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The Year Of 2012

Here we go. Another new year and I have a feeling this is going to be one of the more interesting ones that we have had in a long while. We have the election later this year, and the end of the many, many theories on why the world is going to end this year. If we all survive, we can start placing random bets on what the next year of destruction will be. On a more serious note, we may see increasing tensions in the Middle East lead to further conflict and the world will feel the ripple effect of it. What these leaders never seem to understand is that everyone would be better off if they could all figure out a way to coexist, yet this never seems to be a priority and because of this, it is unlikely that we won’t continue to see escalated conflict simply due to the ever decreasing size of the world so to speak. With all that in mind, let us take a gander at some upcoming “events” of the year and see what were really in for.

Iran- Their nuclear program continues to advance and with every step of it, their tensions with the outside world continue to rise. Many countries fear a nuclear Iran, and if they do become ready and able to test a nuke(which they have clearly stated is not their goal) expect to see a much more serious conflict. Recent threats from Iran to block off the Strait of Hormuz are probably just saber-rattling meant to save face with their hard-line supporters, but because they are slowly being backed into a corner by countries like the United States that they are fundamentally at a political difference of opinion with, it is not out of the realm of possibility to see this entire situation escalate. Adding to the tension, Israel is said to be seriously considering a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facility and if they go through with such an action it is hard to imagine this not leading to a larger conflict. The one thing to remember is this; we are at a time in history when nuclear bombs, biological, and chemical weapons have become far more commonplace and it will be grimly interesting to see if these weapons of horror become involved.

Syria– The Syrian situation is getting bad. Thousands have died and because of the added element of social media, every death becomes magnified to the rest of the world. I found it telling, and also chilling, that Russia was so open about their position of not only being against any sanctions against Syria, but also being against any foreign involvement. On top of that, they were completely unapologetic about the fact that they are selling weapons to the very government entities that are using those weapons to perpetrate these killings. This is bad on so many levels. If the killing continues, will the United States and other sympathetic U.N. members decide military involvement is necessary? If so, what will Russia think of this? I can guarantee that if it were to happen and American troops start dying at the hands of recently purchased Russian weapons, this could become a serious international confrontation.

Afghanistan/Iraq-After a decade of strife, the United States is slowly trying to separate itself from two countries that, for lack of a better word, have both become quagmires with little to gain left available to us. Iraq, now that the U.S. troops are drawing down, is falling right back into the religiously divided bloodshed that existed both under and after Saddam. For all that we tried to do as far as installing a democratic system, I just do not see how anyone can even try to argue it worked. We are seeing bombing, assassinations, and accusations of government corruption coming from both sides of the religious fence and the longer we are gone, the more it seems that this country is going to become a vacuum of conflict, seemingly ripe for the next dictator to step in. As far as Afghanistan goes, while not as severe as the Iraq situation, still appears to be a place where our absence will only fuel more internal conflict and when you are talking about countries with the potential to be infiltrated by terror groups, future Afghanistan must be considered near the top of the list…with Iraq….what did we do again the last ten years there?

Libya-Another situation where we encouraged the downfall of a long-standing dictator, only to see the country overtaken with internal government bickering as many different factions try to fill the vacuum of power left behind. Members of the interim government have already warned that the political situation is extremely fragile and could become, in their words, a “bottomless pit”. Again, when I look at this situation, as with a few of the earlier ones, I wonder if the United States took the time to think through the aftereffects of our encouragement of regime change before they did it. I am not saying Gaddafi was a good person, or even a good leader, but if the country falls into chaos and becomes a hotbed of terror activity and internal killings, then what did we accomplish by sticking our noses in.

Egypt– The most populated of all the Arab nations, Egypt is still trying to produce a stable, working government. They are not having quite the levels of violence that some of the other countries on this list but they are far from any kind of stable democracy. Like the other countries mentioned here, the absence of the long-standing leadership has created an opening that is sure to attract many different philosophies of leadership and if things do not go the way we expect them too we could be looking at another version of the leadership that plagued this country for so long.

North Korea– The death of Kim Jong Il late last year made many people nervous about who would step into the leadership role and it appears that his son will be the one assigned to the task. Actually, as I am writing this there are unconfirmed reports that the son, Kim Jong Un, was assassinated this morning in Beijing. This rumor has been going around all day unconfirmed so I’ll just say that I will believe it when it is confirmed but let me say this. Either way, the hermit nation remains a potential problem as long as they remain as withdrawn from the world in the way they have been for decades. If Un is alive, it remains to be seen what type of  leadership he will provide, assuming he is actually the one in control as opposed to being just a puppet. If he does turn out to be dead, that presents an even scarier situation where the power role could be filled by hard-line military leaders that will be much harder for the outside world to deal with. Then there is the third, and in my opinion, the worst possible scenario concerning the rumors of the son’s death. If Un is dead, and it is the result of a military coup then he was murdered by his own generals and considering the military reputation of being hard-line connected to their oppressive way of life, this nuclear power would suddenly make many other nations very,very nervous.

Mexico-Now some people may be surprised to see Mexico on this list but let me assure you, they belong. Actually, if anything, they are probably mentioned far too late. We have a situation where, directly on our border, we have a country that is being overrun by criminal, drug fueled cartels. The cartels have become so powerful and well equipped that they are willing to take on the Mexican government right out in the open, they don’t even try to be secretive. I remember reading a story midway through 2011 where, due the escalating cartel problems, the Mexican government had appointed one of its former generals to a position to combat the cartels based on his history of being a successful military man. Only two weeks into him taking the position, he was found, along with his driver and bodyguard, hogtied in the desert shot repeatedly in the head. These cartels do not fear the Mexican government even a tiny bit and this instability leads to us have a serious threat of terrorist  infiltration right on our border. If terrorists were going to try to get into our country, it wouldn’t be too hard going through the porous Mexican state.

Pakistan– Another country on the list that may surprise some people, the killing of Osama Bin Laden only miles from a major Pakistani military base, along with rumors that aspects of their government may have been knowledgeable of his location, is making some people in the international community unsure of exactly what is going on with this massive country. On top of that, there is always the tensions from the decades long conflict with India over the disputed territory of Kashmir.If there is terrorist elements or even basic instability in this country’s leadership, it is a situation that, while quiet now, could become very dangerous if the right set of circumstances presented themselves.

The Rest– The above countries are only the major ones that have obvious issues, but to say that they are the only ones is a vast understatement. Numerous European countries, such as Greece, are having major economic issues. Cuba could always become an interesting situation is Fidel Castro succumbs to rumored heath issues and just age in general. Venezuela, with their anti-American leadership (Hugo Chavez) is always a potential hotbed of problems. Africa, as a continent, has far too many countries in disarray to even begin to single them out, riddled with disease and poverty. China, a pure communist nation, is rapidly gaining on the United States as an economic superpower and I think it is often underrated how much of a difference it will be for Americans to know that we are not the top dogs anymore after decades of being unchallenged. Russia, openly supporting the Syrian government by supplying them with the weapons they are slaughtering their people with, is pretty much making the statement to the United States that they remain as one of the major world powers.

All these countries, along with the United States with own problems with our economy and our divisiveness among our citizens, have potential to make not only 2012, but many of the years after, as close to a historical time as any other we remember.

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