We live in a crazy world, in which children in some places are busy communicating using social media on their smart phones, while elsewhere other children are decapitating people because they don’t like their beliefs.
The war in Syria and elsewhere in the Arab world seems to me to be a reflection of the war, chaos and dispossession that afflicted the European continent 100 years ago. From WWI thru WWII hundreds of millions of Europeans were murdered, uprooted and became refugees. Now it is happening in the Arab world. The root causes seem to be roughly the same, namely the inability of the social structures that had developed to provide a reasonable life for the inhabitants of the region, that led to revolution and ultra-nationalism. In the Arab world the reversion to irredentist Islamism is no less extreme than the European adoption of Communism, Nazism and Fascism. The oppression that comes with dictatorship, communist control or shia law does not offer any progressive hope for the future of mankind. What has become clear thru social experiment is that only liberal democracy is a satisfactory system to provide the accumulation of wealth and the freedom that results in innovation and progress.
In Syria, there is basically a three-way split between the dictator Assad, the democratic opposition and the Islamic State. The fact that Russia is supporting Assad is not surprising, since Pres. Putin has become in effect the dictator of Russia. The absence of significant support for the democratic opposition and the Kurds in Syria by the US and its Western allies is an indictment of the policies of the Obama Administration. This is the main reason why IS is still flourishing. Whoever becomes the next President of the United States will have to face the fact that without a concerted military campaign the forces of Islamism will retain a significant territory from which to launch attacks against Western interests.
Another process that is mimicking the past is the current collapse of the Chinese market, paralleling the market crash of 1929. The fact that Communist China embraced capitalism and this produced a huge > 10% growth in GDP pa for 20 years, could not last. Now the over-production, over-construction and lack of control of the market, allowed all sorts of elements to invade the market and now the Communist Government is unable to control the consequences. Similarly the capitalist system in the late 1920’s was unable to maintain stability, leading to subsequent major changes in market control. Huge debts of trillions of dollars have accrued in China and millions of people have lost all their capital and savings. If this leads to a market crash, as in 1929, then the Communist Party will be under great social pressure and may not be able to hold things together. What that portends for the future of China and for the rest of the world that is engaged in trading with China is as yet uncertain, but if the past is any guide there will be years of desperate conditions that could lead to great social upheaval.