Paul Tiyambe Zeleza - Vice Chancellor USIU-Africa

Over the past two weeks, the world media has been transfixed by two images that would have been unthinkable until recently: an American president at war with his G7 allies and basking in a delirious bromance with a ruthless North Korean  dictator. What does one make of these images, of the deluge of daily news about global developments that are so overwhelming that it’s often hard to keep up, let alone understand? 

Besides the twittering outbursts and theatrics of the unpredictable President Trump, the great power rivalries within the teetering Western alliance and with a towering China, which seem to be slipping into fierce trade conflicts, world news headlines are dominated by an endless cacophony of catastrophes in various world regions: the endless wars, migration crises, and human rights abuses and atrocities committed by intolerant governments, terrorist organizations, and fundamentalist civil society zealots. 

There are of course other powerful stories and forces, slow, subterranean and structural, which are upending the current global order with profound consequences for national, regional, and world political economies. They include the rise of dangerous populisms and the recessions of democracy, the generation of unprecedented wealth and deepening inequalities, the development of planetary consciousness and growth of political tribalisms, and the contradictory trajectories of the digital revolution that is simultaneously unleashing remarkable economic productivity and social connectivity and threatening to overwhelm humanity with the transformative powers of artificial intelligence, robotics, and the internet of things.