Kenya and the world in 2009 – a friend’s predictions
With a New Year dawning, let me put my reputation on the line and offer a few predictions for the New Year As follows:
1. 2009 will be, on balance, a pretty good year for President-Elect Barack Obama. Obama will move very cautiously on any policy agenda he has, and although he will not prove an extraordinarily dynamic executive, his charisma and the undying adulation of the media, as well as a more favorable, if not adoring, view of him held by the elites in the US and Europe will ensure that people are convinced that “hope” and “change” have truly come again. Expect internal tension between Obama’s economic and environmental advisors, and expect him to side with the former. The biggest weakness of the Obama administration will prove to be the ego of the participants. Though Obama himself will be raised above the fray, influential cabinet secretaries and aids will publicly snipe at each other in the press despite the best efforts of Whitehouse chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.
2. 2. The Democratic congress, by contrast, will not have a good year. Nancy Pelosi, an ultra-liberal and, even worse, an ineffective speaker, will try and fail to push much of her agenda (card check, the fairness doctrine or some equivalent tougher gun laws and the like). She will face a fractious caucus, as Democrats from red districts struggle to avoid taking votes which will cost them in the 2010 election, and an administration unwilling to back her on issues near and dear to her base.
3. . The Republican Party’s year will be mixed. On Capitol Hill, the party won’t prove particularly effective, as tensions continue to simmer between conservatives, who will oppose a pork-laden stimulus package and more government bail-outs, and moderates who will attempt to work with the Obama administration and undercut Democrats. The house and senate Republicans will have moments of glory however; allying with moderate Democrats to block card check and, when gas prices inevitably rise over the summer, another “windfall oil profits tax”. By and large, however, the Republicans in the house and senate will sit back and watch Pelosi utterly fail to control her caucus. In the states, things will look a good bit brighter for the GOP, as governors like Mark Sanford, Bobby Jindal and, yes, Sarah Palin help craft alternatives to the federal Democratic Party’s policies. The extremely cautious RNC will come close to reelecting Mike Duncan party chairman in January; when word leaks out, the grass-roots reaction will be so astonishingly vitriolic that they will back away from even thinking about it. In the end, the next party chairman will be African-American, as the party will be unable to resist the chance to provide a conservative alternative to Obama, even if only in a shadow sense. However, since I respect the intelligence, grasp of policy and organizational abilities of both Ken Blackwell and Michael Steele, I suspect that, whichever man ultimately wins the top job will do a very good job. Bob Mcdonnell will win the governor’s race in Virginia, and senate candidate Dick Zimmer will run for governor of New Jersey, and may just win in a squeaker.
4. Immigration politics will make resurgence as the economic slow-down prompts increasing hostility to illegal immigration. Obama will be unable to act due to the conflicting pulls from his base and public opinion. House Republicans will be divided, but most will rally around a Mike Pencesque policy of first securing the border then creating a system whereby the market can determine the flow of immigration in a regularized fashion. True immigration hawks will begin mulling the prospects of a third party which is socially conservative, economically nationalist and tough on immigration.
Economy: the recession will continue, and the government will entangle itself with an increasing number of industries. Members of the commentariat will continue speaking of the “end of capitalism” and “decline of America” despite any real lack of evidence, and continuing to ignore China’s underperforming of the US stock-market. Chinese growth in 2009 will be the slowest in decades, and this will correspond with increasing unrest for them at home (see below). The economic stimulus will blunt the worst edge of the recession but won’t end things in the end. Home prices will continue to fall; auto makers will continue to struggle, Ford maybe a bit less so than the others. Americans will take small comfort in the fact that they’re doing better than almost anyone else in the world. However, by the end of the year, things will start to look marginally better. The last quarter of 2009 will see either slight growth or a smaller shrinking than any of the previous three. Gas prices will again sky-rocket over the summer, but not as high as this summer.
1. The Obama administration will make only token and/or cosmetic changes in US foreign policy, stroking the egos of European leadership, perhaps closing Guantanimo, but otherwise not doing much. Afghanistan will receive a huge inflow of men and material, and the Taliban will suffer setbacks, but will be able to regroup across the border in Pakistan. Obama will, like Bush before him, quietly pursue a more pro-India policy, and will, a little less quietly, grow increasingly frustrated and angry with Pakistan.
2. Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad will continue to be a problematic figure for the US and in the region. Obama will meet with him once or twice without preconditions, will get nothing out of it and will become quickly disillusioned with the Islamic Republic’s posturing. The continued slump in gas prices will cause unrest in Iran, and will make Ahmadinejad and the mullahs increasingly desperate, but this will drive them closer to their erstwhile allies and fellow sufferers in Russia and Venezuela.
3. 3. Russia will prove to be a major headache for the new administration, as Russian bellicosity increases. Putin and Medvedev will assume Obama is a push-over like Carter and will be shocked to find out that he and his national security team have more starch in their spine than expected. Russia will make more saber-rattling noises, particularly in hopes of bolstering their position in Central Asia and keeping Ukraine away from Europe. Within Russia, nationalist violence will rise for yet another year while radical Eurasianist Alexandr Dugin and his coterie will continue to grow quietly more influential in the halls of government.
4. 4. David Cameron will lead Britain’s Tories back into government with a much smaller majority than they by rights ought to have. They will attempt to tackle Welfare Reform with modest success. Brown will be ousted as Labor Party leader in favor of someone probably worse.
5. 5. Stephen Harper will finally win a majority for the Conservative Party of Canada, though, again, a smaller one than by all rights he deserves to win. The left wing of the Liberal Party of Canada will grow increasingly disenchanted with new leader Michael Ignatief, and rumors will begin to swirl of a Bob Rae-led defection to the NDP. Should this occur, the LPC will essentially become a centrist party once again, which will either lead it eventually back to government or to disillusion. Once he has finally gained a majority, Harper will strip the public subsidy from the political parties, thereby crippling his rivals. The NDP will recover most quickly, hiring former Dean and Obama campaign veterans to build them a fund-raising network. This combined with their increased position in the House of Commons will make Canada’s socialist party de facto opposition.
6. 6. Nothing much of any importance will happen in the EU, accept that they will once again fail to meet their economic targets and the Euro will continue to be talked up falsely as an alternative to the dollar. Eurocrats in Brussels will concoct another desperate scheme to bring greater political union, which will fail. Far-right sentiment in several European countries will grow because of increasing immigration in hard economic times.
7. 7. 2009 will not be a good year for the PRC. The economic slow-down, increasing unrest, the fall of a couple of it’s client regimes and increased protectionist and anti-Chinese sentiment in the US will reinforce, to the leadership of the PRC, that they still catch cold when the US sneezes, and be damned what “decoupling” theorists and over-eager pundits like Fareed Zachariah have to say about it. Of course, since the politburo has a better grasp of reality than Fareed Zachariah anyway, this will not be news to them. China will quietly crack down at home while attempting to show an even friendlier face abroad. They may even covertly offer assistance to the administration regarding Iran and North Korea in exchange for increased good will and a veto on any protectionist economic measures coming out of Washington.
8. 8. India will have a mixed year. A comprehensive overhaul of its counter-terror doctrines and policies will, at the very least, be undertaken. Relations with the US will continue to warm, and India may even begin considering greater expansion into Africa. Like the rest of the world, its economy will grow more slowly, but Manmohan Singh, India’s shrewd Prime Minister, will limit the damage done by his left-wing coalition partners.
9. 9. Robert Mugabe will finally be deposed, no thanks to the clownish performance of the ANC. Jacob Zuma will be elected President of South Africa, but cracks within the ANC will widen. President Kibaki’s health will continue to decline, leaving Kenya increasingly in Odinga’s hands. Odinga will prove just as disappointing as Kibaki, though much of this will not hit this year. Continent wide, backlash among the populous against Chinese “neocolonialism” will continue to increase.
10. 10. (Complements of Dan Livingstone, my Korea expert). Kim Jung IL will be pronounced dead and a power struggle will ensue (this will also contribute to China’s problems, see above). China, South Korea and the US will work to stem the damage, but the already crisis-ridden nation will now face civil war in addition to its other problems. (My additions). Units of the PLAN will cross into North Korea to keep order, with the tacit support of the US and South Korea. A more moderate, Chinese-style Communist leader will be imposed on the country, and will attempt rebuilding along “market socialist” lines.
