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Eurovision - The Future of Global Conflict Resolution or the Symptoms of a Continent That Has Lost the Plot?

There were two very significant global skirmishes this week, both small, but like the shooting of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914, both with the potential to trigger far greater global conflicts...

There were two very significant global skirmishes this week, both small, but like the shooting of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914, both with the potential to trigger far greater global conflicts. What Ferdinand's assassination showed was that small violent incidents in volatile hinterlands between edgy countries can act as tipping points for sudden and dramatic escalations - in that case escalating within a few months into what would become the First World War.

The first incident this week was a skirmish in the South China Sea between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels, as the Chinese started to build an oilrig off the disputed Paracel islands. There have been many recent near misses in the South China Sea, but on this occasion two ships actually rammed each other. This has lead to mass nationalistic protests in both countries.

The second was in eastern Ukraine, where after a series of violent incidents, pro-Russian separatists have unilaterally decided to hold a referendum for self-rule. World leaders seem to be collectively holding their breath, trying not to throw any petrol onto a small fire that is already burning very brightly.

With all this going on you might expect the dominant conversation on social media in western countries these last few days to be speculation and opinions on what should be done to tackle this potentially cataclysmic situation.

But it wasn't. The topic that obsessed the chattering classes, even those with PhDs and important jobs, was a talent show won by a lady with a beard, or a man in drag, or some hybrid that seems to have confounded journalistic labeling (he/she/them?) - The Eurovision Song Contest.

As a British Citizen living far overseas and working in Asia, I was left with a distinctly queasy feeling. I have always loved Eurovision's quirkiness. There is something of a Dadaist joke about it. But it seems that people who I thought would know better seem to be taking it far too seriously all of a sudden.

I have viewed the economic turmoil in Europe through the lens of someone working in the emerging economies of Asia and it has seemed to me that many people in Europe are missing that what really seems to be going on is a re-balancing of power. While people in Europe resist and complain, those in Asia and other emerging economies are grabbing the opportunity with gusto.

At first glance The Eurovision Song Contest seems like just more distraction - a giant collective version of Nero fiddling while Rome burns. It is notable that it seems to be the only popular pan-European movement that has the word 'Vision' in it. Is this what the once mighty Europe has become? The world's court jester? An undignified role where an over bright intellect is forced to use its considerable talents to act the fool. Looking at Facebook and Twitter over the weekend certainly suggested that.

But then as I read about the voting I started to wonder if Eurovision might actually be part of some very clever master plan. Was it a coincidence that a hundred years after The Austrian Hungarian Empire went to war over Franz Ferdinand's death that Austria won Eurovision with a drag queen with a beard? I don't think so!

What we are seeing here is the evolution of a brilliant means to resolve global conflict - the Running Man with out the running and shooting, The Hunger Games without the meanness and death (and sadly without Jennifer Lawrence). The tactical voting between the pro and anti Russian countries was fascinating, Russia, Ukraine and their friends, trading tit for tat, showing how the people of each country really felt about what was going on. Every time the Russian act played they were booed. Britain, aware that it no longer has the resources to lead a major conflict, sent a lady who looked like a sensible check out assistant to perform and thus drew no attention to itself. Poland, aware of its vulnerable position in any pan European conflict, sent busty wenches who performed a very odd act milking cows in a show clearly designed to confuse any potential invader.

If there is a future for Europe as a global power, maybe this is it; hoster of the Global Games, a benign and powerful way to defuse global and regional frustrations.

Given what is happening in the South China Sea I'd say it is therefore vital for global peace that in 2015 China, Vietnam and Japan are invited into the Eurovision fold - followed quickly by South Korea, Taiwan, The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The only issue I see with this, having spent time in Karaoke bars in many of these countries, is that what this will most likely reveal is the awesome power of these countries as they blow old Europe out of the water with their uber buff formation dancers, ultra cute singers in rabbits ears, and incredible ability to knock out a catchy tune.

But then that too would be instructional. Perhaps then the people of Europe will be woken up to the global challenge, and start to look forwards not back.