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Chimera

By January 4, 2019June 30th, 2020Review, The Weekly

Chimera

2018: a backward look, a look forward: 2019

“One thing that we must come to recognize is that prosperity in the sense in which it has been defined by economists and politicians for generations now is a chimera. Working the coupon center screen at CVS is not meaningful labor. Unlimited access to cheap consumer goods manufactured by foreign wage-slaves is not leisure. Taking your children to a restaurant and handing them an iPad game is not parenting. Spending four hours a day waiting to see whether a star or a heart or an arrow has appeared next to a picture or a caption you have posted on a computer network is not community. Watching pornography is not human intimacy. Grinding away to achieve a certain test score is not education, nor is signing away half the price of a modest house in order to finance a four-year pajama party. Taking drugs is not a reprieve from the misery of what you do with the rest of your time but the consummation of it.” — Matthew Walther

The above quote by Matthew Walther succinctly describes much of what I have observed in 2018. Increasingly, our world, yours and mine included, is looking for an escape. Everyone wants to run away. The only problem is that we are not sure why or to where we would flee. There is a subtle dissonance in our spirits, a feeling that something is not right, perhaps a sense that there is a huge catastrophe looming just over the horizon. We believe it but do not want to talk about it. Instead, we seek an escape.

This year was a fantasy in many ways, with so much confusion and violence. The economy for the most part was good, but people still despaired. They hedged their bets.

People all over the world are anxious. They are not entirely sure why and they do not appear to have the energy to discover the truth for themselves. I think this is what separates the readers of “More than Meets the Eye” from the rest. You may not agree with all my conclusions, but you are seeking to find out the truth with the plan to respond to it intentionally.

I can assure you that as we enter 2019, there will be a plethora of occurrences which will fit our motif of, “More than Meets the Eye. In this edition, I want to take a look backward, as well as a look forward to trends that will pave the way for the world around us. This week I will examine last year along with global directions for 2019 concerning State actors. Next week I will address trends as they relate to global terrorism threats and the potential scenarios that could erupt from them.

The review.

In 2018, in my research and writing for MTMTE, I took several different tacts, including a multi-edition series, called, “What exactly is Jihad?” I wrote a series on Iran and its emerging influence on global politics, another on the nexus of drug trade, its use and consumption by the West as well as by terrorists. I wrote about the increasing impact of immigration on the global landscape. I also addressed the unfolding situation in Syria, its global influence, including it’s effect on you and me. (All these series can be found in the archives of the “More than Meets the Eye” website, https://morethanmeets.co/the-weekly.)

This year I published articles on Children and Terrorism, the uneventful, but very expensive World Cup and the Terrorist Threat and the mark of Terrorism on Technology. I talked about the difference between terrorism and mass shooter killings. I directed us to look at specific situations such as the Jamal Khashoggi killing in Istanbul, the killing of American bicyclists in Central Asia, and the Elin Ersson incident on an airplane in Sweden.

If you haven’t read the articles for 2018, I would encourage you to go back and review any that you may have missed. I spend hours and hours researching and writing these pieces for you. One of the things that makes, “More than Meets the Eye” unique is that I am writing for you, the reader. I have no corporate sponsors of affiliate backers to my research. I have only you as readers in mind when I write. That reality will continue to remain constant.

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This year, 2019 will be a tumultuous one. That is my prognostication. It will be a year, for those who are prepared, of immense opportunity to bless and to serve. For many others, it will be a very unpredictable year. We will see some very strange alliances emerge this year of which I will be tracking.

In 2018, we began to see alliances that make for very strange bed-fellows. The Russians, Syrians, Hezbollah and Iranians will continue to grow strong as they try to dominate the Middle Eastern landscape against an erstwhile affiliation between the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. This is a very fragile bond and is built on quite a tenuous set of counter-relationships. Both Saudi Arabia and Turkey are publicly against Israel, the United State’s closest ally in the region. However, both Saudi Arabia and Turkey need the US to continue supplying weapons and intelligence for their internal struggles; the Turks against the Kurds and the Saudi’s against the rebels in Yemen.

Trends for 2019: “The global trends, challenging governance and changing the nature of power, will drive major consequences over the next five years. They will raise tensions across all regions and types of governments, both within and between countries. These near-term conditions will contribute to the expanding threat from terrorism and leave the future of international order in the balance. Meanwhile, the threat from terrorism is likely to expand as the ability of states, groups, and individuals to impose harm, diversifies. The net effect of rising tensions within and between countries—and the growing threat from terrorism—will be greater global disorder and considerable questions about the rules, institutions, and distribution of power in the international system.”

Trends regionally will impact our world in 2019. Much of my analysis comes from the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the trends assessment of his team for this year.

