Predictions for 2010

 Welcome to the second annual edition of Predictions.  A review of the 2009 predictions is included at the end of this missive.

 The International Stage:

Iran will reach the nuclear red line in 2010.  Iran will successfully weaponize their nuclear program in the absence of a major attack on their facilities.  Israel will, short of an overt attack, continue to utilize undercover resources in an effort to stall the Iranian program, it will not be enough. 

The U.S. will, in the final analysis, support an Israeli strike as the U.S comes to realize that the region will blame the U.S. with or without direct U.S. participation.  Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia while publically decrying the strike will do so weakly and express relieved support in private. 

In the event of an attack on Iran the Syrian/Iranian alliance will crumble as Syria will not honor commitments to engage in military action in support of Iran.  Hiz’bAllah will honor their agreements with Iran and suffer a major defeat by the Israelis. 

 Pakistan will once again be subjected to a Military coup as Jihadist elements continue to play havoc with Pakistan’s domestic political situation and internal security.  The Military will step in to restore order and severely limit ongoing operations by the ISI.

Sectarian violence will escalate throughout the Middle East most especially in Iraq.

Europe will see a dramatic increase in terrorism in 2010 as they are forced to reevaluate the nature of their immigrant Muslim populations.

The Palestinian/Israeli peace process will go nowhere in 2010, no progress, no significant breakthroughs, nothing.    

The Domestic Stage:

The U.S. will suffer a series of terror attacks in 2010 on U.S. interests domestically and around the globe.  We will see a dramatic increase in the amount of home grown terror events.  We will also be the target of a successful major attack on the homeland in 2010 this attack will include both foreign and domestic aspects resulting in a major political crisis.

The drumbeat to “do something” about U.S. based terror cells, Jihadist web sites and Jihadist support infrastructure will, by mid year, become a major issue for the administration even in the absence of a significant terror event.

Democrats will retain control of the House and Senate but by significantly smaller margins than is currently the case in the house.  In the Senate Democrats will retain control but not the firm 60 votes needed to guarantee closure.  

Harry Reid will be defeated in Nevada.

Nancy Pelosi will be challenged for the Speaker’s Chair.

Unemployment will not dip below 9%.

Commercial Real Estate lending will crash as property values fall well below their current loan values.

Gitmo will not close.

The political center will, finally, come to realize their powerful role in determining election results.  The middle will find ways to organize in non traditional ways.

The New York terror trials will descend into a theater of the absurd.

John Kerry will become, in essence, a “shadow” Secretary of State being sent by the Obama Administration to address specific, major foreign policy initiatives.  This in addition to a variety of other issues and concerns will result in the eventual resignation of Hillary Clinton.

The 2010 Congressional primary elections for Democrats will be dominated by the far left. Democrats who did not support Health Care or argue for stalling the Cap & Trade or Card Check legislation will be opposed by well funded far left leaning candidates. 

For Republicans conservatives will dominate the primary process demanding that the GOP return to more traditional conservatism and abandon their neo-progressivism.  This effort will not be as well funded as the Democrats but will be more of a grass roots effort.  

The President’s approval ratings will not creep over 50% in 2010.

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Revisiting The Predictions for 2009

Original distribution date, December 31, 2008

 The pressure on Mr. Obama from the left will create interesting tensions for the new President.  This is clearly evidenced by the three week and counting hissy fit over Rick Warren.  The energy on the left is significant and will not go away anytime soon. The left’s time in the white house wilderness has been a bitter pill and they want their agenda addressed.  Obama, however, will quickly come to the conclusion that, in reality, the left cannot be fully accommodated.  He will be provided with significant evidence that governing from a position too far left of center is political suicide and he will look to replace that constituency with a more center left/right coalition.  This will consist of an artful game of trying to offer something to everyone.

 Generally on target; the attempt to govern from the left has faced serious challenges and the attempt to offer something to everyone has resulted in satisfying few. 

 There will be no media drumbeat for Obama to fulfill his campaign pledges.  He will be excused, perhaps fairly, in the interest of situational realities.

 President Obama has been, so far, very much excused by the media but not in the interest of situational realities.  The pass has been issued, in large measure, based the media’s attempt to insure his success and support their own credibility.

 By the end of the year the Obama favorability ratings will be in the low 40’s

According to Rasmussen the President’s overall approval rating is 46% with the strongly approve number at 24%.  Zogby International has Mr. Obama’s approval ratings at 45%.  Considering the general climate of euphoria on January 1st and Mr. Obama’s approval ratings at that time, I’m calling this one a win.

 The proposed stimulus package discussed by Mr. Obama and Congressional leaders will not work fast enough to satisfy major portions of the electorate.  It will be full of Pork and will, in the short term, be cast as a mistake.

 Essentially correct.

