I don’t need credit for anything that isn’t official, but just so the reader knows, I wrote the majority of this in the two weeks before New Years.
I’m sorry to say, those that are waiting for 2021 to end in the hopes that next year couldn’t possibly be any worse are in for a rude awakening. Remember 2020, when this whole COVID thing just got going? It was a year of political turmoil, the sheer terror of the nightly news telling us we’re all going to die, everything was being locked-down, and there was no end in sight. We all looked to 2021 in the hope that it would all get better when the calendar turned to January.
But it didn’t. 2021 turned out to be worse. There was the complete failure of the US in Afghanistan. The news is not talking about it much, but a famine has now rushed through that country endangering much of the population. In fact, the number of those starving to death might make this the largest world crisis in the world right now, but you haven’t heard about it on CNN. More than 20 million people are on the edge of starvation. The Taliban are fully in control and they are just as bad as they always were.
The border with Mexico turned into a horrible mess. The numbers of people rushing into the country are without comparison. This year is the highest on record for illegal alien apprehensions at the southern border. Also, there are more people being caught from countries other than Mexico that people from Mexico, almost twice as many. Yes, that means people from Ecuador, Honduras, and El Salvador, but it also means people from Yemen and Somalia, and other countries where some people really want to hurt America.
With vaccines and therapeutics for COVID out and accessible (or going in that direction). It is easy to forget that there were actually more COVID-related deaths in the US in 2021 than in 2020. On the final day of 2020, the US had reported over 350,000 deaths in total. Right now, there are almost 900,000 reported deaths. This means that in 2021 there were far more deaths than in the previous year. I’m trying to stay out of the politics of this, but I keep hearing Biden, during the Presidential Debates saying, “Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths [220,000] should not remain as President of the United States of America.”
As much as people were clamoring for a better year in ’21 than ’20, there is almost no way that we can say it has been. The economy is worse, the geopolitical situation is more tenuous, COVID has been more deadly. Maybe US societal strife can be seen as the one outlier, but that is mostly due to the media (and related) establishment not having vitriol for the current president, and Joe Biden not using Twitter.
Before you read this, you might be interested to see last year’s predictions.
I’m sure that many people are hoping and praying for a better new year. But, I just don’t see it in the proverbial cards. Here are my guesses as to what 2022 might have in store for us.
# 1 – Russia invades Ukraine
This won’t be a surprise to anyone. Russia has been massing large amounts of troops on the border. Yes, if you get your news primarily from Facebook you likely missed this one entirely, but it’s no secret.
Biden had a video-call summit with Putin about this. He threatened that the US would “make it very difficult for Russia to do this.” This obviously means that the US would try to levy economic sanctions. This isn’t even conjecture. The administration clarified this the week after Biden made the statement.
If this threat were a deterrence to Russia’s plans they would have responded in a way that gives the US government a way to diffuse this situation. But that isn’t what they did at all. Instead, they gave a list of demands which included that NATO interests leave the Eastern Block of former Soviet influence.
This is not doable for a US administration, unless they publicly give in the Russia which makes the US look very weak. Certainly, the administration is trying to back-channel their way out of this. I can’t see this possibly working. There are a whole host of reasons that Russia cannot back down.
There are two options here. It is possible that Russia is doing this as a test of a weak US administration…a bluff. The other option is that Russia sees the opportunity to act, and they have long viewed Ukraine as a prize for a host of reasons. It doesn’t make any sense for this to be a bluff, and if it is a bluff then Russia has already won. The US has already committed to act only in response to Russia invading.
So, why are they waiting? Well, it’s all about oil…clearly. The Nordstream II pipeline into Germany and the rest of continental Europe is still uncertified by the EU. It cannot legally deliver the oil that it’s built for. But, Europe is over a barrel (pun intended) on this one, and they are in a situation that they created. EU environmental regulations don’t allow them to produce the quantity of oil that they desperately need, and so they have to rely on importing that fuel.
Incidentally, I can’t quite understand how countries (including ours now) won’t drill for oil because they are ostensibly trying to save the planet, and so we ask other countries to do it for us? It isn’t like those countries inhabit some other planet. But these contradictions are normative now, and this is a topic for a different post, I guess.
This all means that Europe will have a difficult time making it through the winter, and especially a very cold winter, without this needed oil. Once the pipeline is certified and functioning, it will be very difficult indeed for them to shut it down. The Trump administration was able to apply very strong economic pressure to prevent companies from building this pipeline, but the Biden administration didn’t follow suit.
