As December comes to a close, it’s important to take a look back at the 10 stories that changed the world in 2022.
10) U.S. scientists achieved a historic fusion energy breakthrough.
- In December, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory produced more energy in a fusion reaction than was needed to ignite it for the first time.
- This development was a scientific breakthrough of enormous consequence for the future of national defense and clean energy.
9) The U.S. took out some of the world’s top terrorists.
- ISIS Leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi blew himself up during a U.S. special forces raid on his compound in Syria, making him the third consecutive leader of ISIS to die in a U.S. raid.
- Five months later, a U.S. drone strike killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Ladin’s successor as head of al-Qaeda, on his balcony in Kabul.
8) Ex-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated.
- Abe, Japan’s longest-serving postwar prime minister, was assassinated at a campaign rally in July.
- Shinzo Abe was a staunch ally of the United States, and his death was mourned by U.S. leaders of both parties.
7) Latin America turned left.
- Left-wing former president Lula’s victory in Brazil’s presidential election, defeating incumbent president Jair Bolsonaro, cemented the trend of left-wing victories across Latin America.
- At the dawn of 2023, every major Latin American country will have a left-wing government.
- However, Peru’s ongoing protests after the ouster of their power-grabbing leftist president leaves the survival of at least one left-wing government in doubt.
6) Governments across the west buckled amid the challenges of Covid-19, the War in Ukraine, and inflation.
- Canada’s Freedom Convoy protests in February shut down Ottawa before Justin Trudeau’s government took unprecedented measures to suppress the protests.
- Israel’s governing coalition collapsed in June, opening the door for the return to power of Benjamin Netanyahu.
- Italy’s right-wing roared back to power in September under new prime minister Giorgia Meloni after her technocratic predecessor Mario Draghi’s coalition collapsed.
- In December, German police disrupted an extremist coup plot to put a pro-Russian prince in power.
5) The world mourned the death of the Queen.
- Queen Elizabeth II died in September at the age of 96 after a historic 70-year reign.
- World leaders converged on London to mourn the last head of state to serve in World War II who presided over Britain’s decline as a great power.
- Her son King Charles III assumed the throne during a challenging time for Britain and for the Royal Family.
4) Britain’s Conservative government collapsed into chaos during the “Year of the Three Prime Ministers.”
- 2022 dawned with then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson facing an inquiry into boozy parties held at his official residence at the height of Britain’s strict lockdowns.
- Johnson’s government limped on until it finally imploded in July amid yet another scandal and mass resignations from his ministers.
- Liz Truss took over in September, only for her government to collapse just six weeks after her botched tax-cut plan spooked markets and wrecked the British economy.
- Rishi Sunak, the runner-up to Truss, stepped into the breach and saw off a brief comeback attempt by Johnson to become Britain’s third PM of the year.
3) Anti-regime protests shook Iran’s Islamist government.
- Massive protests swept Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody in October.
- The still-ongoing women-led protests have proved to be a credible threat to the Islamic Republic and hundreds have died in protests across the length and breadth of Iran.
2) Xi Jinping secured a third term amid domestic unrest and rising tensions in East Asia
- Paramount leader Xi Jinping secured a historic third term leading the People’s Republic of China in October.
- Xi faces challenges at home and abroad.
- Anti-lockdown protests forced the PRC to abandon its “zero-Covid” strategy that had sent shocks through global supply chains.
- China’s bellicosity towards Taiwan grows by the day – including a notable spike in tensions in August after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island – and the crisis in the South China Sea seems guaranteed to continue into 2023.
1) Russia invaded Ukraine, launching Europe’s largest land war since 1945.
- After months of saber-rattling, Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February.
- What was once expected to be a quick Russian victory stalled in the face of heroic Ukrainian resistance led by President Volodymyr Zelensky, forcing Putin to mobilize conscripts and threatening his regime.
- Russian occupiers have terrorized Ukrainians with strikes on civilian populations and widespread torture in occupied areas.
- The brutal conflict has reshaped geopolitics, pushing Sweden and Finland to apply for NATO membership and forcing Germany to finally abandon its Russian energy dreams.
- Ukraine’s stunning Fall counteroffensive threw Russian forces out of vast swathes of Ukrainian territory, and both sides are gearing up for a grinding war of attrition in Ukraine’s Russian-held east.
© Dominic Moore, 2022