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Why 2022 will be a dangerous year Europe is leaderless in the face of growing threats

Is the PM sleeping on the job? Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

Is the PM sleeping on the job? Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty


December 31, 2021   7 mins

It is hardly surprising that we have little time for reflection, as the New Year dawns, about matters beyond our own back yard. The “tidal wave” of Omicron has struck, the Nightingale hospitals are understaffed, the PCR tests have run out, the hospitality industry has been hit by panic, and large parts of the economy seem barely able to function as hundreds of thousands self-isolate. And yet, however bad matters of public health might be, and however diverting the implosion of possibly the most dishonest and incompetent government in British history, there is scope for life to get much, much worse.

Recently, I found myself in an intelligent conversation with a minister in the present government. That itself was something of an achievement: one reason why the government is so bad is that the present prime minister has as far as possible surrounded himself with yes-men and deep mediocrities. His hope, perhaps, was that they would be slow to recognise his laziness, unseriousness and inability to cope with his job; and that their inadequacies would distract the electorate from focusing on him. My interlocutor slipped through the net — and had been thinking about the wider world quite deeply.

His conclusions were depressing. They were, in short, that it is an exceptionally dangerous place, far more so than most realise; and that however grim 2020 and 2021 were, 2022 could be the most perilous year, particularly for the West, since the end of the Cold War.

We talked through his reasons for this gloom, beginning close to home. Since it was at the forefront of most people’s minds, we discussed the fear, promoted by the government, that the National Health Service could collapse as a result of the supposedly highly-transmissible Omicron variant. Before the NHS reached that stage (with its inevitable effects on public morale), action would have to be taken that would badly affected the economy here, with the promise of a renewed taxpayer-funded furlough scheme if businesses were forced to close. The Conservative party was divided over the need for such measures, not least because the lethality of the Omicron variant had yet to be proved. Now, although the rate of infections has reached record levels, the rate of hospitalisations and deaths lag far behind. This is encouraging a substantial cadre of MPs to argue that we must learn to live with Covid, supported by a vaccination programme. Should Boris Johnson remain prime minister, such dissent in his own party would, if his form is any guide, lead to an unclear and confused response by the government and therefore by other agencies. That, too, would be costly, but it would be only the start.

The new wave of Covid has attacked Europe, disrupting “normal” life. Even “rich” nations such as Germany (where the cost of the pandemic now exceeds €2 trillion, and inflation is above the EU average of 2.2%) are feeling the financial effects of a long period of subsidising non-productivity; in poorer countries in southern and eastern Europe, the prospects are even more stark, and tempers are fraying. Italy has a budget deficit of around 10%, and a new wave of restrictions will cause growth targets to be missed. Inflation will drive up interest rates across Europe, and the higher cost of servicing debt would put pressure on everyone with a bank loan or a mortgage: a factor behind, it seems, the Bank of England’s reluctance to raise rates in Britain, a reluctance that cannot be maintained indefinitely.

Poland and Hungary have both been sniping with Brussels over what they consider to be undue EU interference with their internal affairs — Poland about its justice system, Hungary about migration. Both countries, with an eye on the money that Brussels contributes to them — stress in public their commitment to a future within the EU, but an internal debate is being cranked up in both countries about when a breaking point will come, as it did in Britain in 2016. The EU has learned nothing from Brexit — quite the reverse, it seems — which is always a sign that history may repeat itself.

On the eastern, western and southern fringes of the EU, there is a respite in illegal immigration, brought on by the fact that, even in the balmy Mediterranean, it is winter. But the constant traffic (and trafficking) of predominantly economic migrants from Africa into Greece and Italy will keep up and doubtless expand during 2022, with the EU apparently as incapable of restricting it with a coherent policy for all 27 of its members as it was to fight the arrival of the pandemic.

In the East, with the cynical and mischievous support of Vladimir Putin, Belarus has been allowing illegal migrants to mass on its borders with Poland and Lithuania in the hope of destabilising the Union still further. And Anglo-French relations have, according to various historians, reached a low not seen since Waterloo (the less hysterical might point to the results of the Royal Navy sinking much of the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir in 1940, before the Nazis could get their hands on it), because of France’s willingness to allow its own illegal migrants easy passage out of its jurisdiction while attempting to enter the United Kingdom. This has now been compounded by President Macron’s decision (made with an eye to grandstanding before his attempt at re-election) to close his borders to visitors from Britain for fear of importing more Omicron — a disease with which his country is now, in any case, swamped.

