As we come to the end of 2015, we begin to ruminate about the year and I am sure oftentimes we also look back wistfully to times untinged, in our memory, by wars, chaos or any form of global crisis. We always look forward with hope, that the coming year would be less interesting.
Here is the truth: like it or not, we live in interesting times. Our wistful memories are just that. In every decade since the end of the Second World War the world has seen an escalation of armed conflicts in almost every region. The Cold War created a bipolar world with two opposing powers of the USA and USSR. We witnessed periods of proxy wars that on occasions brought us to the brink of global disaster: the Vietnam War, the Bay of Pigs, the Suez Crisis and etc. There were wars of independence with untold deaths from Algeria to Kenya and armed conflicts in Asia. The dismantling of the Soviet Union was the precursor to many regional armed conflicts, such as in Kosovo and Ukraine. The Arab/Israeli conflict has spurned many armed conflicts, which have spilled out of the region. Ethnic cleansing did not die out with the Nazis, it has been repeated in Rwanda, Burundi and Kosovo. Wars in the Middle East has escalated and morphed into jihads, which have now been carried into the West.
Although we spent the best part of 2014 hashtagging #BringBackOurGirls to no avail, we carried on with our New Year celebrations, full of hope that 2015 will surely be less interesting. But chaos was just round the corner, with the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January 2015 our hashtag were swiftly replaced with #JeSuisCharlieHebdo. By the middle of the year, we were reminded again that #BlackLivesMatter with the loss of 9 lives in the Charleston Church shooting in South Carolina, USA. #ThisIsACoup brought the Greek crisis to the attention of a global audience galvanised by “a common sense of impotence . . . in the face of globalised financial powers”.
In September, a 14 year old school boy was arrested and taken away in handcuffs because he is a genius and brought his home made clock to school to show and tell his teachers, #IStandWithAhmed gained rapid following. And since we would not give up hope to make this a better year, we tweeted #RefugeesWelcome to welcome millions of Syrian refugees, displaced and made weary by the bombing of their country. Little did we know, many more bombs were set to fall on their country. But, in November, chaos returned to Paris and #JeSuisParis went hand in hand with #RefugeesWelcome and an escalation of the bombing of Syria.
#DoNotBombSyria cannot save Syria and its people, Britain has now voted to join the cause of the French. And to round things up, Donald Trump has lent his voice to the cause of the French and gone even further. He has proposed that from henceforth (until Trump knows when) no Muslim should be allowed to enter the USA. In response, the UK public wants to #BanTheTrump from entering the UK.
So, like it or not, we are set for even more interesting times ahead.
We wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and in the very least, a very happy New Year celebration.
Published in The European Financial Review on December 1 2015.
*A phrase credited to Robert Kennedy in a speech in Cape Town in June 1966