Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture or daily living. This week’s question: What Are Your Predictions For 2016?
The Glittering Eye: For a number of years at this time of year I’d issue a set of predictions on my blog. I had a pretty good track record—80%+ accuracy. However, a couple of years ago I stopped for reasons that should be clear from the single prediction I’ll offer for 2016.
I predict that in 2016 and despite all of our combined wisdom, knowledge, experience, and acumen, our predictions will not include the most significant stories of the year.
First, expect new ISIS attacks against Europe and the United States.
Nowhere is 44’s predilection for invented realities more obvious than in his Syria policy. As best understood having now surrendered to Putin’s demand that Assad retain power indefinitely, 44 has acquiesced to Assad’s genocide against Sunnis. This latest example of progressives’ moral hypocrisy allows ISIS to retain its fertile breeding ground for recruitment and escalation. And while we should welcome recent victories such as the recapture this week of Ramadi in Anbar, Iraq, we must not overvalue the strategic significance of the Ramadi victory. Because unless and until America turns the flag of ISIS into a symbol for the walking dead, ISIS will keep inspiring (like San Bernardino) and recruiting (like Paris) jihadists across the earth. ISIS’s global capacity to wage its existential war on the West will only grow.
Moreover, as ISIS continues to infiltrate migrant routes, its potential to inflict mass-casualty attacks will remain significant. The administration surely is aware of this. It must urgently escalate the campaign to destroy ISIS.
2nd, expect a skirmish between America’s allies and China in the East and South China Seas.
In 2015, 44’s administration endorsed China’s imperial campaign to construct new islands in the international waters of the East and South China Seas. Appallingly, 44 is now openly apologizing to China for U.S. flights in international airspace. He has shown that his “Asian pivot” matters only to the degree that China pretends to embrace the Paris climate agreement. For China, of course, the climate deal was made in heaven: an empire in return for unbinding, unenforceable commitments to take action in the future.
Yet for American allies in Asia, 44’s weakness is catastrophic. That’s because China perceives America’s collapse of resolve as an opening to bully U.S. allies such as Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan. But in 2016, as China strengthens its dominion over crucial oceanic trade routes, American allies will probably stage shows of force in an attempt to deter Chinese aggression. These populations — especially in Vietnam — are furious at China’s expansionism. At the same time, their leaders know that if China is successful, their countries will effectively become provinces of an authoritarian Chinese empire. But even recognizing that China is far stronger, they cannot yield for the sake of their sovereignty, pride, and economic future.
Correspondingly, as these nations increase their military activity near China’s constructed islands, China will probably employ force to deter them. It’s likely this will involve limited force aimed at sinking a patrol ship or shooting down a jet. But the inherent risks of escalation are obvious.
American resolve will thus be critical in 2016. We should not forget the cards we hold. While China seeks to expand its zone of influence, it also seeks global prestige. Given China’s economic and military vulnerabilities, the U.S. should escalate its military patrols over and alongside China’s man-made islands. In doing so, we will remind China that our capability — both seen (aircraft and surface vessels) and unseen (attack submarines) — is significant. This needn’t invite conflict; China will back off once it recognizes America’s resolution. But absent American resolution, conflict is far likelier.
3, expect Iran to continue cheating on the nuclear deal. In response, expect the Sunni monarchies to increasingly embrace sectarian extremism. This is the easiest prediction — Iran is already breaking its nuclear-deal commitments by testing ballistic missiles, which are the delivery platformf or Iran’s future nuclear weapons. Indeed, Iran is using the nuclear deal as a way to get the best of all worlds: In return for his pen to paper, Ayatollah Khamenei has won sanctions relief and a huge economic injection into his kleptocratic economy. Iran also knows that once European firms board the lucrative Tehran money train, EU political support for a sanctions “snapback” will collapse.
In short, Iran is building a nuclear-weapons delivery capability while also strengthening its economy and the power of the ruling elite.
The Iran deal shreds the balance of power in the Middle East. Consider Thucydides’ enduring analysis of what caused the Peloponnesian War: “What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power [think Iran] and the fear that this caused in Sparta [think Sunni monarchies].” Put simply, the Sunni monarchies will respond to Iran’s new power by giving more support to anti-Iranian sectarian extremists. We’re already seeing this dynamic in Syria, where Saudi Arabia and Qatar are arming uncontrollable jihadist groups outside ISIS (Qatar has also allowed its citizens to fund ISIS).
44 likes to pretend that American leadership can offer only two courses: his way or total war. But he is wrong. The chaos of 2015 shows what happens when America’s active diplomacy is not backed by strength. With the exception of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in 2015, global events have been shaped by our adversaries and our allies have retreated in our absence. The world has descended into ever-metastasizing danger. If America does not once again offer credible diplomacy, supported by credible force, #2016 will bring bloody chaos.
Fausta’s Blog: I have no predictions at all, which is unusual for me. Too many conflicting signals on everything!
