By Robert J. Burrowes
January 03, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - In many ways it is painful to reflect on the year 2018; a year of vital opportunities lost when so much is at stake.
Whether politically, militarily, socially, economically, financially or ecologically, humanity took some giant strides backwards while passing up endless opportunities to make a positive difference in our world.
Let me, very briefly, identify some of the more crucial backward steps, starting with the recognition by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in January that the year had already started badly when they moved the Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight, the closest it has ever been to ‘doomsday’ (and equal to 1953 when the Soviet Union first exploded a thermonuclear weapon matching the US capacity). See ‘It is now two minutes to midnight’.
This change reflected the perilous state of our world, particularly given the renewed threat of nuclear war and the ongoing climate catastrophe. It didn’t even mention the massive and unrelenting assault on the biosphere (apart from the climate) nor, of course, the ongoing monumental atrocities against fellow human beings.
Some Lowlights of 2018
- The global elite, using key elite fora such as the Group of 30, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group and the World Economic Forum, continued to plan, generate and exacerbate the many ongoing wars, deepening exploitation within the global economy, climate and environmental destruction, and the refugee crisis, among many other violent impacts, in pursuit of greater elite power, profit and privilege.
- International organizations (such as the United Nations, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund) and national governments used military forces, legal systems, police forces and prison systems around the world to serve the global elite by defending its interests against the bulk of the human population, including those individuals and organizations audacious enough to challenge elite power, profit and privilege.
- $US1.7 trillion was officially spent worldwide on military weapons to kill fellow human beings and other life forms, and to destroy the biosphere. See ‘Global military spending remains high at $1.7 trillion’.
However, so out-of-control is this spending that the United States has now spent $US21trillion on its military in the past 20 years for which it cannot even account! That’s right, $US1trillion each year, including 2018, above the official US national budget for killing is ‘lost’. See Army General Fund Adjustments Not Adequately Documented or Supported, ‘Has Our Government Spent $21 Trillion Of Our Money Without Telling Us?’ and ‘The Pentagon Can’t Account for $21 Trillion (That’s Not a Typo)’.
- War and other military violence continued to rage across the planet wreaking devastation on many countries and regions, particularly in the Middle East and Africa. If you missed this, read what is happening to Yemen, described as ‘ the world’s worst [humanitarian] crisis in decades’ with ‘three quarters of the entire Yemeni population – 22 million women, children and men – dependent on some form of humanitarian assistance to survive.’ See ‘Yemen: UN chief hails “signs of hope” in world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster’.
- Not content with the nature and extent of the military violence they are inflicting already, during 2018 elites continued to plan how to do it more effectively in future with research and development of artificial intelligence just one manifestation of this: ‘an “arms race in AI” is now underway, with the U.S., China, Russia, and other nations (including Britain, Israel, and South Korea) seeking to gain a critical advantage in the weaponization of artificial intelligence and robotics’ so that ‘artificial intelligence will be applied to every aspect of warfare, from logistics and surveillance to target identification and battle management’. See ‘“Alexa, Launch Our Nukes!” Artificial Intelligence and the Future of War’.
- The United States government unilaterally withdrew from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty (which limits the deployment of intermediate range nuclear weapons).
- Another significant proportion of global private financial wealth – conservatively estimated by the Tax Justice Network in 2010 to already total between $US21 and $US32 trillion – has been invested virtually tax-free through the world’s still-expanding black hole of more than 80 ‘offshore’ tax havens (such as the City of London Corporation, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Nauru, St. Kitts, Antigua, Tortola, Switzerland, the Channel Islands, Monaco, Cyprus, Gibraltar and Liechtenstein). This is just financial wealth. ‘A big share of the real estate, yachts, racehorses, gold bricks – and many other things that count as non-financial wealth – are also owned via offshore structures where it is impossible to identify the owners.’ See Tax Justice Network.
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