CHARLES GRAHAM - Possibly a history-making year

LAST week’s review of the year did not allow me space to reflect on seismic events beyond the borough boundaries, although Wiganers have of course suffered the consequences of global events, whether it be rising oil prices or falling wages.

The near collapse of the Euro, the economic meltdown of several countries and the international splits that have emerged (particularly involving Britain) have given us all the jitters.

My favourite quote of the whole debacle was the French politician who said of David Cameron’s veto of the banking restrictions deal: “He was like a man turning up at a wife-swapping party without his own wife!”

Where this money mess will end up is anyone’s guess. I’ve given up listening to economic forecasts because of late they have proved to be woefully over-optimistic. Who is really in a position to say we are over the worst of it yet?

The other history-making tale of 2011 has undoubtedly been the Arab Spring. Who would have thought in January that we would see the long-entrenched and hard line leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya overthrown? (with the bonus of Osama bin Laden meeting his maker as a welcome bonus.) Perhaps usurprisingly, the post-dictatorship transitions haven’t run as smoothly as hoped, particularly in Egypt. But again only the long view of historical reflection will pass a valid judgement on this year’s political upheavals.

I had taken a similar approach to Iraq and continue to do so. I still don’t think that we can be sure whether the Machiavellian toppling of Saddam will eventually create a more peaceful world.

Certainly it hasn’t emerged so far. It is also interesting how quiet all those people who called for “troops out” have been since the co-ordinated series of bombings across Iraq claimed scores of lives the moment the last American soldiers left.

Perhaps it was always bound to happen but it just goes to show that those who thought the best cure for the original folly of invasion was to abandoned Saddam’s successors to their fate may not be as guilt-free as they imagined.

We helped to create the mess so it was our responsibility to help clear it up. And politicians trying to win votes by setting withdrawl dates will perhaps be having a re-think about Afghanistan now they have seen what happened in Iraq.