The Most Significant Events of 2016

The 21st century will not be one of calm. History continues with an erratic path. The year 2016 will be significant, because of the change in global political culture. Nativist populism has spread in the United States and the European continent in reaction to globalization, immigration, and supranational organizations. There is an unsettling specter of right-wing extremism becoming more powerful. The world is becoming divided into rival camps with a US-EU block on one side and a China-Russia alliance on the other. These are the events that will be critical points of study to historians in the future.

President Bashar Al-Assad retakes Aleppo  

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Since 2011 Syria has been engaged in a brutal civil war. Countries such as the US, UK, and France were calling for regime change. The United States armed terrorist groups seeking to depose Bashar Al-Assad. This induced Hezbollah and Russia to intervene on the side of his government. A growing ISIS insurgency has complicated matters using both Iraqi and Syrian territory to create a defacto state. The capture of Aleppo means that the West will not be able to remove President Assad. The civil war could be nearing its end and could change the Middle East forever. This further proves that America’s attempts at nation building are flawed foreign policies.

Xi Jingping named core leader

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A new title was given to President Xi Jingping known as core leader. This is more than just a title or government position. It reveals that his power is becoming more consolidated within the People’s Republic of China. It appears that his term and time in office will be longer than intended. This title indicates that the government is steering more toward the former authoritarian models under Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. This development may be a reaction to US presence in Asia-Pacific and the decline in diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Donald Trump is elected president of the United States  

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Donald Trump won the US presidency in one of the biggest shocks in politics of the decade. He was known for his crude, unsophisticated, and obnoxious speaking style, which resonated with working class white voters. Donald Trump is coming to the White House with limited political or foreign policy experience. He exploited the racial hatred of white Americans blaming China and immigration for America’s multiple problems. Phrases like “make America great again” became coded language for excluding non-whites for American society. There remain many uncertainties, but it is clear his presidency will be full of scandal. The election of 2016 made many American’s question the effectiveness of the electoral college.

The confirmation of gravitational waves 

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One hundred years after Albert Einstein formulated the theory, gravitational waves were confirmed. The general theory of relativity predicts their existence. Their detection occurred as  early as 2015, but it was not released to the press until 2016. Physicists were sure enough that this was no some form of error. This scientific discovery allows for humanity to gain a greater understanding of the cosmos. This allows for the greater comprehension of one of the fundamental forces of the universe. The only task now would be to further pursue a unified field theory.

Dilma Rousseff  was impeached  

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President Dilma Rousseff was impeached and removed from office. The reason was that their were allegations that she mismanaged the economy and was doing criminal activities with the company Petrobas. These claims were either difficult to prove, but the senate voted for her removal. The Brazilian economy was already in poor condition, before President Rousseff. This was a politically motivated and shows that leftist governments are under attack all over Latin America. Venezuela and Bolivia were concerned about this sudden change. It appeared that her removal was similar to military coups that plagued the continent during the Cold War.

  Robert Mugabe will run for another term 

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President Robert Mugabe announced he will run for another term. Zimbabwe is now facing political factionalism and questions of succession as the president is now 92. The country has had long term economic struggles combined with sanctions from Western nations. They have countered this by increasing economic agreements with China and South Africa. One of this reasons President Mugabe does not want to leave office is due to the fact the UK and US could recolonize Zimbabwe. This fear is not irrational when examining developments around the African continent. Libya, Mali, and the Ivory Coast have fallen to intervention by European powers.

Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen continues  

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When the Arab Spring came to Yemen, it destabilized the country. The Houthi rebels took over and Saudi Arabia invaded to restore a government that was favorable to its foreign policy. What is a civil war has morphed into a war of proxy between Saudi Arabia and Iran. the two regional powers are fighting for dominance . What also complicates matters is that Saudi Arabia is arming rebel factions in Syria, while Iran is supporting the Baathist government. These conflagrations could escalate into a much wider regional war.

South Sudan avoids arms embargo 

APTOPIX South Sudan Rebels Return

The UN failed to get passed an arms embargo is South Sudan. The country has been in a state of civil war since 2013. The start of the conflict happened over political disagreements between President  Salva Kiir and his Vice President Riek  Machar. This also involves ethnic conflict between the Neur and Dinka. Attempts at mediation have failed to produce peace. The human cost could be millions who are refugees or face starvation. Sudan and South Sudan are large areas and further destabilization could spread across borders. Uganda already is having significant involvement in South Sudan.

Brexit occurs and the arsing crisis of the EU   

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The UK has voted to leave the EU. David Cameron held the referendum believing it would save his government. The fiscal austerity measures that were being imposed under EU conditions caused public ire. The outcome was the result of the international reaction to globalization and the trend toward strict fiscal austerity measures. The people that are harmed the most are the working and middle class who bear most of the burden. David Cameron resigned, and Theresa May became the UK’s second female Prime Minister. The UK has not fully left the EU yet and negotiations are still under way. This did not have the positive economic result that some were hoping for. It had the negative consequence of invigorating populist right-wing extremists and their bases of support. This demonstrates that Europe as a whole  is weakening and in the future may not be a major player in international affairs.

 

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