The Year to Come


New Year’s at National Review Online means cruel and unusual punishment: Making writers make predictions. And so here come 2009’s:

John Derbyshire
Afghanistan: The Karzai government will cut a power-sharing deal with the Taliban.

China: There will be widespread unrest and many demonstrations as the economy slows. The Chinese leaders will maintain control by general pump-priming, shoveling money at the worst areas, and some selective brutality, but not by devaluing the renminbi.

Tibet: Tibet, and majority-Tibetan areas outside the “autonomous region,” will be closed to foreign travelers ahead of the anniversary of the 1959 uprising in March. The Chinese will attempt a complete news blackout of the region. The anniversary of the 1989 student movement will, however, go almost unnoticed.

North Korea: Kim Jong Il’s military will depose him.

Russia: Will make trouble in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the Baltic states.

Africa: Jacob “machine-gun“ Zuma will become president of South Africa. Zimbabwe’s inflation rate will pass the trillion percent mark, and thousands will die from cholera and malnutrition. Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe will make a speech at the African Union blaming all his country’s woes on Western powers. He will receive a standing ovation.

Latin America: Violence will flare again in Bolivia, bringing revolution and/or civil war in the nation one year closer, if it does not precipitate them/it.

Immigration: The Obama administration will stall on “comprehensive immigration reform,” hoping for better economic times when citizens won’t mind so much that illegal aliens are working here and using public services. Their overall strategy on immigration will be to keep radio silence on the topic. They really want amnesty — why would they not want 20 million new Democratic voters? — but this is not the time. Barack Obama’s illegal-immigrant aunt, Zeituni Onyango, will not be deported.

Education: Massive government funding of pre-K nursery schooling will begin, in the teeth of decades of evidence that it does no good.

The Executive: USAID will be upgraded to cabinet status.

The Economy: Unemployment will strike millions of private-sector workers, thousands of municipal employees, a handful of state employees, and no federal employees at all.

Leadership: The MSM will stay in the tank for Obama. He will be Time magazine’s Man of the Year again next year, unless he bombs New York City. Make that New York City and Los Angeles.

Physics: Dark matter will be observed under laboratory conditions.

Commemorations: Various multi-centenaries and -millenaries(?) will be celebrated with gusto by people who care: Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, Edgar Allan Poe, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Samuel Johnson, Nikolai Gogol, John Calvin, Barry Goldwater, and the battles of Poltava, Corunna, and the Teutoburger Wald (“In A.D. Nine, Varus crossed the Rhine . . .”).

Publishing: I will publish a book.

Conservatism: Seasoned observers will swear they detect some last twitching convulsions in the corpse of American conservatism. They will not be believed.

— John Derbyshire is an NRO columnist.

Jonah Goldberg
The push for climate-change legislation will intensify as the Obama administration targets more dollars to “green jobs,” even though 2009 will be the coldest in years and the “temporary halt” of global warming will enter its second decade.