Annual Predictions 2011

Crisis is the prediction for 2011.

In, I believe, National Review President Kennedy is quoted, in a discussion of foreign policy with Richard Nixon after the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Kennedy, in the context of Presidential priorities, phrased it this way; “Who gives a shit if the minimum wage is $1.15 or $1.25 compared to what could have just happened?” 

Generally, the Obama Administration will be forced to confront the dangers of foreign policy to a degree unseen in 2009 or 2010.  The results of the President’s foreign policy decisions will present themselves for judgment in 2011.  It, no doubt, appears to those absent our scruples that this administration in crisis is exactly where they want them to be.  Crisis is not a difficult undertaking these days.  These same folks have also consistently misread Americans; it’s the truth, takes us a while to get around to it more often than not.  Crisis is frequently the cauldron that gets us there. 

Quick, name a non lame duck foreign policy victory?

A list of what has been reported in the media just the past few days as crisis or one sort or another went long, fast!  Debt, deficits, housing, foreclosure, balance of trade deficits, credit availability, employment, real wages, executive / worker pay gaps, state budget deficits, city budget deficits, pension funds, uncommitted capital, dollar valuation, extremism, border security, immigration reform, energy, cyber security, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Palestine, North Korea, Sudan, Yemen; overload, list terminated.   

Conspiratorially manufactured crisis, exposed will motivate an overwhelming response in support of the President assuming the President responds and reestablishes a red line.  We will recognize the need to be, sometimes, first and foremost, Americans.  Recognition of that imperative in time of need will re-elect the President.  Conversely, self-serving “shallow” crisis will send the President to a vacation condo in Plains Georgia. 

The prediction?  Whatever you’re first reaction to crisis is in 2011, hold on to it for 24 – 48 hours; perception will change!

International:                

  1. “Small Ball” terrorism will accelerate in Europe.  The demographic infrastructure and self imposed social exclusion within the Muslim community will provide ideological context, opportunity and support.  The acceleration will be fed by frustration over the recent absence of a “big event” and the continuing growth of extremism in Europe.  Europe will be forced to seriously re-evaluate their immigration policies and social support network. 
  2. NATO commitments will come under serious scrutiny as budget pressures increase.  50 years down the road in Europe and with most serious threats being asymmetric, European security cannot be high on our list in terms of boots on the ground.  In today’s world resources focused on Eastern Europe makes much more sense in terms of threat proximity.     
  3. Turkey will continue to move away from the West toward regional alliances in the Middle East.  Turkey’s recent history of secularism will continue to be slowly overtaken by Islamist influences.  The trends in Turkey will force NATO and America to face a major geo-political challenge based on how much critical strategy has been based on Turkey remaining a West leaning ally.  Recall the Turkish refusal to allow U.S. forces into Iraq by way of Turkey?  Turkish self interest had nothing to do with U.S. policy, despite prior commitments and understandings.  Turkey was focused on the opportunity to punish the Kurdish PPK.  The last thing Turkey wanted was to be flanked by the U.S. supply chain in Northern Iraq.    
  4. Israel and Hiz’bAllah will re-engage militarily in 2011.  The Israeli’s will not pull punches and will look for the opportunity to decimate Hiz’bAllah capabilities.  A potential strike against Iran bears more weight if the ability of Hiz’bAllah to strike Israel is put in doubt or mitigated.  Missile stockpiles, infrastructure in Southern Lebanon and leadership will be primary Israeli targets. 
  5. Arab autocracies will demonstrate actual, public behaviors consistent with the idea that the wild dog of extremism can and will attack its owner.  As we discuss defunding health care so must the Saudis begin to defund Wahhabism.             
  6. As was the case last year; there will be no agreement between the Israeli’s and the Palestinians; many proposals, much wringing of hand and soaring rhetoric that does not face the base line problems; no progress.
  7. Global Warming, oops, Climate Change science will continue to be subjected to harsh critique of the underlying data points and will continue to see its credibility unravel.  There will be public controversy over where the money went and what we got for it.  This collapse will represent the scientific version of creative destruction, hopefully sending the energy debate in a more cogent direction.    
  8. China will, quietly, support a military coup in North Korea as a vehicle to swat away ongoing international political pressure and end a regime that has served its purpose.   A change in regime will create additional time and space for China to continue to test the limits of Western and South Korean will by way of North Korean misbehavior.  China will argue for “restraint” as they “re-engage” a new North Korean leadership;  China will engage a transparent shell game; they will get away with it.  No one will call for a visit by Bill Richardson.  There will be no agreement in 2011 to end the North Korean nuclear program or attempts at proliferation. 
  9. The Far East, Indonesia in particular, will suffer a dramatic increase in Islamist terror activity. 
  10. Anwar Al-Awlaki will be introduced to his 72 virgins……… by al Qaeda.  The “Jews” will be blamed (that last part was easy).   
  11. 2011 will answer fundamental questions regarding Iran.  Appeasement, crushing sanctions or a military strike? Which does the U.S. actually consider worse; the potential for economic disruption by way of the price of oil and the potential for terrorism or Iran with a nuke, a terror network, South and Central American allies and major Chinese investment?  U.S. response to Iran in 2011 will serve as the fulcrum for Israeli decision making.  Appeasement will equate to an Israeli strike.  Sunni governments will facilitate the strike.       

