Friday, April 16, 2010

Predictions 2010

Owing to the fact that this blog is moribund, these predictions will be easy to locate a year and a decade hence. Not that it much matters, for with my powers of prediction, you have but to read the prognostications to know they are true. So, for 2010 and the teens, here are my predictions.

American politics are in that early phase of a grand ideological shift that confuses partisans of both sides. However, the conservative era has indeed drawn to a close. In terms of policy, this means a gentle shift toward liberalism, which will take the form of a shoring up of the social safety net, re-regulation of financial institutions, and public investment in infrastructure and education. Dems will champion these causes and ultimately win broad victories on most of them. However, because change will be gradual and incremental changes, it will feed anxiety on both the right and left in the next half-decade as factions on the wings melt down in a characteristic apocalyptic frenzy. By the end of the decade, this liberal agenda will be a settled matter and everyone will chill--Dems in calm satisfaction, GOP in despondency.

In terms of elections, the effect will be similarly murky. The Dems will not continue their dominance of '08 and one or both chambers of Congress may even slide from their control in 2010 or 2012. Nevertheless, Republicans will find that the ground underneath them has shifted. The insane Palin faction will demand ever more extravagant displays of fealty to ideological platitudes. The party will limp forward in a bifurcated mode, with the radicals refusing to collaborate on anything.

A moderate, pragmatic faction will rise that works as often with Dems as with conservatives. These Republicans will come from blue or purple states and will fall in with the new liberalism. As Clinton accepted the orthodoxy of the right, so these Republicans will accept the new liberal orthodoxy of rebuilding the social contract.

Foreign Policy
Always more difficult to predict, owing to the greater number of variables. However, let us tackle it from different domains.

Middle East
Despite a currently grim outlook, Israel/Palestine is about to take a turn for the better. By the end of 2010, Netanyahu will have agreed to stop settlements under US pressure. Over the next half-decade, Israel will begin to make serious concessions in anticipation of a two-state solution. In Iran, the green revolution produced a change in government, but not to the Jeffersonian democracy Neocons want. Rather, a pragmatist Islamic republic emerges, with the president's hand marginally strengthened. Iran will continue to play coy on nukes but won't build them--effectively a continuation of decades-long policy.

Unfortunately, things get worse in general as the world begins to move slowly away from oil. This will look like a descent into chaos, but out of it, economies will diversify, leaving countries a more hopeful prospect for the third decade of the century--even if things look bad at the end of the second.

In the next decade or two, we will see the emergence of "Islamic democracies," strange systems of very conservative social policy, but marginal steps toward democratization. Turkey, unfortunately, may slide back into this form of government.

South Asia
Obama's policies in Afghanistan lead to a slow stabilization of violence. The country remains troubled, but not volatile. This lowers the temperature in Pakistan, which builds slowly toward an Islamic democracy. Tensions will continue to diminish between India and Pakistan, and it may finally be the decade when the Kashmir question is resolved.

China and Asia
China will continue along its current path, slowly putting together yet another form of rule that features a fair amount of personal freedoms in some areas (commerce, information) alongside strong curbs on others (criticism of the state, freedom of speech and worship). China will continue to prosper, but the level flattens out as the population ages. Toward the end of the decade, after a long period of rising incomes, China will fall into a recession that will challenge the governance model.

North Korea and Burma both see popular revolutions.

I post this for posterity, though I failed to complete my thoughts at the time.

No comments: