Jay Reding.com

Crystal Ball Watch 2007

As always, every year I make a set of predictions for the upcoming year. And every year I see how accurate I was. Last year’s predictions were a little off-the-mark. And by a little, I mean a lot. Let’s see how we did:

Iran will announce that they have completed work on a nuclear weapon and will conduct nuclear tests, showing once again how the intelligence community got it wrong.

Fortunately, not yet. I do think that the NIE is wrong, and that Iran is gathering the materials needed to make a bomb. I would be willing to bet that they’re farther along than we think. The hardest part is getting the fissile material, and the Iranians have thousands of centrifuges that can enrich uranium to weapons grade.

However, Ahmadinejad will face great political backlash as the Iranian economy begins to collapse.

Close, but no cigar. Iran’s economy is being propped up by high oil prices, and there’s some internal backlash against Ahmadinejad, but not nearly enough to put him into political jeopardy.

Iran and the US will enter a state of de facto war as Iranian naval vessels blockade the Straights of Hormuz and more Iranian fighters stream into Iraq.

Ugh, Straits of Hormuz…

Thankfully, it didn’t happen. It still could, but the Iranians seem less confrontational now.

President Bush will announce significant troop withdrawals from Iraq, as the situation in Iraq grows even more dire. His attempt to “surge” troops into Baghdad will be too little, too late, and not long enough to make a difference.

This one was totally wrong—and I’m glad to say that it was. The “surge” has certainly worked, and that’s largely because Gen. Petraeus was smart enough to make it less about having more troops and more about taking the strategies that Col. H.R. McMaster applied in Tal Afar and using them throughout Iraq. He really should have been Man of the Year, because he’s changed the history of the region in ways that will have profound repercussions for years. Gen. Petraeus is our T.H. Lawrence, except he had even more success.

The al-Maliki government will collapse when SCIRI and the Sadrists both walk out.

Dead wrong. Iraq’s coalition government is ever fractious, but it has managed to stay together.

The biggest success in the War on Terror will be when Ethopian troops take down the Islamist government in Somalia in a decisive victory.

That did happen, although the surge in Iraq rightly is the biggest victory in the war.

As a consequence of the above, the US will begin training Kurdish peshmerga to fight al-Qaeda as US troops withdraw.

It’s interesting to see the changing dynamic in northern Iraq. The Turks are striking at Kurdish terrorist groups, with our support. The Kurds don’t seem to be overreacting, much to their credit. Part of it is probably due to the fact that they’re sick of war, part of it due to the fact that Turkish companies are crucial to rebuilding Iraqi Kurdistan. Still, the Iraqi Army is doing a good enough job, and instead of Kurdish peshmerga it’s native Sunni groups who are kicking al-Qaeda out of Iraq.

Apple will release a cell phone that runs a stripped-down version of Mac OS X, creating the hottest gadget since the iPod.

Ah, the iPhone. Not perfect, but still the best cellphone ever made. Even though us early adopters got chumped. I wouldn’t trade my iPhone for a solid platinum RAZR. Mobile Safari may be a bit crash prone, and the software is still not quite up to Apple quality, the concept is so far ahead of its time that it’s still a work of technological art.

President Bush’s approval ratings will stay low, but not lower than they are now. (Which granted, isn’t saying much at this point.)

Pretty much true.

The Democratic Congress will push through a substantial tax raise, and the Bush Administration will capitulate. The stock markets will plunge in response.

President Bush has found his veto pen and apparently his cojones. If only G.W. had been this fiscally conservative when the GOP was in power…

Hizballah will continue their reign of terror in Lebanon, as Syrian forces take control of the country once again.

This hasn’t happened yet, but as Emilie Lahoud has stepped down, Syria continues to try to exert control over their neighbor. When even the French have said that enough is enough, it’s clear that Assad is not willing to cooperate. Sadly, Lebanon’s problems aren’t going away, and may yet get worse.

More critics of Vladimir Putin will find themselves dead.

Putin is still a tyrant, but he’s been more careful than in the past. Perhaps the horrendous death of Alexander Litvinenko was enough to dissuade others. The arrest of Garry Kasperov, however, demonstrates that being a Putin critic is a dangerous business in today’s authoritarian Russia.

Socialist Ségolène Royal will defeat Nicolas Sarkozy in the French elections.

Again, dead wrong. Nicolas Sarkozy could yet be the Thatcherite figure that France needs.

Barack Obama will continue to flirt with running for the Presidency throughout 2007, just to keep Hillary guessing.