JoshuaPundit: Economically, I think we’re going to see a continuation of the current trend, with China (and thus, the stock markets) continuing to be very volatile. If I had to make a pick, my money for the developed world and America would be on devaluation rather than inflation, with prices on many things continuing to drop along with actual wages as buyers become scarce and credit tightens. Real unemployment and underemployment will continue to be at high levels, partly as a response to minimum wage laws, intrusive government regulations and increasing use of robotics and automated solutions.
We may even see the Soviet-style underground barter economy continuing to grow in America. I would also not rule out a government mandated ‘haircut’ on bank accounts ala Greece and Hungary combined with limited withdrawals by consumers to prop up the less stable banks and deficits in pensions and social welfare spending.
American Politics are going to be a real question mark. While the Democrats pretty much have everything greased for Mrs. Clinton (Comrade Bernie will be history by March 1 if not before at the latest, the date of the Vermont primary) a certain amount of grumbling remains. Mrs. Clinton remains one of the shadiest characters in US politics and one of the most disliked. No, she won’t be indicted and the superdelegates have already spoken, so the nomination will be hers unless something odd happens. But the continued success of GOP outsiders Donald Trump and Ted Cruz among crossover Democrats might make Mrs. Clinton’s presidential dream a nightmare provided we have a reasonably honest election or any election at all. I still rate the chances of not having an election at all in 2016 as at least 50%. I suggest we all keep the historical example of the Reichstag Fire in mind. This time, it might take the form of a major terrorist attack that the Obama regime either decides to let through for its own purposes or their simply making use of one that happens.
The GOP contest is gradually settling in to a contest between Trump, Cruz and Marco Rubio. I’d rate their relative chances of getting the nomination in that same order.
World Affairs: In the Middle East, I’d be surprised if this wasn’t the year the Kurds finally came into their own. The boundaries of the new Kurdistan, carved out of Iraq and Syria are already clearly to be seen. America again is screwing them over, with the Obama Regime giving them just enough ammo, air cover and supplies to allow them to hold their own against ISIS while allowing Barack Obama’s good friend Tayyip Erdogan to use the Turkish military to attack them at will. But the Kurds, whom once wanted nothing more than to be America’s ally now understand as the Jews did that they need their own country. And since America has proven to be an untrustworthy patron, they will need to find a new one, either coming to terms with Iran or more likely Russia’s Putin.
This may also be the year The Israel/Arab conflict gets resolved, and not in a way Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO are going to like. Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu has done his very best to walk the tightrope and avoid conflict with the Obama Regime, but he and his Likud Party are plummeting in the Israeli polls because of his failure to deal decisively with the third, low level intifada Mahmoud Abbas has launched against Israel. As a further indicator, that support is not flowing the Labor Party’s new incarnation, the so-called Zionist Union. They’re also shedding support. Instead, that support is flowing rightward, to Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home Party and Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu. Netanyahu is a canny politician who I’m sure understands that the game is over and if he wants to stay in power, he is going to have to deal with the Arabs whom call themselves Palestinians decisively. I’d predict another Operation Defensive Shield in Judea and Samaria, the dissolution of the PLO and annexation of the area, perhaps even repatriation to Jordan of a number of the inhabitants, many of whom hold Jordanian citizenship.
As a side note, I predict that in spite of some internal problems, Israel’s economy will continue to thrive and to be largely unaffected by any economic slowdown, just as it was in 2008. This is especially true since the country is now, water, food and energy independent. It remains a country of first world, top tier technology and second world prices and salaries. I also predict increased trade and security cooperation for Israel, especially with China and with Russia, although Putin will still continue to protect Iran. And while anything can happen, I do not predict a war with Hamas or Hezbollah this year. Hamas is increasingly isolated thanks to the IDF and Egypt’s al-Sissi and has not recovered from the last war, and not only has Hezbollah suffered major casualties fighting ISIS, but Netanyahu and Putin appear to have reached an understanding that destroying Hezbollah’s arms shipments are fair game for the IDF under most circumstances.
2016 may also be the year of a successful and public Iranian nuclear test, as the Ayatollahs continue to show their abject contempt for Barack Obama and John Kerry. It will also likely be the year that the Saudis announce their own nuclear deterrent. Pakistan badly needs money, and in any event, the House of Saud partially funded AQ Kahn’s research and Pakistan’s acquiring of nuclear weaponry. Other countries like Qatar may also seek their own nukes.
Europe is going to experience major changes. Stuck in a trap between their own demographic nightmare of sharply declining birthrates and the inherent problems of importing Muslim immigration, different countries are going to make different choices, and for a number of them that could even involve leaving the EU to avoid the complications of bailing out less productive members and the schengen borders. The Eastern European countries of what has been referred to as ‘New Europe’ along with Denmark and possibly the UK are prime candidates for this. As the Muslim occupation of Europe becomes more discernible, a number of countries will move rightward politically. I predict this for Germany, France, ‘new Europe,’ the Balkan states and perhaps even Sweden.
Bookworm Room: My 2016 predictions are as follows:
1. Native Germans will embrace extremism, although I’m not sure whether they’ll go full sharia or discover their Teutonic warrior roots. Either is possible.
