Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Passing of 2016

There will be more reflection on the significance of 2016 than there has been on the passing of an old year for some time. There's significant change every year of course, but not as dramatic as we have seen this year. But it's not so easy to know just what that change is. There is the election of Trump and the vote by British  people to leave the EU. But these are symptoms. The real change is more fundamental than either of them, even if contributing to both.

The biggest change (admittedly from a Western perspective) is the decline in power of the post World War/Cold War/Western dominated 'liberal' alliance. China is on the march and can do almost as she likes in her sphere of influence, and does. Russia likewise. Over the last 5 years, Russia has annexed the Crimea, destabalised Ukraine, and barrel bombed and starved the people of Aleppo, right under the noses of the US. The US is no longer able to dominate as she did post Reagan. Many will see this as positive. I don't. An 'isolationist' US would mean much more instability in the world. That is my greatest fear arising from Trump's ascendency to the Presidency. While we in Europe (including me) see Trump as a dangerous loose cannon, with his finger on military hardware a lot more powerful than cannon, the US voters see him very differently. They saw the Clinton candidacy as "not of them or for them". They decided to go with anti-establishment. Fingers crossed with that!

We are seeing the same in Europe. In the UK, the people went for the anti-establishment side of the argument on June 23rd. The same force will rise in the Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy elections over the next year. Not sure I'd want to bet much on the results of these. Even if the 'Leavers' don't actually win, they are going to make big gains, and we could well see Italy ditching the Euro (and no-one knows where that goes). Whatever, it was in 2016 that this disillusionment with European integration and the 'establishment' became a force to be feared.

And what can we make of what has happened in Syria. Bashar-al Assad and Russia have waged war, using weapons condemned by most of the rest of the world. Not a thought for the Security Council. Truth is the US with Obama at the helm can no longer impose its will. Lots of others with evil and avaricious intent will have been watching.

Anyway, let us take Mervin King's advice and look forward to the next few years with optimism.

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