Seven decades after the liberation of Europe, the strongmen of global politics are back, dominating not only the headlines but international relations, the global economy and the world’s security. The strongman has a style and strategy of leadership that is anathema to the liberal democratic norms and practices of Europe. He – it is always “he” – challenges principles of consensus and collaboration, willingly tears up trade agreements, invades territory and seeks to provoke and disrupt the status quo in order to achieve advantage. Such behaviour confounds and frustrates his counterparts abroad and yet, as this book shows, it can be anticipated, even understood, offering hope for dealing with and neutralising it.
Hans Kribbe draws on a range of political ideas to provide insight into the strongman’s seemingly irrational and idiosyncratic behaviour and to better understand how he wields power and to what end. With the world’s largest economies, including Europe’s key ally, as well as strategic neighbouring states controlled by strongmen – Xi, Trump, Putin and Erdogan – Europe must learn to adapt and respond if it is to beat them at their own game.
1. Revenge of the strongman
Part I – The strongman: studies in power 2. Conqueror: in the clutches of time 3. Performer: the mise-en-scène of power 4. Sovereign: in the shadow of the state 5. Duellist: the fellowship of foes
Part II – Encounters: quest for new demeanours 6. Putin: into the cauldron of war 7. Erdogan: the bal masqué 8. Xi: on the road to power 9. Trump: rites of separation 10. Europe: initiations into power
Hans Kribbe has a PhD in political theory from the London School of Economics. He has worked as a speech writer and special adviser to European commissioners responsible for the single market, taxation and competition policy. He is a senior policy adviser at the European government advisory firm GPLUS in Brussels where, until 2015, he advised Vladimir Putin's press and communications team at the Kremlin.