International trade and investment issues grow more complex and require major reconsideration by governments, firms and individuals. No-one is exempt from the new policy directions of the U.S. government and the impending British exit (Brexit) from the European Union (EU). They are accompanied by extensive security concerns and the need to manage vast immigration flows. Many of the accompanying political battles are not only driven by national options, but reflect the “because we can” principle. While U.S. policy changes are still under construction, Britain delivers the EU separation documents consonant with Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon by the end of March which then marks the bureaucratic starting point of Brexit.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, the first foreign leader that President Trump has hosted at the White House, joined Trump in a joint press conference at the White House on January 27th. In addition to discussing NATO and trade, Trump was asked about his relationship with Mexico and his views on the use of torture.
They say more marriages might survive if the couple realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse. Unfortunately, political partners tend to have little patience and loyalty. We have seen the referendum in Scotland that nearly tore the United Kingdom asunder. Now the British exit (BREXIT) from the European Union is rearranging the deck chairs on the ship Europa.
While sailors on the ship, marketers do not have the captain’s power to change the game, but they can help to achieve a less painful adjustment by understanding and preparing for the major transformations and significant effects in marketing on both sides of the Atlantic.
History may not repeat itself very often, but when parallels are witnessed, the effects can be major and gruesome. These are tough times for many. There is the ubiquitous occurrence of major terrorism, bringing insecurity to airplanes and airports, train stations, entertainment clubs and schools. There is growing wealth concentration for few, and low income for many others. We now witness the breakups of coalitions thought to be stable, for which the British exit (BREXIT) from EU is only one major signal.
A little more than a century ago the world climate was benign and secure for many, globalization was high. National conflict seemed unlikely to emerge between the cousins who ruled England, Russia and Germany. Yet, within only a few years, World War I had led to millions of casualties and major devastations of factories and cities. What are we to do now to demonstrate our strong dedication and willingness to sacrifice in order to avoid a dramatic overall deterioration in global civility, security, and economy?
There are many tinderboxes that cause ongoing flames. In order to guarantee spheres of influence the British/French Sykes-Picot agreement signed on May 16, 1916 drew hasty and culturally poorly conceived borders for the Middle East. The accord achieved the termination of the Ottoman Empire but has provided the world with a century of acerbic and painful conflict in the Middle East. Even today, the ongoing conflicts and assassinations in Turkey are just one reflection of disharmony, augmented by religious disagreements, blood feuds, political shortfalls and economic blight.
Groups who suffer from deprivations attack others to share their pain. As governments learn to protect possible targets better, terrorists seek and find softer, less protected and less expected targets. In consequence, poor governments, poor companies and poor citizens are the ones least able to protect themselves against attacks. An uncertain environment then leads to less local investment and even more poverty. There must be new steps to mitigate the causes of terrorism.
It is ironic and sad to now see a self-inflicted British exit from the EU, which does not better the world, but rather carries the virus for conflict. Large flows of immigrants still need destinies and require support. Britain’s move triggers and encourages other nations to also demand a special lightening of their obligations. But who will be the beast of burden and at what price? Already forward-looking countries find their own solution, often ahead of the more slowly reacting larger powers. Hungary’s early efforts to measure and control immigration was such a step. But in light of disagreements with major players, the nation found itself derided and penalized.
Progress in terms of global tranquillity and cohesion needs to be renewed. Confrontations between friends and adversaries need do not require winners and losers. All need to be willing to learn from each other, acknowledge and respect special needs and make allowances for the human dimension in conflict. With all the resources now available, there must be an ongoing search for and support of the soul of relationships and individuals. Forgiveness can well become a new objective. We all must contribute conscientiously to finding ways to help others by sharing their burden as well as encouraging them to share ours. Those who now sit at the table must let others approach. Dropping crumbs may be biblical, but is perhaps an insufficient reward for a better world.
