What we will remember from 2008

Usually, when I sit down to make a list it is a form of procrastination. Once a year, however, I can put my list-making habit to a practical use – when I write an end-of-year column, picking the five “defining moments” of the past 12 months.

This year has been a vintage one for news, most of it grim. It took just a few moments to scribble down my top four: the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Barack Obama, the Beijing Olympics and the Russia-Georgia war. The fifth choice was more difficult, so I canvassed suggestions from readers of my blog.

They came up with a wide range of suggestions. The most frequent was the terrorist attack on Mumbai. Other events that came up several times were Kosovo’s declaration of independence, Ireland’s rejection of the Lisbon treaty, Nicolas Sarkozy’s six months as “president” of Europe, the first ever Group of 20 nations summit, the US-India nuclear deal, the revival of fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the continued disintegration of Somalia and Zimbabwe. Some wanted me to include more financial events – a reasonable enough suggestion in the year of the credit crunch. Ideas included: “The fall of the house of Madoff” and “Iceland goes kerplunk”. The most unusual suggestion was “Australia’s decline in Test and one-day cricket” (from an Indian).

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