The divisions in the EU over the management of the pandemic exploded the myth that the only difficulties in the bloc were over Brexit, and once Britain had gone all would be serene. That serenity has turned out to be elusive, with fissures opening up not just between eastern and western states, but between southern and northern ones.

And there are other aspects of politics within the European Union that make matters seem highly unstable, and inward-looking, as 2022 arrives. Olaf Scholz, the new German Chancellor, has a near-impossible act to follow after Angela Merkel’s 16 years in office. One of his difficulties is that the man who would succeed Merkel as the leading political figure in Europe, Emmanuel Macron, must fight a presidential election in April and May; and despite being notionally of the centre is engaging in straightforward Gaullism — or rather populism — to get himself back into the ÉlysĂ©e palace.

With another five-year term under his belt, Macron could successfully pull rank on the novice Scholz. There is nothing in Scholz’s political DNA that suggests he is remotely interested in such a virility contest; instead, he is likely to assume that because Germany has a significantly larger population, and significantly larger economy both in absolute terms and per capita compared with France, that leadership of the EU is his by right. Macron had no choice but to defer to Merkel; he would defer to Scholz only with insincerity and ill-grace. Suddenly, however, he faces a highly plausible RĂ©publicain candidate in ValĂ©rie PĂ©cresse, and an off-the-wall populist in Éric Zemmour, who shares many of the views of Marine Le Pen but has none of her movement’s baggage. The French election is one of the least predictable in the history of the Fifth Republic: an outcome that destablises not just France, but the EU, is not beyond possibility.

Yet it is in wider geopolitics that my ministerial friend believed the real dangers lie. Until recently, these were questions that attracted the interest only of foreign policy wonks, but they have started to force their way out of the foreign pages and into the front parts of newspapers and home pages of websites. Might Russia continue to unsettle Europe, and especially Germany, with threats to limit gas supply, and so push up energy prices during the coldest months of the year? Perhaps not, since those higher prices wouldn’t compensate for the loss of business, and Putin needs all the money he can get. But is Russia massing 100,000 of its troops on the border with Ukraine purely to twist the tail of the West, or does it propose to invade and raise its flag over Kiev? The answer to that, given Putin’s populist tendencies, is less predictable.

Similarly, have China’s naval exercises off Taiwan been merely a show of strength, or does it intend to attempt re-incorporating into the homeland the island that resisted the Communist takeover in 1949, and has flourished by comparison ever since? And if you were an aggressive power that has either little idea of western democratic standards, or little interest in emulating them, what better time could you choose to engage in lethal provocation than when an under-performing Joe Biden is, nominally, leader of the Free World?

Recently Biden admitted that if either China or Russia were to engage in acts of aggression the United States would be unable to intervene. Contrast this with the highly ambitious rhetoric of our Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, who has warned Russia of “severe consequences” were it to invade Ukraine. But both Biden and Truss feel economic sanctions would bring Russia to heel, which would seem to be the triumph of hope over experience. Sanctions have been operating on Russia since Putin’s first attack on Ukraine in 2014, and have been tightened progressively. However, they have had no effect on the behaviour of the country’s kleptocratic leadership, whose management of rivals to Putin ensures that the “electorate” in Russia has nowhere else to go, despite the existence of courageous resistance groups. All gung-ho threats of sanctions need to be tempered by a recognition of Russia’s indifference to the views of tens of millions of its people. Recent protests by the West about the treatment of Alexei Navalny, one of Putin’s highest-profile opponents, have done nothing to get him released from his corrective labour camp just over 100 miles from Moscow.

No-one expects America or any other western power to send troops in to resist an invasion of either Ukraine or Taiwan. But the West has forgotten one Cold War lesson, which is that neither of these potentially aggressive powers — Russia very much one in decline, in terms of its population, wealth and demand for its resources, whose international last hurrah this might conceivably be; China very much one in the ascendant — gives the slightest respect to other “powers” they consider decadent. And decadence in this case has been the determination of the West, and particularly of Britain and of EU nations, to run down their armed forces since the end of the Cold War. Again, the purpose of these forces was not aggressive: it was to observe the old truth that no nation can engage in serious diplomacy unless it has force as a last resort. When Russia and China spot so-called powers that take a relaxed view of defending themselves, they act accordingly.

