A turbulent end to a turbulent year (and decade): the World


At the start of 2010, after a decade of post-11 September turmoil, many around the world might have been hoping for a more settled decade where some of the damage was undone. Ten years later, that hope seems more remote than ever before. We look back at the turbulent decade around the world that was the 2010’s.

2010: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his Labour Party were swept from office by the Conservatives, who with the Nick Clegg led Liberal Democrats formed a centre-right government. In France. Towards the end of the year random sparks in the gun powder barrel of north Africa – the self immolation of a street vendor in Tunisia in late December – would be the catalyst for the 2011 Arab Spring. WikiLeaks releases 250,000 classified documents from American diplomats; its founder Julian Assange goes into exile in Ecuador until 2019. South Africa hosted the 2010 F.I.F.A. World Cup, which was won by Spain.

2011: Festering protests in Tunisia, Libya and other Middle East and African countries boiled over into full scale revolts topping governments in the former countries and rocking regimes in several others. Syria began a bloody down-hill slide into an even bloodier civil war that continues to this day. Whilst their African neighbours revolted on the streets, rebellion against the Euro was building in Europe where Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy found themselves struggling to justify continuance of the Euro, with Greece threatening to go full drachma on everyone. But it might be a magnitude 9.0 earthquake in Japan that triggered a tsunami that killed 15,000 people along the east coast and crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant causing at least one reactor to explode and two more to suffer crippling damage.

2012: Against the backdrop of worsening situation in Syria, the rise of Daesh in the Middle East, the London Olympics – once looked down upon as going to fail – was a true bright spot where several well known athletes were discovered by the world. The Euro currency crisis continued with Greece and France both changing Governments as a result. The cruise liner Costa Concordia sinks off the coast of Italy, with the captain, Franscesco Schettino’s negligence being the primary cause in a sinking that took 32 people to the bottom. Two major massacres in the United States blighted that nation’s year with one happening at a theatre and another at an elementary school.

2013: The year opened with a bang over Chelyabinsk in Russia when a meteorite exploded over the Russian city injuring hundreds and damaging 4,300 buildings. In April the United Nations adopted the Arms Trade Treaty to regulate the sale of conventional weapons. In early June, Edward Snowden, a former C.I.A. operative disclosed documents suggesting a massive surveillance programme of media is planned; he flees the country and is granted asylum in Russia. The same month after months of bickering former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd challenges incumbent Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a leadership ballot. Mr Rudd wins and Ms Gillard retires from politics; Mr Rudd would be defeated in September at an Australian general election by Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott.

2014: The year started with an outbreak of Ebola in Africa that would go on to kill over 11,000 people and hospitalize thousands more. It would last until 2016. In March, in defiance of a United Nations referendum on the sovereignty of the Crimea, Russia annexes the critical Ukrainian territory, immediately triggering sanctions and other diplomatic actions against Russia. In a grim year for Malaysian Airlines MH370 and MH17 crash in separate incidents – the latter being linked to a Russian missile battery deployed in Ukraine, which Russia denies. Justice was served in August on two senior Khmer Rouge commanders who are found guilty of committing crimes against humanity in the K.R.’s bloody reign. Germany swept to victory over hosts Brazil in a 7-1 thrashing at the F.I.F.A. World Cup Semi-Final and won the Final against Argentina a week later.

2015: British Prime Minister David Cameron introduced the legislation enabling a referendum on whether Britain should exit the European Union after the Conservatives were returned to office in the election. The Cricket World Cup is hosted by New Zealand and Australia, with the hosts meeting in the Final. Australia won.  In a year pock-marked by terrorism committed by Islamic militants, major events occur in France, Kuwait, Tunisia, Kenya and Afghanistan. German car maker Volkswagen was accused of having rigged diesel emission tests for 11 million vehicles world wide, resulting in a U.S.$2.8 billion fine. In a hope for disarmament Iran and the United Nations Permanent 5 plus Germany reach an agreement to allow an Iranian nuclear programme if it gives up the elements essential for weapons development, which Israel immediately denounces. The Paris COP15 Climate Change summit resulted in all countries committing to reducing carbon emissions for the first time. Donald Trump, to much derision, announces his candidacy on a Republican ticket for President of the United States.

2016: A year of political shocks reverberate around the world. People thought it was a joke when Britain announced a referendum to exit from the European Union. On 23 June 2016, the joke became reality much to the surprise of the international community. On 8 November 2016, an even bigger shock that produced a myriad of humorous headlines such as W(hy) T(rump) F(lourished), when Mr Trump swept to victory in the United States. The Rio de Janeiro Olympics made for an entertaining and useful diversion as the United Kingdom grappled with the fallout from the Brexit vote.

2017: Donald Trump assumes the White House and relations with other countries immediately begin to deteriorate. Theresa May becomes Prime Minister of Britain after David Cameron resigns – unsure of her mandate, she immediately calls an election; a deadly apartment block fire in Grenfell which exposes flammable cladding on a host of buildings shows her compassion to be sadly lacking. North Korea tests Mr Trump’s mettle, rattling off a series of nuclear weapon and missile tests culminating in a 200+ kiloton test in September. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe resigns after being placed under house arrest by the military – he dies in 2019.

2018: Concerns grow about China’s policy of buying out assets in other nations to grow their influence in those countries with Huawei being given government money to develop its 5G technology. Russia successfully hosts the F.I.F.A. World Cup, drawing considerable admiration. France wins the Final, leading to rioting in Paris. Saudi Arabia, a country not known for its human rights finally allows women to drive, but almost immediately detains several of the leading proponents. The Syrian Civil War continues – most of the rebel held areas have been lost, but Russian and Syrian forces continue to attack Idlib and the few remaining strongholds.

2019: In the year of Greta Thunberg, unprecedented student protest action against climate change draws derision from the political right, but announces a new force in global politics: the teenager. A terrorist attack in New Zealand draws international sympathy, and challenges the global tech companies to show leadership in cracking down on the transmission of hate content on their platforms. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sweeps to victory five months after taking over from Mrs May who had resigned after her Brexit plan stalled amid furious opposition in the House of Commons.

Happy New Decade to you all.