Debate Forum Topic, 12/27/11

By Deb Milbrath By Deb Milbrath

2011: It was some kind of year … we’re just not sure what kind

By Deb Milbrath

By Deb Milbrath

2011. It was really quite a year. And it had its share of winners and losers. But many of the most dramatic events of the year are still being played out. The jury, so to speak, is still deliberating on what possible long-term effect some of the most shattering events will have on society and world politics. Against a backdrop of a world financial crisis that shows no sign of soon ending, 2011 was one hell of a difficult year.

We saw the death of Osama bin Laden, the man who brought America the devastation of 9/11 and, to the West, the realization that Islamic fundamentalists were serious about their intent to end our way of life. Beginning in the late winter, we saw the emergence of the “Arab Spring” as one country after another began to rise up to throw off long-time dictators. Beginning with Tunisia and then spreading to Egypt, Bahrain, Libya and finally Syria, we witnessed citizens of these countries rise up and throw off harsh dictators who had dominated life in these countries with brute force and fear. The final outcome of these revolutions is not yet determined as these fledgling countries attempt to find their way. After watching the inglorious death of Moammar Gadhafi, many are asking if a similar fate is awaiting Syria’s Bashar Assad.

On the other side of the world, one of the strongest and most devastating natural disasters in all of recorded history struck the nation of Japan. A record 9.0-magnitude earthquake which also triggered a massive tsunami caused unimaginable destruction and death.  Perhaps even more frightening was the very real possibility of a nuclear disaster, when the tsunami waves tore through the seawall and swamped the Fukushima nuclear power plant nearly causing a meltdown.

Throughout the year the world’s economy seems to have been balancing on the edge of the abyss, as the economies of Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal all teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. With a $15 trillion deficit, $5 trillion of which were achieved in the last 35 months, America seems ready to follow Europe over the cliff. Worldwide record high unemployment has made 2011 a bitter pill to swallow for many. The slumping economy and the crashing housing industry has led to a record number of foreclosures.

In the midst of these problems, the American presidential campaigns kicked off this summer. Voters are forced to choose between a president who can’t stop spending and a flock of Republican candidates that even fellow Republicans can’t seem to embrace with much enthusiasm. The deadlock in Congress during 2011 between the Democrat-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House has set records for futility and the overwhelming disapproval of the public. By the end of summer the Occupy Movement was camping out at a city near you, bringing amusement and some sympathy for the cause, if only we could discern exactly what that cause was. By the end of fall we had lost interest in whatever it was that they were saying.

Kim split from Kris.  Regis finally retired. Oprah too. Sheen went crazy. Lindsay got naked. Herman quit the race. Casey was acquitted. Rep. Weiner tweeted his wiener. Italy let Amanda go. The U.S. Women lost the World Cup on penalty kicks.  The NBA had a lockout. The Reds sucked. The Bengals; not as much. Ohio State fired Tressel and hired Urban. Really, there wasn’t much nice to say about 2011. Wait a minute … there was one ray of hope: Pippa Middleton.


Forum Question of the Week:
A year in review: Who were the winners and who were the losers of 2011?

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