Biden could take a detached view of the Ukraine problem (as the Obama administration did when Russia helped itself to the Crimea and much of eastern Ukraine in 2014) because no NATO power was involved. But what if Russia were to engage in further provocation, by demanding permit- and visa-free travel across Lithuania from its puppet state of Belarus to its exclave of Kaliningrad, formerly Konigsberg in East Prussia, a spoil of the Second World War? If Putin really wants to turn ugly, he would demand a 100km land corridor across the Suwalki gap, which runs from Belarus along the border between Poland and Lithuania. Both are members of the EU and NATO. What would Biden, or for that matter the EU, do then?

It could be that we sail through 2022 with vaccination programmes bringing down Covid, with the West’s economies reviving rapidly, stability reasserting itself in its democracies, America establishing a new authority in the world and the bullies of Beijing and Moscow abandoning their aggressive designs. For good measure, inflation could suddenly fall, and the West’s ambitious climate change policies could be implemented without some of the feared economic consequences. Sadly, however, the alternative to each of those conjectures appears the more likely short-term outcome.

But what should perhaps worry the West most of all, at the dawn of this dangerous year, is that none of its constituent nations has a leader of the experience, the clout and the moral authority required to deal with this bouquet of challenges if, or when, they arrive.


Professor Simon Heffer is a historian and journalist


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Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

I was keen to read this until ‘the lethality of the Omicron variant had yet to be be proved’. In South Africa our level 1 restrictions have yesterday already been reduced and we are well into our second month of Omicron.
Then ‘the National Health Service could collapse’ – it has already collapsed given such a backlog in treatments and operations, was collapsing for decades and has ‘collapsed’ many times before during winter seasons.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

The NHS never achieved a state of productivity or effectiveness from where collapse was possible.

Adriana L
Adriana L
2 years ago

An underrated comment.

David Slade
David Slade
2 years ago

What about AIDS is remotely comparable to Covid?

Don Lightband
Don Lightband
2 years ago
Reply to  David Slade

They both bring about sharpest social divisions between those variously perceived as clean and unclean

Last edited 2 years ago by Don Lightband
Sean Penley
Sean Penley
2 years ago
Reply to  David Slade

Fauci didn’t want people taking medications for either. Granted, none of them were proven for these particular problems. But medications never can be proven if you don’t let experiments with them happen.

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
2 years ago

The main reason, I would wager, that the NHS is collapsing is because the population of the UK has risen by 10 million in 20 years and simply can’t cope with the numbers.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

The year ahead seems like it could be much worse than last, which is unsettling.

One driver the author does not consider is the population growth within Africa. Nigeria, not much larger than Texas, has a population of 200 million, which will be 450 million in under 30 years and 750 million by 2100.

Polls frequently show that 30% of Sub Saharan Africans want to migrate to Europe.

Assuming that this proportion remains the same, and taking Nigeria alone (never mind the other scores of African countries undergoing the same demographic explosion), we can expect 80 million Nigerians to be looking to migrate to Europe over the next 30 years.

In this case Europe will either accept mass migration and become culturally African or slip into an authoritarian backlash and reject them, likely causing freedoms we currently take for granted to become a distant memory.

And the idea that Africans will find jobs in Africa is mad. African leaders only ever talk about the sweatshop model of development, hoping to copy what China has done.

They fail to see that this will not be repeatable because low skilled jobs are being rapidly automated away at an accelerating rate.

High skill jobs require high quality education, but no governments that I know of are investing in this.

In Zimbabwe, where I am, literacy rates have fallen precipitously in the last 20 years. And South Africa and Mozambique (to name just two examples in the region) are also in decline.

It amazes me that population growth is an obvious driver for mass migration, yet still politically taboo to discuss, even in articles such as this one, which seemingly aim to be sober about the problems ahead.

Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

This is no surprise – I have been having this sort of discussion with my progressive friends for years. When I say that the Middle East, Africa and some of the Far East will not fit into Europe and North America, they just shrug their shoulders.
And we still have to read that there aren’t enough people on Earth Be sure there will just be a redistribution and before long, Europe and the North America will definitely be predominantly Middle Eastern and African.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
2 years ago

these sort changes and population migrations have been happening throughout human history: good luck to those who want to stop this…

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

You just need the political will

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago

That sounds like an argument for the reelection of Donald Trump. He is almost certainly apt to do a better job this time in anticipating the sabotage of the deep state.

Giles Toman
Giles Toman
2 years ago

You wouldn’t even need that much force to stop it, these people are not a well-armed and organised invasion force.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
2 years ago

Surely that’s his major point! There is very little political will to be found anywhere except in Russia and China with France and the UK coming very distant joint 3rd or t**d as we say in Ireland!

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago

They also tend to bring societies crashing down – ie, Rome – something you studiedly ignore.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago

Not at such speed or on such a scale.

Especially when climate migrations kick in.

Societies will collapse.

Good luck with that.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
2 years ago

Peacefully, on this scale? I don’t think so.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
2 years ago

Not at the giant sizes in terms of numbers, or the velocity we see today

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

Thank God I will be dead by then

Julian Pellatt
Julian Pellatt
2 years ago

Excellent point, Hayden! I agree with you 100%!

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago

Population growth is hated by environmentalists, but loved by economists and, especially, by businessmen.
In a growing population they can sell more and more of everything, from houses to insurance, cars to electricity. Never mind if most of the manufactured goods and half the food have to be imported, it’s all good for business.
If you think immigration is a problem, don’t say so too often or you will be regarded as obsessive and disreputable. Besides, you have no-one to vote for.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago

I agree about the problems, which are decades in the making – leading to decades of consequence.
Looked at in retrospect, 2022 might have been one of the easiest ..

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago

Excellent response. And the silly, silly bien pensant left will endlessly point the guilt gun at Europe and North America to open their borders to the millions of Africans whose governments are incapable of providing employment for their rapidly expanding populations ( capable only of advancing their own tribal interests and lining their own pockets).

Those millions are desperate to experience the “systemic racism” of the host countries and to bring their extended families along to experience it with them, and to add their voices to the chorus of the “marginalised” ” ro speak their truth” to the the oppressors .

And the progressives who demand that the NHS must turn away no one will assist the decrepit British health system to become the IHS (International Health System) because “racism”, because history, because “dĂ©colonisation””, because reasons….

And the progressives will celebrate this bonfire of the vanities because they are utterly convinced of the fundamental evil of Western civilisation.

Last edited 2 years ago by Douglas McNeish
Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
2 years ago

That’s because ‘population growth’ is not only no longer an acceptable term it is verging on hate speech. Displacement of people is caused only by climate change! Please repeat!
Until we are able to to shred out the liars and cowards from the political/media establishment and replace with those prepared to not only face but deal with reality we are doomed.

Last edited 2 years ago by Glyn Reed
Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago

Thanks for great post.
That is the main issue which is not addressed by “global warming” clowns.
Even if the so called West shut down all economic activity, pollution generated by China, India and all other countries in Africa and Asia would still killed the world as we know it, if you believe their theories.
But these clowns never discuss these issues because they are not “politically correct”.
West should start with sinking boats in Mediterranean and English Channel.
We need to stop pretending that these hordes are anything but invaders.
Personally, I don’t care about Africa and Asia if their people don’t come to Europe.

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
2 years ago

All social and political freedoms and ‘inalienable’ rights that we TOOK for granted have already been shown to be entirely contingent on any fanatical cabal that can manage to terrorise the masses by way of the MSM.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

Keep up! The latest doom mongering is world population DECLINE…..!!

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
2 years ago

[open mouthed amazement] – you live? In Z…..we? You’re not a farmer then?

Charlie Walker
Charlie Walker
2 years ago

I’m sorry but what on earth is the point of this article?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Charlie Walker

Agreed – it doesn’t add any new information for any reasonably informed reader.
All it really says is that next year will be challenging (as per always) and we would like more competent governments (as per always).

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

“All it really says is that next year will be challenging (as per always) and we would like more competent governments (as per always).”
No, it advances the argument that the challenges may be a great deal worse than anything our present-day leaders and institutions have faced in living memory.

