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2019 Predictions

I am wrong more often than I am right, but every now and again, I am actually right. I seem to average two to three right(ish) predictions every year. I wonder which one will be right for 2019?

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10. The stock market hasn’t found bottom yet. It will fall below 20,000 at some point this year.

9. England will have a ‘no deal’ divorce from the EU, resulting in a major economic crisis that will ripple around the world and tilt an already nervous global market into recession.

8. Oil will climb to at or near $90 a barrel before July 4th.

7. There will be no impeachment of President Trump, but there will be legislation restricting his powers.

6. Amazon will buy either Wal-Mart, Fed-Ex, or Alibaba.

5. A major Protestant denomination in the United States will dissolve, or maybe file bankruptcy. They may call it a reorganization, but it will be a dissolution.

4. North Korea and South Korea will enter into a significant peace treaty bringing the two Korea’s closer together than expected. They will do so without Beijing or Washington, making both capitals nervous.

3. Russia will invade a weak nation. Mostly likely it will be a further attack on Ukraine but it could be against one of the Baltic states.

2. It is grotesque and troubling, and I hope I am wrong, but somehow Harvey Weinstein will avoid all legal consequences of his crimes. He will pay out sums in civil trials, but he will never be convicted of sexual assault.

1. Bill Belichick will retire from coaching.

President Trump and Tomahawks

I am not against the use of Tomahawk missiles against Syria.

I am not for it, either.

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This issue is so terribly complicated that I’m pretty sure I’ll never fully understand all the variables at play. The use of that awesome and effective United States Military power changed the course of Trump’s presidency. For me, that calls for a little Monday Morning Quarterbacking and analysis of what might be going on.

First, let’s examine some facts.

  1. Assad used chemical weapons.
  2. President Obama told Assad not to do that.
  3. President Obama failed to enforce the ‘red line’ in Syria.
  4. Donald Trump vehemently protested any action in Syria in 2013 and while campaigning.
  5. Syria is under Russian hegemony.

Now, let’s amass some opinions. Opinions aren’t bad, they just must be viewed differently than facts.

  1. Most everyone in the world agrees that using chemical weapons is a crime against humanity.
  2. Some people think POTUS should have come to congress before taking action.
  3. Other people think POTUS had authorization for this under previous resolutions in congress.
  4. Militarily, Syria poses no threat to us, however Russia’s presence makes things sloppy.
  5. The United States is one of the few nations on earth with both the ability and the moral authority to act.
  6. Many of the ‘hot spots’ in the world, particularly ISIS, are so hot because Barack Obama was not aggressive on the international front and projected weakness. This is evidenced from Ukraine to Iran to Nigeria.

Having some facts in hand, and some opinions, now let’s think about the politics.

  1. A lot of Trump voters were for him because he advocated a policy that indicated he would not entangle himself in international messes. Repeatedly he said things would be better if we just left things alone.
  2. POTUS and Putin have an interesting relationship, one that has been under a great deal of scrutiny.
  3. Trump has criticized the United States’ intelligence gathering communities.
  4. Last week North Korea launched a missile.
  5. China’s leader, President Xi Jinping, was in Trump’s hotel in Mar-a-Lago when the missiles were launched against Syria.
  6. There is some kind of power struggle going on in the White House between the globalist son-in-law Jared Kushner and the nationalist Steve Bannon. It appears in this issue, POTUS went to Jared.

Perhaps now we can do some analysis.

