From Brexit to the US election, Aleppo to post-truth, 2016 has watched the Kremlin chiefs dreams realised
Donald Trump should not have been named Time publications Person of the Year. Thats not to build the schoolboy mistake of presuming the awarding to be a badge of moral approval: I know it simply recognises the individual who has predominated the previous 12 months, for good or ailment.( Its why Time has no reason to regret handing the 1938 honor to Adolf Hitler .)
Even so, and even though Trump was clearly the biggest news story of 2016, he still should not have won. For there is another figure who looms larger over this annus horribilis, albeit from the darkness. He aims this year with a wolfish smile, content that almost all his dream have come true. That man is Vladimir Putin.
He surveys the global landscape and find almost every sign pointing his way. From Aleppo to the White House, from post-truth to Brexit, this is the year the world was reshaped in his image. He may not have been the direct hand behind every change, though he surely gave several of them a nudge, but together they induced him 2016 s biggest winner.
Start with Syria, which even in this year of horrors surely merits a special infamy of its own. The leaders of western nations ritually condemn the catastrophe that has been visited upon the people of Aleppo, eloquently denouncing the bombing of hospitals, including makeshift clinics hidden in cellars, the flattening of civilian regions, the killing of children, the refusal of food and medication. And yet Putin knows he need not listen. Because the important fact is the one on the ground: no one has stopped him or his Syrian vassal, Bashar al-Assad, from continuing the slaughter.
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