This is arguably correct. Just look at the unbelievable hash Western nations have made of dealing with Covid. We have all added more debt to the books than we did in the global banking crisis of 2009, for no better reason than we basically told about half of each of our economies to stop producing. This has to be restated: the usual priority of always seeking growth, because it is what raises living standards and powers progress, was abruptly reversed on principle because of a disease that, it now turns out, only provoked an increase in average mortality at the very beginning of the pandemic, which was over by the time the lockdowns started.

This is very obviously an example of a f***-up so huge that nobody can get their heads round it so we all revert to sniping about other people’s politics or whatever, but it ought to be impossible to ignore that we in the West have spent two years collectively behaving like frightened spoilt children, while China and Russia look on with amazed delight at the opportunity presented. In due course both these adversaries will move against Taiwan and Eastern Europe respectively, and the West will respond by doing nothing.

We are not in charge any more, and it matters.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

What we desperately need is cheap energy

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

I do so agree. Reliable, cheap energy, at that.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Many of your points are justifiable, but are not 2022 specific e.g the effects of delayed growth and the debt accumulation (over the last 15 years) are more likely to land in the 2030s than 2022.
Also, never underestimate the patience of the Chinese government 
. they are more likely to wait until the power of the US has waned further over the next decades.
The downside risk to China of a Taiwan invasion seems to diminish every year that passes – so no hurry.
Putin however, may be less patient 
. whether or not the “EU is leaderless” they have no military power for the foreseeable future.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Mel Shaw
Mel Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I am not so sure about China and Taiwan. The younger generation in Taiwan have only lived under the current democracy and increasingly see themselves as Taiwanese rather than Chinese. They tend to support the view that Taiwan should be officially independent. Add to that the possibility that the US may appoint a more competent leader in 2024 and China may decide that if it doesn’t make a move now it may not get another chance. Xi Jinping clearly wants to go down in history as Mao’s equal and “unifying” the country would be important to that ambition.

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago
Reply to  Mel Shaw

They tend to support the view that Taiwan should be officially independent

In 1939 most Poles supported the idea that Poland should be independent. That made no difference when first Germany, then Russia, crossed the borders.

Add to that the possibility that the US may appoint a more competent leader in 2024 

ï»żCould the US elect any leader who would commit to an unwinnable war in the South China Sea? I’m not one of those who gloats over American failure but after Iraq and Afghanistan we all know the score.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

While, I agree with your general point about West (USA really) reluctance to defend Taiwan, there are many other options available.
Can China survive prolong issues with oil supply and being unable to export anything?
At the moment and probably for another 20 years, China has no way stopping USA from blocking Chinese bound trade.
In a way China faces Japan predicament in late 1930s.
Without oil China is just paper tiger.
Chinese are relaying on Russian oil and gas.
Putin is willing to play along for now.
Surely though, scenario is similar to Soviet Union alliance with Hitler?
China is like a dog looking at a juicy steak of Siberia.
Half asleep (or pretending) while being fed oil and gas by tzar in Kremlin.
This bargain did not work out well for Russia when dealing with Hitler.
Would it work better now?
Who knows.
But I doubt it.

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago
Reply to  Charlie Walker

Woe, woe, woe, thrice woe! From a ‘social conservative’ who regularly criticises the Government.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Charlie Walker

Perhaps you could offer a useful perspective yourself, rather than simply throw stones.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago
Reply to  Charlie Walker

We all gotta earn a living.
Waffle for supper.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Charlie Walker

It’s a good survey of our current problems.

Art C
Art C
2 years ago
Reply to  Charlie Walker

I guess it’s just an unnecessary reminder that the leaders of the west are woefully feeble, the incoming batch will be worse and we’ll get what we deserve.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

OK, you list lots of things, all which can be bad, like lots of mosquitoes though – compared to the Big issues.

THE big one is USA 138% debt to GDP, $75 Trillion in unfunded Mandates, $80 Billion a month deficit spending internationally, a society which produces little goods, yet consumes the largest share, one where ‘The labour Participation Rate’ (people of working age not in work) is escalating greatly and productivity is declining. Then the huge balloon the stock Market is in, and Real-Estate, all hard assets, the Zero Interest needed and kept by QE as Leverage debt in investing is the greatest ever, as is personal, corporate, City, State, and National Debt. And inflation is about %8 and Bond Yields are negative 6% real interest, and USA Just monetized 12 $ Trillion as ‘Covid Relief/Costs, created from air.

