MY PREDICTIONS FOR 2005
Increasingly desperate and frustrated at his inability to maintain command and control over al Qaida cells and his political relevance, Osama bin Laden will abandon some of his trademark patience and preference for apocalypric terrorism. Bin Laden will begin taking greater personal risks and authorize larger numbers of smaller-scale attacks in order to maintain his personal preeminence and to prevent Zarqawri from emerging as his successor. Chances of a " break " happening to capture or kill Bin Laden will be increased.
The United States will eventually adopt a " controlled civil war" strategy in Iraq to contain the disorder of the Sunni Triangle by actively building up Kurdish Peshmerga and Shiite militias to complement the emerging forces of the central government and U.S. military personnel. The goal for the former forces would be increased stabilization and presence of their home areas to " ratchet down" the insurgency's geographic area of operation. Sunnis will face a Hobbesian choice of turning to the central government for protection or taking their chances in territory controlled by an insurgency that will be turning on Sunni civilian " collaborators" with increasing ferocity under the ghoulish influence of Zarqawri and brutal ex-Baathist commanders. If this strategy succeeds, terror in Iraq may decline to Baader-Meinhoff/Red Brigade/IRA heyday levels or the Sunni triangle may become " Little Algeria ", reminiscent of the democidal civil war between the GIA and the Algerian government. If the strategy fails completely, a full scale civil war could erupt out of the control of American military forces.
Domestically, the Bush administration will heavily favor minorities and women in their high profile political and judicial appointments to neutralize expected Democratic attempts to play the race and abortion cards. Karl Rove will be looking to cement a structural realignment in American politics via " peeling off " the critical percentages of minority and women voters that Democrats need in competitive districts and states to win elections. Administration policy proposals will be in line with this strategy. Assuming Condi Rice gets the Senate's nod for Secretary of State she will be one of a handful of people the Bush administration will be " grooming" for 2008.
The Bush administration will surprise the world by offering Iran " a grand bargain" on relatively generous terms which the clerical regime will ultimately reject, clinging to their hopes of a breakthrough in their nuclear weapons program. A joint American-Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities is high as the Bush administration, unlike its predecessors, will not feel that the good opinion of the Arab-Islamic world or EU diplomats is worth the risk of letting Teheran in the nuclear club.
I invite you to contribute your own prophetic efforts in the comments :o)