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Monday, December 26, 2011

Is 2011 a more important year than 1989?

In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell leading to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.  At the time it was an earth shattering event that seemed to happen overnight.   
As the new century has dawned and simple social media programs such as Facebook and Twitter tyrants and dictators are falling in new and shocking ways.

From the Guardian:
19 December 2010   "Mohamed Bouazizi, had set fire to himself in protest after police confiscated the fruit and vegetables he was selling from a street stall, the witnesses said.
"The violent clashes ended with the arrest of scores of people," a witness, who requested anonymity, told Reuters. "(There was) breaking of shop windows and smashing of cars, while police fired tear gas."
Another witness, a relative of the man who set fire to himself, said outbreaks of rioting had continued into Sunday.
"People are angry at the case of Mohamed and the deterioration of unemployment in the region," said Mahdi Said Horchani. "Regional authorities have promised to intervene."
He said Bouazizi was in a critical condition and had been transferred to a hospital in Tunis.
Footage posted on the Facebook social network site showed several hundred protesters outside the regional government headquarters, with lines of police blocking them from getting closer to the building. It did not show any violence."
Within weeks the dictator flees to Saudi Arabia on 9 January 2011 and the Arab Spring is born.
      Government overthrown       Sustained civil disorder and governmental changes       Protests and governmental changes
      Major protests       Minor protests       Protests outside the Arab world
Soon protesters would hit the streets causing a civil war in Libya, Regime changes in Egypt and Yemen,  civil unrest in Bahrain, peaceful protests in Syria that would by the end of the year lead to international condemnation and a potential civil war, protests would also occur in Algeria, Iraq, Palestine, Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait and Oman.  Some other countries would experience minor protests but even these carried the definition of the Arab Spring and shocked the leadership to the core.
One mans actions of desperation set in motion acts that in the end could lead an entire region changing for the better.
The US at first embracing the revolution soon found it self having to support democracy over former tyrants and dictators that in some cases they actually put in power and in other cases they made deals so dirty in any other year it would seems shocking.
 Qaddafi would soon be killed at the hands of the Libyan Rebels on 23 August 2011
Qaddafi once the pariah of the Middle East soon abandoned his WMD program in the hope of avoiding a western invasion as had just happened in Iraq.  He allowed CIA, MI6 and possibly even the Canadian Secret Intelligence Service to send detainees (captured around the world) to be tortured and interrogated by Libyan Secret Service.  People no longer shocked at the dirty deals of Blair and Bush soon looked to Obama as hope for a new foreign policy.
The people of Canada welcomed home its troops that served in the Libyan Civil War with of all things a parade
In Canada Stephen Harper remained Prime Minister with a majority government on the backs of NDP gains in Quebec and on the fall of the separatists Bloc and the almost now defunct Liberals.
Jack Layton (head of the NDP) eventually succumbed to cancer but as he dies the Canadian left had a new icon.
The famous Obama Hope poster soon became something different for Americans as they lost hope in their new President
Obama became president on the words of change and hope but the horror of the world economy soon took over almost all policy decisions.  Even closing GITMO once a defining moment of his campaign became impossible when a terror suspect was tried in open court and many of the charges were dismissed as any information relieved under torture became invalid.  A known terror suspect would soon only receive just a single charge in the end.
The American right happy of their success in the mid term elections of 2010 thought they could continue to control the US political agenda.  As the US moved in to nominating a potential candidate for the 2012 elections it seemed that anyone could beat Obama.  Unfortunately, as is almost always the case, the politicians underestimated the US populace intelligence.  Republican candidates soon were elevated way above their abilities and soon fell in a cycle that repeated itself almost every 3 weeks.   In a stunning upset the current polls now say that Obama could win against almost all republican candidates.... 2012 will be interesting.  
Greek citizens could not understand why their pensions and entitlements were being cut because of the mistakes of their leaders.

As the end of the year closes the European Union is looking at economic meltdown, as the US financial crisis was led by greed both consumer and financial this time its led by countries greed. Small countries in the hopes of luring investors became true welfare states and as they did not have the income to do so they used money received from bond markets to finance their own state.  The problem is that the Euro bond selling in Germany at 4% was not attractive as  Greek bond selling at 10%.  The fiances were unsustainable and sure enough 2011 is when it all came together.  Several countries that made it through the financial mess of 2008 now become close to their own collapse.

Capt. Eric Bouchard of the the Canadian Operational Mentor and Liasion Team confers with an Afghan platoon commander during a foot patrol through a village in the central Panjwaii district in Afghanistan, Feb. 18, 2011.

Canada would soon leave its combat operation in Afghanistan to a new operation in helping to instruct the Afghan Army and Police services.  This is something that would have been considered unheard of a few years ago as the instruction of foreign military is usually a special forces task.  It truly showed how far Canada had come from an army the US would only trust for camp security in 2002 to own that is now considered one of the worlds best small armies.
The US would continue with their surge based on the very successful Iraq surge and by the end of the year would begin drawing down troop levels.  The US would now leave all US military from Iraq but in its wake leaving the world largest embassy complex.  American influence in Iraq would stay for a very long time.
US foreign policy had great success with the Osama bin Laden raid, the drone killing of US citizen Alwaki and the Libyan Civil War by waiting for the rebels to ask for help from the UN, allowing the UN to issues a resolution and then ask NATO for help for the rebels under the guise of humanitarian reasons.  A war against one of the most heavily weaponized military and a group of civilians with almost no experience soon became a success and in the terms of new war showed that regime change can happen with no western deaths.  
The raid on Osama compound in a military city showed to the world the complacency of the Pakistan government in protecting US enemies right under every ones nose.  The killing of Osama also ended the tyranny of al Qeada once the most feared terrorist organization in the world.  Al Qeada now seems to be no longer important as the Arab world embraces democracy and freedom and not the call for a 14th century caliphate.   
US drone once dubbed the "beast of Kandahar" and instrumental in the Osama raid now lays in front of the Iranian Air force generals after falling from the sky on the 10 December 2011
The US also had failures in Pakistan and in Iran.  Despite giving billions in money to the Pakistan government and its people the US was unable to understand how deeply conspiracy theories and a misunderstanding of simple facts permeates Pakistan society.
Iran on the verge of developing a nuclear weapons soon took the brunt of a renewed Mossed program of sabotage. As much as the world hates the idea of these kinds of clandestine operations the other option of a Israel or US strike on Iranian nuclear facilities was something that is not wanted by anyone. 
In July the worlds newest country took shape this time not on blood and guts but on the simple X of a ballot.  Southern Sudan rejecting offers from the North created its own country that now looked to the south and Kenya as its future and not to china and the Arab North.
Al Shabab leaves Mogadishu as the country dies from starvation
Also in Africa the age old proverb that only a state in chaos can produce a famine proved to be true as millions in Somalia fell at risk.  Even al Shabab felt the pressure of public opinion when they would claim UN food relief trucks by force and under African Union troops would retake the city of Mogadishu.
Japan once thought to have the best earthquake preparedness was shaken by an earthquake and Tsunami that killed thousands
Japan would have an earth quake that literally shook the country to its core.  News helicopters would showcase the Tsunami that would kill thousands on live TV and even the explosions of its nuclear facility was seen by the world. 
The world changed in 2011 and in some ways as we look to 2012 we still don't really understand the changes that have occurred.

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