2012 in 16 Stories

fpif-best-of-2012Every year around this time, pundits and prognosticators set about the task of divining what the last year meant. What did we learn about the world? And what grand narrative can condense a year’s worth of news into a single story we can all share in?

It’s an unenviable task. From incomplete revolutions in the Middle East to a worsening climate crisis all over, 2012 seemed ill-suited to grand narratives from the outset. The work continues, if more urgently than before.

But when it comes to granular narratives, those little stories that thread through the lives of every person on this planet, any FPIF reader will know that the year 2012 has been as bountiful as any. From drugs to drones, budgets to bases, and Syria to Sandy, FPIF continues to cover the human impacts of policy at home and abroad, always affording a special place to scholars and activists committed to changing it for the better.

In that spirit, I’ve collected 16 of our biggest stories from 2012—those global vignettes that readers like you read, shared, and talked about the most. Brought to you by a diverse cast of talented contributors, these tales cover a host of issues in nearly every region of the world. I hope you’ll enjoy revisiting them while you do your own musing about the past year.

And, if you like what you read here, I hope you’ll support FPIF with an end-of-the-year donation today. As an independent, non-profit progressive outlet, FPIF survives by your support alone.

Best wishes for a safe and happy new year. With your help, we’ll be there with you.

FPIF: Best of 2012

ben-affleck-argo-review“Argo” and Hollywood’s Muslim Problem
Fouad Pervez
While well-intentioned, Ben Affleck’s Argo failed to promote a more nuanced view of U.S.-Iranian relations, falling into the common Hollywood trap of making Muslims into a monolithic Green Menace.

drones-double-tappingAttacks on First Responders Transform Criminality of Drone Strikes to Sadism
Russ Wellen
The term “double-tapping,” or the practice of firing on the first responders to a drone strike, fails to capture the sociopathic nature of the tactic.

why-chavez-wonWhy Chavez Won Again
Danny Glover
Actor and activist Danny Glover was in Venezuela for its October elections, where he met with members of the marginalized groups who were key to President Hugo Chavez’s reelection victory.

hawaii-head-of-tentacled-beastHawaii: Head of the Tentacled Beast
Jon Letman
The sooner Hawaii recognizes that it would be better off with a drastically reduced dependency on the military, the sooner it can begin to move toward a healthier, safer, and more secure future.

six-global-issues-debatesSix Global Issues the Foreign Policy Debates (Didn’t) Touch
Sarah Anderson, Phyllis Bennis, Peter Certo, Miriam Pemberton, Sanho Tree, and Daphne Wysham
IPS scholars kept a host of neglected foreign policy issues in the conversation throughout a presidential campaign that ignored them.

tpp-quiet-coup-investor-classThe TPP: A Quiet Coup for the Investor Class
Hilary Matfess
The Obama administration’s trade negotiators have been quietly assembling a massive trans-Pacific trade agreement as reactionary as anything Mitt Romney’s team would have proposed.

unscientific-drug-control-regimeOur Unscientific Drug Control Regime
Felipe Umana
When it comes to determining which drugs are more harmful than others, the international drug control regime has historically favored religious and ideological prejudices over scientific data.

reinforcing-washingtons-asia-pacific-hegemonyReinforcing Washington’s Asia-Pacific Hegemony
Joseph Gerson
The Obama administration’s “Pacific Pivot,” a massive diplomatic and military mobilization against China, is sure to escalate tensions in a crucial global region.

california-assembly-stifle-debate-israelCalifornia State Assembly Stifles Debate on Israel
Stephen Zunes

A resolution passed this year in California casts such a wide net over “anti-Semitism” that it could curb the free speech rights of student groups in the state who criticize Israeli policies.

sectarian-jihad-syria-made-usaSectarian Jihad in Syria: Made in the USA?
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
By the summer of 2012, Syria was not so much in the throes of civil war as it was a theater for much broader geopolitical conflictsa phenomenon the U.S. played no small role in facilitating.

art-arab-awakeningArt and the Arab Awakening
Nama Khalil
Often overlooked by international coverage, the Arab world’s artists have helped foster a more vibrant civil society in the wake of the Arab Spring, pointing the way to more durable democratic institutions.

deporting-adult-adopteesDeporting Adult Adoptees
Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Caitlin Kee, and Kristin R. Pak
Because of a quirk in U.S. immigration law, many adult adoptees in the United States have been kicked out of the country they were legally brought to as children.

spanish-austerity-savageSpanish Austerity Savage to the Point of Sadism
Conn Hallinan
The bailout package negotiated by Spain’s government earlier this year was yet another witches’ brew of cutbacks, layoffs, and austerity measures.

noam-chomskys-occupyNoam Chomsky’s “Occupy”
John Feffer
Veteran writer and activist Noam Chomsky was not one to watch the unfolding Occupy movement from the sidelines, evidenced by this collection of the dissident’s exchanges with the movement.

why-kony-2012-failsWhy Kony 2012 Failed
Matthew Kavanagh
The Invisible Children campaign’s now notorious viral video about Joseph Kony provided a Twitter-like view of Uganda, political history, and U.S. foreign policy.

carbon-blood-money-hondurasCarbon Blood Money in Honduras
Rosie Wong
Violence playing out between peasants and landowners in Honduras shows the dark underbelly of the international carbon credit trade, which has created new financial incentives for violent grabs.

Peter Certo is the Acting Editor of Foreign Policy in Focus.