My opinions on some of the things happening across the globe, here at home, and what the outlook will be in 2008:
Iraq: While the first part of 2007 was extremely violent (2007 saw several of the deadliest terror attacks of the Iraq war) things seem to be looking up in that country. I just read an article off of the AP about a New Year's celebration that took place in the capital. Most reports show that Iraqis are living peacefully in major Iraqi cities, including Ramadi, which at the beginning of the year was one of the most violence-plagued cities in the country, and Basra, which is now under the control of Iraqi security forces. If the plans implemented by General David Petraeus continue to work and the Iraqis continue to resist extremism the lull in violence should hold. However, it is of utmost importance that the Iraqi leaders reconcile this year. We should be taking advantage of the dramatic turn-around of events over there in order to ensure permanent success.
Global Warming: It looks like the ship has already left the dock on this one, I must admit. The hysterical Al Gore movement has succeeded in silencing those of us who dare suggest that global warming could be nothing more than a natrual cycle that has been happening for millions of years. TV shows, celebrities, and even school classrooms continue to pump out one-sided propaganda to uninformed individuals, and a growing movement has accepted the doomsday end of the world scenario put forth by Al and his followers. There is a good chance we will be hearing plenty of calls in '08 for crazy "solutions" to the "climate crisis". Suggestions that include things like dumping millions of tons of iron into the ocean and shooting rockets filled with ash into the atmosphere to simulate a volcanic eruption (like that's not going to have some unintended consequences).
Israel: 2007 was a safe year for the people of the Jewish State. While Palestinian infighting left hundreds dead in the Gaza strip and Hamas ended up taking control of that area, there was very little terrorist activity inside of Israel. Israeli security forces have managed to thwart the numerous attempts by Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aksa Martyrs brigade to carry out attacks in Israeli cities.
Pakistan: I don't really know what to say about the situation in Pakistan other than it looks like all hell is breaking loose over there. Riots continue, terrorism continues, and President Musharraf has been repeatedly attacked from all sides, including American politicians. 2008 is not looking good for that region unless the Oppostion, President Musharraf, and the international community can find a way to put aside their differences and agree that stability is the best thing for everyone, even if it means working with people you don't like. The image of President Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif shaking hands and pledging to work together to eradicate extremism would certainly send a strong message.
Afghanistan: 2007 was the deadliest year for all sides in Afghanistan, but things have appear to have quited down in recent weeks. The Taliban continues to attack on a daily basis, but the increased training of Afghan security forces has certainly weakened them. Also, reports are suggesting that Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are shifting their focus from Afghanistan to Pakistan in attempt to take advantage of the growing political power struggle over there.
Africa: As always, the world continues to forget about Africa. While a small contingent of peacekeepers has been deployed to Darfur to replace the AU forces there, violence is still continuing. Somalia is all but lost as mortarts rain down on civilian markets and an increasingly ferocious insurgency rules the streets. Rebel militia continue to terrorize the civilain population of lawless Eastern Congo and tensions are high in Kenya as the new year is welcomed in.
US politics: The Iowa caucuses are only a few days away and its completely up in the air as to who will take the lead, as far as I've been able to determine anyway. One thing's for sure, I've had enough of the angry rants and hate that comes out of Washington D.C. My suggestion for the folks in Pakistan can be applied to our own politicians as well.
Iran: Well, what's there to say about in Iran..."Peace in our time" comes to mind. After all, the NIE did release a poltiically driven hatchet peace...Sorry, I mean report, about Iran's nuclear ambitions. Iranian money continues to flow to Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad and centrifuges continue to spin in the Islamic Republic. There's still hope though, hope that the Iranian people can find a way to phase out this terrible regime with their desire for freedom and democracy, as the ongoing protests among the young people of that country continue to show.
Well, these are some of my opinions as we head into the new year. Let's see how we do in '08.