11. 11. Things in the Middle East will pretty much continue to suck. Iraq will see slow improvement, once again despite Nuri Al-Maliki. The Shiah parties will (very unfortunately) probably get reelected, but the Awakening political parties will win in Sunni areas, and a credible Iraqi nationalist opposition will start to emerge. Christians in Iraq will continue building their own militias to protect them from basically everyone. The Israelis will elect Benjamin Netanyahu, particularly if the current Israeli operations don’t go as well as expected. Egypt will again mull occupying Ghaza, and if they do end up doing it, will make what Israel did to the strip look like a picnic, but will naturally receive no press for it because the media doesn’t give two bits for what Arabs do to other Arabs unless the US can be blamed for it. Netanyahu will begin an overhaul of the Israeli military and attempt to liberalize the economy. The various governments in the region which are not Israel will continue to brutalize, rape, torture and kill their own people routinely with not so much as a whimper from the UN, EU, world press or more than a handful of NGOs, and will receive an almost total pass on their actions from the Christian left, which, like the Christian right, sees the entire region through the lens of Israel-Palestine.
1. The New York Giants will finally face the Pittsburgh Steelers in one of the best super bowl games in the history of American football. Giants win, but only by a touchdown.
2. 2. Anywhere from six to ten pop starlets will do any or all of the following: get married, get divorced, get checked into drug and/or alcohol rehab, have a child, have someone else’s child, develop an eating disorder, develop a new line of dreadful fashion accessories, convert to an Eastern religion,
“find Jesus” then lose him again two months later at a party in Beverly Hills. Less than five pop starlets will do any or all of the following: become Republican, produce a hit single which is actually worth hearing, have a sincere religious experience, get married and have it last for more than ten minutes, “find Jesus” and not lose him six months later at a party in Beverly Hills, actually do charitable work which is in some way useful to society.
3. 3. The popular LOL cats phenomenon will be replaced by the even more bazaar text message chimpanzee, consisting of pictures of chimpanzees doing various things accompanied by brief messages in text message speak which say things like l8 4 mtg w/ silverback gorilla, or have a h/t d8 tonight w/ foxy spider monkey. It will only get weirder from there.
4. 4. Rom Moore will be unable to resist politicizing the last half-season of Battlestar Galactica, thereby ruining a promising series. The new Star Trek movie, however, will rock super hard.
5. 5. At least two shows which should not be canceled will be, and at least five shows which should be canceled will not be.
6. 6. Eric Flint and Tom Kratman will collaborate on a book, and the world’s head will explode from the political paradox and sheer unbridled awesomeness. John Ringo will finally get round to starting a new sci-fi series, while David Drake and David Weber come out with solid new entries in their existing ones.
7. 7. SNL will be unable to bring itself to actually effectively lampoon President Obama, thereby reducing its political satire from OK to suck.
8. 8. There will be at least three more movies about how bad/evil/dumb/incompetent/Hitleresque Bush was. All three will tank at the box-office, because quite frankly nobody cares anymore.
Personal (all of the following are somewhat unlikely but would be awesome).
1. I will take my New Year’s resolution seriously and drop at least twenty pounds. Friends will be shocked by the sheer amount of salad I’ll consume, the total of which will eclipse the total amount of salad I’ve eaten thus far in my life by a factor of at least a hundred.
2. I will have to make a difficult decision, as six prestigious universities offer me fully-funded PHD programs while President Obama asks to appoint me, who he refers to as “A person so smart that I need him on my team even though he didn’t vote for me this time and almost certainly won’t in four years,” as Assistant to the Deputy National Security advisor. I eventually decide to go with the government job.
3. After winning the “most eligible bachelor” designation from several leading popular magazines, I become deluged with eligible young women, to the point that I am forced to hire my friend back from Iraq with a pay increase to handle security on:
4. The luxurious Georgetown mansion (complete with car driver and full staff equipped with crisp British accents) I buy after:
5. I finally complete a bloody novel and get it published and:
6. Win the lottery and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in quick succession. But:
7. Despite my fame, good fortune, more manly physique, incredibly cool job and totally awesome and stylish car, the best part of the year is still surrounding me with the friends and family who’ve been with me in good times and bad. I gather them all together, at some point during the year, at a cabin on a lake both of which I’ve bought with my winnings. We kick back a few drinks, swim in the crystal clear water and talk about the good times, past, present and future. All of them, astonishingly, get along with one another, and we spend an idyllic two week period there which is the height of the year for all of us.
Well, that’s it for 2009. All these predictions, of course, are subject to change, do not come with a warrantee and may not be returned for any defect discovered subsequent to purchase. Hope you enjoyed them.
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