Happy New Year: 10 Predictions for 2012 --- From US Election to Syria to No War With Iran to EA WorldView
A Reliable Prediction? Right to Left: Tunisia's Ben Ali, Egypt's Mubarak, Libya's Qaddafi, Yemen's Saleh, Syria's Assad, Iran's Khamenei
1. Ron Paul will win the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday, but Mitt Romney will take the Republican nomination for the Presidency.
2. The US Congress will pass the "Stop Online Piracy Act", and President Obama will sign it into law. This will have a chilling effect on future internet startups. It will also give existing corporations have a stranglehold over market share and the future of the concept of intellectual property.
These effects will not be felt overnight, and the world will not come crashing down. But, as with all bad legislation, twenty years from now we will ask what went wrong.
3. President Obama will call on the international community to intervene in Syria. He may not be the loudest public voice, but he and his team will be working the diplomatic backchannels in Europe and the Middle East hard. He wants to avoid war in Iran, but not so secretly, he is rooting for the domino theory to hold with the fall of the regime in Tehran. He will sell more arms to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to pacify their unease with his policies, while preparing a backup plan if there is no movement in the Islamic Republic.
4. Speaking of Syria, things will get worse before they get better. The Arab League observers will produce a middling report, one that speaks of a crisis that needs fixing but will be slow to blame the highest levels of the Assad regime. International outcry will be loud. Eventually, someone will crack, and there will be intervention.
However, I would be shocked if this happened before April, and absolutely bewildered if it happened before March. The opposition is still, in the eyes of the world, not organised enough to serve as a skeleton upon which the international community can build a mission.
In the meantime, the protests will not go away, and more and more people will defect. Those defections, however, will not reach a tipping point for a long time for the regime, unless thatinternational intervention happens.
5. President Assad will fall. If this does not happen in name by the end of the year, it will in practice with the evaporation of most of his power.
6. Egypt and Libya will also get worse before they get better. In Cairo, the old regime is still fighting for its power, and after elections that fight will grow more intense. The Egyptian people have proven that they are not willing to trust the military, and they will only take its behaviour for so long.
In Libya, the fledgling government is butting heads with tribal leaders and international groups. The country is proving far harder to unify than the most naive media and political groups had hoped. However, the recent memory of a common enemy =-- the totalitarian abuses of the Qaddafi regime --- will force the country to form a messy coalition. Once the oil starts flowing and reconstruction picks up, the economic incentives will help motivate the National Transitional Council to seek reconcilation.
7. There will be no war with Iran, so all you folks at CNN and The New York Times.... Just calm down.
8. Obama will win the US Presidential election in November. A divided GOP, with a lukewarm candidate, will be unable to triumph over an improving economy, a health care bill that is slipping into the rearview mirror, a series of foreign policy victories, and a deeply unpopular Republican House of Representatives. It will be a tough fight, but Obama will serve a second term,
9. The election will be ugly, with lots of outside money, anonymous donors, insults, fear-mongering, constant negative advertisements, and millions of robo-calls. I'm a guy who loves political news, but I'm dreading it. Good luck!
10. There will be big changes at EA WorldView. The website started off as an amazing intellectual expirement, looking for the meaning of "America", not just to those inside the US but to those around the world. Three years ago almost to the day, this was changing with coverage of Israel's invasion of Gaza, and with the 2009 revolution in Iran, and the 2011 uprisings in the Middle East, EA's mission changed into a quest to become a news agency, one focusing on insurgency and protest. That focus is not just for the headline, but in the hope that this can lead to something beyond riding the cycle of conflict.
Expect bigger and better things from us in 2012, with even quicker coverage of the breaking and deeper analysis of the complex. Expect that the site will look nicer and be easier to navigate.
And always remember, that without our readers, our commenters, our Tweeps and YouTube peeps, our contacts in the field, and our correspondents,we would not be here to welcome 2012.
On behalf of the EA Worldview crew: thank you, and Happy New Year!