Brace yourselves for a rocky 2018

By Surjit Singh Flora

While each different culture has its own distinct festivals and celebrations, New Year’s represents a near universal festival, an international opportunity to say goodbye to the year that was, and express hope for the New Year to come.

As I got up on New Year’s morning and prepared for the day ahead, my routine was the same: breakfast was breakfast, my neighbourhood looked the same, my car ran the same way on the same road. Nothing really seems to have changed. Or has it?

When I watched the annual broadcast from New York City, it was obvious that millions had been spent on additional security. In Canada and abroad, nations around the world are making significant changes to public security in light of a year of terror incidents that have had widespread effect leaving people feeling less safe, secure, or hopeful.

We are being plagued by both new and old players in the international crop of states and organizations that thrive on setting the West and its citizens on edge.

Kim Jong-un, the brutal dictator of North Korea, continues to taunt the West with images of ever-larger nuclear missiles and tests that could hurl warheads closer to North America and particularly at a less unified and more vulnerable United States.

China, once a strong arm that could restrain the aspirations of North Korea, has been caught fortifying their own borders and making room for hundreds of thousands of possible refugees from a possible war. This is a far cry from their muscular influence of the past.

And through all of this, through the attacks in Europe, and threats at home, the once mighty and omnipresent power of the United States seems a much blunter sword today due to a completely dysfunctional Congress, and a President who seems to divide his time between golf in Florida and baiting his nation’s enemies like North Korea, or perhaps soon to be enemies like Pakistan, with juvenile tweets about the size of his nuclear button or, in the case of Pakistan, a much more likely criticism about that country’s dubious status as an ally, and more probable status as an agent state for terrorists.

ISIS may be “defeated” in Syria, but there is the brutal regime of Syria itself to remain concerned about. Many, myself included, believe the Middle East of today is more dangerous and closer to all-out anarchy than it has ever been.

All of this will require the best leadership each nation can offer. But where is that leadership coming from? Donald Trump and his dysfunctional congress? Theresa May of Great Britain, consumed with Brexit? Angela Merkel, who is fighting to create a workable coalition to govern Germany? Meanwhile, events at home coupled with his own behaviour have very much taken the shine off of the Justin Trudeau selfie that has been his first term in government.

As I contemplate all of these things, I may hope for a better 2018, but I fear this year will continue to be witness to an ongoing period of dangerous destabilization and conflict. If ever we as a nation, or as a coalition of allies, needed leadership, now is the time. I think we all need to hang on for a not-so-happy New Year.

Surjit Singh Flora is a Brampton-based freelance writer.

About the author

Asia Metro Editor

Surjit Singh Flora

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