Looking Ahead At Guantanamo, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel In 2009

One thing is for sure.  No one can say that given all that is about to happen in 2009 that there will be time for being bored.  There will be enough political drama, international intrigue, and policy maneuvering to keep news reporters hopping, and printing presses humming.  This year is going to produce lots to watch and debate.

We know that America will swear in our 44th President who will face grave economic issues that will require keen skills to pass a massive stimulus bill, work on green energy technologies, and improve our health care system.

And who knows, come July 1st , following the close of the current term of the Supreme Court, there may be an opening requiring even more political skills from Barack Obama. 

I think that most of the drama this year will be overseas.  That is not to take anything away from the expectations placed on the Obama White House, or the feisty skirmishes that will rage in Congress.  There will be tons to go around all year long.  But there will be, rightfully, great interest focused on other parts of the world too. 

In Iran the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution will take place, as well as election for President.   President Ahmadinejadwill have those withmore pragmatic ideas wishing to replace him. Having said that the question remains, as always in Iran, what does the ruling Ayatollah think about the matter?  That is where the real power exists.   The other 800-pound question that remains to be resolved is how, and in what context negotiations will proceed with Iran to stop their nuclear development.  Included in this issue needs to be the penalty for failure if Iran does not meet up to international expectations.  How effective can the U.S. be towards Russia who has long been a strong supporter of Iran at the United Nations?  If we allow Iran to get this weaponry the world will be a very unsafe and unpredictable place to live.  I expect robust diplomacy to take place in 2009 on this matter.

Guantanamo will be closed this year, and the legal black hole that created international disgust with America will cease to exist.  The aftermath of that policy will dog this nation for a long time, but the prison will no longer operate.  The question remains as to what to do with a very small handful of prisoners who might pose a problem if released.  But that will be resolved in some fashion that I trust satisfies those who want legal protections for these prisoners.  This black mark on the world will be shut down.

Afghanistan will be the place where war ravages heavily for Americans, as the number of troops will need to be increased due to the shortages that resulted from the Iraq War.  New policy goals will need to be implemented as history shows that creating a central power in this nation by outsiders is futile.  Our soldiers need to be mindful that fighting the terrorist element is central, but nation building  here is not sustainable.  The separate powers in the various provinces need to be dealt with, and a powerful central government should be dismissed as a policy goal.

I suspect, if needing to bet today, that when elections are held in Israel that Benjamin Netanyahu will lead a new government.  That does not bode well for the region.  The questions remains as to how stable the coalition government will be after what will be a bitter election, and the bloodletting that is now taking place in Gaza.  To what degree any semblance of a peace plan can be stitched together by Hillary Clinton as she assumes her role as Secretary of State will be most interesting to watch.  Sadly, I expect only intransigence from the Israelis, and little progress in this area of the world.

And then there is North Korea.  Could there be a economic implosion in this impoverished nation?  What happens if it occurs?

As I write Russia has turned off the natural gas that is supplied to Ukraine.  One just never knows where 2009 will lead.  But I know it will never be dull.

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