Looking back over the first week of the new year, some two thousand and seventeen years after Augustus Caesar brought the Roman Peace to the so-called civilized world, the feeling is that we are moving round in circles and as a species Humankind is incapable of making benchmarks last. What we see is terrorism, crime and misery. Bring back the USSR!
Today is January 10, 2017. How many terrorist attacks have there been so far this year? Have a long think about it. You might recall the attack in Istanbul on January 1, because it is the nearest to western Europe. In fact that was one of eight attacks on the same day, worldwide and in the first ten days of this month there have been no less than thirty-six different attacks occasioning the death of some 344 innocent civilians and security personnel, plus dozens of terrorists and countless numbers of wounded.
Coupled with this, we saw a prison riot in Brazil where close to sixty inmates were murdered in a riot which started with the decapitated bodies of prisoners being hurled off walls, then later a salvo of their heads flung at the authorities as gang warfare broke out among the several cartels which are fighting to control the Amazon route of the cocaine trade from Bolivia.
When I was growing up, young people used to come together to share traveling experiences and we would plan our trips for the following School holidays. For those with shorter budgets, a camping trip somewhere near; for others, hiking in the mountains, some went wandering around western Africa, just turning up in villages and being entertained by the local populations brimming with enthusiasm at having a foreign visitor. Others would join western Europeans in taking the Magic Bus to Afghanistan, overland, passing through Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and right across Afghanistan to Kabul. Some went to Egypt, others to the Sudan. Some went up to Canada, fishing. All of us would come back with stories to tell about wonderful friendships we had made and just occasionally one or the other of us had to fight his way out of a dangerous spot we had anyway put ourselves in. All part of the learning process.
There were stories of getting mugged in a Moroccan casbah and having to smash a nose and kick a groin to escape, stories about being picked up by a middle-aged French female nymphomaniac when doing auto-stop in France and being tied to a four-poster bed for two weeks, stories about being offered wives to sleep with in central Africa, stories of drunken sing-songs with the local lads, fishing trips with Breton fishermen, stories about the amazing friendliness and kindness of people to strangers the world over.
I am not speaking of the thirteenth century, I am speaking about the 1970s.
These days, take a look at the map and have a good look. You dare not step off an aircraft in most places. The Paris-Dakar rally was moved en masse to Latin America because western Africa is now out of bounds. The Magic Buss must be a suicide ride if it still exists, some idiot took Tunisia off the tourist destination map, Libya - don't even think about it, ditto Egypt. In Spain, Al-Qaeda is now apparently threatening to start a bombing campaign in tourist destinations because of the occupation of Ceuta and Melilla.
And isn't it supposed to be illegal to carry guns and use weapons? Isn't it supposed to be illegal to traffic drugs? Ask an expert and they will pull a wry smile, look at you knowingly, lower their head and raise their eyes to look up at youas if sharing a secret, saying "Yes you are right but so much money is involved in the drugs and arms trade that..."
That States are powerless to do anything about it? A drone can take out a box of matches these days, a drone can take out a single individual walking across a desert from so high up that even if he looked directly up at the UAV he would not be able to see it. The first he would know would be a flash of searing heat and his flesh being blasted off his body.
So do not tell me that States have no control over these things or that they are powerless to act. What this means is that States are conniving with criminals, that States have criminals running their governments or having control over government policy, that States have departments or agencies which are not subjected to the same scrutiny as everyone else. Do not tell me that States do not have the ability to attack the drugs question across the line at source, taking out the traffickers, taking out the trade in legal highs and/or decriminalizing drug consumption and/or legalizing some form of substance use (since this is a common vector in the equation which constitutes the human being).
Do not tell me that it is impossible to control the sale and trafficking of arms and do not tell me that it is right to sell arms to terrorists. State players do so, and are doing so. The West connived with terrorists in Libya on their own lists of proscribed groups, the West has sided with terrorists in Syria.
This cannot be right, and therefore it cannot be tolerated. But it continues to happen. So what a disgusting start to 2017. Perhaps with that sickening failure gone from the White House and a new tenant installed, we can have a kick-start to international relations with Putin and Trump setting the world straight. Don't tell me that the Russian and American people cannot do it - they defeated Hitler after all.
I feel indignant, let-down, insulted, short-changed at those who have wilfully allowed the world to slip down to the disgusting state it has sunken to and I feel that it is grossly unfair that people like myself have seen the hopes we had as teenagers for a multilateral, multicultural world dashed and replaced with the sh*thole this place has become.
Only one thought remains: Bring back the Soviet Union! Things were far better back then.
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.