Don’t bother reading this post. I know you don’t care. I know that you do not appreciate the genius that is – me. I write this post for posterity so that generations hence can appreciate my prescience. The rest of you can go about reading about Michael Jackson’s death-a-palooza while I write for the future. End preamble. Down to business.
First things first. At the end of the first half of the year I think it is appropriate to see how I am doing on my predictions for 2009. I won’t reprint the entire thing here but I contend that while perhaps not exact, they are fairly representing the year so far. In a nutshell.
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.
Looking pretty good on this one. Pretty bad actually – in that I still think I am right. The second half of this year will not be good. I further predicted:
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.
Remember folks, this was in December of last year when we hadn’t even seen all the stimulus yet and Obama was predicting unemployment would max out at around 8.5%. Last December there was hardly a peep about inflation – now lotsa people are worried about it. Hold on to your hats, its gonna get worse before it gets better.
I predicted growing tension leading to riots in Europe. I still think this will begin to happen at the end of the year, growing in intensity next year. The social safety nets and other factors in Europe have insulated the populace from the worst ravages of the recession (which I wrote about here), but that only goes so far. As things become clearly worse in the second half of the year expect tensions to rise.
I predicted that Obama would have an opportunity to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court this year. Check.
I predicted that open hostilities will break out between India and Pakistan. Pakistan has done a better job of beating back its militants than I thought they would, but we remain one horrible incident away (like the Mumbai bombing) from open hostilities. I hope it doesn’t happen – but I still think that it probably will and probably within the next two years.
There is one particular prediction that I want to address today in a little more detail because I think that some of it is happening as we speak.
If I were Ukrainian, I would be scared. Very scared.
Look at things from Russia’s perspective – they have essentially cart blanche to do whatever they want with nothing to fear from the U.S. When Obama wants something, he will not let anything get in the way up to and including murderous repression.
Look at the messages that Obama has been sending the world these past months. He has essentially turned his back on Israel signaling his willingness to let Iran get the bomb. Obama promised the world understanding and negotiation. What we did not understand then was that negotiation was not a means to end, but the end itself. In pursuit of his negotiation goals, Obama has turned a blind eye toward Iran’s election fraud and brutal repression of its people. To acknowledge the obvious in any meaningful way might jeopardize his goal. Negotiations with Iran is the goal. If that means the end of Israel and the brutalization of the Iranian people, so be it. That is Obama’s realpolitik.
The Obama Administration’s response to North Korea, while acknowledging the limited options there, has also been anemic. He must not mind his forced timidity with North Korea because his goals with Iran will eventually lead to the exact same situation.
Further, just today Obama indicated that his willingness to negotiate away our missile defense and the formerly eastern bloc countries who supported it. Obama wants treaties with Russia. Obama wants to negotiate down nuclear arsenals (as if this really matters today). Even at Obama’s new treaty levels, Russia could completely overwhelm our missile defenses and Russia knows it. Missile defense is irrelevant to Russia’s first strike or counter strike capabilities. Russia cares about this for one reason only. We are messing around in their neighborhood and they don’t like it. By putting missile defense in their backyard and by inviting former iron curtain countries to join NATO we are disrespecting them in their own neighborhood and bullies don’t like such disrespect. Countries aligned with NATO or the U.S. might get funny ideas about standing up to Russia and they can’t have such things in their neighborhood. Its bad for business.
The Russian government is best viewed as an organized crime syndicate. First and foremost they want to insure that the money keeps coming in. In order to do that they must control their neighborhood. Last year that neighborhood was Georgia and soon it will be Ukraine.
With Obama signaling his willingness to overlook thuggery in pursuit of his agenda and also expressing his willingness to negotiate away our support of former Soviet bloc countries, Russia now knows it has carte blanche in the region as long as it gives Obama something he wants more. For now that is a nuclear arms treaty and some minuscule help on Iran. In return, Russia can reassert its influence over Ukraine without fear of any genuine reprisals.
This does not necessarily mean military moves on Ukraine. Ukraine would likely not provoke Russia the way that Georgia did because Ukraine no longer has any illusions about the U.S. or Europe coming to their aid if they did. They learned that lesson from Georgia and this was exactly the lesson Russia wanted to teach.
So what then? Well Ukraine will likely default on a major payment to the Russian gas giant Gazprom today. Russia has repeatedly threatened to cut off Ukraine (and part of Europe) during the winter as a result. Each time this happens, Ukraine will cede more and more of its sovereignty (especially regarding the pipeline and ports) in exchange for the gas getting turned back on. Expect in the coming months for Russia to ratchet up the rhetoric against Ukraine leading to just such a gas crisis. Why invade when there are much easier ways to control things? Keep and eye on this for the second half of this year.
Now you might be tempted to think, “You are just a mediocre Catholic blogger, what do you know of such things?” Perhaps, but look at my track record on the other things I predicted. I am doing better than average. But if that fails to convince you, take a look at another prediction that I made last December:
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.
Need I say more?