Instead, he plunged into the race and is now making Hillary sweat.

John McCain will emerge as the front-runner in the 2008 GOP race while Rudy continues to keep everyone guessing as to what his intentions really are.

Rudy became the frontrunner, McCain nearly sank his campaign pretending to be one, and now the GOP race is up in the air.

All in all, a mixed bag. The biggest thing I got wrong was the “surge”, which isn’t surprising because last year I figured that it was about numbers rather than strategy. 2007 became a turning point in the war, one in which the US and the free people of Iraq have gained a decisive advantage over the enemy. Things in Iraq could still go bad very quickly, but in terms of predicting the outcome of the surge, I was dead wrong. As I was about Iran, Lebanon (to a point), and the French elections. My predictions for 2007 were a bit on the pessimistic side—fortunately, things didn’t turn out nearly as bad as they could have.

Coming up soon, my predictions for 2008.

3 responses to “Crystal Ball Watch 2007”

  1. Mark says:

    You’re right. 2007 was a crazy bad year for “Conservatism with Attitude”. However, there was one poster around here who seemed to get things right even when the host consistently got things wrong. Let’s review….

    Early last year, “Mark” predicted that longshot Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was the kind of guy who Republican voters would like if given the chance to get to know him. “Jay Reding” repeatedly scoffed at that suggestion, at one point commenting that “oh yeah, Mike Huckabee…there’s a guy who will really inspire people”.

    The end-of-year verdict is in. “Mark” was right.

    “Jay Reding” was an early advocate of cartoonish uberhawk and all-around ethical sewer rat Rudy Giuliani, predicting that Rudy was indeed electable nationally and could win over a plurality of Republican primary voters despite his far-left positions on “moral values” issues. “Mark” assured you that the issues divide and the endless barrage of personal scandals would ultimately catch up to Rudy when his past was put under a microscope.

    Again, “Mark” was right.

    “Jay Reding” traded horses mid-year and attached himself to Fred Thompson, predicting that the Hollywood actor’s glossy personality and gregarious charisma would carry Thompson across the finish line vis a vis the second coming of Ronald Reagan. “Mark”, knowing little about Fred Thompson, managed to deduce that Thompson came across as a slow-witted curmudgeon and more closely resembled the second coming of Bob Dole, and would thus flop when he finally put down the glass of sweet tea and got into the race.

    Say it with me now! “Mark” was right!

    I was at least gonna give you credit for predicting the military success of the surge, but then you reminded me that you were just as wrong about that as I was!

    It’s human nature to expect better things on the horizon at the dawn of a new year….but judging from your analysis of your sorry 2007 predictions, it doesn’t appear you’re positioning yourself for a better 2008. Right at the forefront of your 2007 commentary is the denial of evidence that a Middle Eastern nation is not building nuclear weapons…..eerily similar to five years of your previous denials of another Middle Eastern nation where all available evidence suggested nuclear weapons were not being built.

    Jay, maybe you’re better suited to predicting kids’ weights and heights at the county fairs, but I think you better leave predictions related to politics to the adults in 2008.

  2. Jay Reding says:

    Early last year, “Mark” predicted that longshot Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was the kind of guy who Republican voters would like if given the chance to get to know him. “Jay Reding” repeatedly scoffed at that suggestion, at one point commenting that “oh yeah, Mike Huckabee…there’s a guy who will really inspire people”.

    And now Huckabee is shedding support. I admit, I got Huckabee wrong. I figured he was an affable dunce. The more he whines, the less I’m sure about the “affable” part.

    Huckabee is benefitting because he hadn’t gotten the media scrutiny that the others had. The media isn’t scrutinizing him because they know he’ll destroy the GOP’s chances in 2008. The Republican electorate, however, is taking a hard look at his record, which is why his surge of support is retreating just as fast as it came.

    “Jay Reding” was an early advocate of cartoonish uberhawk and all-around ethical sewer rat Rudy Giuliani, predicting that Rudy was indeed electable nationally and could win over a plurality of Republican primary voters despite his far-left positions on “moral values” issues. “Mark” assured you that the issues divide and the endless barrage of personal scandals would ultimately catch up to Rudy when his past was put under a microscope.

    Rudy’s campaign isn’t doing well, but he’s still not out of the race. For all the talk about his scandals, the New York Times had to stealthily retract their latest smear when it was found that there was no scandal to be had.

