This is the thing to do as one year draws to a close and another begins. Here are my predictions for 2009.

I am not a prophet, so most of what I am writing is likely nonsense. My qualification for offering predictions for the future of a geopolitical happenings is exactly nil. But that will not stop me for you will not be able to ridicule me for being so completely wrong for 12 months. I think that 2009 will be seen in the future as the year when the seeds of a future great conflagration began to sprout. This is momentously scary time. As you will no doubt be able to tell, I am not in a particularly optimistic mood. Here Goes.

Temporary uphill before going off the cliff. In the first half of 2009 we will see a modest recovery in the U.S. economy only to be followed by even more serious financial turmoil and deepening recession. When I say recovery, I really mean a slowdown in the negative growth giving some false hope that the recession may be nearing and end. Instead it will be the beginning of even harder times.

Runaway inflation and unemployment. All this stimulus and cheap money designed to address the slowdown will actually make things worse. It will give us a head fake toward recovery but soon will have the opposite effect. It will lead to runaway inflation beginning in the second half of 2009. This inflation could top double digits and beyond in 2010. Unemployment the same.

More Riots in Europe. What will be hitting us economically will also hit Europe and maybe just as hard. The riots these past weeks in Greece are just the beginning. Ostensibly related to a police shooting, the real cause was economic. Greece is an economic basket case with massive crushing debt. The fact that this rioting has spread to other European cities shows that this frustration is widespread especially among youth. All this is just the beginning of the woes. As the economy dramatically worsens in the second half of 2009, rioting will be more widespread. Italy, France, England, and Germany will not be spared.

Russia. The war weary and economically troubled U.S. will retreat from the world creating a vacuum that will eventually be explosively filled. This isn’t really a prediction since it is already happening. The U.S. is trying to fulfill its obligations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but has thrown up its hands at many of the worlds other issues. Russia will continue to provoke and test the U.S. but our responses will invariably be weak. Georgia was the first step and the military visits to Venezuela and Cuba were the next ones. Russia will get bolder and bolder in their moves and may even conduct another military invasion in one of their former satellites. The U.S. will condemn but again do nothing. As a result, all of eastern Europe will tremble.

Germany. Germany. Germany. This is where I really think we should keep our eyes. Germany is the economic and political powerhouse in Europe. As the U.S. fades from the scene, look for Germany to cozy up to Russia. Germany gets much of its energy from Russia and cannot now do anything to provoke her. Look for Germany to look the other way if and when Russia begins reacquiring its satellites. As a result, Europe and NATO will do nothing to oppose Russian aggression. The rest of Europe will be slow to realize the threat posed by this unholy alliance as they are consumed with economic woes and disgruntled populations. They will eventually realize, but it will be late. As always in Europe that eventually means war. Obviously this not all happen in 2009, but the we will see the beginning of it taking shape during the year. Whether in 2009 or after, look to Germany to find a more assertive leader. In these times of economic distress and faced with a more aggressive Russia, the Germans will seek a leader who is more assertive of Germany’s place in Europe. As you know, that never ends well.

Also look for the fringe anti-immigrant groups to gain in popularity and strength throughout Europe when riots and upheaval break out in the various economically depressed immigrant ghettos. The happenings in France summer before last are just a taste. Faced with economic problems of their own, Europeans will be less tolerant of this protest and more receptive to an anti-immigrant sentiment. We might see some growing public racial incidents through the year. Most won’t take much notice of it, but it will happen with increasing frequency.

My world champion NY Giants will lose in the first round of the playoffs but the Mets will win the world series. This is prediction I am least confident about.

Iran gets the bomb and Israel does nothing. Without the U.S. backing it and afraid of going it alone against the Arab response, Israel will not attack Iran. Instead, with much fanfare, Iran will make a very public show of becoming a nuclear power. As a result, the entire world will be much less safe.

After all the silly talk about Obama moderating, he will carry through on his threat to promote and sign FOCA. In 2009, at least one of the liberal justices who have been waiting out Bush will resign and open a SCOTUS spot. Obama will fill this with a radically pro-abortion candidate ala RB Ginsburg. Some of his spending plans will be limited by the facts on the ground, but his social agenda will proceed unfettered.

I have been predicting this one for a while, but I think this may be the year it finally happens. Emboldened by the success of the Somali pirate industry, Islamic terrorists will attack a cruise ship killing hundreds or thousands. The ultimate high profile soft target. Overnight, an entire industry will be destroyed and the general populace will be reminded of their vulnerability. Democrats will, of course, blame everybody else even though they run everything.

Open hostilities will break out between India and Pakistan. Not a full scale war but the beginning of a cycle of attack and retaliation. Pakistan, increasingly a failed state, will be unable to control the more radical elements in that country. Another high profile incident like in Mumbai will force India to act. This is one big powder keg with nuclear weapons involved. A large, but as of yet unanswered question, is how will the west attempt to secure Pakistan’s’ nukes once it is clear the state is failing. My guess is that the U.N., NATO, Europe and the U.S. will wrangle unsuccessfully over this issue while India sits in the cross hairs.

This is all just a precursor to what is looming. 2011-2012 is when things will get even worse. I am probably wrong about all this but just in case I am not, now I am on record.

Oh, and by the way, the new Terminator movie will stink really really bad. Highlander II bad. Jar Jar Binks bad. I mean Superman IV: The Quest for Peace bad.

So there it is. War, rumors of war, and bad sequels. Bad times.