Kan handelskriget övergå i ett nytt världskrig?

Ett handelskrig på Balkan var en av faktorerna bakom första världskriget. 

Kan dagens handelskrig orsaka ett nytt stort krig? Klart är att försämrade villkor för den globala handeln i vilket fall inte minskar risken för konflikter.

Etablerade visdom säger att handel mellan länder minskar risken för krig. Har näringslivet kunder, leverantörer, dotterbolag och ägare i andra länder är det svårt för regeringar att skapa opinion för krig. Globala marknader gör dessutom krig mindre presumtivt lönsamma — man kan inte öppna nya marknader genom erövringar.

Det gäller fortfarande, men det finns risker man inte kan bortse ifrån. Oavsett hur pessimistisk man är, kan denna artikel av Daniel W. Drezner, professor i internationell politik vid The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University vara intressant:

“Five years ago, the centennial of the Great War’s start spawned a cottage industry of warnings about the rhyme of history. The possibility of a replay of the First World War was a popular one to make. These predictions of doom did not come to pass. The success of Peter Jackson’s astonishing World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old notwithstanding, it would be easy to reject the analogy in 2019.

But most of these efforts missed or mischaracterized the economic dimension of what happened in the run-up to the guns of August. Even though the global economy seemed highly interconnected, in actuality, statesmen had been trying to segment the system for several decades. By 1914, protectionist measures and geopolitical tensions ensured that key actors did not think of themselves as too interdependent to launch an aggressive war.

Analogies are imperfect means of understanding the world. There are several ways in which the early 21st century does not resemble the early 20th century. Other checks on a great power war exist, such as nuclear deterrence. Despite the wave of populism, “there is broad support for key economic features of globalization,” according to the Pew Research Center. Trump might get so spooked by stock market gyrations that he will back down on the trade wars. Pinker was correct when he observed that the martial valor of war is less prized now. And if nothing else, current leaders have the lessons of 1914 to digest. Another major war is not inevitable.

Nonetheless, the backlash to globalization that preceded the Great War seems to be reprised in the current moment. Indeed, there are ways in which the current moment is scarier than the pre-1914 era. Back then, the world’s hegemon, the United Kingdom, acted as a brake on economic closure. In 2019, the United States is the protectionist with its foot on the accelerator. The constraints of Sino-American interdependence—what economist Larry Summers once called “the financial balance of terror”—no longer look so binding. And there are far too many hot spots—the Korean peninsula, the South China Sea, Taiwan—where the kindling seems awfully dry.

After World War I, Keynes wrote that the conventional wisdom in the summer of 1914 had taken peace for granted: “The projects and politics of militarism and imperialism, of racial and cultural rivalries, of monopolies, restrictions, and exclusion, which were to play the serpent to this paradise, were little more than the amusements of [the average person’s] daily newspaper, and appeared to exercise almost no influence at all on the ordinary course of social and economic life, the internationalization of which was nearly complete in practice.” Five years later, at least 15 million people had died, another 23 million were wounded, and a quarter-century of hyperinflation, depression, fascism, and war was about to descend upon the world.

Leaders benefit from the lessons of history only if they are aware of what actually transpired. It would be nice if today’s world leaders knew more about the eerie parallels between now and the pre-1914 era. Otherwise, the curdling of interdependence will continue—and the capitalist peace that we have all become so accustomed to may not survive.”


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