And the EU even worse, and China as bad, and the developing world on edge.

Cannot raise interest to fight inflation or the debt goes into default. Inflation is destroying the pensions and all fixed income, it is devouring savings and cash, and pay is Not Keeping Up. But the biggest thing is inflation coupled with no interest is doing, is to force all money ‘Out Onto The Risk Curve’, ie. seeking risky investments to avoid the loss from inflation – but Risky, And blowing all the bubbles even bigger.

And so this will ‘Correct’, or Crash as we know it. The GFC of 2008 markets fell over 50%, in the Great depression, 90%, in the 2000 dot come crash 78%. As the people all have been forced into the market by high Inflation and zero interest it will trigger a global depression. The world uses the $ as its Reserve Currency – so the $ may even climb in nominal terms – but millions and millions will perish – and the end of entitlements, pensions, savings, jobs, money…….

That is what I expect for the 2022 – 2024. But then I have held my money in cash and gold since 2020, and watch inflation eat my cash – wile if I had put it into the big 5 stocks it would have doubled…. so have it wrong so far. I am doing real-estate – and it is in a bubble, but I just am building a rental cottage by hand as I am a tradesman – and decided to put my cash in that – and the property crash will hit that……. There is just nothing safe. No Bonds, Treasuries, Gilts, CDs… to just park it as they pay no interest, we all are either forced to risk, or loss to inflation….. There is NO way to hide from the future crash unless wealthy, or guess right.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Why do you think Bitcoin continues to be so popular… max 21M supply…Digital Gold…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ToffjIo6hk

Last edited 2 years ago by Justin Clark
Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
2 years ago
Reply to  Justin Clark

Who knows ? Do you ?

Michael K
Michael K
2 years ago
Reply to  Julie Blinde

Yes he does. As is evident per his response to the above comment. Bitcoin, as much as I personally dislike it, is superior to gold as a hedge against market instabilities in many ways. First, it can be used as currency-independent payment, second, it can be transferred over borders very easily, third, the finite supply promises a steady increase in value.
Bitcoin is the only thing that’s not in a bubble, because it was never worth anything to begin with; yet, people still want it and there is a finite supply. It is the gold of digital payments, in an age of digital currencies.

john zac
john zac
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Yes..and this may be at the heart of our strategy against Covid. Perhaps this is why we overplayed the risks. We use the pandemic as the excuse of what broke us. Meanwhile, we filled the coffers that needed to be filled

David Slade
David Slade
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Well, we want you to feel at home.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
2 years ago

Lets just say this government is incompetent, and drop the complicating descriptive “ever”. It would be great to have some demonstration of the thesis: clearly, it was elected in December 2019 to “get Brexit done”. Then came “Covid”: a huge opportunity for Rejoiners to derail Brexit. Lets go from there.

Jeremy Eves
Jeremy Eves
2 years ago

I agree with much of Simon Heffer’s analysis, but what I most want to hear are some positive suggestions of what should be done as a result. Journalists and analysts, as a tribe, neglect the questions ‘so what?’ or ‘how should we then live? Surely the alternative thinkers amongst the UnHerd staff and commentators can postulate some ideas to start a better conversation

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
2 years ago

A capable minister in Boris Johnson’s cabinet who “slipped through the net”. I’m intrigued who it might be because I don’t see it!

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago
Reply to  Rob Britton

I wish Simon Heffer had told us who it is. It sounds as though he should be the next PM.

David B
David B
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

Probably Gove?

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  David B

That’s what I assumed. Interesting how there’s nothing there about a positive future for Brexit or the threat to the UK’s territorial integrity from Ireland and the EU.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Rob Britton

The Ministers for Paperclips and Without Portfolio are pretty good, I believe.

And the Chancellor of the Soke of Peterborough promises things too.

neil collins
neil collins
2 years ago

Here is your summary chart of Heffer’s piece:
Do not be so sad and glum
There’s bound to be far worse to come.

T Doyle
T Doyle
2 years ago

David Lammy will save us.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  T Doyle

From immigration controls ?