  1. Europe: Europe will face some significant difficulties in 2019. In the economic sector the EU is experiencing difficulty in regulating the banking industry as there remains a notable disparity between northern and southern European countries in terms of capitalization. Immigration will continue to plague Europe as a whole as they wrestle with the increasing number of Southern and Eastern ethnicities immigrating into the continent. With each new terrorist attack the populist voting blocks will construct greater and greater obstructions to the human flow. The transitioning demographics of the European landscape will present great social, economic and political tension in the coming future.
  2. China: The increasing demands of a massive middle-class is straining the seams of the Chinese social-scape in significant ways. The demands for clean air, affordable housing, improved services, education and opportunity will prove to be a potent challenge to the political stability and economic prosperity of China within the coming year. This, coupled with a looming trade war with the United States could prove to be the greatest dilemma of current political powers.
  3. Russia: In the midst of Russia’s saber rattling in the Ukraine and Syria most are unaware of Putin’s immense problems at home. Russia’s economy is heading into its third year of recession. Most of what we hear in the USA is about Russia’s aspirations for its restoration of global respect as a world power. We hear about its nationalism, military modernization, nuclearization and foreign engagements in Syria, but what we are not made aware of is its domestic instability, demographic decline and economic problems. These will continue in 2019. President Putin will seek to distract the world through his meddling in the Middle East and the Ukraine, until he runs out of popularity and money, which could happen this year, particularly as oil prices continue to dwindle due to the increased supply in global markets.
  4. South and Central America: These countries will continue to wrestle with the effects of governmental corruption and a rampant drug-trade. Activist and civil society organizations will fuel tensions in 2019 fomenting unrest which will possibly see the demise of numerous leftist governments such as has already happened in Argentina, Guatemala and Peru. All eyes are looking to Mexico right now to see where the high-profile reforms of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will take them.
  5. Others: Certainly the world continues to look at the topsy-turvy conditions of the Korean Peninsula. Though a second round of meetings between President Trump and President Kim Jong-Un are being planned, it is uncertain as to whether or not they will produce any long-term detente. Japan is recovering from its recession and is beginning to reassert itself against the Pacific region. India is slowly coming out from under its hundred years of self-imposed hiding and will begin to reassert itself more influentially in 2019, especially in regard to its relationship with Islamabad, Pakistan. India is poised to become a greater force economically in the very near future challenging China and others for educated low wage workers.

“The defining theme for the world in 2019 is still the escalating great power competition between the United States, China and Russia. That means an intensifying trade war; a likely expansion into sanctions; an accelerated arms race; and a campaign to block Chinese investment, trade and research in sensitive tech areas from artificial intelligence to 5G rollouts,” said Reva Goujon, Stratfor vice president of global analysis.”

The why.

As Christians this is a time to become full players at the center of the global stage. We can no longer sequester ourselves within the walls of our churches thinking that the bad things happening out there will not effect us. That is pure naivety. Additionally, it is counter to the call of being a Christian. Our mandate is to make a difference in a hurting world. In the book of Isaiah, chapter 58 the prophet proclaims these words from God. “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” (ESV vs 6-8)

If we do not step into this fray with Christ-like compassion and grace, one thing is for certain, we will become completely irrelevant and the world will continue to degrade at an unimaginable rate around us. As the world sees our impotence, our irrelevance will turn into scorn and a lost and decaying world will waste away to nothing, while we stand on the sidelines and watch.

The action.

Jesus told his disciples that they will be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the world. This is a good model for us to shape our thinking towards the earth today. We begin by thinking locally as we ask, What would I be able to do to make my community better? We then broaden our thinking to our individual states by inquiring, “How can I be a good Texan, Tennessean, Georgian or Californian? What can I do to be a Christ-like citizen in my own state? Our thinking then should broaden even further to considering, “How can I make a difference in my nation? How can I be witness to the goodness of God at a national level? Finally, we begin to question, “How can I change the world through Christ-like love and sacrifice?”

The above actions are not necessarily to be carried out sequentially, rather they are to be done simultaneously. Love knows no boundaries or limitations.

We must eschew any temptations to live our lives as if they were chimera. It is our role to bring truth and grace to a world where confusion and chaos will always reign until the Prince of Peace returns.

Resources.

https://www.csmonitor.com/World/2018/1231/Seven-global-trends-to-watch-in-2019

https://trendwatching.com/quarterly/2018-11/5-trends-2019/

https://www.apnews.com/b28da5d0c7438f217dff11719d02c3b9

https://www.dni.gov/index.php/global-trends/near-future

https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/2019-annual-forecast-geopolitics-intelligence-global-risk

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