Monday, January 02, 2006
Predictions for 2006
1. Ahmed Chalabi will not fall from grace. Named Iraq Oil Minister, his instincts for survival will rise to the level of art. At best an Iraqi Talleyrand, at worst a sort of Herod, Chalabi could facilitate a true democratic revolution in Iran or pull off the opposite in Iraq. The bet leans toward the former: collusion with Ariel Sharon in the runup to Prediction 2.
2. The Iran-nuke crisis goes pop. The Iranians will toy with the Russian proposal, embrace it again, demur again, raise questions, withhold answers, tinker furiously, and let their actions constitute a de facto rejection. By then the Security Council will pass an unenforceable resolution, unanimous but with the absention of the last country that can seriously abstain -- China. Israel will be granted, de facto as well, its right to self-defense by an international community that has run out of options and run out of time. The plans to Osirak Iran will be expert but hopelessly risky; although the Russian-import missiles meant to blow Israel's jets from the sky would mysteriously malfunction, if only they'd been put to use, the operation is called off at T - 4 hours when Sharon, Chalabi, and the CIA throw a hail-Mary pass to Hossein Khomeini, who wins a 24-hour coup/civil war involving certain Sunni tribesmen in Persian Baluchistan and our generation's Kermit Roosevelt.
3. The EU will debalkanize the Balkans. By the end of 2006, membership for Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia will be a done deal. Macedonia will be in line with Serbia and Montenegro, the latter (like Al Gore) as its own man. Transnistria will still be occupied by Russians, who will make a quiet fortune off of the opium and spare-parts trades. Abkhazia will be more independent, not less; Georgia's entry into NATO will be contingent upon a weird agreement that has German and Russian forces occupying the Caucasus for the first time since 1943, and on opposite terms. All the non-Russian Warsaw Pact countries will be officially Westernized, "and, for the first time since 395 AD," "the old Roman 'commonwealth'" will be nestled "into a single entity." ...
9. The Republicans will lose neither the House nor the Senate. Something momentous will happen that involves Dick Cheney.
10. There will be more terrorism than you hope, and less than you fear.
I'd take all this with a massive grain of salt, and also point out that some of this leakage may be purposeful (so as to remind people in Teheran a military option does remain on the table, and so try to put a bit more muscle into the Euro-troika's languishing diplomatic efforts on Iranian non-proliferation). Also, Der Spiegel, shall we say, has a tendency to engage in hyperbole when it comes to journalistic narratives about the rampant militarization of U.S. foreign policy and such. So color me pretty skeptical that the U.S. will be pursuing air strikes in Persia in the New Year, or later in Bush's term for that matter. Still, it's an interesting story, and I'd invite other thoughts on its level of verisimilitude in comments.