In this special episode, New Lines magazine’s Joshua Martin looks back at some of the key events of 2022 and how we tried to make sense of it all on The Lede.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine was, for many, the defining story of 2022. A year on, it’s easy to forget how shocked the world was when Vladimir Putin’s forces pushed across the border and along the road to Kyiv. But even in those first weeks, many signs already hinted at the direction the war would take. As Ukraine pushed back, the extent of the rot in the Russian armed forces became increasingly clear, as did the evidence of atrocities against civilians.
But while Ukraine dominated headlines, conflicts elsewhere went increasingly ignored. In Ethiopia, the central government’s wars in the regions of Tigray and Oromia were fought with no less brutality than the war in Ukraine. In the face of the international community’s apathy, peace seemed a distant prospect. And yet in November, government and Tigrayan forces did manage to reach a peace agreement. The war in Oromia, however, appears only to be intensifying.
The year 2022 also marked a historic anniversary — a century since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. For better or for worse, its rise, 600-year reign and ultimate collapse left an undeniable mark on the vast swathe of territories it once ruled. The Empire might be gone, but its legacy remains, serving as a reminder that the past is never really past. Similarly, the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September was another perfect case in point, pulling 70 years’ worth of history into the public consciousness and provoking fierce debates across the Commonwealth about what that history meant.
Such battles over history have become increasingly prominent in recent years, and 2022 continued that trend. For strongmen like Putin, Ethiopia’s Ahmed Abiy and others, these battles have proved to be a crucial part of their political strategy. In an age in which old certainties about history, identity and nation no longer hold firm, such autocrats and would-be autocrats offer a seductive promise: to turn back the clock to a simpler time.
If the past year is anything to go by, 2023 will be anything but.
Produced and hosted by Joshua Martin. Also featuring Mary Kaldor, Anand Gopal, Julia Ioffe, Chris Maroleng, Zecharias Zelalem, Julia Steers, Eugene Rogan, Marc David Baer, Priyamvada Gopal, Sophia Rosenfeld, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Lea Ypi, Kwangu Liwewe, Amie Ferris-Rotman, Lydia Wilson and Faisal Al Yafai.
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