Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fast Away the Old Year Passes

There have to be a ton of people looking forward to the advent of the new year in the hope it will be better than the one coming to an end. At this time, annually, we reflect on the state of the world and of ourselves and make resolutions to improve things. It seems that every new year starts that way, even the last one.

The peace of the world seems no more assured than it did this time last year. The searches for more 'security' at home and less peace elsewhere, are both up, now, from what they were  365 days ago. The world's 'trouble spots' in Asia are no more tranquil, just the opposite. And new areas of concern in Africa, for instance, have arisen over the course of he year - with war and threats of war, civil and religious strife breaking out in many places.

Christmas was a real 'blast' for some churchgoers,  bombs exploded in the Nigerian town of  Jos and in a Philippine church, and Iraqi Christians celebrated the season in what could be described as a fortified bunker. None of these were totally unexpected,  for religious 'problems'  have arisen in all three areas - and all three are loci of American 'influence'. The first as an 'oil producer' and 'study object' for the US Army's  AfCom, the second as part of the 'great war on terror' which has been going on there for 20 years and the third, which is self-explanatory on both counts.

As far as the 'war zones' go,  Afghanistan will continue in that sad plight at least until 2014, so no happy new years there for a while. Iraq is tranquil - if you don't count an on-going insurrection in the north east , a growing independence movement on the north west and recalcitrant bombers in the central areas. The US army garrison may not be directly involved on a daily basis, but the US Air Force still feels the need to fly as many tactical air missions over Iraq as it was doing while there was a 'real' war on.

Afghanistan  remains bloody as ISAF/NATO enters year 11 of trying to put 'the kibosh' on theTaliban. Military operations are in full swing all across the south, and in those parts of the west,  north and east where the Taliban have either reappeared, or have never gone away. This is accompanied with an even more massive bombing campaign - which is larger now, in terms of bombs dropped,  than the carpetbombing of the Hindu Kush that accompanied the original invasion. Most of this is aimed at destroying 'unoccupied compounds' to deny the Taliban,  or anybody else, winter shelter. Being they're 'unoccupied' means there are no civilian 'collateral damages'. At the same time, all across the country and especially in the 'secure' areas, there are  large scale, covert 'COIN' operations underway. These use US special forces  units, or Afghan SF units - some of dubious origin and purpose and the large number of 'private operatives' in the country. The jail population is presently at its greatest, ever. Even the communists didn't have as many people behind bars. Needless to say, the government remains largely ineffective outside the larger centres, and prisons, of course. The light in the tunnel has yet to appear, other than in perennially optimistic reports from the fighting forces.

Along with the man-made storm of wars, there are also those Mother Nature delivers.

 Christmas this year was marked by crowded transportation hubs notable for the numbers of people travelling, or, rather,  not travelling. Airports across eastern North America and western Europe have been shut my unexpectedly large snowfalls. That snow has also shut down land transportation and clogged cities which otherwise wouldn't have that particular experience. In the southern hemisphere massive rainfalls have flooded large areas of South America and Australia. Early season blizzards in America were so violent that deaths due to exposure were reported and people were stranded for days on closed highways. Many of these occurrences were in the 'of the century' classification. Spring-level flooding is now expected. If Al Gore was right, this can only get worse.

So 2010 rolls on into 2011 without much prospect of anything getting much better and few indicators that things could get much worse. Let's hope I'm wrong.

No comments: