Obama will order air strikes against Iran, and Iraq will fall into a horrible civil war. Sadly, these are among the events I believe we’ll see in 2012.
I write about the past in books such as Devil’s Den, or the juxtaposition between the past and present in the forthcoming Time Fall. Because “the Past is Prologue,” history can help predict the future. My background as a writer, historian, businesn and lawyer has developed my “powers of prognostication” (if not soothsaying!). I’m therefore going to make a few predictions for 2012. I won’t expand on the reasons for these predictions in this context, but would be pleased to correspond with any readers wishing to discuss them:
1) Obama will order air strikes against Iran. The tactical plan is in place, but the Administration hopes to delay implementation as long as possible so that the military action can happen closer to next year’s elections and boost Obama’s reelection chances
2) Obama will be reelected
3) The Republicans will control both houses of Congress, deadlocking the Executive Branch as the US economy continues its downward spiral
4) Iraq will be engulfed in a major civil war
5) Both the Euro zone and the EU will survive intact after a very tough year, and the Euro will stabilize
As a final note, the country of the future to watch is not China, India or Brazil, but the old Bear itself – Russia. The reinvigorated former world power will have 5% economic growth in 2012 and a budget surplus over 3% of GDP – an incredible contrast to the USA and most Western economies. Consumer spending per capita in Moscow is one-and-a-half times higher than Germany or the UK. Twenty years after the fall of Communism, the material level of life (in Moscow and St. Petersburg at least) is comparable to London or New York. There is no unemployment (Moscow has labor shortages), no slums, 90% of people have a university degree, and Moscow has the largest population of Nobel Prize winners and PhDs of any city in the world.
Americans and Western Europeans are more focused on the vagaries of Russia’s fledgling democracy than on its dynamic economy and consummate skills in global power politics. The slumbering old Russian bear is awakening.
Randy Black says
Come on Tim, to claim that more Nobel winners live in Moscow than any other world city is not believable. In fact, I can find only two living Nobel winners living in Moscow, a city of 10 million. That would be Mikhail Gorbachev and Alexei Abrikosov. The last Russian to win a Nobel was Alferov in 2000, but he lives in St. Petersburg.
Heck, we’ve got four Nobel winners living in Dallas, a city of about one million. Up until about four years ago, we had six but a couple died. I met, worked with or photographed four of them at one time or the other. Moreover, to claim that 90 pecent of Moscow has a university degree stretches the imagination.
Moscow has about 30 percent of its population still in elementary, high school or college. Thus, if every single person over the age of 21 had a university degree and that seems unlikely, the most the number might reach is 70 percent.
Finally, there are slums in Moscow. Qite a few actually. Among many, there is Chelobityevo, home to 3,000 Muslims from Central Asia. It’s only 200 meters from the Garden Ring Road. Many “homes” in that slum are nothing more than huts.
Thanks Randy. I relied on data from Cameron Sawyer, who lives in Moscow and can offer first-hand information. He has responded on WAIS with back-up for this data. I am sure you would agree that Russia is often overlooked as a once and future superpower.
Leonard Moecklin says
Happy New Year Tim,
I am surprised that you have no New Year predictions about Cuba. What can we expect from Cuba in the coming year?
Thanks Len. I think the status quo will continue to Cuba throughout 2012 with incremental economic reforms as we have seen. The Cubans are closing watching the US elections and are fearful that a Republican administration will revert to the hard-line policies of the George W Bush era.
Barry Stampler says
I agree with all of your saying of the sooth except perhaps for airstrikes against Iran. I wonder if our Government would really open up that can of worms? I do agree that our Government will also remain deadlocked until the current members are voted out. In addition what is your opinion on a third part gaining a larger voice to offset the ” Nonsense”?
Barry, I just can’t see a Third Party candidate (such as Ron Paul) having any chance of prevailing against the political machines and vast financial resources of the Republican and Demoncratic parties.
