A section inside my newsletter
A little over year ago, after Trump lost and Biden won (you believe that right?) I wrote a (almost) daily newsletter during the transition.
I had no idea when I started that Jan 6th would see an open insurrection but what was clear then and is more so now, that planetary politics (i.e., the politics of the human and natural world combined such as the pandemic and climate change) will be an increasing force in human affairs.
With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I am doubly convinced. This sub-newsletter is the outcome.
The COVID19 pandemic was the first universal event in human history, the first thing that happened to:
all of us
at the same time.
with massive changes to our lives
There’s another event - much more long drawn out, but equally universal - that will tick all four boxes above: climate change. With covid and climate, we have entered a new regime, the planetary regime, which will be the constant backdrop and frequent foreground of all human society from now onward.
This is an irregular section I will publish in fits and starts - more often when there’s a world event worth reporting on and less often when there’s nothing like that. The regular, thrice weekly newsletter will continue to be published as usual.
Anyone reading this letter is likely to have started working, playing and living differently in the last two years. By freezing and compressing time and space, the virus has shown a mirror to our turbulent world. As I write these words, Russia has invaded Ukraine and war has returned to Europe. Fossil fuel prices are at the heart of what comes next, both for Russia and its adversaries. Predictably:
Also, I have to wonder how much Putin’s state of mind has been affected by his extreme fear of COVID and the isolation he forced upon himself as a result. There’s isn’t a straight line from the COVID19 to the invasion of Ukraine, but the pandemic + climate change are watershed events in human history and all major events - including Putin’s war - will have to understood in the light of this global affliction.
One consequence worth watching closely: because our economies and societies are closely intertwined, international politics will influence local affairs in unprecedented ways. For example, India is walking a fine line - Russia is India’s major arms supplier (the US refuses to sell top of the line equipment while wanting India within its security umbrella) and India is also a major importer of fertilizer from Russia and with farmer politics in India being electorally crucial, we need those supply chains.
That’s the purpose of the regime change section of my newsletter: to figure out how the world works in the new ‘post-pandemic, during climate change’ planetary regime.
Which is the only way to understand how we are coming together and falling apart at once. It will have a lot more links than my regular newsletter since I am very very far from being an expert on most of these topics. To start with, a couple of substack posts by the famous strategic studies scholar, Lawrence Freedman:
As always, one has to remember that the two sides might see the same world differently. Here’s Putin’s view: