Welcome to 2012!

We are all glued to our BigScreens – watching the Republican Debates and Primaries, including our favorite wrestling match: Newt vs. Mitt, with supporting players, Rick & Ron.  We watch to see just how much TV time the SuperPacs can actually buy, while the Middle East, South Asia and North Korea all continue to simmer, froth and come to a rapid boil.  But, we had better pay more attention to those three trouble-packed areas as the next 11 months of this year unfold.

In March, we will watch the return of Baseball and Spring Training, then the Summer Olympics and the Republican and Democratic Conventions, and, finally, the Main Event, 2012 Election, clear through the first Monday in November.

Let’s all Get Ready to Rumble . . .

The Middle East was a boiling mess back in ancient times, again during Roman Times, and in the Middle Ages, and on into the Twentieth Century, and now, in the still infant 21stCentury, it remains one ever more dangerous, boiling mess, some say it’s the place where WWIII will begin.  I don’t think we are paying enough attention to how critical that boiling mess has become in the Middle East – too many distractions compete for our attention right now.

The Arab Spring was just the beginning for the Middle East.  We are now officially out of Iraq, but just over the horizon, if we wish to return.  The US Navy is going to situate a MotherShip for Navy Seals’ Operations in or around the Persian Gulf, so we should be seeing a lot more of those amazing operations which brought us the heads of Osama Bin Laden and so many other terrorists.  Iran threatens to build a nuclear weapon, if Israel does not attack their operations more overtly than some covert operations, which have featured cyber-attacks and strange deaths of nuclear scientists.  Iran also threatens to close the Strait of Hormuz – some say the most dangerous place in the world today -through which, daily, a whole lot of oil sails to consumer countries like China.  The mere threat has caused oil prices to begin their inevitable rise, at a time when the economies of the industrialized nations really do not need this additional swift kick in the hindquarters

In South Asia, we are still in Afghanistan, but nobody seems to really know why, when our biggest problem now lies across the border in Pakistan, our former ally in the War on Terrorism, and now the one of the real wild cards of South Asia.  Of course, Pakistan and India, both nuclear armed nations of many millions, still hate each other and still pose the risks of nuclear weapons exploding in one of their cities, teeming with humanity, a risk which does not lessen as time continues to unravel towards the future.

North Korea is now ruled by the twenty-something son of the last, now dead tyrant, who was the son of the original, still dead tyrant – thus remaining the World’s Hermit State during my entire life, and I just reached the age this past January where I can now buy Senior Citizen tickets at the movies!  North Korea has sought to provide support for nations located in the Middle East to join the Nuclear Club of Nations. Dr. A.Q. Khan of Pakistan has too.   This once-select group of countries each now possesses the capability to take out an entire major city and all its inhabitants in a flash, and cause more nuclear responses from whoever’s city that used to be – thus, assuring that, whether we think human-induced climate change is real, or not, we will have our Nuclear Winter, which will feature effects that we cannot even dare to imagine.  Think “Mad Max, the Road Warrior,” or any other of a handful of post-apocalyptic movies depicting the now familiar post-nuclear holocaust scenario of those raggedy few who struggle to live on in its aftermath.

The 2012 Elections seemed to begin earlier than ever this time – all the way back last Summer; a new record for getting an early start, I believe.  The battle that has now whittled the Republican field of contenders for that party’s nomination down from nearly a dozen to the current four, only two of which really have the money and the votes at this point, has provided us with all the news we may think that we need.  But, the Middle East has become even more of a flashpoint while we have been transfixed with Newt’s latest idea, or Mitt’s most recent flip flop, or Ron’s most current Libertarian rallying cry, or Rick’s newest appeal to Evangelical voters.  South Asia and North Korea each threaten utter chaos as well.  And, we had better do more multi-tasking and pay more attention to the Middle East, where several long-entrenched dictators either ‘bought the farm’ as a result of the Arab Spring, or are now only seen when hauled into Court in a hospital bed. Oh yes, and lest we forget, the tyrant who runs Syria continues to suppress dissent there in truly Stalinist fashion – as Stalin famously said about simply killing off everybody who poses a threat to your dictatorial rule: “Death solves all problems – no man, no problem.”

It is all well and good to drink deeply of our national, state and local election frenzies this year – they are really what make this country great.  Dictators arise in countries where leaders do not quietly go off into retirement to pen their memoirs, or out on the speaking trail, when their terms are over – yet, here in the US, we have long been treated to seeing our outgoing President riding together with our newest President in the same limo, or walking together at the Inauguration – something we should never take for granted.  But, let’s also not lose sight of the boiling pots of trouble in the Middle East, in South Asia, in North Korea, just because we love watching our politics play out on our BigScreens.  It would be a horrific mistake if we do that, and if any one of the three troubled areas blows itself to smithereens this year, while we are so distracted.