The US Senate will debate possible advance sanctions related to Nordstream II companies in mid to late January, or at least some elements will push for that. If that passes, it is likely too little, too late. But a strong Congressional stance is the only thing that could prevent a conflict here.
I suppose that the US could give in to Russia’s demands and avert a war. The problem is that those demands are really demands on NATO, not on the US directly. Giving in would also be such a great sign of weakness for the US and NATO, that the implications are worse than a Russian invasion.
So, after all this exposition, I’m saying that Russia will invade Ukraine. The trigger will be the certification of the Nordstream II pipeline. The buildup will get very tense in maybe January or February, and will result in a false-flag type of event similar to the German invasion of Poland or the Gulf of Tonkin incident. A full-scale invasion will follow.
#2 A domino effect in geopolitics might result from Russia’s actions
I’m not sure what all will be involved, but look for China attacking Taiwan, Iran becoming aggressive, or North Korea doing something…well, North Korea-like. Depending on the situation, this might result in surprisingly little reaction from Washington, or a major response. I can’t be sure now.
#3 If China does act on Taiwan, it will also be under the guise of responding to a great perceived slight against China
That’s how China does things. Also, China losing face (or at least thinking their losing face) from the Covid pandemic will motivate them to show strength internationally.
#4 Iran will announce to the world that they have nuclear weapons, barring preventative action from America or Israel stopping them
This will be a huge thing. I don’t know if Israel or the US will do something to prevent this. They probably should. If they do, then this might avoid Iran getting nuclear weapons this year.
#5 The American economy will be in bad shape, for sure
The stock market cannot continue it’s nearly eternal growth. Interest rates will increase, likely several times. I think that inflation will continue, and I’m not sure what unemployment will do. Many things in the economy now just don’t make sense. If there isn’t some collapse or near collapse, then economic theory makes no sense anymore.
#6 Joe Biden won’t be President
I’ve long said that Joe Biden will announce that he cannot continue as President before Q2 of 2022. With the unpopularity of Kamala Harris, I no longer know how palatable that will be. If it will happen next year, I would think that Q1 would be when it is best politically done. Either way, for sure we won’t end 2022 with Joe Biden still as President.
By the way, lest you think this is wishful thinking, I prefer Joe Biden to those down-steam in presidential succession. In my view, this will be tragic.
#7 The GOP will take control of both Houses of Congress in the November elections
#8 Democrats will make a big deal of this January 6th
This isn’t a bold prediction. It is only a day away as I write this, and they’ve already announced it. But look for some pretty crazy over-the-top stuff.
#9 Trump will be active in advocating for candidates in the run up to the election
He will might not just be out there in the general, but also in the run-up prior to the primaries. Whether or not he will be trying to stay the political disruptor, or will be together with the main part of the party will be telling, for sure. It will be really telling if he is more active during the Primary season, or in the General afterwards.
If he actively challenges Republican candidates in the Primary it will be bad for his future in his plan to inevitably run in 2024. If he has seen by the party as supporting Republican efforts, then he’ll get large Republican support. If however, he goes after established Republicans in the primary it will both be seen as a vindictive effort against those who didn’t support him enough, and it will be seen as endangering the party’s chances of taking back power. Either way it breaks Reagan’s 11th Commandment of Politics.
#10 North Korea will be a big story in 2022
There is a good chance that North Korea won’t end the year with Kim Jung Un as their leader. If that happens there are two directions that things could go in there. Either, there will be consolidation around a new leader, and the current frontrunner is his sister. The other option is for great internal strife. If that happens, look for a Chinese-brokered solution. The Chinese will not allow a re-unified Korea under a Democratic-style government on their border.
In either event, look for North Korea to be pretty large in the news in 2022. Possible belligerent acts are used within the North Korean power structure to cement leadership there. An “us versus them” outlook is often used to build unity in many countries, and North Korea is a classic example of this repeatedly.
#11 There will be a political revolution in at least one major country this year
The forced Covid lockdowns in both Western-type Democratic countries, as well as the extreme draconian Chinese lockdowns are creating powder-kegs that are ripe for explosions.
I’ve heard former journalist Dan Carlin’s theory about societies needing pressure-release valves for the people to keep their internal pressures from building up too much. When that is not allowed or available is when the people lose their self-control. I think he’s completely right in this regard.
We’re seeing some big protests in some locked-down countries. If the governments won’t listen and respond, it’ll boil over. Some governments won’t. Things could get messy. We’ll have to see.
I’m not sure that Biden will do this, but I think if the former Vice-President officially changed his first name legally to Brandon, it would be cool.