January 3 – A US drone strike at the Baghdad International Airport killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. We described this major historical event on our podcast as on par with the Iranians taking out the US Joint Chiefs of Staff or the head of the CIA.
January 5 – The ongoing Libyan Civil War escalated to a potential regional war as Turkey announced they were sending troops to Libya to support the UN-supported Government of National Accord. Turkey’s move is a response to the growing presence of Russian mercenaries and fighters on the ground in this escalating conflict. The growth of the Libyan Civil War means
January 6 –Protests rage in India as the world’s largest democracy ratified legislation that threatens the world’s second-largest Muslim population.
January 8 – The US and Iran nearly break out into all-out war. Iran fired multiple ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq that housed US soldiers in a retaliatory move against the assassination of Soleimani. Rumors swirled that US planes were in the air for a counter strike and President Trump was preparing to address the nation. Restraint ruled the evening and events died down. Nevertheless, the Iranian military mistook a civilian Ukrainian airliner as an unidentified flying object and potentially an incoming US fighter. The Iranian military shot down the civilian airliner killing all 176 people aboard.
January 9 – ISIS militants attacked a military base in Niger killing 89 soldiers. It is one of the deadliest attacks on Niger’s military forces by Islamic extremists to date. It is part of a growing pattern of accelerating violence in the Sahel and West Africa.
January 11 – The first death due to a mystery virus in Wuhan, China is reported. There are 59 confirmed cases at this time. By the end of the month the Wuhan Corona Virus death count is above 200, and nearly 10,000 confirmed cases, spreading to countries around the world, and no cure is in sight. (These are the numbers at the time of this writing.)
January 12 – The Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology issued a level 4 alert on the Taal Volcano. This meant an eruption was possible within hours or days. Hundreds of thousands of citizens were evacuated, escaping to the homes of relatives or relief centers.
January 16 – The Senate impeachment hearings of President Trump began. After explaining the need to rush impeachment through the House of Representatives was necessary to prevent the President from doing further damage to the 2020 elections, Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed sending the Articles of Impeachment for nearly a month. The launch of the Senate impeachment hearings resulted in a near-meltdown of media coverage of the major global events taking shape in the second half of the month.
January 24 – A magnitude 6.7 earthquake in Turkey killed at least 38 and injured more than 1,600 people.
January 25 –Massive swarms of locust descend upon east Africa presenting a clear and present danger to the regions agriculture system. The United Nations warned that the already strained food supply in East Africa could be devastated by this modern locust plague.
January 28 – President Trump released his Mideast Peace Plan which was seen as a slap in the face to the Palestinian people. The much-anticipated plan demonstrated a potential end of the line for diplomatic efforts in resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people.
January 31 – Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans for the EU to leave the European Union on this date.
History is Moving Faster
The pace of history is quickening. We have seen this since the advent of the internet and our interconnected world, but today it is more than advances in technology and real-time communication flows. The rhythm in the occurrence of major events has shifted to the extent we can barely keep track of one rolling crisis to the next. January 2020, the first month of this new decade, included everything from massive terrorist attacks, natural disasters, fear of World War III beginning, the onset of a pandemic, and the impeachment of a US President.
We are a mere 1 month into this new decade and this is the tone established for what is to come. We are living in terribly historic times and the environment is taking a commanding hold upon how we view the world around us.
It Is Going to Get Worse
One does not need to be a prophet to forecast the developing trends of where this pace of historical-level crisis events is moving. Trends are developing in the accumulation of these events which suggests things are going to get worse very soon. Things will not reboot on February 1. They will continue the downward trajectory of development.
In Iran for example, the US assassination of Soleimani followed months-long protests against Iran’s ruling Islamic regime. The assassination of the Islamic Republic’s national hero was followed by multiple humiliations (see above) and tests of the government’s competency. As Iran reeled from one crisis to the next in January, Iran’s Supreme Leader declared his nation was living through the “days of God.” In other words, they were being tested. Their worthiness, in the minds of the religious leaders, will be proven by their response to the crises. War and chaos are soon to come from Iran. After being kicked while they are down, they will soon kickback.
Each crisis that played out in January 2020 listed above is part of various sequences of events. They are not isolated events. The next events will follow and there is little reason to suspect what comes next will be an improvement.
The Lack of Responsibility in the Media is Numbing and Blinding Us
Meanwhile, on the home front, the impeachment hearings worked as the perfect tool to leverage the divide and polarization in America to new levels. President Trump’s polling numbers have actually improved through the impeachment process even while the shrill cries of outrage and self-righteousness echo across the social media landscape on both sides.
The national media conglomerates ramped up the emotional and often sensationalized coverage of the hearings, playing to the echo chambers which their audiences depend upon.
Each of these stories pleased one side of the country’s divided political base while infuriating the other side. Then the national media replayed the stories over and over again to capitalize on the outrage.
Important Things Are Happening and We Are Missing Them
At the same time, a pandemic spread out of China with confirmed cases and death counts growing exponentially over the course of the month. As the media pandered to their respective political audiences with silly stories of partisanship, the public’s eyes strayed from greater and more important events emerging around the globe.
In East Africa, a massive swarm of locust was devastating an already fragile agricultural base that millions are dependent upon. Terrorist attacks accelerated in West Africa. Earthquakes and avalanches hit Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan. Brexit began to unfold in the UK.
In the face of the outrage and division saturating our various media flows, we were too tired to notice. The death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his daughter in the final week of January 2020 presented itself as at least horrible news we could all agree upon. Beyond these rare exceptions, the failure of trust in our leaders, institutions, and the media means we are beginning to tune out and ignore the rising levels of disturbing news all around us.
Situations across the globe worsened in this first month of the new year and decade. January 2020 demonstrated the pace and nature in which history is now moving.
Welcome to 2020 planet earth. This is only the beginning!