What I learnt from political risk analyst & war gamer John Hulsman

John Hulsman War Games speakerJohn is an old friend of Chartwell. One of life’s globe trotters, John’s an American who studied in the UK and after many years in Washington DC is now based in Germany where he advises governments and corporations on how best to manage their political risk. So he has a global perspective, and a keen sense of the emerging multi-polar world order, as the US follows Europe into relative (and slow) decline and the West works out how best to maintain its fragile hegemony. John describes himself as an Eisenhower Conservative and his approach to international affairs as ‘ethical realism’ – read his book to find out more.

The other day John and I spent 30 minutes on a skype call talking about the year ahead. John believes that the Eurozone will come under more pressure in 2016, as its sluggish inability to grow GDP became even more apparent and worrying (especially given its anaemic demographics). The influx of millions of refugees and Vladimir Putin’s expansionist foreign policy will test the EU’s political cohesion – European unity has been undermined in recent years by north-south tensions post financial crisis and the rise of extremist political parties in every member state.

Meanwhile, three of the BRICS – Brazil, Russia and China – have lost momentum. John believes India, the world’s largest democracy, is long term the best bet, and expects Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Goods & Services Tax, legislation which will introduce uniform indirect taxation to India, to be a major boost – if Modi can get it through parliament. But can India grow quick enough to provide hope and employment to its massive population of young men? A growing trend in sexual violence is a worrying sign – India’s millenials have lost  the religious faith which gave their parents’ generation patience and discipline.

In the US, Donald Trump looks set to help Hillary Clinton into the White House, whether or not he gets the Republican nomination. If Trump fails but decides to run as a third candidate he will shatter the GOP. John also expects President Hillary Clinton to run a more interventionist foreign policy than her predecessor but thinks she will find it difficult to build coalitions of the willing – Europe and the US no longer agree on how to tackle many of the world’s problems.

John’s predicts that the UK will vote to leave the EU in 2016. It certainly looks like the vote will be very close – if David Cameron manages to hold the referendum this year, I think the Leave campaign (whichever one is designated) will struggle to persuade undecided voters that Brexit represents an opportunity, not a threat.

***John’s running a war game on Brexit for Open Euope today. Follow it live here.***