Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Reviewing Past Predictions

To start 2008, some past predictions:

Increasingly, Claude Salhani's assessment written nearly two years ago and published in the spring 2006 issue of The National Interest appears to be right on the money-- that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Bashar al-Asad will outlast the Bush Administration and remain in power past January 2009. No signs that the United States, as it emerges into an election year, is going to engage in military action designed to bring about regime change.

Colin Dueck's predictions prior to the fall 2006 midterm elections also seem to accurately capture what is happening around the presidential elections:

"Democrats may well have success this fall simply by picking up on public dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq, but as long as they give the impression of having no serious or clear alternative on national security they will continue to be at a long-term disadvantage to Republicans on these issues. … American troops will probably still be fighting in Iraq in 2008. If circumstances do not change dramatically on the ground, then opposition to the war and calls for disengagement from within the United States will only grow stronger. Yet this will not change the fundamental paradox of the political situation: Republicans are tied to an increasingly unpopular war, but the very issue of war raises perennial Democratic weaknesses and divisions that tend to redound in favor of Republicans."

On Pakistan, what Ian Bremmer said a year ago: "A new question is now raising the country’s risk profile--"what happens if Musharraf stays?" His ability to maintain the peace and to balance political forces inside and outside of his country is diminishing. He has increasingly been forced to cede local authority in the provinces along the Afghan border to fundamentalist militants. In part that’s because his government was caught flatfooted last year by a catastrophic earthquake in Kashmir (where local fundamentalists were quick to offer effective aid, just as Hizbullah provided badly needed relief services in Lebanon following the Israeli bombing last summer). But Musharraf’s inability to cripple militancy along the border also poses a growing problem for President Hamid Karzai’s government in Afghanistan. A lack of foreign troops and capital has kept the new Afghan government from asserting its power beyond the confines of Kabul (where violence has grown steadily), and the Taliban have taken back strongholds in some parts of the country.

"As the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorates, and as the West no longer sees benefit in old information on nuclear proliferation from the AQ Kahn network, Musharraf’s utility to the international community will begin to erode--and Pakistan’s partnership with the United States will face growing pressure."

And in passing, some thoughts on the dual track Russian Iran strategy.

Nick, what amazes me is how the predictions lay out the trend lines and yet are ignored. Didn't see your traditional end of year roundup of foreign policy on C-SPAN--but each time, Iran gets closer to nuclear weapons, Afghanistan and Iraq get worse, etc.
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