The deficit will, by mid-year, once again become an issue of ongoing discussion as the dollar falls, inflation rises, and unemployment remains high. Those factors will take the bloom off the rose of the stimulus package as its potential impact is mitigated by those factors.

The deficit has been, since mid year a topic of ongoing discussion by both parties.  Unemployment has remained high, the dollar has fallen but inflation has, to date, been kept essentially in check; three out of four.

Osama bin Laden will be reported dead this year.

Former President Musharraf believes bin Laden is dead, is a distinctly minority opinion.  Wrong! 

 The Republicans will have a difficult time of it in 2009.  Their only realistic option will be to play the political equivalent of a congressional Dr. No.  The “gray beards” will attempt to hold the line against a Democratic congress and they will suffer politically for their resistance.

 Essentially correct.  While Democratic approval ratings have fallen, Republican ratings have not improved dramatically, if at all.  The decline for Democrats has not resulted in a significant improvement for Republicans. 

 Republicans will have a hard time settling on unifying ideas and leaders that engage the public imagination.  Eventually the “gray beards” will be pushed aside and people like Paul Ryan and Bobby Jindal will emerge as the next leadership generation.  Oh, and by the way Newt will emerge again as well, look for Newt to have a very busy year. 

No denying Newt has had a busy year and no denying that Republicans while presenting alternatives have not been able or allowed to sell it.  The absence of unifying Republican leadership is, I believe, clear to all.  However, the likes of Ryan and Jindal have not been able to command the stage. The gray beards have successfully kept the youngsters in check for now.

Harry Reid will be challenged for his Senate Leadership position.

This one was completely wrong although Nevada voters may have the last word on Mr. Reid’s Senate tenure.

There will be more scandals and they will be focused on Democrats outside of the Federal Government.  Look for more scandals in Governor’s mansions and City Halls.

OK, I admit it, predicting corruption is too easy and just too hard to keep track of.

A host of organizations occupying the political left will overreach and force the President into a series of Sister Souljia moments.

While one can argue that the overreach has occurred, the defining moments have not occurred, got this one wrong.

 The intent of President Elect Obama to be a domestically focused administration will face severe challenges.  The current situation in Gaza is small potatoes compared to the potentialities.  Predictions follow.

Sudan and Somalia will move toward becoming the new Afghanistan.  Those countries will fall apart and end up being dominated and governed by militant groups espousing a radical Islamic philosophy.  This will, eventuality, position the horn of Africa as a major strategic hot spot as it overlooks the Straights of Hormuz and potentially protects Iran’s eastern flank. 

This prediction is, essentially correct but still a situation in jeopardy of becoming worse.

 The tensions between India and Pakistan will simmer near a boil.  If Pakistan does not address the Mumbai terror groups in Kashmir and the Tribal Areas, India will.

Lots of rhetoric out of India including a refusal to engage Pakistan in negotiations based on the Indian perception of a weak response, but no move by India yet; happily, got this one wrong.

 The situation in Afghanistan will worsen even in the face of a promised “surge”.  The new administration will be faced with the fact that the fate of Afghanistan lies in the Pakistani Tribal Areas and that as long as it remains off limits and Pakistan lacks political will Afghanistan will grow as a problem for the administration.  By the end of the year we will be talking about either disengagement from Afghanistan or a decade long commitment. 

Half Credit; Afghanistan did get progressively more difficult in 2009, and there was talk of disengagement. We are, by the estimates of most “experts”, facing a decade of involvement in Afghanistan. 

European “allies” will, as quickly as possible, abandon their commitments to Afghanistan.  They will wait a while in light of the new American President but by the fall the announcements of troop withdrawals will begin.

A mixed bag related to European allies some are pulling out, some maintaining, some reducing their commitments and some simply redefining the missions they are willing to accept.  

The Iranian nuclear program will continue.  Iran will refuse to negotiate in the short run confident that a broader set of economic sanctions cannot be brought to bear.  As Iran edges ever closer to a functional nuclear device so will messages from Iran that they “might” be willing to talk.  Each and every time Iran sends a message of possible accommodation it will simply mean that they are getting closer to their goals and require a little more time and space to get to the finish line.  Messages of possible accommodation will mean nothing more than an effort to forestall a military strike until their goals are realized.

This prediction turned out to be essentially correct

There will be here, as there is in Europe, a growing movement that contends that we can live with an Iranian nuclear weapon.  

This argument is becoming ever more popular within the “elite” foreign policy establishment although few have had to courage to publically espouse the idea. 

Daniel Netanyahu will be elected Israel’s Prime Minister and will put a package of economic development options in front of the Palestinians that they will reject exposing Palestinian intent regarding Israel.

True, true and true.

Israel will attack Iranian nuclear facilities, but not in the way we expect. 

While by definition, secure operations allow little more than a sliver of a view many reports identify Israel as the source for Iranian nuclear program “accidents” and “missing scientists”.  Israel has also identified the presence of Russian scientists in the Iranian program.