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
2 years ago

UK government does not rule the country. It is the inner party of globalists who call the shots and who would sell their mothers’ grave if they could make money with that. The outer party are the useful idiots of the Church of Woke who help to subdue the proles with horror stories about a collapsing NHS. Most people are healthy and they would not even notice it if the complete NHS was burned down with all the consultants, diversity officers, bean counters and it-specialists in it. The people with BS-jobs would notice the collapse, because they would still get money without having going through the motions of pretending to work. A bit like lock down now, but without the Zoom calls. For the rest it is of utter irrelevance to the man in the street who becomes French president, what the Fourth Reich in Brussels this time comes up with or what colour underwear Liz Truss wears. What is the relevance of this article? Where is the news?

Last edited 2 years ago by Francisco Menezes
Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Things will probably kick off after the football next year.

James Rix
James Rix
2 years ago

I think this likelihood is massively under priced!

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago

so a ‘“year of two halves” then 
.

Dylan Regan
Dylan Regan
2 years ago

Can we stop the Putin bashing for five minutes?

G A
G A
2 years ago

And what about the West surrounding Russia with NATO elements – something it promised it wouldn’t do? Russia is simply acting as thee West would in such a situation.

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
2 years ago

In the FT today, they asked a lot of questions like will this happen, will that happen. They cover issues like the French election, the invasion of Taiwan, the fate of the Ukraine and they predict that for various reasons, these disasters will not happen. They offer us the opportunity to make our own predictions to various questions at http://www.ft.com/predict2022. Could be a larf!

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago

‘But what should perhaps worry the West most of all, at the dawn of this dangerous year, is that none of its constituent nations has a leader of the experience, the clout and the moral authority required to deal with this bouquet of challenges if, or when, they arrive.’

Cometh the hour, cometh the… whatever.

waynemapp
waynemapp
2 years ago

It is not correct that Biden has said he could not militarily intervene in the case of Taiwan. In fact quite the reverse, he has said he would.
From the perspective of New Zealand, continental Europe’s internal bickering seem a bit irrelevant, though they do seem to indicate the continuing decline of Europe as it loses self confidence.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

Time to purchase a fiddle.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

Hear, hear!!!

J P
J P
2 years ago

A piece disguised as of a global nature, and yet simply in reality an opportunity to bash Boris. How boring.

Ian Gribbin
Ian Gribbin
2 years ago

This view is actually highly optimistic. Very little discussion on the economics. Fiscal and monetary tightening have already begun and now there are an additional 15mil Europeans below the poverty line as a result of the Covid hysteria (1.4m in Britain alone)

2022 will be an utter disaster – get ready for civil unrest of the violent kind

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

Ahh… just read the latter pages of The Book of Revelation… is the world at that point?

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
2 years ago

Ukraine has an army of 255,000 with 900,000 reservists, much better armed and motivated than a few years ago. Russia would be faced with a major war.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Mott

That’s an interesting point. While we pontificate on what the West will or won’t do, there is no comment on the capability or responsibility of a sovereign state to prepare to defend itself against a threat that has been visible for years.

Similarly Taiwan, a nation with sufficient financial and intellectual resources to prepare a defence that maybe can’t win, but can make the cost too high.

Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
2 years ago

At least Liz Truss is saying the right things. That’s a start.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

They all say the right things until we are conned into electing them when they start doing the wrong things.

Ian Gribbin
Ian Gribbin
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Hawkes

What?! She is utterly, utterly clueless. She has no idea about Realpolitik and it scares the sh#t out of me that our stupid media thinks she could be the next leader.

Her recent threats against Putin are completely laughable
but worse which delusional fck heads at the FO allow her to spout such shite?

Jaden Johnson
Jaden Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Gribbin

Yeah, she’s right up there with Gavin Willamson and his ‘Russia should go away and shut up’ speech….

Peter Allen
Peter Allen
2 years ago

The piece makes no mention of the very real threat of a nuclear armed Iran some time in 2022. This is a surprising omission, given the likely collapse of the Vienna talks which have got precisely nowhere.

Michael K
Michael K
2 years ago

It could be that we sail through 2022 with vaccination programmes bringing down Covid”
What is this author doing on UnHerd?

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael K

resting

Rafi Stern
Rafi Stern
2 years ago

And you haven’t even mentioned the West’s response to Iranian meddling, aggression and armament.