  1. It is possible that POTUS changed his opinion based upon intelligence information, policy arguments, and the weight of the office of President. Perhaps he had a legitimate change of mind because of the evidence presented to him from the intelligence communities. This would be encouraging.
  2. It is also possible that POTUS recognizes he is in trouble over Russia and the internecine struggles within his staff that have resulted in an administration that is undisciplined, disconnected, and unsure of itself. To fix this image problem and divert attention, he did what others (remember Reagan invading Grenada, or Clinton bombing aspirin factories?) have done, and that is trump up (no pun intended) a national security issue. This particularly gives him cover on the Russia issue. A person friendly or beholden to Putin would not have done this. This line of thought is very discouraging.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, the real target of the Tomahawks was not Syria, but North Korea. I think the America people possibly feel this in their gut, because we recognize what a fighter does. A fighter punches someone in the face to get everyone’s attention in order to send the message that if they don’t fall in line, they are next. Last week POTUS said, “If China doesn’t fix North Korea, we will,” and then, as if to add some muscle to that, he bombs Syria while the leader of China is eating dinner at the Florida White House. This line of thought is chilling, but clever. Clever in its churchillian approach, but chilling in that it signals a heightened military presence around the world.

Now, for some Greenbean opinions.

  1. The Middle-East is not a puzzle to be solved. Something should be done about Assad, but it will not really solve anything. We are still trying to figure out how to put things back together after they broke it all following World War I. What is broken in that part of the world is the culture, and politics can’t really fix culture.
  2. If there were no oil there, no one would care. Look at Africa. No one is worried about the refugees coming over to Uganda from Sudan because of the violence. There is no oil there. No one cares. This seems to rob much of these issues of their moral clamor.
  3. Tomahawk missiles do nothing in the struggle in Syria. If we really wanted to make a difference in Syria, we must land ground troops, overthrow Assad, and build a national coalition. Of course, that is what we did in Iraq, and we see how that works. Again, there are no good solutions.
  4.  If this continues, it is only a matter of time before we are in a proxy war with Russia in Syria (or Iran) as well as a proxy war with China in Korea. Again.

2015 PREDICTIONS

2015 crystal ball

Here it goes, some predictions for the coming year.  Everyone else is doing it, so why doesn’t old Greenbean give it a shot?  Disclaimer:  I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet.  I have no crystal ball.  Clairvoyance is not a gift I possess or desire to possess.2015 crystal ball  These are only guesses based on my understanding of things.  For comparison, click here to see how I did with my 2014 predictions.

1. There will be major social and political upheaval in China.  The Communist Party may fall.

2. By the end of the year, Elizabeth Warren will displace Hillary Clinton as the frontrunner for the Democratic nominee for President, and will be the eventual nominee.

3. U2 will release an album and not give any of the music away for free.

4. Apple stock will plummet this year as people realize that the most innovative company on the planet is suddenly just another gadget maker.

5. The price of oil will begin to climb in the spring and will again be around $100 a barrel by December. Consequently, gas prices will also rise back to somewhere around $4.00 a gallon.

6. The NFC Championship game will be The Seattle Seahawks versus the Dallas Cowboys.

7. The San Francisco Giants will not win the World Series in 2015, because it is their year off.

8. ISIS will carry out a major 9-11ish style attack in Europe. Probably somewhere along the Mediterranean.  I so hope I’m wrong on this one.

9. Comprehensive immigration reform will finally be passed in the U.S. Congress.

10. The Supreme Court of the United States will hear and decide the status of same-sex marriages, ending the odd state-by-state situation.

11. CNN will, for all intent and purposes, collapse, and Wolf Blitzer will be donated to the Smithsonian.

12.  Russia will invade and annex the whole of Ukraine while the United States and Europe protest, but do nothing.

13.  Sadly, and I so very much hope this doesn’t happen, I predict Miley Cyrus will die of a drug overdose or some other dangerous behavior.  Sad.  Very sad.  She needs help–so many of them do.

I would love to know what you are predicting for 2015–be it good or ill.

crystal ball image from nativemobile.com

PUTIN, POKER, AND HISTORY

I recently heard a commentator (forgive me, I can’t remember who it was or where I heard it, but I did hear it) describe the situation in Crimea as a game.  He said that Vladimir Putin was playing chess but President Barack Obama was playing checkers.  It was a clever line, but I think the commentator was wrong on two fronts.  One, I don’t think President Obama is much to blame for any of this.  Sure, he has shown a level of weakness internationally, but none of that has much bearing on what Russia is doing.

