As memories of 2010 evaporate like morning mist, and the reality of 2011 kicks in, I gaze into my crystal ball, looking for signs and portents of what is to come. Amid the swirling vapors and fleeting images that illuminate the innards of this awesome-yet-not-always-reliable device, intimations of the future are unveiled, tantalizing hints of disasters in the making. I record them here, with no guarantees or apologies:
Iraq pullout, canceled – This will never be announced, but before long the media is bound to wake up and ask: whatever happened to our much-vaunted “withdrawal” from Iraq? Perhaps not in such a peremptory manner, but, nevertheless, the continuing, substantial US presence is already causing Prime Minister Maliki to press his American “allies” for a more definite day on which to schedule their going-away party, and the complete inability of his government to maintain its own territorial integrity, as well as ensure a minimal level of security and stability, is likely to motivate US policymakers to hedge their “withdrawal” plans.
This will end in a mutual agreement – haggled over for months by the US and its Iraqi sock puppets, and finally firmly insisted on by the former – that the US presence is to be “temporarily” extended, although, of course, the “support mission” will remain ostensibly unchanged.
Afghanistan “surge,” Karzai out – The war in Afghanistan will take a new turn: yet another “surge” will be announced, great “progress” will be hailed, and – naturally – the whole charade will end in a US “victory,” albeit not enough of one to allow US troops to leave. You don’t have to be Nostradamus to predict that US casualties will increase – they are already at their highest level since the start of the war – but one consequence of the “surge” is that US politicians – and the news media – will begin to take notice of this uptick in the death rate, and we will see increasing calls by politicians on the right as well as the left to declare “victory” and bring the troops home. Another consequence of this turn will be a renewed focus on the character of Afghan “President” Hamid Karzai, both by the news media and his American patrons – scrutiny that Karzai’s horrendously corrupt administration is unlikely to withstand intact. My prediction: Karzai will not last out the year. Either he’ll be unceremoniously kicked out in a military coup, or else he’ll be conveniently assassinated in a suicide bombing that could easily have been prevented if only his “friends” in Washington had been paying attention….
Pakistan “surge,” Zardari out – The US won’t announce the “surge” of its forces into Pakistan proper, but it will happen – and, indeed, is already happening – nonetheless. A joint US-Afghan force will directly engage militants in Pakistan’s tribal regions, as the formerly clandestine American incursion takes on an increasingly open character. This will provoke widespread disaffection with the government of President Asif Zardari, which has already lost its majority in Parliament and will inevitably suffer a vote a “no confidence” and fail to win the subsequent elections. With the threat of a supposedly Islamist government in Islamabad hanging over its head, and the fate of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal increasingly uncertain, the Pakistani military – pushed by the US – will suspend Parliament, take over the government, and institute martial law in order to meet the “national emergency.” For the first time, the Pakistani Taliban will go national, gathering widespread support in all regions of the country. The return of Gen. Pervez Musharraf is a real possibility.
Assange extradited, WikiLeaks closed down – The extradition to Sweden of WikiLeaks founder and CIA target Julian Assange will take place amid an international uproar, to be followed by a “guilty” verdict in his trial on charges of “rape.” The US government and its allies around the world will continue their increasingly effective campaign to close WikiLeaks down, making the site inaccessible for much of the time. In response, Assange will release his “insurance” bombshell – but my crystal ball hazes up beyond this point. Sorry….
Civil liberties in the US on the wane – With the passage of an anti-WikiLeaks bill in the US Congress – only Rep. Ron Paul dissenting – the assault on civil liberties in the US will take on a new and ominous urgency. Efforts to rein in the internet will increase, with the FCC and Congress moving in for the kill. For the first time, an attempt to impose content “guidelines” will be launched, and regardless of whether or not it succeeds, the attempt itself will set an important precedent, paving the way for more formal controls.
Return to Latin America – With the end of the cold war, US focus on guerrilla insurgencies in Latin America was de-emphasized, but that will end as Washington finds the “problem” of Venezuelan caudillo Hugo Chavez increasingly vexatious. The Americans will conveniently discover developing “links” between Mexican drug cartels, the Colombian guerrilla organization known as FARC, and the Chavez regime. Heightened tensions between Venezuela and Colombia will culminate in a military stand off, and perhaps even an exchange of gunfire, but mediation efforts will defuse an all-out military conflict. Count on an increased US military presence in Colombia, and more direct American intervention in the region in general.
