2002 December 30 Monday
ParaPundit Predictions For 2003

The act of making predictions is a good way to test one's knowledge and understanding of the world. Of course, there are some causes of history that are either so accidental or so complex (or both) that on many subjects even the most informed prediction is really no more than guesswork. With that in mind I will try to guess on subjects that I think I have a better chance of being right about.

Middle East, Islamic countries, an war on terror:

  • The US-led attack on Iraq will go ahead without a second UN Security Council resolution.
  • The attack will commence in February 2003.
  • Saddam Hussein will be out of power by March 30, 2003. He will most likely be dead.
  • No Arab nation will experience a revolt in response to the attack.
  • Turkey and the United States will both have a long term troop presence in Iraq.
  • Once the US and its allies are in control of Iraq they will find evidence of smallpox and other biological weapons development programs along with nuclear and chemical weapons development programs. This will undermine belief in the efficacy of UN inspections.
  • The US and its allies will also find evidence of help for the Iraqi weapons programs from other governments such as either Pakistan or North Korea as well as help in return from Iraq to those governments. Libya will be in the list of governments that have cooperated with Iraq in WMD development. The full extent of those links will be revealed as a result of US and allied forces interviews of Iraqi weapons scientists, intelligence operatives, and high Saddam regime officials. Extensive help from Western and especially German companies will also be detailed.
  • The invasion of Iraq will unearth evidence of WMD development programs in other states. Foremost among them will be Libya. Though this may not be made public and so my prediction may not be provable.
  • Extensive Iraqi support for Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorism will also be uncovered as a result of the invasion of Iraq.
  • Turkey will benefit financially from Iraq oil production.
  • Iraq oil production will be reduced by the war but should be at the 2.5-3.0 million barrel per day level by the end of 2003.
  • A biological, chemical or nuclear terrorist attack will take place some time in 2003.
  • The House Of Saud will remain in power in Saudi Arabia.
  • Once the US has consolidated its hold on Iraq the United States government will begin to apply more diplomatic pressure to the Saudis to cut back financial flows to Al Qaeda.
  • Internal opposition by itself will not be enough to remove the mullahs from power in Iran. The mullahs have a more effective and ruthless mechanism of internal repression than the Shah of Iran did. (really hope I'm wrong about this one)
  • Democratization will make little head-way in the Middle East outside of Iraq. Iraq's experiment in democracy faces poor odds of success and the US government will not understand the depth of the societal change in Iraq that is needed in order to give democratization a real chance to produce anything resembling a liberal democracy.
  • The fall of Saddam Hussein's regime will create an opportunity for Islamic organizations to make in-roads in operating Iraqi schools and other institutions. An initially slow but pronounced trend toward Islamization will take hold in Iraq. Initially the Bush Administration will not recognize the long-term threat that it constitutes.
  • The number of children in Islamic countries undergoing fundamentalist Islamic Madrassah education will not go down in 2003.

Asia-Pacific:

  • The US will attempt to organize a wider range of economic sanctions against North Korea and will achieve at least partial success in lining up support. The support for doing this will become greater once the full extent of Iraqi weapons development programs and their links to development programs in other nations become understood.
  • The US will continue to find China very unwilling to cooperate to restrain North Korea and this will put a big chill on US-China relations.
  • The United States will get more cooperation from Russia than from China to block the export of nuclear weapons technology.
  • The US will not succeed in getting the UN Security Council to approve sanctions against North Korea. China will veto any resolution that authorizes sanctions.
  • North Korea's deteriorating economic condition will spur the North Korean leadership to make additional threats.
  • The US will beef up its military presence in the Western Pacific in response to North Korean regime threats. This may include the construction of B-2 bomber hangers in Guam or somewhere else in the Western Pacific.
  • The North Korean regime will not be overthrown by coup or popular revolt. It will be overthrown by a US coaltion only if it first attacks South Korea or Japan or mobilizes in preparation for an attack.
  • Australian special forces participation with the US against Iraq will win them a big push from the Bush Administration for a trade agreement and increased military cooperation.

Economic Outlook:

  • The global economic growth rate will stay below long term trend lines. There will be no robust recovery.
  • The economies of France, Italy, and the UK will all out-perform Germany.
  • The economy of the United States will outperform the European Union area.
  • Brazil's economy will follow the path of Argentina into crisis and recession.
  • The US stock market will close no higher at the end of 2003 than it was at the end 2002.
  • The European Central Bank will cut interest rates.
  • The rate of corporate bankruptcies in the US will continue at a fast pace though the total dollar value will probably be less than in 2002. Airlines, retail and energy will all see major bankruptcies.
  • The Japanese economy will contract or grow by less than 1%. Basically, no real recovery.

United States Domestic Politics:

  • Federal and state budget deficits will block many pressures for new and increased government spending programs.
  • No Social Security reform bill will be passed by Congress.
  • No bill will pass that grants illegal immigrants residency.
  • No new tax cuts will be passed. But some already passed cuts which were scheduled for out years will be brought in to earlier years. Its possible some other tax modifications that are effectively targeted cuts will be added to the bill that changes the schedule for cuts. So I guess this isn't such a strong prediction.
  • Many states will raise taxes to cover huge deficits.
  • Many states will lay off government workers of all sorts and cut social programs and capital spending (eg roads) budgets.
  • Rising ranks of medically uninsured will collide with rising costs of government health care for the poor and the state level fiscal crisis to cancel each other out and no initiatives to increase government spending for health care will pass. Tax advantaged medical spending accounts will attract some attention. They won't pass either.
  • Post-Iraq the Bush Administration may decide that it needs more domestic policy initiatives. It will not have a next dramatic international move to make that will make the public see it as proactive internationally. So it will need more of a domestic agenda.
  • The US Federal budget deficit will be larger in 2003 than it was in 2002.
Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 December 30 05:48 PM 


Comments
Steve Sailer said at December 30, 2002 8:32 PM:

You are very brave to make such detailed predictions. You are a better man than I am, Gunga Randall.

diana said at December 31, 2002 8:57 AM:

The US is stumbling into one great big Lebanon in Iraq. There may be good reasons for doing so, as you point out, but the disadvantages in the long run may outweigh the immediate advantages. The chances of creating a democracy that has the ability to self-replicate without massive outside intervention are nil.

Bob said at December 31, 2002 2:34 PM:

Diana,

I don't see how any long-term disadvantages could outweigh Saddam putting nuclear or biological weapons into the hands of terrorists to target the US.

We have to try to create a democracy in Iraq not because it is possible but because we have to show our good faith. I expect the attempt will fail but hopefully not for lack of trying.

razib said at December 31, 2002 11:30 PM:

let me get this straight-we have to put faith in the people of iraq even though we know it's in vain?

funny :)

Randall Parker said at January 1, 2003 8:55 AM:

Razib, I think we need to demonstrate to Western dreamers and to Arabs that the reason Arab countries are not democratic is because of Arab culture, Arab family structure and Islam.

Its a shame that so few are thinking hard about this subject. The United States still does not have a viable plan for making the Muslim states into something that will not be breeding grounds for terrorists.

David Davenport said at January 1, 2003 6:50 PM:

{ ... Arab family structure ... ]

You mean the cousin marriage and [literal] inbreeding phenomenon? How is that to be changed overnight?

Randall Parker said at January 1, 2003 9:47 PM:

David, Yes, I'm referring to cousin marriage and tribal family ties. The US has special forces going into Iraq right now trying to buy off tribal leaders. Think about that. Supposedly modern Iraq under Saddam's dictatorship of decades duration still has people in it who are important because they are tribal leaders.

As for how to change it: That's just it: we can't change it overnight. Though if we act on assumptions that totally ignore the underlying causes we definitely aren't going to even try to work on the underlying problem. The attempts to change the Arab states into even semi-liberal democracies face enormous obstacles. Yet without changes in their societies and mating practices their inbreeding is going to continue to breed dictatorship, corruption, oppression, and terrorism.

Much of the US conservative movement is into "family values" and "faith as bedrock of society" and other phrases of similar meaning. Plus, much of the Left and the elites are obsessed with multiculturalism. How can foreign cultures be inferior? We Are The World. People from across the political spectrum have a huge ideological blindspots. Religion and tight family ties as sources of political backwardness? Cultures that are incapable of making democracy work? What, liberal democracy doesn't have universal appeal? The the value systems of the various religious and cultural groups differ in ways that are literally incompatible? Far easier to blame corrupt rulers. So I'm pessimistic that the US will even begin to push for changes that will help decades from now.

Also, look at the recent incident with the Israeli-Arab porno couple. In spite of living for decades in a larger society that is predominately not based on cousin marriage and close large family ties the Arabs in Israel have obviously kept their family structure alive. So that makes prospects for success in the long term in Iraq even less likely.

At least when we fought the communists we were able to articulate basic conflicts in value systems and in views of the individual's place in society. But in our struggle with Muslim cultures we haven't yet reached a consensus on the basis of the conflict of ideas.

Bob said at January 1, 2003 11:04 PM:

Razib, I was actually thinking in terms of showing our faith in our own values systems even though we know the people of Iraq will reject all those values out of hand.

But, yes, we need to give them the benefit of the doubt until they prove their unwillingness to accept freedom. Kind of like "innocence" in criminal trials.


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