Anticipating 2008

At this time of year we are always treated to a flurry of predictions for the new year. Unfortunately I cannot join the fun because my crystal ball is out of order. For your enjoyment, however, here are a few things I suspect will dominate the headlines for the next twelve months.

U.S. Presidential Election: If you're already tired of the endless campaign, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Tomorrow nigh week real people in Iowa will actually start selecting delegates to the national party conventions. Then things will start to happen really fast, and we ought to know who the two nominees will be sometime in the next few weeks. Then we will be treated to fun of a different kind as the two finalists spend months slinging rocks at each other. There's a good chance that one, and possibly both, candidates will be senators, which means every single vote in the U.S. Senate will become a presidential campaign issue. Congress may just grind to a complete halt - which wouldn't be such a bad thing, actually.

Troops Withdraw From Iraq: The "surge" strategy may or may not be working, depending who you ask and how they measure success, but one way or the other the U.S. military commitment in Iraq should start to fall significantly this year. The Pentagon simply can't sustain current troop levels for another year unless they lengthen tours beyond 15 months. Hopefully the force reduction will be orderly and the Iraqis will be able to maintain order on their own.

New War Fronts: The troops who leave Iraq may not get much rest before finding themselves in another hotspot somewhere around the Gulf. Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey are all potential destinations. Iraq will not be the last campaign of the War on Terror.
Geopolitics: Apart from the Middle East there are plenty of other trouble spots. Radical Islam is moving into Asia and Africa, for instance. It will be interesting to see how Russia develops when Putin moves from president to prime minister. North Korea, Venezuela, and other potential enemies will bear watching. The summer Olympics in Beijing will have vast political implications.

Pope Visit U.S.: Pope Benedict XVI will visit New York and Washington in April. He is scheduled to address the United Nations and meet with President Bush. The publicity surrounding this will be intense and coming in the midst of the presidential campaign it will inevitably turn political.

Culture War: The movie and TV writer's strike, if it drags on, may have the pleasant side-effect of sparing us from Hollywood's worst indignities, at least temporarily. Don't applaud too quickly, though; they will find new and innovative ways to pipe garbage into your home.

Bolt from the Blue: It's the things you don't expect that always matter the most. The possibilities are endless: another 9/11, nuclear war in the Mideast, bird flu pandemic, economic collapse, you name it. At some point in 2008 we'll get an ugly surprise, and maybe more than one. Should we worry about it? No. Just be ready. You can save time if you start praying now.

I can say with complete confidence is that this time next year, things will be a lot different. In what ways? I'll get back to you on that.

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