Another crash – The sovereign debt crisis will spur yet another eruption of panic in the banking sector, causing the US and European economies to hurtle downward with alarming speed. As deflation continues on its devastating path, cleansing the economic system of malinvestment and other government-generated impurities, it will collide with governmental efforts to re-inflate the bubble, thus ensuring that we get the worst of both worlds. One beneficial side effect of this major economic crisis will be a temporary disinterest by US government officials in anything beyond the immediate problem of how to get through the next 24 hours while avoiding total economic meltdown.
The Return of the “Yellow Peril” – The War Party, however, will soon shake us out of our torpor with new warnings about the alleged “danger “ of Chinese expansionism. Not the old-fashioned type of territorial expansionism, which the US and its Western allies have routinely engaged in, but economic expansionism of the sort we are supposed to admire when it is initiated by Western capitalist countries. With the Chinese holding much of our debt, essentially financing the course of US imperialism in the post-9/11 era, they are setting themselves up to become a major political target, and we saw some of that engaged in by both US political parties this past election season. Expect to see more, with Sinophobia becoming a major theme of both Democrats and Republicans in the coming year, as the always-Sinophobic Nancy Pelosi leads the charge from the left and Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee talk up the Yellow Peril from the right. Blaming the Chinese for our disgusting profligacy will become almost as fashionable as bashing Muslims.
North Korea/China split
– Tensions between China and North Korea that have always been simmering
just beneath the surface will break out into the open, with the new
government headed by the second son of the Supreme Leader openly attacking
Beijing as “revisionist” and having taken the Capitalist Road. While
the North Koreans accuse their former friends in the Chinese Communist
Party of having sold out the Hermit Kingdom and become the running
dogs of US imperialism, the Chinese will counter with accusations of
North Korean recklessness, threaten to cut off aid without actually
doing so, and basically wash their hands of an increasingly untenable
and hostile “ally.” A “crisis” atmosphere will develop, and
encourage the US in its campaign to isolate and basically starve out
the North Korean regime, but this will be countered by a fresh upsurge
of more liberal elements in South Korea seeking reconciliation and eventual
reunification of the Korean peninsula.
Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t go there – We haven’t heard the last of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Even as the assimilationist wing of the gay rights movement agitates for the swift implementation of the repeal, the backlash is already starting to gather momentum with the news that soldiers and sailors aboard the USS Enterprise were shown “lewd” videos starring Enterprise commander Owen Honors: the videos, meant as “enterainment” for the troops and shot with government equipment, feature “anti-gay” and other juvenile (i.e. sex-oriented) jokes. A scene depicting two female soldiers washing each other in the shower, juxtaposed next to two studly sailors doing the same in an adjoining stall, are a kind of docu-drama illustrating the Straight World’s worst fears. As I have said repeatedly, repealing the ban on gays in the military is a bad idea whose time has come, and we are just seeing the first stirrings of the sort of anti-gay hatred that often ends in stuff like this. What will it take for gay people to wake up and realize that straight people hate our guts, and always will – yes, even the liberals, who pretend to “tolerate” us in public, and privately (and sometimes openly) reveal their palpable disgust and fear of homosexual contagion? I fear it will take a wave of violence directed at openly gay members of the military. Sadly, I don’t feel like I’m going way out on a limb in predicting yet another year in which gays are singled out for hatred and beat up by a gang of straight thugs.
Oh, damn! My crystal ball is starting to cloud up, again – I’ve been having some trouble with it lately. And, at any rate, this moment of unusual clarity, which only comes in the first week of the new year, is beginning to pass. Yet I can still glean … something, however, vaguely and inchoately. What I see is the continued growth of the anti-interventionist movement, on both the right and the left, and an increasing tendency to brush aside left-right blue-state/red-state prejudices in an effort to build a renewed and thoroughly modern antiwar movement in this country. As to how and why this renewal will take place – as I said, my crystal ball is beginning to cloud over, and so only the outlines of this process are visible. What I can say, with certainty, however, is that Antiwar.com will be a vital part of this burgeoning movement, and will play a catalyzing role in its development and emerging national prominence.