisis would be able to spark violent popular revolts, the intensity of which would be aggravated by the free circulation of firearms. Latin America, as well as the United States, are the areas most at risk. "There are 200 million guns in circulation in the United States and social violence already manifests itself through gangs," LEAP head, Franck Biancheri, reminds us. Moreover, LEAP experts already detect population flight from the United States to Europe, "where direct physical danger will remain marginal," they maintain.
Stock Up on Supplies
Aside from armed conflicts, LEAP alerts us to the risks of possible energy, food and water shortages in regions dependent on the outside for supplies, and it advises that people stock up on provisions. This apocalyptic perspective could be ridiculed had not this think tank - as of February 2006 - predicted the onset and sequence of the present crisis with disturbing accuracy. So, three years ago, the association described the coming of a "global systemic crisis," initiated by a global financial infection related to American over-indebtedness, followed by a stock market collapse, specifically in Asia and the United States (of -20 to -50 percent in a year), then the bursting of all the global real estate bubbles in the United Kingdom, Spain, France, and emerging countries. All that would bring about a recession in Europe and a "very Great Depression" in the United States.
Must we conclude from this that the global crisis could transform itself into a world war? "LEAP's forecasts are extreme, but social violence is arising," concedes Barclays's economist Laurence Boone.
One hope remains, a "last chance" according to LEAP, that would lie in the ability of the G-20 - which meets April 2 in London - to promulgate a "convincing and audacious" action plan. In that case, the world would still not be out of the woods, because - as the experts do not fail to also remind us - a severe climate crisis is also materializing.
Translation: Truthout French language editor Leslie Thatcher.