Domestic

  1. The 10th anniversary of 9/11 is upon us.  U.S. based cells exist.  Mosques remain the focus of extremist organization; they also remain essentially out of bounds for U.S. law enforcement.  Expect the worse as cells busted domestically this year were, in the main, dupes or dopes.  The A Team remains strongly suspected but unexposed.   
  2. Absent a range of dramatic and immediate reforms the economy will limp along through, at least, the first six months of 2011. GDP growth will remain below 2.5%.  Regional housing markets will finally test the bottom.  Unemployment will remain flat with average initial unemployment claims remaining north of 400,000.  
  3. Early signs of inflation will gain momentum regardless of CPI statistics.  $4.00 gas and dramatic increases in food costs will lead the way. 
  4. The three Trillion dollars currently on the sidelines will remain there for, at least, most of the year.
  5. The President will enjoy an occasional spike in popularity but, on average will hover in the 43% approval neighborhood.  Except……?!?
  6. Democrats will not wait for 2012 to attempt to cull Republicans who may pose a re-election threat to the President.  The Lyndon Johnson approach will appear in full flower; “I know he didn’t do it but that’s no reason not to accuse him of it”, school of political hard ball will prevail. 
  7. Hillary will resign; John Kerry will be our new Secretary of State.  Teresssssa will be thrilled!
  8. The House will be faced a near immediate challenge to fight off bureaucratic regulation at the EPA, IRS, HHS, FCC, FTC, SEC and Medicare.  This regulatory overload strategy by the administration will, potentially, blunt the inertia of the Republican legislative program.
  9. We will, at least, come close to a Government shut down over debt limits in the second quarter.  The context of the “crisis” will be significantly different than the dance Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich danced in 1994.  The Tea Party will support the shut down as a necessary vehicle to insure spending cuts and message delivery.  Expect the administration to redefine “critical government functions” in advance of a potential shut down.  If we see that, hold on, they’re getting ready!
  10. Health Care legislation will find its way to the Supreme Court in 2011.  Fundamental portions of the legislation will be deemed unconstitutional. 
  11. Republicans will introduce major tax reform in advance of the President’s State of The Union address.

Politics:

  1. What will begin with the intent of rational compromise and engagement will turn into an ideological street fight.  Why?  Bill Galston of Brookings reports, for perhaps the first time, there is no ideological overlap between the major parties.  Conservative Democrats sit to the left of liberal Republicans!  Brookings says the “middle ground” does not exist.  Two options: create middle ground out of whole cloth or, one side or the other has to win or lose the philosophical battle.  Conservatives will, assuming they maintain essential values, win this fight.