2013 In Review (sort of): The year of the “Urgh”
What a year. A year of austerity, protests, social upheaval, spying, war, a papal resignation and a surprise Beyoncé album. Overall, it’s a year that is most easily expressed with “urgh” and “I’m sure this has happened last year”.
The year started off with so much hope, with Barack Obama being sworn in for a second term and forgetting to close Guantanamo Bay again. Then European intervention in Mali saw France deploy troops to its former colony. With promises from Barack Obama and a European state invading an African state some of us may have thought (with a slight degree of sarcasm) “maybe 2013 will be different after all”.
This fresh wave of optimism was quickly crushed the following month when the meat eaters of Britain found out they’d been eating horse and the smug vegetarians of Britain spoke proudly of their horse free diet. Who knows if it was the horse meat scandal that forced the former Pope to resign, let’s not rule anything out?
In April Britain lost one of its most admired figures. Anne Williams passed away after tirelessly campaigning for justice for those that died in the Hillsborough Disaster of 1989 and was for years denied the truth about what happened. Whilst we’re on the Hillsborough cover up, Margaret Thatcher also died in April. George Osborne notably sprung a hydraulic leak through his cyborg face at the funeral and even more notably David Cameron showed enough decorum to not take a selfie.
Bucking the trend of recent years, Egypt saw mass protests and a revolution. Competing factions are still fighting for power in Egypt and no doubt the determination of each player and encouragement from various external actors will see this period of unrest continue for some time.
August saw a major development in international diplomacy, the all talking all tweeting Hassan Rouhani assumed office in Iran. The new Iranian leader has since been involved in an easing of tensions between Iran and the US which have resulted in a historic agreement on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Who knows, maybe next year the US will lift crippling sanctions on Iran? No? Okay.
Two big events that have developed throughout the year have been the conflict within Syria and the leak of the NSA files by Edward Snowden. The devastating Syrian conflict which is seeing massive loss of life and the displacement of millions almost became the latest theatre of war for European powers when Assad was accused of using chemical weapons. A tense standoff came about between US and Russian forces over potential actions in Syria that looked like it would eventually end up in a school textbook under the title “Causes of World War Three”. Luckily there was no Western strike in Syria but the conflict continues to scar an entire region. Edward Snowden led journalists on a chase around the world that will no doubt be a movie starring Matt Damon or Bendyduck Cumberland in a year or two (my money is on “The Whistle Blower”). The shocking revelations that states spy on each other may have been stunning to some, but the true extent of domestic spying was the galling part of this story. Knowing that the government knows the number of hours you’ve spent on Candy Crush must be pretty depressing.
Another big point in 2013 has been the protests across the world against government austerity measures and policies in general. Most of these have been proper protests, with projectiles, fire, riot shields and crowds and not the vaguely angry performance art of white people with dreadlocks that the occupy movements saw a couple of years back. These protests will continue to grow in intensity as populations are pushed towards breaking point and I’m predicting an escalation in 2014.
2013 has not been a good year for revolutionaries, as it has seen the deaths of Hugo Chavez and Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela’s passing especially received an outpouring of grief from leaders the world over, especially from leaders that have previously not been on good terms with Mandela and whose policies spit in the face of everything Mandela stood for. Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu was one such leader that gave tribute to Mandela, managing to render irony and satire useless as he did so. Bill Clinton also expressed his grief, conveniently forgetting that Nelson Mandela was on the terrorist list during his presidency. David Cameron was another, also conveniently forgetting that his party labelled Mandela a terrorist and endorsed the apartheid government.
So to sum up, Europe is still exploiting Africa, austerity is hitting hard, environmental devastation is accelerating and Nick Clegg is still a thing. I can’t wait for what 2014 will bring; no doubt there will be more “urgh”, “seriously?” and “…but why?”