War and Peace

This year some nations will reflect on wars waged and peace agreed. Americans and Canadians will mark the Bicentennial of the 1812 War, when America declared war on Britain and Canada (then British North America) was the battleground. Against huge odds, a rag-tag band of loyalists, freed slaves and First Nations held off the American forces and this time Britain managed to hold on to its territories.

After defeating Napoleon, Britain then turned its attention to territories it had lost in the first War of Independence – Washington was captured but Britain’s failure to take Baltimore inspired American poet Francis Scott Key to pen the Star Spangled Banner.

On the subject of holding on to territories, expect some jingoism in Argentina and Britain with the drawing near of the 30th anniversary in April of War in the Falklands (or Malvinas as Argentina prefers) in which the two countries went to war over the disputed sovereignty of the islands.

Bosnians meanwhile will also remember that 20 years ago the Siege of Sarajevo started.

On a happier note, Mozambicans and Angolans will respectively celebrate the 20th and 10th anniversaries of peace agreements that ended their long civil wars.

Whatever the big event, 2012 promises to be a busy year for diplomats – and there’s a lot to do before the end of the world (or to be precise, the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar).

According to Mayan prophets and astrologers, time will return to zero on 21 December. Some doomsayers have predicted the Armageddon, but let’s hope it will usher in the beginning of a new and better cycle.