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Events that shaped 2021

by Benjamin Reese 22 days ago in review · updated 22 days ago

A Reflection

When we all look back at the year that was 2021, we will all have our own reflections of the highs and lows. For some, this year was as tumultuous as the last in 2020. For others, this was a year of opportunity. For all however, it was a year that brought definite uncertainty for the near future. With this said, I want to take the time to look back at pivotal moments across the globe both domestically and internationally, that highlight those reasons of uncertainty. Global instability was and still is a reoccurring theme across pockets of global society. From the pandemic, to proxy wars, 2021 left us a novel that has yet to be finished. Let us start from the beginning and work our way to a culmination that assures us theoretical fireworks.

The first month of January in 2021 was a precursor to the instability this year would produce. On the 6th of January supporters of President Donald Trump would storm the United States capital in protest of the 2020 Presidential election. This would mark the first time in the country’s history since 1814 that the capital of the country was seized by civilian population. On the 20th of that month the man those protesters resisted would be sworn into office. Joe Biden would be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. This marked the beginning of the supposed “Blue wave” of domestic politics forecasted to follow. However, that wave would create global riptides felt throughout the Americas, Western Europe, and the Middle East.

February was a quite month up with some notable achievements and personal firsts for mankind. The 4th of the month saw the U.S. withdraw artillery Support to the Saudis and U.A.E against Yemen. A move that was the first of its’ kind in the modification process of the U.S. defense strategy. On the 7th of February NASA would finally land on Mars with the rover they sent out back in 2020.

Then on the 21st Myanmar’s provisional government would be blindsided by a military coup that would oust state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. This was the first globally recognized coup since Yemen in 2018. Myanmar’s military to this day have been accused of human rights violations along with violation of the Geneva act. The highlight of March would be the distribution of 500 million vaccines to help halt the spread of COVID-19, even though at that point in time the world had surpassed 2 million deaths due to the virus. One moment in March that went gravely overlooked was the meeting between Pope Francis and Ayatullah Ali Sistani in Najaf, Iraq. The meeting between the two holy leaders sought a peaceful coexistence between those Shia Muslims in Iraq along with their Christian minority.

The month of March would culminate with the disaster in the Suez Canal. Evergreen, one of the largest container ships in the world, would be jammed and obstructed in the canal, halting global supply chains for days.

The month of April hosted several moments of controversy. The most impactful in my opinion being on the 19th of the month when the Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, Raúl Castro would step down. This saw the end of brutal 62 year rule under the Castro brothers. This would open up the opportunity for democratic social change within the country. The 20th of April saw the trial and conviction of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on three charges—second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter—for George Floyd’s murder. This case would go on to define the instabilities between law enforcement and those in the public whom which they serve. On the same day, the President of Chad, Idriss Déby, was murdered in a clash with Libyan rebels after 30 years in office. This moment highlighted the instability and unrest that still needs to be addressed in the African continent.

The month of May 2021 was one of great anguish and disgust. On the first day, May 1st 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden would declare an end to the occupation in Afghanistan, pulling our troops out of the country after twenty long years. This would enable the rise of the Taliban, the Islamic extremist group the U.S. sought to extract from the country. In doing so the United States would leave behind hundreds of millions of U.S. tax payer dollars’ worth of military equipment, bolstering the Taliban’s military capabilities.

Along with the fall of Afghanistan, that same month the world would sit and watch the eleven day war fought between the Israeli armed forces and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group over territory in the West Bank. This conflict would spawn global outreach and criticism from individuals across the globe highlighting human rights violations and ware crimes from both sides of the battle field. The two countries would reach a ceasefire on the 21st of May. The conflict would culminant with an election in the country of Israel in the month of June. On the 13th of June the Israeli parliament would vote to remove long time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from his position. Naftali Bennett would be sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Israel, marking a new generation of progressive Israeli politics.

Also in the month of June, El Salvador would become the first country to allow and adopt Bitcoin as legal tender alongside the U.S. dollar. This opened the door for the world financial market to expand into the world of crypto currency and digital lifestyle. Nigeria would deal a blow to free speech rights and rights to access to information when they banned twitter in the month of June following the platforms removal of President Buhari’s tweet referring to the countries ongoing civil war. Following the ban, government officials ordered prosecutors to arrest and prosecute any Nigerian users of the app. One of the more troubling moments in the month of June came on the 19th when Iran would elect Ebrahim Raisi as President. Raisi has a brutal human rights record, and is considered ultra-conservative. He played a large role in the execution of political prisoners. He was also part of a 4-person death panel that oversaw the death of 5,000 prisoners. Many believe Raisi is being groomed to replace the Supreme Leader, who in Iran, has the final say, not the president. Israel later warned that Raisi has nuclear ambitions and is perhaps the most extreme president Iran has had yet. This deals a major concern for Western countries sovereignty in the near future.

July 2021 was as unpredictable as the month that preceded it. On the 2nd of the month the United States had pulled the last of their troops from Bagram air base in Afghanistan. In the wake of the extraction several casualties took place as fearful Afghanis would try and board airborne U.S. planes to leave the country. In the wake of the extraction nearly several hundred American and Afghan aides were left behind, drawing staunch criticism of President Biden. On the 7th of the month Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his sleep. This in turn caused massive uprising across an already lawless country. The following day, global health officials announced 4 million people had died due to COVID-19, even after the mass vaccine roll out.

