ISIS Goes Global
The year started, and in a way ended, in Paris with attacks on Charlie Hebdo in January and the Bataclan Theater in November capturing the fears of millions around the world. ISIS continued terrorizing those within its immediate reach in Syria and Iraq, establishing footholds in Egypt, Afghanistan, Libya, Nigeria and Yemen, to name a few. Terror attacks also targeted China, hitting a popular Buddhist shrine in Thailand visited by Chinese tourists. In response, Saudi Arabia created an anti-terror coalitionâ€¦ only problem is, the coalition partners hadn’t heard about it. Meanwhile, we’ve summarized what you need to know about ISIS here.The Emergence of ‘Trumpism’
When the wispy haired real estate tycoon first announced his intention to run for President of the United States few took him seriously. Establishment Republicans moaned at the inevitable distraction, HuffPost relegated him to entertainment, but no one thought he would stick around until the primaries. Nonetheless, he has defied both his naysayers and political gravity, going from strength to strength in the polls despite making openly racist and sexist statements and appealing to the white supremacist movement.
He extinguished any hope Jeb might have had at becoming President and continued to Kamikaze his way through the Republican Party, leaving the establishment reeling. Whatever happens in 2016, Trump’s damage is done.Refugees (And Not Bob Marley’s Band)
Europe’s values withstood their most difficult test last year since the 1990’s Yugoslav wars when over a million refugees and migrants made their way into the Schengen zone. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood out for her exemplary leadership, welcoming refugees with compassion. Hungaryâ€™s Viktor Orban tacked the other way, building a wall to keep refugees out (Trump would be proud) and rejecting any quota system for the refugees to be shared.
Meanwhile, across the Pond heartthrob and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau (who was elected this year in a landslide) welcomed (a limited number of) refugees with open arms. You can learn more about the Syrian conflict (source of the refugees) here. Greek Dra(ch)ma
A young Prime Minister with a lot of promise elected to bring change. A Rasputin-looking Finance Minister whose ego rivalled the amount of debt the country owed. A series of faceless bureaucratic institutions that would make Jason Heller (of Catch-22) roll in his grave. A people (the Greeks) tired and angry after six years of senseless austerity. All of which collided on a hot summer day, forcing Greece to default and bringing capital controls to a “developed” European nation. After a summer of endless summits and marathon debates in parliaments across Europe everything went back to normal, except the Greek people are poorer and Europe is slightly more lost (see Spain and Portugal’s elections).And Tharrr She Raises
Janet Yellen was hot and then cold, would raise then would hold throughout 2015. By the time she actually raised rates in December, more hype had been built up than the release of the latest Bond movie (which also came out in 2015 and was pretty amazing). Bloomberg TV even covered it in a Superbowl-esque way. In the end it was (as all monetary policy is) quite dry and unexciting.The Russian Bear
This year, Russia continued to assert its place in the world by continually annoying NATO and the West, as well as projecting its military power onto Syria and the Middle East. There was continued fighting in Eastern Ukraine even after attempts at peace deals. Putin got into a fight with fellow strongman/autocrat Turkish President Erdogan after a Russian plane was shot down (pumping an unnecessary amount of testosterone into world affairs). The Russian President continued to be a little ridiculous but equally menacing and even ended up calling Trump “very talented.” You can read more about Putin and Russia in our handy nutshell
.Obama Learned The Art Of The Deal
Climate Change, Iran
, TPP and Cuba. Obama’s team (mainly Kerry, poor ol’ travelling Kerry) went on a roll in 2015 closing deals wherever they went. All four of these are big foreign policy achievements, and it was nice to see Obama enter the final quarter confident that he would win. He’s still got a lot more deals he can sink his teeth into for 2016 (Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, Libya, Israel-Palestine and TTIP to name a few). We wonder if Kerry will be able to survive any more travel.America’s Recurring Issue Number One: Race
Controversial police shootings of young black men (and women) continued in 2015. The most high profile being the death of Freddie Gray, 25, who was arrested for carrying a knife in Baltimore and then died in police custody. A mass shooting at a black church in Charleston by white gunman Dylann Roof and the release of video footage showing the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a white police officer have all led to widespread calls for change (both by politicians and #blacklivesmatter activists).America’s Recurring Issue Number Two: Guns
353 mass shootings happened in the US in 2015 (353!!!!), including 62 shootings at schools. 12,223 people died in gun-related incidents. The US number of gun murders per capita is nearly 30 times higher than in the UK. The gun debate morphed into a virtuous cycle of murder. There’s a shooting. Gun ownership surges. Politicians call for gun control. Gun ownership surges. The NRA says that more guns would have stopped the shooting. Gun ownership surges. Nothing happens (except for more gun ownership). The cycle keeps going and going until we realize that 400,000 Americans have been killed by firearms between 2000-13 versus. 3,500 as a result of terrorism. There will be many more tragedies ahead. Will any incident ever be bad enough to actually do something about gun control? We think, tragically, not.Rockets, Drones And Automobiles
Technological change hit tipping points across a few industries this year. A clash between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in the realm of outer space brought us one step closer to cheap space travel (most recently SpaceX debuted a reusable rocket). Drones continued moving from things that shoot terrorists in Yemen to the fastest way Amazon can deliver toilet paper to your front door. Google’s Self Driving car was increasingly prevalent in Mountain View, and Zuckerberg introduced some cheap Virtual Reality headsets to the masses.
Can’t wait to be sitting in my driverless car, ordering stuff with my VR headset from an Amazon store to be delivered by drone soon.Finally, A Few Holiday Reads