Saturday, January 2, 2010

The World in 2010

Two events in the last decade will stand out as the most phenomenal. The terrorist acts of 9/11 and the global financial crisis precipitated by America’s sub-prime mortgage market.

President George W. Bush drew the axis of evil. America went to war in Iraq and then Afghanistan. The world has never been the same again.

In 2008 we were all talking about peak oil. Pundits were predicting a catastrophic knock on effect from soaring oil prices; steep energy costs, astronomic increases in food prices and maybe the end of the automobile.

Then in the last quarter of 2008, the global economy tumbled. The global demand for oil slowed to a near halt. The US mortgage market collapsed. Banks and automakers turned into troubled or toxic assets. Government rescue plans kicked in. Deficit spending and stimulus plans become survival tools.

Not one economist predicted the global financial Armageddon. Nobody could have predicted 9/11, much less how the events of that fateful day would change how we live and travel.
Phenomenal global change happens fast and furious.

How will the world look like in 2010 and beyond 2012 into the “teens”? I certainly hope not like human teenagers. But one thing we know for certain is that the events of 9/11 and the after shocks of the global financial crisis will continue to shape how we live and travel.

The pursuit of a globally binding agreement on climate change will continue beyond 2010. It is unlikely that the UN process will yield any outcome in Mexico. China’s stature as global power and a formidable counter weight to US domination will emerge more prominently throughout the climate change negotiations.

Barack Obama’s presidency will be shaped more by America’s domestic agenda; health care and the deficit. The mid-term elections could see the Republican’s re-take Congress. Obama will slow down on his determination to press Israel to negotiate a two state solution with the Palestinians. A second term for Obama should be easy to predict. The Republican’s will need a Reagan type of leader to make a Jimmy Carter of Obama.

Iran’s regime will come under enormous and unrelenting pressure form the opposition. Ahmadinejad
and the Ayatollah will blame America and the UK, bludgeon and detain a lot of Iranians. But this will not kill the resolve of millions of Iranians who are determined to see a regime change in Teheran.

Regime change is imminent in the UK. Gordon Brown has been absolutely underwhelming. The Conservatives under David Cameron will come to 10 Downing Street. And I think Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua will leave office before the end of his first term as Nigeria’s president.

Afghanistan will not stabilize and the US and NATO troops will have to re-evaluate their mission in the wake of anti-war clamour in both Europe and America. Pakistan could spiral out of control.

Hunger, poverty, disease and economic stagnation will deepen in Africa in the coming decade. Parliamentary democracy will remain elusive in Africa. African societies will remain divided and plagued by civil strife. Countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda will find it hard to navigate power transitions. Sudan will decide through a referendum in accordance to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), if the South and the North go their separate ways in 2011. Tanzania will go to the polls in October 2010 to vote for CCM and re-elect Jakaya Kikwete.

And for the World Cup finals in South Africa, I am putting my money on Brazil. And I think South Africa will do a sterling job as hosts. And Tiger Woods will not be back on the golf course.

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