After an incredible 2011 internationally, Luke Bozier looks ahead to the key figures and events that will shape the world in 2012
Wow, what a year 2011 was for the international community. Just 14 days into 2011, we witnessed the toppling of the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia, which has now proven to be the starting point of a wider set of revolutions around the Middle East; as I predicted here on Left Foot Forward, Tunis was the Middle East’s ‘Gdansk’ moment. The Egyptian regime fell under people power, Libyans rose up and with the military support of the West toppled the Gaddafi regime.
The world has changed immeasurably over the last 12 months. Much of the change we’ve witnessed couldn’t have been predicted. But it’s in our nature to look forward and wonder what may happen; so looking forward to 2012, what are going to be the big stories in international affairs?
It will be interesting to read this piece back in December 2012 to compare it to how events unfolded, but here are my predictions for the World in 2012:
Bashar Al-Assad will not be in power by the end of 2012
The end is nigh for the Syrian President. It has been nigh for a while now. He’s played his cards relatively well by Middle Eastern dictators’ standards – considering he is still in office. But as violence continues to worsen and as the international community becomes increasingly frustrated by never-ending scenes of state bloodshed, there will come a point when Al-Assad will be forced out of office.
Don’t expect it to be anything like events in Tunisia or Egypt; Assad is a stubborn player, and he will have to be forced out.
Romney wins the White House, Huntsman to become Secretary of State
What started so beautifully with an amazing campaign in 2007/8 turned so sour for Barack Obama. One of the 21st century’s great orators and one of the most brilliant campaigners we’re ever likely to witness turned out to be a pretty disappointing president. He didn’t use his vast political capital to fix the American economy in 2009, and he failed to communicate effectively around his healthcare reforms (or maybe they were the wrong reforms).
America is suffering economically, and Mitt Romney will be the GOP nominee by November. I expect him to win, and my bet for US Secretary of State is current GOP candidate Jon Huntsman. Huntsman’s vast international experience, not least in all-important Asia, will be a boon to the new Romney administration and American relations with Asia will be strengthened.
Russia will see large-scale protests, which will have wide and lasting ramifications
With revolutions, once they get going they never stop. Russia’s 21st century ‘revolution’ is growing in pace. People are breaking through that fear barrier that keeps regimes in place. Russian voters sent a strong message to Vladimir Putin by depriving him of an absolute majority in parliament recently and large protests have been seen in Moscow.
Russia, in particular young progressive Russians, are fed up of the way Putin runs the country as his personal fief, with little regard to democratic accountability or openness in government. This will only continue as 2012 unfolds, and I expect it to get quite serious at some point. Putin is a wily political operator though, and he may find a way to embrace the desire for change and stay in power.
The eurozone’s structural problems will be fixed
The euro isn’t going anywhere. German chancellor Angela Merkel, in her New Year address, said Europe is “growing together” through the crisis; and any good politician knows not to waste a crisis. The fundamental flaws underneath the eurozone are being repaired and we will see a new, stronger eurozone emerging in 2012.
New institutions will be formed to manage and underpin public debt across the zone, and eurozone countries will cede power to the centre in setting things like tax rates and budgets. This is the natural progression in the project, and the only real way for those countries within the zone to respond to the crisis. The alternative is far worse, and these structural fixes should help to avert that dangerous alternative.
North Korea will test another nuclear weapon and tensions will rise on the Korean peninsula
Kim Jong-un’s ascendancy to the North Korean leadership presents serious questions to the international community. It is a time of uncertainty on the Pacific. Jong-un has to work quickly to establish authority at the nexus of North Korean power, and that position, with his back against the wall and feeling insecure in the shadow of his father, presents real danger.
It is possible Kim Jong-un will detonate another nuclear explosion in some kind of deluded show of force, and to remind the world North Korea has nuclear ambitions. I don’t see relations thawing across the Pacific between the DPRK and the United States in 2012, in fact I see the stand-off getting worse.
It may be easy to cast aside these five predictions, but who could have foresaw some of the monumental world events of 2011? Whatever happens, we can be certain 2012 will bring many more surprises for the international community.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments, and check back with us in December 2012 to see how many of these predictions come true…
• Syria: When will the West act? – Shamik Das, January 2nd 2012
• North Korea: The challenges facing Kim Jong-un – Frank Spring, December 20th 2011
• Look Left – Europe 26-1 Cameron: Britain isolated like never before – Shamik Das, December 9th 2011
• Gaddafi has underscored the new paradigm; who’s next? – Luke Bozier, October 20th 2011
• Republican elephants enter the room as rivals to Obama – Dominic Browne, May 26th 2011