Paul Kilfoil's World of Travel, Technology & Sport

Posted on  by Paul Kilfoil.
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As 2018 draws to a close I can't help but reflect on the turmoil the world finds itself in.

-> The richest and most powerful country in the world (the United States of America) has a complete and total moron for a president ; amazingly, the American voters seem to be happy with that. Well, why wouldn't they? They voted the cretin into power.

The two most dangerous
people in the world ...
Vladimir Putin,
president of Russia
Kim Jong-un,
supreme leader of North Korea

-> Russia, formerly the second-most powerful country in the world (they have slipped behind China in recent years) is run by an unpredictable megalomaniac (Vladimir Putin), whose aggressive and bizarre decisions over the past several years have resulted in a sort of nervous tension in Europe that hasn't been seen since the dark days of the Cold War.

-> The United Kingdom, a small island that dominated much of the world for centuries, is in the throes of political self-immolation ... that is, if they ever reach an agreement on how they will leave the European Union. You can only shake your head in wonder at the stupidity of the British voters and hope that the politicians (who seem only marginally less intellectually decrepit) come to their senses and ask for another referendum in the hopes of reversing the Brexit decision.

-> North Korea continues on its path of blind authoritarianism, keeping its millions of citizens in abject poverty and starved of information while threatening to start a global nuclear conflagration at any moment.

-> Venezuela has become the first totally failed state in South America. Nicolás Maduro, staggeringly, will assume his second term of office in January 2019 - this after overseeing the complete collapse of all economic activity in a country that has abundant natural resources (mostly oil and natural gas). To be fair to Maduro, the rot in Venezuela was started by his equally corrupt and incompetent predecessor, Hugo Chávez, the populist (but not popular) military dictator of Venezuela from 1999 to 2013.

-> Robert Mugabe was finally ousted from power in Zimbabwe after ruling the country with an iron fist for 37 years. However, he wasn't replaced with a legitimate democratically-elected government but rather with one of his own former yes-men, a Zanu-PF dictator who has simply continued down the same destructive path that Mugabe blazed for decades.

-> Syria remains a battleground between the government, the rebels and ISIS/ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant), all of whom seem to be fighting each other. Russia backs the government, various western countries back the rebels and ISIS is supported by multiple Islamic terrorist groups all over the world (Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram and others), as well as individuals who take it upon themselves to join up and fight. Syria was once a peaceful and proud country, with a glorious history, ancient monuments and a thriving tourist industry, but it is now in ruins and will require decades of work (and billions of dollars) to restore it to anything like its former glory ... if the conflict ever ends, that is.

-> South Sudan, which became the world's newest country when it attained independence in 2011, continues to stagger from one crisis to another. Their euphoria at finally gaining independence lasted about a week - since then they've either been fighting their northern neighbours Sudan over the oilfields on the border that are claimed by both countries, or fighting themselves in a civil war that has so far cost over 400 000 lives.

Sudanese ruler Omar al-Bashir ...
wanted for crimes against humanity

-> Over in Sudan (the country from which South Sudan separated), Omar al-Bashir continues to rule, despite having been indicted of genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. An international warrant for his arrest has been in force for the past nine years but it has been ignored by at least 30 countries that al-Bashir has quite openly visited since 2009. Al-Bashir became the first (and thus far only) sitting head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court.

-> The ongoing persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar (Burma) shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. The odd thing about this is that Myanmar's leader is Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and internationally-recognized icon of democracy, but she has made no attempt to stop the atrocities and may even be masterminding them. There have been calls for her Nobel Peace Prize award to be revoked, and the BBC has called her "the democracy icon who fell from grace". Suu Kyi came to power in Myanmar in 2015 after more than 15 years under house arrest, during which time she espoused a policy of non-violence ... ironic, considering that both the United Nations and Human Rights Watch have described Myanmar's persecution of the Rohingya as "ethnic cleansing" [Aside : The Rohingya population is denied citizenship in Myanmar under a 1982 nationality law. Their history dates back to the 8'th century, but Myanmar law does not recognize the ethnic minority as one of the eight "national indigenous races". The Rohingya are restricted from freedom of movement, state education and civil service jobs. Over 625 000 of them have been driven out of Myanmar into Bangladesh since 2017].

-> Tens of thousands of penniless and desperate refugees continue to stream into Europe from Africa and the Middle East. No country seems able to deal with the massive numbers of these people, and no solution seems to be in sight ... at least not while the areas the refugees are fleeing FROM remain in chaos.

-> The disputes in Tibet (illegally annexed by China in 1951), Northern Cyprus (invaded by Turkey in 1974 and declared independent in 1983 but not recognized as a sovereign state by any country except Turkey), Western Sahara (a stateless region in north-west Africa controversially administered by Morocco), Northern Ireland and Palestine remain unchanged, with not the slightest sign of any resolutions on the horizon ...

  © Paul Kilfoil, Cape Town, South Africa