Freddie de Lisle says
Just to comment on two of your predictions:
I very much hope that the USA does not bomb Iran as it will coalesce the Iranian people around their odious government. There is oppostion within Iran to the mullahs and the Revolutionary Guards. We need to encourage these and help them overthrow this totalitarian regime. Moreover the USA letting loose the Israelis as a proxy against iran is pitting one degenerate regime against another – Islamist totalitarianism against Zionist bigotry.
I am not as optimistic as you about the survival of the euro in its current form, though I do think the EU will continue. I suspect that the euro will reduce to a core countries of France, German and Benelux. I quote an extract from a letter I wrote earlier this week to the Editor of The Tablet (www.thetablet.co.uk) which said “The current crisis of the euro has been the faulty construction of a mechanism. A properly functioning currency union sees richer parts of the union help poorer parts – as in the United Kingdom and the United States. The reluctance of richer Continental Europeans to fund their poorer neighbours in the south has prevented the creation of a democratic workable solution. Instead the ideological heirs of Christian and Social Democratic Europe are attempting an undemocratic top-down solution which preserves the wealth of richer Continental Europeans. At least in the United Kingdom we are tempering the necessary cuts in public expenditure which are the result of the outmoded centralised spending plans of Gordon Brown by managing our own monetary status and transferring moneys from the richer parts of society to the poorer in a democratic way. The Continental European elites, wedded to their ‘social-democratic’ model (in the long-term both anti-social and anti-democratic), are instead imposing solutions which will leave the poor poorer and the rich richer.”
First, I also ferevently hope that the US does not strike Iran for many reasons, including those you cite. Another important reason is that US intelligence agencies are convinced that Iranian terrorist “sleeper cells” exist in the USA and would be activitated following a US or Israeli attack. Howvever, I think we are seeing escalating provocations from both sides(or three if we include Israel) that will culminate in military action. For example, Iran has announced that it is operating a second nuclear facility (there are, of course, many more), and Ahmadinejad is on a tour of “rogue” countries in Latin American, which is like baiting hungry wolf with raw meat for most Republican presidential candidates. I believe that Obama will feel that he needs to show he is “tough on terrorism” to compete with his opponents.
I applaud the extract from your letter. I agree that the Euro may eventually become the central currency of a core group of “rich” (and well-managed) countries. However, I don’t see this happening in 2012. Germany won’t return to the DM and France certainly won’t revert to the Franc – the economic consequences would be dire in terms of inflation and export competiveness.
Thanks for your comments.
First time comment on your blog.
I think we are getting closer to an attack on Iran from US or Israel. The problem is the consequences and reactions down the road are extremely difficult to predict. I think the people that want this should be careful for what they wish for…..
Concerning Russia, I agree with Ivan, for the top earners and all the people connected, I am sure life is great, still leaves out a whole lot of dis-grunted people at the middle/bottom who don’t seem to be happy about Putin and his clique…also the demographics are horrendous in Russia, I was reading in Jane’s that the military is missing out of tens of thousands of recruits, not just because of the infamous hazing but because of the poor health of Russia youth. US kids are fat but a couple of months of stair-master and they are OK for service. Russian kids have a higher proportion of health issues rendering them unsuitable for service permanently …
Ivan Kinsman says
Yes, I agree with most of what you say here. I think Iran will pay the price for its warmongering, and deservedly so. If not the US, then the Israelis…
Ref. Russia, I am not sure it’s correct to just focus on the economy. I think the political situation may smoulder on which may create a sense of instability, thus affecting the economic outlook. Putin and his cronies have held the reins of power for too long and the young, highly educated section of the population have had enough.
I also think, like you, that the eurozone will pull through although significant structural reforms are necessary if it is to continue, particularly over budget approval and monitoring. I heard a very good French analyst saying that it is the most sophisticated model of political and economic union in the world at this and will serve as a model to other regional blocs. He could be right…
Thanks Ivan. I generally agree with you about Russia. However, the people protesting against Putin are from a diverse range of political parties as well as socio-economic and educational backgrounds. Putin should have “quit while he was ahead” and be remembered for excellent managament and enlightened economic parties. There is really no alternative to his political party at this time.