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Debate with John Bolton & Yanis Varoufakis: “Is Global Stability A Pipe Dream?”

Amb. John Bolton and Member of the Hellenic Parliament Yanis Varoufakis discussed current threats to regional and global stability

By Holberg

December 28, 2020 "Information Clearing House" - At the 2020 Holberg Debate, Amb. John Bolton and Member of the Hellenic Parliament Yanis Varoufakis discussed current threats to regional and global stability. The debate took place on 5 December and was chaired from Bergen, Norway.

The Holberg Debate is an annual event organised by the Holberg Prize. The debate is inspired by Ludvig Holberg's Enlightenment ideas and aims to explore pressing issues of our time.

The Holberg Prize is an international reserach prize awarded annually to scholars who have made outstanding contributions to research in the humanities, social sciences, law or theology. The Prize was established by the Norwegian government in 2003 and is administered by the University of Bergen.


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As 2020 is coming to a close, it seems that annus horribilis is an apt label. This year, social upheaval, political instability, natural disasters and risks of new large-scale military conflicts have characterized both Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and East Asia and brought about new levels of uncertainty.  

The year literally started with a bang, as the US drone-killing of General Qasem Soleimani--the leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, accused by the US of planning terrorism--almost triggered a war between the two countries. Since then, one crisis has succeeded another, both in terms of natural disasters, such as the current global pandemic and the catastrophic wildfires in the US and in Australia, and in terms of man-made phenomena. 

As an unruly mix of mass protests, riots and police crackdowns have marked the better part of the year both in the US and Europe, the fallout seems unclear, and it raises the question of whether or not the issues at hand can be resolved within the current party structures. Is there a crisis of governance playing out in European capitals as well as in Washington, DC, and if so, how should governments respond?  

Are we seeing an even deeper crisis, as many on the Left would argue—i.e. one where capitalism itself has caused unsurmountable problems, to the extent that the current system can only be held in place by repression? Must the EU change fundamentally in order to deal with large-scale problems, such as those of social justice, migration and lack of representation, and must the Union democratize before it disintegrates, as advocated by Yanis Varoufakis and the DieM25 movement he co-founded?  

Or is democracy itself dependent on free markets and adherence to pro-Western policies? Are governments that reject neo-liberal reforms doomed to become authoritarian, and should the US be a driving force for regime change in countries such as Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua—dubbed the Troika of Tyranny by Amb. John Bolton? 

What are the prospects of a good and stable relationship between the US and Europe on the one hand and Russia and China on the other, particularly following the November 3 US presidential election? And are we, once again, on the brink of military conflict between the two NATO allies Greece and Turkey? 

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