I hate to say “I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so”, which is why I’m very pleased to say that for once my predictions weren’t altogether accurate.
Avid readers may remember how I, in a late December 2016 blog post, appointed the Middle East the new East–West battlefield. Turned out that I was indeed right, but what I failed to see, was the escalation of the Southeast Asian conflict now materialising in North Korea’s armament and the U.S. Navy’s race towards the Korean peninsula’s shores.
Make no mistake about it: We may think the Middle East resembled hell on earth, but I fear we haven’t seen the half of it. With Southeast Asian conflicts on the rise, on top of Russia’s aggressive stance on neighbouring countries, such as Ukraine, it’s safe to say that it’s been some time since we were this close to a potential world war 3, hard as it is to imagine.
Of course it’s all to do with both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s lack of success in domestic affairs and their need to show international force, coupled with fellow madman Kim Jong-un’s megalomaniacal delusions.
While I hate to admit failing to see this development in advance, there’s no denying it’s currently playing out right under our noses, and I, for one, am scared shitless.
But it doesn’t stop there: With Brexit underway, and Spain and the UK fighting over Gibraltar, Europe’s stability is at risk, too.
The situation may be diffused, if parties involved are willing to take a step back. At present, however, that doesn’t seem very likely.
And then, of course, there’s Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
At the risk of repeating myself, I think I’d better repeat myself:
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Top illustration: U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Blogger’s drawing.
If the Bush administration succeeded in convincing some of Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, we shouldn’t be surprised if the Trump administration manages to convince them of the Shayrat airbase’s part in Syria’s alleged chemical warfare – true or not.
I’m not saying this in defence of Bashar al-Assad. The man is criminal, through and through. Only problem is: With all probablitiy, so is Donald J. Trump.
Caution, is all I’m saying. Let’s not forget Iraq just yet (or Libya, for that matter), and for God’s sake, let us not forget about Russia.
An old phrase – you know whose – immediately springs to mind:
On a somewhat more positive note it should be added that western measures were long overdue. Let’s just hope the Shayrat airbase wasn’t manned by Russian troops – or that Mother Russia is looking kindly on an attack on her close Middle East ally.
I’m sure we can agree that it’s been a terrible year, what with the countless terrorist attacks, the war in Syria, the innumerable refugees and their suffering, the immense growth of fake news, Russia’s continued intervention in Ukraine, Brexit and the U.S. presidential election, won by Vladimir Putin’s very own Donald Trump.
And then, of course, there’s the incredible demise of uncountable artists throughout the entertainment industry, which really shouldn’t come as a surprise in times sporting more celebrities than ever before, among whom a considerable share in the geriatric segment. But you cannot help wonder how some regard that the worst aspect of the year now approaching its ultimate finale. Text continued below painting.
While I wouldn’t even dream of making fun of the fans’ undoubtedly sincere grief (I’ve been mourning some of them, too, in my own small way), perhaps pointing out that we do have bigger fish to fry – or much bigger problems – is in order?
Terrible as 2016 was, I fear it didn’t even come close to what the upcoming year has in store.
I’m confident that, like me, you never expected to live to see Donald J. Trump elected president of the USA, which, I’m sure, adds up to nothing, compared to experiencing him executing his job while in office. Text continued below photo.
Seeing as I accidentally happened to pick a photograph of him and fellow nationalist Nigel Farage, there’s no avoiding next year’s consequences of Britain’s 2016 decision; the implementation of the EU’s article 50, which once and for all is going to sever the United Kingdom from the European Union, with all its implications (covered in this blog throughout the first half of the year). Unless Westminster finds a way to declare the outcome of last June’s referendum null and void.
Worst of all, however, is the fact (?) that we no longer seem able to distinct facts from fiction, as the number of fake news outlets grows every day, a matter I touched on in a blog post the other day, and make no mistake about it: It’s all Vladimir Putin’s doing, in an attempt at destabilising the west, which he successfully achieved in Britain last summer and in America this autumn. However, I fear we’ve only seen the beginning. Text continued below photo.
We should, I’m afraid, brace ourselves for global tension the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades, possibly not since the early 1960s, for those of us who recall the Cuban Missile Crisis.
But please … Pretty, pretty please stop this talk about the possibility of a cold war. It’s been around for years, even if you didn’t notice.
Having established that, I find that the Russian national anthem, performed by Russia’s Red Army Choir, whose members died in a Christmas airplane crash last week, rest their souls, en route to Russia’s latest occupation, Syria, is in perfect order:
Judging by current goings on, people around the globe may as well start rehearsing its lyrics, the sooner the better.
And of course, as indicated by the top illustration, the Middle East will continue to play a vital part in next year’s news. Predominantly, I’m afraid, as a Russo-Turkish conquest. Also, as indicated in the illustration, the ripple effects will be significant.
Come New Years Eve I shall party just as hard as the next guy. Not because there’s any cause for celebration, considering the hopeless situation in which we find ourselves, but because, after all, it is what people expect, my own family not excepted. I will, of course, comply, without a trace of the concerns boiling inside.
There’s been much talk of the cold war revival, of a World War III already in progress – allegations I wouldn’t even dream of contradicting, as I’ve been trying to raise awareness of Vladimir Putin’s aggressive approach for about a decade already, albeit to little avail – as one should expect, considering the blog’s obscurity.
