Country of the Year

The Economist is starting a ‘Country of the Year’ thing and came out with their first choice. After considering Ireland, South Sudan, Estonia, Ukraine, Turkey and a few others, they settled on …

(Wait: what do you think? I would have picked one of the Scandinavian countries. Probably Norway). OK, the admirably non-GDP oriented, Economist-keeps-track-of-relatively-obscure-countries-affirming answer, slightly edited for brevity is:

The accomplishments that most deserve commendation are path-breaking reforms that do not merely improve a single nation. Gay marriage is one such border-crossing policy, which has increased the global sum of human happiness at no financial cost. Several countries have implemented it in 2013—including Uruguay, which also, uniquely, passed a law to legalise cannabis. This is a change so obviously sensible that no other country has made it.  Better yet, the man at the top, President José Mujica, is admirably self-effacing. With unusual frankness for a politician, he referred to the new law as an experiment. He lives in a humble cottage, drives himself to work in a Volkswagen Beetle and flies economy class. Modest yet bold, liberal and fun-loving, Uruguay is our country of the year.

There is also a rather dark piece comparing the current state of world affairs with the world immediately prior to WW1:

The United States is Britain, the superpower on the wane, unable to guarantee global security. Its main trading partner, China, plays the part of Germany, a new economic power bristling with nationalist indignation and building up its armed forces rapidly. Modern Japan is France, an ally of the retreating hegemon and a declining regional power. The parallels are not exact—China lacks the Kaiser’s territorial ambitions and America’s defence budget is far more impressive than imperial Britain’s—but they are close enough for the world to be on its guard. Which, by and large, it is not. 



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