2. Hillary will not get indicted, because she knows where too many of the Obama camp’s bodies are buried.
3. I’m afraid to make a prediction about the presidential election. As of today, no scene is too far-fetched. The thought of a Trump versus Bernie election has a vaguely apocalyptic feeling and I just don’t want to go there. (I continue to root for Ted Cruz.)
4. This will be another bad year for police officers, who will continue to feel as if they have targets on their back.
5. This will also be a bad year for blacks because those police who feel they have targets on their backs will probably do one of two things: (i) Stop policing black communities aggressively, leaving law-abiding blacks to be sitting ducks for criminals or (ii) start shooting first and asking questions later.
6. Barack Obama will ensure that several hundred thousand more potential Democrat Party voters cross the border illegally, and will encourage an influx of Middle Eastern Muslims. The latter will bring all their pathologies, from the biological (meaning diseases that had been all but wiped out in America) to the sociological (antisemitism, misogyny, rape culture, homophobia, etc.)
7. On campuses across America, even as Obama ships in by the boatload people who openly embrace all of the things campus Leftists purport to hate, campus Leftists will bring renewed energy to their attack on middle class white American males — you know, the ones who aren’t antisemitic, who like women, who don’t rape, and who may not have a gay best friend but who are people who believe in a live-and-let-live policy.
8. Iran will get increasingly aggressively, and start waging traditional war, backed with nuclear threat, against surrounding Sunni nations. Obama will speak confusingly and carry a limp stick.
9. By the end of the year, the two big players in the Middle East will be Russia (which was a declining power under Bush) and Iran (which was also a declining power under Bush).
10. Israel, sadly, will have to fight another war. This time, Hezbollah, with a strong Iranian wind at its back, will start using some of its massive stockpile against her.
11. Despite losing money at home on anti-American movies and movie stars, Hollywood will continue to invest in them. This is not as financially stupid as it seems. The real dollars come from overseas sales, and Hollywood is happy to sell anti-American propaganda to America’s current and future enemies.
The Noisy Room: My major prediction this year is that if the elections are fair and we see a Trump/Cruz ticket, we will see a landslide to rival Ronald Reagan. I predict the same if you see a Cruz nomination. You will see a major revolt in the Republican Party and it will be reformed or it will cease to exist. I also predict that Europe will come unraveled under the onslaught of the Hijrah migration. They are toast. I think there will be more terrorists attacks on US soil and some of them will include cyber attacks, possibly on the power grid. There will be a major downturn in our stock market as well. Until Obama leaves office, more and more illegal aliens will stream in as will Muslim refugees. There will be violence in our streets because of this just as there is in Europe. ISIS will continue their march across the Middle East and will be supported by other geopolitical players – the Caliphate will grow as will the Islamic threat. Look for Obama to seek further gun control. Obama will seek to head the UN during his world tour coming up.
And that’s just the warm-up.
Laura Rambeau Lee, Right Reason: 1. President Obama will spend more time abroad than in the United States as he takes his victory lap around the world setting the stage for his appointment as the new Secretary General of the United Nations once he leaves office. He will continue to ignore the expansion of radical Islamic terrorism which is being used to destabilize countries around the world and here in America. He will also use his pen to sign executive orders in an attempt to bypass Congress on more gun control measures and climate change regulations.
2. We will see increasing racial unrest and violence. Riots and attacks on law enforcement officers and our military will continue, and the media will selectively report these incidents which will incite more violence.
3. As our utility companies are being forced to provide more energy using renewable energy sources there will be rolling brown and black outs. This will be a very cold winter and I worry for the safety and lives of those who won’t be able to afford their heating bills. The UK has seen tens of thousands of deaths in recent years due to the cold and they have had to provide heating allotments for the elderly, sick, and impoverished.
4. The economy will continue to stagnate and we are already seeing what is happening in the global markets. This is not a correction; I predict this will be worse than what we saw in 2008.
5. The regulations coming out of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) for the mortgage industry will create another mortgage collapse. I am not sure if it will happen this year, but reports show ninety percent of the mortgages originated in the first three months (October 2015 – December 2015) using the new Truth in Lending and RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID) are not in compliance and cannot be sold on the secondary market. The CFPB was created out of the 2010 Dodd Frank bill and does not answer to Congress; they are under the supervision of the Federal Reserve. Only those “too big to fail” will not fail as the lending market shrinks and ancillary service providers are forced out of business because the cost of doing business (just to stay in compliance with CFPB regulations) becomes increasingly prohibitive.
Not to sound gloomy, I do see people waking up to what is happening in America and around the world. Social media connects us like never before and the truth is getting told in spite of the progressive media. We are in a fight for the very survival of our country and the freedoms we have enjoyed for over two hundred years. If I didn’t believe we could turn things around I would not be so engaged in trying to get the message out to as many people as possible. I am optimistic we will succeed in the end – it’s just going to be rough going for awhile. There are many of us who see what is happening and are preparing for tough times. Those who continue to be blind in spite of all of the evidence around them will not fare as well. Some will wake up in time, others will be lost. These truly are transformational times in our lives and in the history of civilization. The future of America, and the world, hinges on who is elected president in November.
Well, there you have it.
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