Thursday, October 27, 2011

The World Goes On Around Us

While more and more Americans take more and more interest
in the domestic 2012 campaign for president and control of the
Congress, the rest of the world goes on at its own pace around us.

Events in the Middle East reached a temporary crisis recently
as the military/political situation was resolved in Libya with the
defeat of forces loyal to former dictator Qaddafi and his death at the
hands of the rebels. A period of reorganization will now take place,
as happened in Tunisia and Egypt, and will also happen in Yemen
and Syria when those regimes are finally toppled.

Optimist and pessimists abound in the U.S. in regard to the outcomes
of the "Arab spring," but if the elections now taking place in Tunisia are
any indication of the the post-revolutionary political landscape, the
geopolitical results will be somewhere nearer an unresolved middle.
Moderate Islamic forces are winning in elections in Tunisia, and that is
not necessarily bad news from a North American and European point
of view.

Meanwhile, our ally Israel is feeling more isolated as its truce with
Jordan and Egypt appears likely to replaced with more confrontational
regimes. Our total withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the year also
has observers uneasy about the region's long-term prognosis.

In South and Central America, the despotic figures of Castro, Chavez
and leaders of Nicaragua and Bolivia seem muted recently, primarily
because of Castro's age and Chavez' illness. Brazil has emerged as a
world economic power, and Argentina, at least for now, is prospering
more than it has in the past.

In Asia, China continues to assert its growing economic power, and its
trade and military rivalry with the United States continues to expand.
Pakistan continues to be pulled apart by its powerful military
establishment, the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, its
uneasy alliance with the United States, and of course its bitter
competition with India. The situation in Afghanistan, where U.S.
combat troops remain, is ambiguous. The yen seems to be doing well
in relation to other currencies, in spite of the terrible disasters that
recently occurred in Japan, and although the totalitarian regime in
North Korea has been out of the news in recent days, it continues to
be a destructive presence in the region.

The biggest news lately has come from Europe where the European
Union and its euro currency have entered a period of protracted crisis
as accumulated debt in many member nations is forcing draconian
economic and political measures for many in their populations who
had become dependent on welfare state policies that have expanded
since the end of World War II. Elections may soon bring changes in
government leaders in France, Italy, Greece and Spain, and immigration
issues and controversies are increasing in Great Britain, Netherlands
and Germany. In short, the evolving European unity model is now
coming apart, and its impact is likely to be felt worldwide.

Closer to home, chronic border problems with Mexico are becoming
more and more acute as Mexican authorities seem increasingly unable
to maintain internal order. The crisis in Honduras has stabilized as
democratic government has returned to this small Central American
republic, but extreme weather and earthquake activity continues to
wreak havoc throughout the Caribbean region.

The worldwide economic recession aggravates everything, and a sense
of weakening and unfocused U.S. foreign policy does not help either.

Otherwise, the world goes on as it always seems to, that is, from disaster
to disaster, crisis to crisis, threat to threat. In the past, it has always
seemed to muddle through all its problems, but on occasion, the
problems seem to intensify almost to unbearable dimensions. Whether
we are at one of those threshold moments in history remains to be seen,
but surely the coming weeks, months and years will test the entire
global community anew, and particularly the United States of America,
in unexpected and unsettling ways.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Barry Casselman
All rights reserved.

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