For those of us who follow world events, the last year has not been one on which to dwell for its great triumphs. With Donald Trump, Kim Jong un, Putin in Russia, Erdogan in Turkey, Brexit, ISIS, irresolution in Syria, Venezuela imploding and political scandal and brazen institutional theft in Brazil, it is easy to get pessimistic.
Trump and Kim Jong un deserve each other but the world doesn’t deserve them
Trump is proving more of a nightmare than even the most dire predictions. He is obviously slightly crazy, a petty megalomaniac who doesn´t have a clue what he´s doing. Except probably getting richer from the whole boondoggle. The media are slathering for more scandal, the Trump presidency is a gift from heaven; how they can feast on the continuing nonsense, hypocrisy, blatant conflict of interest exploding from the White House nearly daily.
But their obsession about Trump the man rather than what Trump the president and his agenda, diverts attention away from truly horrifying policies which are intended to be implemented. Huge tax breaks for the rich, huge cuts in public services and huge increases in military spending, scrapping of regulation, climate change denial as an official position, appeals to white resentment social policies where minorities are marginalized and a situation where the US once again is solidly controlled by white people.
Vladimir Putin, the wannabe badass
And this is a world with Kim Jong un, who loves to torment the world with his missile launches and ability to survive this provocation because if he is attacked, everyone knows thousands, more like hundreds of thousands of people in Seoul will die. Of course, he’s not going to give up his nuclear capacity. Without it he’s doomed.
Recep Erdogan, seeking absolute power
Erdogan has dually transformed Turkey, both politically and economically, with his economic success facilitating his march towards absolute power. Another man with a big ego and thin skin, nevertheless a lot of people in Turkey seem to love him, a strong man has its attractions to some apparently. But it’s sad to see this once proudly secular country, a bridge between Europe and Asia, Christianity and Islam, and a bulwark against fascist theocracies in other parts of the Middle East seems on a very wrong path.
As in Russia, where Putin can win any election but has so weakened all the other institutions of government that might be able to check his power. Another thin-skinned ego-maniac, with the help of the Russian Orthodox Church, Putin has managed to tap into to the deeply held religious-based nationalism with what the West considers conservative social values. He also garnered the resentment of Russians at being marginalized on the world stage for 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union. Like Americans, many feel they should be controlling the world.
Michel Temer, the corruptor in chief
To watch the News in Brazil is to witness a cadre, actually more like a gang of the country´s top politicians actively ripping off the country while pretending to manage the its public resources. What is perhaps more irksome is that the millions of people who went to the streets to demand the ouster of Dilma Rouseff for cooking the books, which all governments here have done, stay at home when the current president, the ghoulish Michel Temer, has been revealed to be an absolute crook. Stealing by the left wing is outrageous while stealing by the right is worthy of no protest? Something is wrong and Brazil’s middle and upper classes were seemingly intolerant of the new powers of the emerging class, such as being able to fly on an airplane or buy a nice car. There is much disdain for the poor here, indeed everywhere.
So when you have characters like this with the reins of power, it is hard not to desspair, but we musn’t and we must trundle on and keep informed!
This week, stories written by students from the second year will be featured.