However, we would be ill-advised to expect WWIII to be a blueprint of its two predecessors, considering that the war has been going on for quite some time, sans traditional or conventional confrontations, save the extensivity of Russian false news, aiming at destabilising western Europe and the U.S. – and successfully so, given Putin’s 2016 triumphs in the United Kingdom and the United States, both early examples of the Russian propaganda machinery’s unsurpassable efficiency.
While the entire west desperately endeavours to figure out how to prevent further distribution of fake news, and, as a consequence thereof; even more western states falling into the hands of politicians under Russian influence, Mr. Putin keeps busy forging alliances with leaders disliked by the west, currently Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, while a civil war in Yemen, a former Soviet outpost in the Middle East, still rages, what ever prospects it may hold.
There is a distinct possibility, you know, that Putin’s foothold in the Middle East may well be even firmer, now that Russia in fact controls Syria and the Crimean peninsula, whence the Black Sea Fleet hails, lacking only free passage through the Bosphorous, controlled by Putin’s soon-to-be ally (?) and fellow strongman Erdoğan, leaving more or less the entire Middle East under Russian control, in spite of the protests we may voice through the UN security council.
After all, since when did Vladimir Putin bother listening to the UN? On the contrary, the following countries (most of which siding with Russia), voted against protecting Syrian civilians, suffering from a war which has now outlasted WWII: Belarus, Bolivia, Burundi, China, Cuba, N. Korea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, S. Sudan, Syria (i.e. the Assad regime), Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
So yes, a World War III most certainly is in progress, even if we may find that it’s being fought on the Internet and on battle fields far from home, with victims we only see on the news. We should, however, also accept that Britain’s Brexit and America’s Trump victory are defeats good as any, both battles won by Putin’s virtual soldiers, because that’s the kind of war this is – a war in which I try to involve myself, however uninvited, and inconsequential my feeble efforts, considering the west’s shortcomings pertaining to propaganda measures on equal terms.
I simply refuse to side with those advocating reservation and self-muzzling, based on the eventuality, however small, that Vladimir Putin is in fact a pretty good guy, so let me reiterate my decade-long message, as some (but sadly all-too few) also did in the 1930s: He is not, so I long since decided to be this guy:
Also, living in a country sharing borders with Russia, as I do, I can, to a certain extent, understand some people’s reluctance to raise their voices against a potential invader … Or maybe not.
Which, hopefully, explains my reluctance – to yell “Happy New Year” at the top of my lungs, but hey, here’s hoping.
P.S. I used the same headline on a post earlier this autumn (simply forgot), and we all know how that turned out.
Vestlig presse, Verdens gang inkludert, sluker russisk propaganda ukritisk.
Elizaveta Glinka, kjent som Dr. Liza, har hjulpet fattige, syke og hjemløse i 17 år. I julen skulle hun besøke et sykehus i Latakia.
Sammen med minst 64 musikere, ti soldater, ni journalister og åtte flyansatte var den populære hjelpearbeideren på flyet på vei til Syria 1. juledag. Men i motsetning til sine medpassasjerer hadde Dr. Liza planer om å tilbringe julen på et syrisk sykehus, ifølge hjelpeorganisasjonen Fair Aid, der hun selv var leder.
While serious events took place yesterday, calling for in-depth news coverage, the incidents themselves were nothing out of the ordinary. On the contrary I think we will find that episodes such as the Berlin Christmas market attack and the Ankara assassination, as well as the Zurich shooting, are everyday occurrences.
Europeans may have been disturbed by the proximity to Christmas and indeed to ourselves. Apart from that, however, these things happen on a daily basis throughout the world.
In my neck of the wood the Berlin calamities most definitely drew most of the attention, undoubtedly due to the number of Norwegians visiting this – or any – time of year (our self-absorption knows no limit), but I think it’s safe to say that among the three, the Ankara assassination (yes, I deliberately use a designation similar to the 1914 Sarajevo assassination) offers potentially more widespread consequences, giving more cause for concern than the other two, although it didn’t even take place in Europe. Not least because it involved a prominent member of Ankara’s Corps Diplomatique, and a Russian one to boot.
The seemingly staged, almost cinematic appearance of the incident must have left not only this blogger wondering if it indeed was carefully prepared, in what most observers must consider the hub of current conflicts, involving the Syrian war’s two leading parties (sorry, America, but you’re not even close), headed by oppressors prone to conspiratorial thinking, constantly chasing excuses to initiate drastic responses to actions quite possibly initiated by themselves (for instance last summer’s attempted coup in Turkey immediately springs to mind). To such a degree that we’re all forced to think along the lines of plots that may not even exist.
What ever the case we should acknowledge that we indeed live in violent times, with an extremely volatile situation on our hands, and I hate to sound the alarm, even if I fear there’s every reason to.
With Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin, both highly despotic, emerging as close allies, and soon-to-be President Trump at the American helm, as well as an increasingly powerful China lurking in the outskirts, the stage is set for an unprecedented and highly inflammable situation.
Certain powers’ expressed aim to destabilise the west is of course a factor to be reckoned with, too, but let’s leave it at that for now.
Suffice it to say 2017 is going to be a very interesting year.
Since posting this I was made aware of this Foreign Policy article, published last night, touching on some of the same issues – and then some: