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Monday, 5. January 2009     0 comment(s)
Charly Salonius-Pasternak
Senior Research Fellow - The Global Security research programme

The past year was one for the books. Focusing on the United States, I had the chance to observe the historical nature of the presidential campaign, the eventual election of Barack Obama, and the global economic calamity, all of which managed to trump two wars (in which the U.S. was a main protagonist) in terms of news coverage.

With such scant separation from the year itself, it is obviously risky to tag 2008 as historic in nature. In coming decades we may simply label 2008 as the year when an era started. Even further down the paths of history, we may remember the last year (20XX) of the era that started in 2008 (how many of us remember 1648 as the date when the Thirty Years’ War ended, as opposed to remembering 1618, when the war started). Then again, perhaps the future scribes of history will use 2009 as the beginning of the era they are writing about; Barack Obama will actually become the President of the United States of America in 2009, perhaps initiating the ‘Obama Era’. If the global economic crisis causes a collapse of the post-WWII trading system, historians may write about it as "the collapse of 2009", relegating 2008 to a very real but unmarked date on the timelines of future history books.

For now I'm happy to describe 2008 as a year when a number of historic events occurred, and as a U.S. watcher, I think 2009 will be remembered as the beginning of an Era.

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