Before I talk about 2008, the year we just finished was quite interesting, to say the least. The year, for me, was defined by Iraq and all that was going on. It was defined by the "surge" and how President Bush decided to send more troops. There were over 16,000 people who lost their lives in 2007, according to the BBC. Yet, the Adminstration claimed that the "surge" had in fact worked because there were less people dying. The yardstick of progress is frankly laughable. It reminds me when Joe Lieberman said that Iraqis had a lot of mobile phones, which led him to believe that there was progress. What bothered me the most was that we were lied to. Unfortuantely, no one was held to account.
The year also saw Pakistan also getting closer to the Abyss. Pervez Musharaf finally retired as Chief of Army Staff, but his policies (with the support of the Bush Adminstration), radicalized Pakistan even further. What the Bush Adminstration tried to do in pushing Benzair Bhutto to co-habitat with President Musharaff blew up in their face. Ms. Bhutto was assassinated and those plans were thrown into disarray. Ms. Bhutto's son was named as Chair of her Party. But, Pakistan has become increasingly radicalized. Whether the Bhutto clan that has apparently stolen over 1.5 Billion Dollars over the last twelve years has the crediblity to lead the country remains to be seen. I am certain that Tariq Ali's comments on Democracy Now last week (http://www.democracynow.org) was based on documented proof. At least the Pakistani Armed Forces will insure the country will remain united. In all these games (including Nawaz Sharif positioning himself as a future leader), the average Pakistani seems to be lost.
I can't help but reflect upon the current forgotten war: Afghanistan. It was a year that saw the lies of Pat Tillman (which I talked about),it saw the Taliban roaring back stronger than ever and Afghanistan becoming the biggest poppy producer in the world. Yet, Hamid Karzai went on the BBC and at the White House announced that everything was great. When Karzai was asked about the poppy production, he claimed that poppy was actually decreasing. Karzai also invited the "good" Taliban to join him. Why the Taliban want to join a corrupt, discredited government is beyond me. Karzai also has no credibility. Tariq Ali, the Pakistani/British Commentator, told of Karzai's younger brother running the Heroin ring and also running a weapon smuggling operation. I am just amazed as to the nerve of this man standing besides President Bush and going off telling us how things are great. But, I guess an ordinary face in the crowd like me is not supposed to understand and question, just believe what he's being fed.
The year 2007 also saw the rich getting richer around the world. Some of the wealth controlled by folks like Carlos Slim, Roman Abravomich, Prince Alwaeed of Saudi Arabia and others is beyond imagination. Such extravaggance allows folks like Prince Alwaeed to pay almost 400 million dollars for a Airbus 380. Carlos Slim controls a staggering percentage of the Borsa in Mexico and is a dominant player throughout the Americas.
The year 2007 also saw Vladimir Putin continue his dominance of Russian Politics and engineered a "managed democratic" transition. It also saw a Russia that became a leading international player by virtue of its' new found wealth because of high oil prices. This led him to be named Time Person of the year for 2007. Tsar Putin is clearly the man in charge--although he agreed to serve as Prime Minister under his chosen successor. In addition, Iran continued its' "my way or the highway" approach to International Relations. Iran continued its' nuclear program, Ahmadinjead continued his speeches while the ordinary folks in Iran continued suffering from economic difficulties. Of course, Ahmadinejad's visit to New York and his appearance at Columbia University was also a comical act. Not withstanding Columbia President Lee Bollinger's Speech, Ahmadinejad did not help himself by the rather odd and off the wall comments that he made. 2008 continues to be a challenging one for Iran. It is especially so because the U.S. and the rest of the world is out for blood due to the Iranian Nuclear Program.
As for the United States, we are to have our first caucus. Iowa is scheduled to hold its' caucus on January 3rd. An interesting note on tonight's CBS News stated that the two leading Democractic Candidates, Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama, raised over $ 100 Million Each during 2007. It is a sad testimony that such is an absolute requirement to get to the Presidency and the average individual gets lost in the shuffle. The Economy will be of immense concern. The housing crisis will have a chilling effect on the economy for quite some time. Everyone within housing is facing challenges. It is scary and I see it getting worst before it getting better.
On the technology front, this year was the year of the iphone. It is a slick device. Yet, for some reason, I was not impressed. For a clumsy guy like me who drops his phone and uses his phone to death, I am not sure if a iphone is the phone to have. Many folks have it. I would imagine I may end up owning a second or third generation iphone. What is of huge interest to me is Google's Android Initiative. It is a Ten Million Dollar prize Google has put out to come up with the best mobile platform. In the December 31, 2007 edition of the Financial Times, there was a forecast that Google's stock will hit $ 1000. It also talked about Google's reach becoming ever more. They're going to go after the latest spectrum auction by the FCC and they're going to get it. It also was the year that the $ 100 laptop (actually $ 200) shipping. The idea was to bring the digital age to the dispossessed. And they seem to have succeed despite the odds.
As I embrace 2008, I remain hopeful. Someone once said that using the word "hope" reflects an element of uncertainity. I remain hopeful because we have an election coming up in the United States, Technology will continue to help drive the future, there is more of an awarness to tend to our planet and there will continue to be a move towards common sense. As residents of spaceship Earth, we have to step up and be responsible, help the dispossessed and live our lives in the most honorable and just way possible. I do get worried when the Financial Times tells us that corporations will move away from Corporate Social Responsiblity and will again turn inward to deal with profits at all costs. It seems to me that being social responsible and green is right and good for business.
As I go forward to 2008, I remind myself of what Sparky Anderson once said: "...People who live in the past generally are afraid to compete in the present. I've got my faults, but living in the past is not one of them. There's no future in it.... ..." (courtesy of http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Sparky_Anderson, retrieved January 1, 2008). As such, I will be marching along while embracing the challenges and the opportunities. The best is yet to come!!!