The ten most important events of 2022

Infidel753: The ten most important events of 2022, Infidel753 Blog

1. The Ukraine war.  It’s sometimes hard to judge which event ranks most important in a given year, but this time, there was no question.  Putin’s invasion of Ukraine showed that his regime aspires to territorial expansion by crude, naked military force, a throwback to the pre-1945 order which we thought the world had cast off forever.  It showed that a medium-size nation determined to fight for its independence can mount a formidable resistance against a far larger invader.  It showed that democracies will rally together in the cause of resisting aggression by gangster-regimes, even leading Sweden and Finland to join NATO.  And it showed that the gross corruption and incompetence so endemic to authoritarian states can render the military of even a supposed superpower far weaker and less effective than it superficially appears.  All these lessons apply to other cases where a large gangster-state threatens a smaller democratic neighbor, notably China and Taiwan.

2. The elections in the US and Brazil.  In both of the West’s two largest nations, fears had been voiced that right-wing forces would subvert or outright overthrow democracy.  But in both countries, the voting proceeded smoothly, with negligible problems or violence, and produced clear results.  Denialist tantrum-throwing by losers was minimal; in the US it was mostly confined to Arizona and was firmly swatted down by the courts, while in Brazil Bolsonaro’s fumings were rendered irrelevant by the lack of support from anywhere else in the institutions of government.  Democracy in the West is not fragile, it’s robust and firmly established.  It’s not going anywhere.

3. The subsidence of the covid pandemic.  We’re not completely out of the woods yet, but in 2022 life was basically able to return to normal, with the glaring exception of China.  Between less-lethal virus variants and widespread vaccination, the danger posed by covid is dropping toward being comparable with ordinary flu, which we’ve been able to live with for generations.  In every major country except the US, national life expectancy has mostly recovered from the earlier drop.  Periodically, here and there, a return to the use of masks has been found advisable, but such cases will grow fewer with time.  More and better treatments are on the horizon.  In this case, I called it pretty much right a year ago.  Human science and technology have faced and met yet another challenge.

4. The Iran rebellion.  After decades of religious repression, the anger and frustration of the Iranian people finally boiled over in a sustained nationwide uprising openly calling for the overthrow of the theocracy that rules the Middle East’s most influential country.  Largely women-led and triggered by the regime’s brutal oppression of women, the rebellion shows how much the Iranian people aspire to be part of the modern world, and how outdated the repressive and religiously-conservative regimes of the Middle East — most of them sclerotic relics of the mid-twentieth century — have become.  The days of similar tyrannies nearby, notably the Saudi regime, may well be numbered.

5. The China rebellion.  Though less sustained or successful than its Iranian counterpart, the Chinese uprising was similarly a boiling-over of rage and frustration at authoritarian repression — in this case, the draconian lockdowns and other supposed anti-covid measures, far more extreme than anything even contemplated in the West during the pandemic.  Though the regime was never in danger of overthrow, it appears to have been scared enough to remove most of the repressive rules, a shocking outcome given the clear trend toward tightening Orwellian control under Xi.  The people now know that they have the power to force change, though at great cost — protest leaders are, of course, being tracked down, arrested, and murdered.

6. Japan’s decision to re-militarize.  Facing growing threats from China and North Korea, and having learned from the Trump period that the US is a less reliable protector than previously thought, Japan this year made the decision to vastly beef up its own military power, notably by building long-range missiles capable of striking deep into the territory of China or of other adversaries.  Japan already has fairly formidable air and naval forces, its economy is the world’s third largest, its population is almost as large as Russia’s, and it is probably still the most technologically-capable nation on Earth.  If the new build-up eventually includes an independent nuclear deterrent (and yes, that question will inevitably arise), it will mean the emergence of a genuine new superpower, one which the rotted-out and decrepit Potemkin forces of Russia and China will never be able to match.  A re-armed and nuclearized Japan would be inferior only to the US, and perhaps not by much.  This would represent a major upheaval in the global order as we know it.

7. The success of the DART mission.  NASA was able to use a space missile to change the course of an asteroid, albeit a small one.  This confirms that if an asteroid on a collision course with Earth is detected in the future, if we have enough warning, we will probably be able to deflect it to miss our planet.  NASA’s page on such missions is headed “Planetary Defense“, and the achievement well justifies the futuristic-sounding title.

8. Broad progress in medical technology.  Beyond new covid treatments, this year saw a potential universal flu vaccine, a drug for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a method for destroying tumors without surgery, an inexpensive cervical-cancer vaccine from India, a basis for innovative kinds of antibiotics, a radical new genetic treatment for leukemia, a new malaria vaccine, a DNA-based method of destroying cancer cells — and a breakthrough in making old cells young again, part of the fight against the worst killer disease of all, the aging process.

9. The US turn against China.  Recent US actions show that the Biden administration recognizes the Chinese regime as a threat, and intends to discourage the further growth of its power.  The regime is still dependent on the democracies for advanced technology, so if they work together, they can starve the dragon that threatens them.

10. The Dobbs ruling in the US.  The shock of this ruling, and of the state-level abortion bans that followed, was the game-changer in the 2022 US election.  It galvanized a surge in female voter registration and turnout.  If this leads to the permanent mobilization of women as a distinct political force in the US, and if the Republicans remain in thrall to the theocratic taboo on abortion, the impact will continue to be felt in many future elections.

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And looking ahead…..  I’m wary of predictions, but there’s one thing we do know will happen this year, probably around April:  India will overtake China to become the world’s most populous country.  This will symbolize a transition which is already under way and has several more years to run.  China is a rapidly-aging society, demographically crippled by the aftereffects of the disastrous one-child policy, its people isolated from the world and held back at every turn by a ruthless and paranoid totalitarian regime with a truculent and belligerent stance toward other nations.  India is a youthful and vigorous democracy with a strong entrepreneurial culture, and open to the outside world; still beset by widespread poverty, yes, but so were the US and other now-advanced countries a few generations ago.  While China’s façade has lately fallen to reveal a Ponzi economy imploding into stagnation, India feels like a boom beginning to happen.  And given India’s huge population, that boom will reverberate around the world in the years to come.