The commentator was also wrong in his game analogy.  Putin is not playing chess.

He is playing poker.

In 2008 he put his ante into the game with the aggressive actions Russia took toward Georgia in 2008.  That was when he sat down at the table, so to speak.  The recent move in Crimea is the raising of the stakes.  Note that this is not like chess, where pieces are put into positions to strike.  The Cold War was chess.  The new world game is poker–where one action is made to gauge the response of the other.

I know a thing or two about poker.  The Greenbeans love to play poker, and I earned quite a bit of Burger King spending money when I was in college playing poker.  Of course I never play for high stakes as it is the enjoyment of cards that I like.  Putin, however, is a big spender.

His troops are already in Crimea, and I fully expect him to annex the whole of Ukraine, unless President Obama and NATO call (a poker term, meaning match or raise the bet).  It is, at this point, unavoidable.  I believe the people in Ukraine know this and that is why they are offering almost no resistance.  Some would call the invasion of Ukraine a ‘doubling down’ but they would be wrong.  Doubling down is blackjack.  Putin is not playing blackjack, remember.  He is playing straight poker.

If he invades Ukraine then it is another raising of the stakes.  He will raise the stakes again and again, because Putin loves to gamble, especially with other people’s money.  There is no risk to him or to Russia, really, if he fails, but the gains could be sizable.  He will raise the stakes again by finishing the work in Georgia and then he will go all in by threatening Belarus and the Baltic States.  That is when it gets really interesting because the Baltics are all in NATO.  To attack them is to attack the United States.

THE TABLE FROM A RECENT GREENBEAN POKER NIGHT
A RECENT GREENBEAN POKER NIGHT

 

This is truly a high stakes table.  If President Obama and NATO do not call Putin now, it will mean much more trouble later.  I’ve taught my sprouts that when playing poker it is important to play the other players–know their tendencies, their tells, their weaknesses but you also have to play your cards.  Bluff’s don’t often work and usually only succeed in movies and novels.  The only way to call him is to sit down with a huge stack of chips and deploy military assets, real people and real weapons on the border in Ukraine, admit Ukraine to NATO immediately, and stop trying to use sanctions and diplomacy.  Sanctions and diplomacy is chess.  Putin is playing poker.

To date, I can’t fault President Obama much, other than to say he should have seen this coming.  This is history.  There really should be more historians making White House policy decisions.  Back in 2008, before the Georgia crisis even, I read a wonderful little book (it is actually very little) called The Return of History and the End of Dreams by Robert Kagan.  Kagan’s argument was that the fall of the Soviet Union did not usher in global peace, but a return to the world in which ideologies, religions, and potentates ruled.  In short, the history we learned in school.  He seemed particularly clairvoyant on issues regarding Russia and Putin.  Here is a brief excerpt, written in 2008:

It is not hard to imagine the tremors along the Euro-Russian fault line erupting in confrontation.  A crisis over Ukraine, which wants to join NATO, could provoke Russian belligerence.  Conflict between the Georgian government and separatist forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia supported by Russia could spark a military conflict between Tbilisi and Moscow (NOTE–THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED IN 2008 AFTER THIS BOOK WAS PRINTED).  What would Europe and the United States do if Russia played hardball in either Ukraine or Georgia?  They might well do nothing.  Post-modern Europe can scarcely bring itself to contemplate a return of conflict involving a great power and will go to great lengths to avoid it.  Nor is the United States eager to take on Russia when it is so absorbed in the Middle East.  Nevertheless, a Russian confrontation with Ukraine or George would usher in a brand-new world–or rather a very old world. pp 23-24

Yeah, what he said is what is happening.  So, either Putin wins all the chips and walks away, or we call.  Those are the only two choices the President has.  I’ve quoted these lines many times, but they never let me down in terms of guidance for living.  I hope someone sings them in the Presidents ear soon:

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done.    From The Gambler, sung by Kenny Rogers