In South Asia, the new year has begun with brutal fighting which threatens to derail uncertain rapprochement between India and Pakistan. In a daring raid, an armed group invaded an air force base in northern India. The United Jihad Council, a militant group seeking an end to Indian rule in Kashmir, has claimed credit. At the same time, there has been an attack on an Indian consulate in Afghanistan.
"Nattering nabobs of negativism," is probably the most enduring of the many alliterative pronouncements of Spiro Agnew, vice president in the Nixon administration until forced to resign because of corruption. This particular phrase, penned by Nixon speechwriter William Safire, derogatively denigrated diligent reporters for placing bad news above good.
An important meeting has been held to pave the way for re-establishing diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey. On Dec. 16, senior leaders from both nations met in Zurich to lay the groundwork for this important step forward. Ties between these two important allies of the United States were ruptured more than five years ago.
This Christmas season is also the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, the largest land battle in the history of the United States. On Dec. 16, 1944, Nazi Germany launched an enormous offensive through the quiet, thinly defended Ardennes Forest in Belgium. Adolf Hitler and planners in Berlin achieved total surprise; initially German forces rapidly gained ground.
The murders in southern California by two Islamic fanatics predictably have stoked intense public concern about terrorist dangers, and debate over combating such threats. President Barack Obama's address to the nation on Dec. 6 was highly revealing, though in ways not intended by the White House.
Pearl Harbor continues to reverberate. The attack on the United States Navy base by Japan on Dec. 7, 1941 shocked an insular nation into direct combat in World War II. Soon thereafter, in early 1942, the Gallup Poll registered that overwhelmingly isolationist public opinion had been transformed into equally decisive support for engagement "in world affairs."
The terrorist attacks in Paris continue to reverberate, magnified unavoidably by the 24/7 global electronic media. Predictably, the grimmest and most gruesome information is emphasized, with endless speculation. The more alarming the possibility, the more of interest it is to the talking heads.
Bloody terrorist attacks in Paris dominated the discussions of top representatives of the Group of 20 (G-20) nations held Nov. 15-16 in Antalya, Turkey. Related to providing effective security, the gathering devoted focused attention to helping the massive flow of refugees from the Middle East, stemming primarily from the Syria civil war.
The meeting between President Xi Jinping of China and President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan in Singapore on Nov. 7 was historic. Media reports that the face-to-face discussion was "symbolic" are highly misleading. The summit reflects long-term steadily expanding cooperation, as well as extensive preparation.
November brings Veterans Day in the U.S., and also this year the 50th anniversary of the major battle in the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam involving the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division. Casualty rates on both sides made this one of the costliest battles of that long war, and ironically reinforced the strategies of both Hanoi and Washington.