As the year draws to a close it’s time to reflect on the seismic events of 2016. At the start of the year, this magazine predicted unpredictability. We took our lead (as we always do) from the Chinese sages, who foretold that the Year of the Monkey would be an unlucky year; a bad year for political gambles and a bad year for the Establishment. And so it turned out to be.
First was Brexit, then came Donald Trump’s election win in the US. The Chinese Ambassador called these ‘Black Swan’ events – an occurrence that comes as a shock, has a major impact, and is rationalised afterwards (with the benefit of hindsight.)
We should have seen Brexit coming and we should have predicted the inexorable rise of Donald Trump. We should have understood the reasons behind the rise of populism in reaction to the Establishment. But we didn’t. Or when we did, it was too late.
With world leaders distracted, conflicts intensified and acts of terrorism multiplied. In total there have been 1744 recorded acts of terrorism this year.
And with the shocks, came the inevitable inertia as the world screeched to a halt, did a handbreak turn to head in new political direction.
The artist David Bowie died at the start this year and his brilliant song Changes could be the theme tune for 2016. In the face of changes, he entreats us all to “turn and face the strange”.
The world does indeed seem like a strange place with unsettling forces at play, but one diplomats will have to get to know and understand if they are to tackle its many problems.
I write this message on the Winter Solstice, the longest night of a dark year. But it is also encouraging to think that after darkness must come light – here’s wishing you and your families a Happy Christmas and a Peaceful, Successful 2017.