The 2022 Geopolitical Roundup
Like many of the posts here at the Tisatsar Newslettr, the target audience for this post lies in the future.
What has happened in the past year?
In the technology field, every hope you hear about Generative AI is true1, every hope you hear about quantum computing is false2, and the recent “breakthrough” in fusion is completely irrelevant to anything3.
In American Politics, the story has been the lack of news. Roe v. Wade was overturned, and the reaction was minimal. Congress did succeed at the minimal amount of legislating required to run the country, but little more. The election results were unremarkable.
But elsewhere4 in the world, there has been news.
In short: Russia’s attempt to win a quick war failed, largely due to mistakes of their own making. Russia cannot hope to win a war of attrition due to the USA being willing to send almost-unlimited amounts of war materiel.
For more, I discuss the outlook for 2023 in a Predictions post, and discussed what has happened in October:
The situation in Haiti continues to be poorly-reported by the international press, which makes it difficult to assess the situation from afar. But the basic facts are clear:
The Ariel Henry regime has no democratic mandate, minimal military power, but the blessing of the international community.
A variety of gangs control significant parts of the country.
The country is not self-sufficient for most goods, and the political chaos is severe enough to impair foreign aid efforts.
For 200 years, Haiti has been the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. As a result, earthquakes and hurricanes in the region routinely have an order-of-magnitude more fatalities in Haiti than in similarly-sized countries.
Earlier this month, president Pedro Castillo of Peru was removed from office and arrested after attempting an auto-coup. This follows multiple impeachment attempts against him in the past year, and the removals of President Vizcarra in 2020 and Kuczynski in 2018.
There does not seem to be any new political drama in the past two weeks (at least in Peru; a somewhat-similar situation is unfolding in Bolivia). But the underlying issues behind this partisan warfare are likely to continue.
After a coup in January, there was a second coup in Burkina Faso in September. While the Peru divisions appear to be based on left-wing/right-wing politics similar to the US, the main aggravator in Burkina Faso is the divide between the Muslim north and the Christian south of the country.
One of the “escalation” concerns of any geopolitical dispute is that India or Pakistan would attempt to enforce their claims on Kashmir through military action. This is one of the main reasons why both countries have remained neutral regarding the situation in Ukraine.
The situation seems to be fairly calm right now.
The al-Jazeera headline: “Benjamin Netanyahu returns as PM of Israel’s most far-right gov’t”.
This most likely means an increase in Jewish7 settlements in the West Bank, and an increase in intifada style violence as a reaction.
The reaction of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in this situation cannot be easily predicted; they will balance stated political support with not accepting substantial numbers of migrants/refugees.
Perhaps “generative AI will be so transformative to society that the concept of money will be obsolete by the end of the decade” is too optimistic, but only slightly.
You may have seen news stories with breathless headlines like Physicists Create a Holographic Wormhole Using a Quantum Computer. Nothing resembling that happened. Quantum computers are certain to remain useless for all practical purposes (other than factoring numbers) for at least ten years. It is possible we won’t ever get to the point that a non-trivial example of Shor’s algorithm can be run.
“Net power production” (despite not counting most of the power used) is interesting in the sense that it is proof positive that some fusion was occurring, but we already knew that. As far as a path towards energy production, it means nothing. Only about 1% of the total input power is being produced by fusion, there is no way to convert that energy to electricity, and the entire apparatus is still fragile (in the sense that everything is fragile with that much heat and radiation).
The whole Liz Truss thing happened in the UK, but I am trying to forget about that.
In a laboratory experiment, one tries to controls the inputs. In a natural experiment, one notes with dismay that one cannot control the inputs, and simply tries to get the best data possible.
In general, for an attempt to live off-the-grid, the solution is “just buy solar panels”. But in a war zone, the fact that solar panels can be fairly easily destroyed is an issue, regardless of how the panels are distributed. Also, batteries are both expensive and an explosion risk.
Specifically Jewish settlers, rather than Israeli. One of the ways that the government is right-wing is that it contains factions that are opposed to non-Jews being Israeli citizens. And the settlers in West Bank settlements are almost exclusively right-wing Jews.