International mischief seems to be a favoured ploy to damage your opponents capabilities or at least niggle them to the point of distraction. The sagas of Russian interference in the US election in 2016 still roll on with nobody really knowing whether the president was complicit in the activities of the Russian state nor whether the Russians actually did interfere. In more recent times there is renewed suspicion in the West that Russia used 'bots' to infiltrate the EU elections last month and sow a little mayhem. And now we have attacks on oil tanker traffic in the Gulf that implicates Iran as a similar covert operator trying to de-stabilise Western economic and political interests and the events in Hong Kong have a shady ring of deliberate provocation by the Chinese state to purposefully needle the West and create doubt and concern over all manner of things held dear in the West. In all instances, nobody seems to truly know who did what - and we must suppose that that is the whole point of these psych raids and unidentified piratical assaults, a tactic designed to cast doubt, accusation, rebuttal and counter accusation that diminishes the West's co-ordination and economic confidence. Looking at these current examples we might be tempted to believe that they have achieved their objective - whoever the perpetrators may be - insofar as they have rocked the systems in the US, in Europe and now in the oil rich states of the Gulf and the politically sensitive enclave of HK. Doubt creates fear and fear creates a diminishing confidence; currencies suffer, legislative programmes are re-scheduled, political figures are discredited and world trade shivers at the prospect of some concentrated attack on its previous freedoms to trade and uphold what it deems to be constitutional democracy. In other words, the mischief destabilises the West - us !
Part of the response to all of these events is commonly knee-jerk politics, finger pointing, retaliatory noises and acrimony, an acrimony that has extremely dangerous potential that, in the case of the Gulf, could precipitate both regional and global conflicts, albeit very unwise ones. Combined with trade sanctions applied by the US against Iran and China the picture that emerges is one of renewed international distrust, of national polarisations and inward looking policies - closing the curtains to the outside world and telling everyone that 'we can get on well without you' as they hunker down into a parody of defensive rhetoric. Those directly affected by the raids are immediately back-footed - and if you're back-footed, your ability to advance is somewhat dented and discouraged. The more diverse and widely spread the needle-pricks the perpetrator applies, the more uncertainty in the victim is spread. The tactic and the strategy behind it - if it is all really happening in this managed and co-ordinated way - is quite brilliant and very effective. Maybe major, international wars are a thing of the past, superceded by psycho-war and economic or enviro-war. Nevertheless beware - those that feel the brunt of psych wars are ordinary citizens who, at a certain point in the heating up of a situation will rebel; it begs a passing thought as to whether Brexit will, in future history books, be classed as a victim of mass destabilisation by a foreign entity.
The political theatre in Britain is still one of continuing uncertainty. As to who will become the next Prime Minister is an open book for now and as a consequence of that there is continuing uncertainty as to how Brexit will or will not be delivered as well as a lack of clarity as to how Westminster might necessarily transform itself into a more democratic body of executive, judicial and political power. With Boris seemingly at the forefront of this competition we would be unwise not to keep a beady eye upon vigorous newcomers like Rory Stewart. If they become the two contenders for the title, we will have a Brexiteer and a Remainer battling it out. Sounds a little like the last three years in politically grey Britain wouldn't you say ?