Tectonic Changes in 2016: The World in 2016 – a retrospective

Text: Žikica Milošević

Colossal failures

There were very few years when the world changed so much like in 2016. OK, I can remember the traumatic 1991 when Yugoslav and ex-Soviet wars started in all their savagery and when Gorbachev announced in the late December to us, frightened kids, that the Soviet Union is no more. The West lived relatively peacefully as a “sudden winner” of the Cold War, but now, in 2016, the changes are over there.

RUSSIA, MOSCOW - DECEMBER 8: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a glass of champagne during the awarding ceremony for Human Rights and Civil Society activists at the Grand Kremlin Palace on December, 8, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
RUSSIA, MOSCOW – DECEMBER 8: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a glass of champagne during the awarding ceremony for Human Rights and Civil Society activists at the Grand Kremlin Palace on December, 8, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

The last year was even so surprising for The Economist magazine that their yearly “World in 2016” colossally failed to include in the cover the two most important figures of the 2016, at least the two that emerged as the leaders of the two leading western countries: USA and UK. You can guess, no Donald Trump and no Theresa May. And even Vladimir Putin was far behind everyone, and he might have been the overall winner of this year. But Hillary Clinton was in the first plan. It only goes to show how wishful thinking can mislead you. It was pretty obvious that the time was the one for change.

Cassandra Complex

I started to feel like Cassandra in 2016. You know, that is the Greek mythical female prophet cursed to predict the truth, yet nobody believes her. I predicted 6 things in 2016, and all of them proved to happen in reality. The failure of the Transatlantic Treaty, Donald Trump as a Republican nominee, Brexit, Donald Trump as president-elect, the failure of Transpacific Treaty, and the failure of Renzi’s referendum in Italy. It was far too obvious that the people detested the system. And this is going to deepen in the 2017, but we still don’t know how far. The major countries like France, the Netherlands and Germany will hold the elections, and many surprises are possible. Are they surprises even? Not really. But if the ruling class in all countries does not start listening the disgruntled crowds, they could meet Nexit, Frexit, the debacle of the Eurozone or many other things.

Trumpism as a power of change, for better or worse

When you think about the 5th of October in Serbia, what is the most common denominator? The failure of utter change. PM Đinđić shot, corruption endured, slow pace of recovery, the old system preserved under new names. The old practices continued. The most common thinking is that we missed so-called “6th of October”. The day when the old apparatus of Milošević’s Serbia had to be disassembled and built from scratches. The new people at the old positions were to fond to be “calif instead of calif”, like Iznogoud. But, in Trump’s administrations, as The Rolling Stone magazine noted, the main quality to recommend you to any position, is the utter contempt towards the agency, ministry or an organisation you will have to lead. So, the heads of agencies are in fact, the people who really hate them and hate their work. The Rolling Stone called such a cabinet “The Cabinet of Horrors”, but on the other hand, Trump really fulfills his promises. He said he disliked the policy and the administration, and now he is trying to change everything utterly. He is not joking. The new Foreign Secretary is Putin’s friend and a deal-cutter. People wanted change, well, change will it be. Just like the people wanted changes in Russia in 1991, and Yeltsin made them. We don’t believe that Trump will bomb his own parliament like Yeltsin did in 1993, but the change will take place. We are witnessing the most dramatic regime change in the last 25 years. We will see how tectonic this change will be.

Global Pro-Russia

And the last thing is that Time magazine declared Donald Trump as the Man of the Year, but The Guardian begged to differ and said it was Vladimir Putin. Not only in case of the new American administration. Not only because Syria, staying of Bashar al-Assad on power and taking over Aleppo, but also in a string of victories in the East of the continent. After the Euromaidan, it all looked that the West is taking over former USSR step by step. Crimea was an unpleasant surprise, but the rest of Ukraine (save the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts) remained pro-Western. Now, in only few weeks, the government in Estonia became pro-Russian with no elections, and the string of victories in Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria and perhaps Macedonia, have proven to be balance-changing. (The only Western victory is seen in Austria and Montenegro). These new, Moscow-friendly regimes can be paired with already rebelling V-4 regimes of Orbán, Fico, Kaczyński and Klaus (Serbia has been suspected to be a Russian outpost for quite a while, whereas it is in fact, a strange child of Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin), to make further headaches for the EU. And America. Wait. Maybe not for the United States at all. Not for Trump’s America. And the EU without UK. If nothing changes. But can we be sure that nothing will change? The European Union was a great idea, it started so nicely. It lasted long. It has some problems, but… Is it possible that it was easier to conceive it, to get so far… only to crash it so recklessly? The Western politicians will have enormous responsibility in 2017.


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