Predictions are always problematic – there’s that pesky notion of “free will,” [.pdf] not to mention the stubborn refusal of reality to conform to our preconceptions. Yet they are obligatory for a columnist this time of year, and so what I’m going to do is assign a probability to each “prediction.”
1) War with Iran – One could argue we are already at war with Iran, what with US support for the terrorist Jundallah – a Sunni extremist group with links to al-Qaeda – which is attacking Iranian civilians and wreaking havoc in Iranian Baluchistan. Also, the sanctions we have imposed on Iran are, in themselves, acts of war – and we’ve seen how Iran is responding with threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, which a great deal of the world’s oil must pass through. The odds of a minor incident in this volatile region blowing up into a major confrontation are quite high. Adding fuel to the fire: continuing US efforts to destabilize Syria, an Iranian ally, could prove to be the tripwire that drags us into war with Tehran. Moves by Hezbollah to shore up the Syrian Ba’athists could bring in Israel – and ultimately the US.
In line with my theory of “libertarian realism” – the idea that domestic political considerations determine a nation’s actions on the international stage – I’ll note that the number one force pushing for war with Iran is the indefatigable Israel lobby, which has been beating the war drums for years now and has the full support of both parties in Congress. Sure, the American people don’t want war – but since when have they had any say in our foreign policy?