Just over a year ago, we were writing a retrospective on our first year, and it seems appropriate to give you a second ‘annual report’ of sorts.
It has been a strange year in many respects. The ammo shortage that appeared after the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012 has lingered much longer than anyone would have ever expected, although the occasional reports of government departments buying extraordinarily huge quantities of ammunition probably provide some degree of explanation.
On the other hand, any year with no appreciable level 2 or 3 crises is a good year, right? And while we’ve had a few ‘tremblers’ we’ve had no major earthquakes or eruptions or tsunamis or other natural disasters, and precious few unnatural disasters, either.
North Korea has gone through some periods of ebullient threatening, but nothing has come of it – yet. We would do well to keep this country in our sights, because – as this article unsurprisingly and perhaps even unnecessarily reminds us – the North Koreans could easily destroy us, pretty much at any time and with no warning, with a single EMP pulse. Less public, but more worrying, is the continued and apparently unimpeded progress by the Iranians towards the completion of their own nuclear weapons capabilities, and in the last month or so, Russia has roused itself and taken back some of its former territories, in Ukraine, that it had previously considered as its own.
Like much of Europe (and Asia and Africa) the validity of any nation’s claim to a contested area is never clear, and depends on how far back in the history books you choose to go in an attempt to see who were former or ‘original’ owners. In the case of eastern Ukraine, however, it is clear that the people there identify themselves more with Russia than Ukraine, they speak Russian rather than Ukrainian, and they want to be accepted back into Russia.
You might think we should simply let the people on the ground choose whichever country they wish to belong to, but the leaders of western Europe (and our own leader too) seems to fear a resurgent Russia and are keen to keep Russia down. Will the ‘Ukrainian crisis’ create a flash point and be the spark that lights another global conflict? There are eerie parallels between some of the matters at present and those of exactly 100 years ago, in the months preceding the start of World War 1 (on 1 August 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia).
The new strength of Russia is hard to ascertain, and its economy is weak, continuing to rely primarily on energy product and sales, and secondarily on the sale of other raw materials. But what is obvious is the country is generally united behind a strong martial leader (President Putin) and both literally and figuratively, he could beat our leader seven different ways to Sunday. Unfortunately, weak leaders are more likely to result in wars than strong leaders, because they allow themselves to get bullied too far into a corner and then find themselves with no obvious peaceful opportunity to then extricate themselves.
In the east, China’s astonishing growth continues, albeit with some recent faltering in its economy. It is now the world’s second largest economy, although we in the US are still much larger (still nearly twice the size of China). Interestingly, if one is to view the European Union as a single economy (which is how they try to see themselves) then the EU is slightly larger than the US in terms of GDP. The third largest economy is Japan, and Russia comes at about 8 or 9 in most rankings, which makes it about eight times smaller than the US or EU economies).
Is China an ally or a threat? It is hard to say; at present, there is so much economic interdependence between our two countries that we are reluctant allies, but we are perhaps like an unhappily married couple with both partners cheating on each other.
In terms of non-country based threats to our world, no less a source than NASA is predicting that the world may collapse in the next few decades. And our overall vulnerability caused by the imbalance between city-dwellers, who rely upon other people providing for every essential thing needed for all of their lives, and the percentage of rural dwellers, not all of whom are involved in agricultural production anyway, continues to get worse, not better.
As for the website here, the last year has seen another enormous outpouring of content. Although there were some quiet months during which we’ve been unavoidably focused on other issues, we’ve added over 100 new articles totaling over 200,000 more words, and there is now more than half a million words of content for you here.
There’s one other question that we should all ask ourselves, at least once every year. Are we better prepared now than we were this time a year ago? In our case, the answer ranges between ‘yes’ in some areas and ‘not so much’ in some others. As will probably always be the case, more work, more preparing, is always needed.
We hope you continue to find material of value and that you continue to visit, and wish you great good fortune in your own ongoing preparing. May none of us ever need them.