August of 2021 was a head ache to say the least. Such a headache that I won’t even try to keep the dates in order of each event that took place. From bomb threats, to resignations, to food stamps, August was a barn burner for news and events. On the 19th of August a man parked outside of the Library of Congress making vague bomb threats that shut down the capital and DC blocks. Once the man surrendered, they investigated the vehicle but have not released details. As of now, the man’s motives are currently unknown which made some skeptical of the validity behind the event.

Three days before on the 16th President Biden would announce starting in October, there will be an increase to the government-issued food assistance. The USDA will increase monthly budgets by 25%, the largest increase the program has seen. The increase is expected to raise the monthly food allowance to $157 per person. This was a major uplift in lower income communities allowing family’s a relief from the pandemic era inflation. August was also a major voting month for the United States. On the 11th “Senate Republicans blocked Democratic attempts to advance their voting overhaul bill. The new bill Democrats were attempting to pass was designed to combat some of the controversial voting bills passed by separate state governments. Senator Ted Cruz stated that the bill would give too much power to the federal government during election cycles. Biden’s Administration, however, is still arguing that voting restrictions are Jim Crow-level inequalities. That same day, the Senate approved a $3.5 trillion budget resolution despite GOP opposition. The 50-49 vote was a win for Democrats, but it still has yet to pass the House. The budget bill is designed to help families impacted by the pandemic, as well as denote a portion to the climate crisis.” (BBC) Also in the same month, President Joe Biden would call for the resignation of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo due to his ongoing sexual assault allegations. Cuomo would resign on the 10th of August 2021.

In the month of September there were several key moments in time that I believe should be highlighted in this reflection. Starting with the passing of the abortion ban in the state of Texas on the 1st of the month. The bill effectively halts abortions by the 6th week of pregnancy, around the time women begin to notice signs of pregnancy. The law enacts penalties up to fines of 10,000 dollars and gives rights to patients to sue abortion practitioners. This in turn would spark the debate on the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. September also saw one of the biggest migrant surges in the history of the United States. Notably on the 18th of the month, tens of thousands of undocumented migrants became stranded under a bridge in Del Rio Texas. A large number of them Hattians fleeing an already crumbling country. The majority of those migrants would be turned away due to the reimplementation of Trump era border polices. Along with the border crisis, California would see a recall election in attempts to thwart sitting Governor Gavin Newsom’s overreaching COVID policies. He would come out on top on the 15th of September to remain in office.

Globally, October saw rifts of change across the political and societal landscape at large. Starting on the 4th of the month, it was reported that North Korea had reopened lines of communication between themselves and the South. This in turn has optimized South Koreas chances of ending the peninsula war. In other parts of the world, violence and unrest continued. The Sudan saw a military coup on the 25th of October where the country’s military declared a state of emergency after dissolving the country’s power-sharing government. Previously sharing power with civilian groups, the military now has taken control arresting the Prime Minister and his family. Days before this coup, the country of Hatti was again shaken to its core. This time by gang violence. On the 18th of October a gang by the name of 400 Mawozo would kidnap 17 U.S. and Canadian ministries holding them all for millions of dollars’ worth of ransom. October 21, the leader of the gang released a video threatening to kill the hostages if he doesn’t get what he wants. Little information was available at the time and is still and ongoing FBI investigation. On the 25th of October Barbados elected its first president, outing Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state marking the countries purest form of independence since 1966.

November was a month of international diplomacy and tragedy. On the 1st of the month a suspect in Japan dressed as the joker set ablaze a train after stabbing 17 people. On the same day Taliban forces in Afghanistan announced the murder of three individuals for “playing music too loud” at a wedding, sparking alarm with human rights activists. Also on that same day, a ballistic missile attack was carried out on a mosque in Yemen that left at least 29 civilians dead. Another missile attack hit a religious school, women and children were among those killed. There was no immediate claim for the attack, but it is believed that the Iranian-backed Houthis group is responsible. Days later on the 8th at least 25 schoolchildren in Niger died after their straw-hut classrooms caught fire. The deaths came as a surprise for fires are common among those communities built from straw and wood. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. On the same day it was reported that Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi escaped an assassination attempt. An explosive-laden drone attacked his home in Baghdad, according to reports. Amidst the global chaos there was a bit of diplomacy. On the 24th of November German Chancellor Merkel’s era officially came to an end as Olaf Scholz announced a three-party coalition to transition to a green economy. Also on the same day, Sweden elected its first female Prime Minister. Magdalena Andersson, 54, is already plagued with many challenges as the country faces a political split.

Finally, this month of December has brought much of the same chaos and confusion the rest of the year had brought. One of the notable moments was on the 5th of December when the parents of the 15 year old Oxford school shooter were arrested on charges of manslaughter in the school shooting case. It was the first time in Americas long and painful history of mass shootings where individuals unrelated to the shooting itself were arrested and charged for the crime as they were proven to have enabled their son to pull off the shooting. On that same day the United States lost one of their most renowned Senators in Bob Dole. The 27 year Senator from Kentucky was a key politician throughout the later years of the 20th century. On the 15th of this month NASA confirmed new data collected from the sun as their space craft Parker reached the outer atmosphere of our giant star. These and many other moments in the month of December exemplify the ups and down we all go through on a daily basis when trying to keep up with current events.

2021 has given us all something to think about, whether that be good or bad. What can all reflect on his the fact that we are here, now. We made it this far. Time does not wait for anyone and I feel as though I’ve grown appreciation for that idea this past year. We never know what will happen tomorrow. I know I’m sure I didn’t even scratch the surface as to all of the unfolding that occurred this year, but I hope these events highlighted in this article are some that will force reflection upon our thought processes. Do not take this year or any year prior for granted.

review

Benjamin Reese

A journeyman.

Read next: The Invasion

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