Might as well get this out of the way now so as not to sully the New Year cheer.
Here’s a pessimistic (for some) but plausible (I think) way things will develop in the next couple of years.
1. Trump cedes key positions to globalists and neocons. This has already happened; for all intents and purposes the US is now ruled by a junta of generals and oligarchs.
2. Democrats win the House and Senate in 2018. Prediction markets now giving a ~60% chance of a Democratic House (PredictIt, PredictWise) and a ~45% chance of a Democratic Senate (PredictIt, PredictWise). The political capital accruing from an improving economy is more than mitigated by the Republicans’ naked cronyism and pro-oligarchic policies, which Trump has chosen to unambiguously associate himself with. Gerrymandering is good in normal times, but in a “blue wave” year, all those 55%-45% “safe” districts flip.
3. Having outlived his usefulness to the GOP, Trump is himself impeached, 25th’ed, or at least made a lame duck by 2019. PredictWise actually gives Trump about 10% points less chance of finishing his first term today than they did at the beginning of 2017. These numbers are not just /r/politics and Blue Checkmark fantasies, they are the results of people putting their money where their mouths are.
4. Rampant domestic SJWism in 2019 as the Democrats unleash two years’ worth of pent up hatred and frustration. M uch of this is going to be less believable than satire, so I leave the details here to your imagination. The only thing I will note is that it is increasingly evident that SJWism is getting effectively weaponized by the elites against its enemies.
5. Purges of remaining populists on both the Right and the Left through #Russiagate. N one of this needs #Russiagate to be true to any significant degree. This has long ceased to be a legal matter, if it ever was in the first place; it is now just power politics. Note also the increasingly Red Scare-like attacks on the dissident Left for being Kremlin dupes. The populist Right has already been betrayed and defanged. This serves the interests of both the Clintonistas and the old GOP – that is, of the Establishment.
6. The ascendancy of neocon foreign policy. Though the Clintonista Dems and the old GOP won’t fully see eye to eye on domestic matters, one point of agreement will be on foreign policy – that is, on the twin pillars of Israel First and Russia containment.
An image of Russia as the archenemy of democratic civilization has been successfully built up in the past year, so we can expect everything from weapons deliveries to the Ukraine up to Iran-level sanctions as payback for their “attack on American democracy.”
Meanwhile, pressure on Iran and China will be let up, leaving Russia more isolated; and relations with Europe will improve after the neutralization of the hated Drumpf and the end of American obstructionism on issues like climate change.
Russia and Assad have yet to “win” in Syria. Yes, the Islamic State has been defeated and Aleppo liberated, but there are still large rebel concentrations – including one directly supported by Turkey – which can be reactivated after the next false flag and consequent American-led “humanitarian intervention” campaign. Turkey might be schmoozing up to Russia right now, since an Assad-ruled unitary Syria is better for it than an independent Kurdistan, but why wouldn’t it try again for an Islamist Syria should the opportunity present itself again?
7. Russia will come under incredible strain. If my read on Russian politics is correct, Putin’s next term will focus on the search for a successor and a transition from personalistic to institutional power. This is an issue that can only be given full attention in the absence of significant world tension. Consequently, I think it is likely that Putin will seek to make up with the West during this period, offering modest concessions in return for another reset.
However, in this scenario, the West will hardly be interested in dialogue, which will leave Putin a smaller subset of choices.
a) Total Surrender: Withdraw from the Donbass and leave it to Kiev’s tender mercies; evacuate Khmeimim/Tartus as the US, Saudis, Israel, and possibly turncoat Turks move in to bomb it into democracy; pass on power to a systemic liberal, who might adopt Navalny’s suggestion to rerun the Crimean referendum under international auspices. Ironically, this will require a major step-up in repression to accomplish, since nationalists will be mad about this and liberals will sense blood in the water.
b) Hunker Down: This will invite harder and harder sanctions from the West, up to and including being cut off from SWIFT, and possibly outright military clashes should Russia put up resistance in Syria, or retaliate elsewhere. In this scenario, repression will also have to be increased against non-systemic liberals as the regime is forced to lean more on nationalist support domestically, and China internationally.
Well, that’s it for my gloomy presentiments. Now you tell me why they’re wrong.