    Given yesterday’s reminder of the kind of world we face, it’s quite possible Giuliani isn’t nearly as out of the game as the spinners are saying.

    “Jay Reding” traded horses mid-year and attached himself to Fred Thompson, predicting that the Hollywood actor’s glossy personality and gregarious charisma would carry Thompson across the finish line vis a vis the second coming of Ronald Reagan. “Mark”, knowing little about Fred Thompson, managed to deduce that Thompson came across as a slow-witted curmudgeon and more closely resembled the second coming of Bob Dole, and would thus flop when he finally put down the glass of sweet tea and got into the race.

    Except Thompson has the most intellectually solid campaign of anyone of either party, and has been busting his ass across Iowa. The same cocksure “pundits” predicted that Fred would crash and burn in Tennessee, and instead he managed an impressive come-from-behind victory. It would not at all surprise me if history repeats itself in that regard.

    I was at least gonna give you credit for predicting the military success of the surge, but then you reminded me that you were just as wrong about that as I was!

    Of course, I rationally evaluated the situation and came to the correct conclusion. You kept to the popular narrative. That’s the difference between thinking and spouting other’s talking points.

    ight at the forefront of your 2007 commentary is the denial of evidence that a Middle Eastern nation is not building nuclear weapons…..eerily similar to five years of your previous denials of another Middle Eastern nation where all available evidence suggested nuclear weapons were not being built.

    Of course the Iranians aren’t developing nuclear weapons. All that talk from Tehran is just idle bluster. Please, let’s all give Ahmadinejad the benefit of the doubt. Those thousands of centrifuges are just to power the world’s largest Tilt-a-Whirl. After all, the CIA, the agency that’s never been wrong about anything says it’s true! (Never mind that the Israelis, who know a hell of a lot more about that region than we do, thinks that the CIA is full of it.)

    You and your ilk would be denying that the Iranians were developing a nuclear weapon right until the point that Tel Aviv was turned to glass.

    I can make one prediction with virtual certainty: next year, you’ll still be as wrong-headed as ever. At least some things never change.

  3. Mark says:

    “The more he whines, the less I’m sure about the “affable” part.”

    What’s Huckabee whining about? I find him to be the least negative of the top-tier Republicans who are all dumping on him as he surges past them in the polls.

    “The media isn’t scrutinizing him because they know he’ll destroy the GOP’s chances in 2008.”

    The same thing was said at this time in 1979 about an affable and charismatic Republican candidate who was allegedly “every Democrat’s dream opponent”. Policywise, Reagan and Huckabee are miles apart, but the Republican Party base is now closer to Huckabee’s worldview than Reagan’s, which is a huge problem to Wall Street Journal editorial page sycophants like yourself. Huckabee is definitely a gamble given his background, but his chances of victory in November are better than any other Republican candidate except McCain. He’d motivate the army of religious radicals that helped Republicans get 50% +1 in the last two elections.

    “Given yesterday’s reminder of the kind of world we face, it’s quite possible Giuliani isn’t nearly as out of the game as the spinners are saying.”

    If any Republican candidate benefits from the Bhutto assassination, it’ll be McCain, not the New York City Mayor with less foreign policy experience than Mike Gravel.

    “The same cocksure “pundits” predicted that Fred would crash and burn in Tennessee, and instead he managed an impressive come-from-behind victory. It would not at all surprise me if history repeats itself in that regard.”

    I don’t know Jay. I was giving Fred odds to get third place in Iowa, but he’s now fallen into single digits and fourth place to a man who came to Iowa two weeks ago and called for the abolition of ethanol subsidies. If you’re a Thompson disciple….that’s bad news!

    “You kept to the popular narrative. That’s the difference between thinking and spouting other’s talking points.”

    I did on the surge….and still question its long-term viability. But you’ll note that I’ve predicted all year that a Republican will win the White House in 2008 based on the overwhelming weakness of the Democratic top-tier. That’s definitely not “sticking to the popular narrative”.

    “You and your ilk would be denying that the Iranians were developing a nuclear weapon right until the point that Tel Aviv was turned to glass.”

    You and your ilk are still trying to pass off a few empty containers of sarin gas found in Iraq in 2004 as evidence that you were right about the WMD we started a war over. So touche….

    “I can make one prediction with virtual certainty: next year, you’ll still be as wrong-headed as ever. At least some things never change.”

    Yet for all my alleged wrongheadedness, we’ll be back here at this point in 2008 with my checklist of accurate predictions vastly swamping yours just as we are this year.