On New Year’s Eve, there were mass attacks on women in Cologne, Germany. More than a thousand young men, many of them with an apparent migration background, congregated next to the famous cathedral of Cologne where they assaulted, groped and even raped women passing by. Local police, far outnumbered, did not intervene in the mayhem. In the days to follow, police, press and government tried to downplay the disaster, in order to avoid controversy about migrants, of which Germany admitted more than one million in 2015, with many more to come.
Since then, statements by police who had been ordered to stand down, by eye witnesses and by social media, have emboldened the victims to file more than 625 criminal complaints with 40% of them related to sexual assault. Many of the alleged attackers are Arab or North African, which has led to severe discontent with the government and its migration policy. There have been a series of protests, particularly in eastern Germany, blaming Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government and her open-door refugee policies.
Beyond the very serious criminal charges which are for the police and judiciary to resolve there additional serious questions. First, are European countries such as Germany ready to accept so many refugees both mentally and physically? Second, given the huge number of migrants still in motion, who will provide them with a domicile? Third, and most importantly, the desire for temporary tranquility has invalidated the fight for the equality of women, shod the aversion of violence against women, and done so at a dangerous cost to societal transparency and progress.
For decades, even centuries, western countries have been trading partners with authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, selling weapons, automobiles and other lucrative products. But the encouragement of an Arab Spring has led mainly to an Arab Fall. Yet, a large financial overhang, mainly resulting from international business, has not led to an assimilation of values and behavior. Instead many funds are used to help the distribution of fierce rhetoric, giving rise to Osama bin Laden and many other extremists. These developments are paired with an asymmetry of political correctness in the Western World, leading to new rope which the victim sells to its miscreant.
With decreasing demands for mutual integration, concurrently rising migration and outdistanced procreation, there are fewer viable landing strips for students, women and willing economic participants.
Right now, many of the migrants seek out primarily Germany and Sweden as asylum territories, which is understandable in light of the accommodations and benefits offered. But there are also important cultural milestones and preferences of governments and citizens who receive the human wave. Integration means that hosts learn more about their visitors, but also requires the new arrivals to accept key standards and expectations of their hosts. Though large immigration is likely to dilute rigid norms, it also must lead to asymptotic movement towards established standards.
The EU, taking on a leadership role consistent with the Treaty of Lisbon, should pr0otect the human rights of asylum seekers, but also has right to determine where this protection should take place. For example, the Middle East and Africa have many locations where refugees can be housed, fed and clothed, and protected. Countries such as China and India could develop entire settlement policies for the resolution of a global problem. These are not meant to create new colonies, but rather endorse the establishment of pop-up protectorates, to temporarily provide succor, shelter and peace to refugees.
Third, and perhaps most chillingly because it can set the future rails for disaster, is the failure of the public media to distribute honest information rapidly. An almost week-long delay of media reports was broken only when too many other sources broke the mantra of keeping bad news about migrants out of the public spotlight. This is wrong! Silence is a blow to the victims of violence, and lets them be hunted like game. Women deserve better.
The violent, brutal and sexist treatment of women must be combated radically.The event in Cologne reveals a major flaw societal shortcoming which cannot be tolerated. Germany is an internationalized country due to the composition of its population and its dependence on foreign trade. If it wishes to continue with its international leadership role, Germany must recognize that such role is one of immersion into the world which must result in simultaneous juridical, social and economic leadership. Female equality is a crucial entitlement for more than half of the population. To declare otherwise is wrong for the native locals as well for the wave of newly arriving migrants. The events in Cologne must not become the opening act for continued misery and disrepute.
The attempt to muffle the powerless laments of the victims with the blanket of public silence is most treacherous. One should not cry ‘fire’ in a cinema, but doing so is encouraged when the flames are in the roof. The suggestors, the targets of the suggestions as well as the self-motivated absconders with truthful information must recognize how their behavior has fertilized the ground for future misinformation and knowledge abuse. Effective steps must be taken to truly make a difference. It is time for such action with specific details clearly spelled out by democratic transparency. As was already promulgated by St. John:” And you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”
Professor Czinkota presents international marketing at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.