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Every year around this time, I like to offer my take on the most essential issues of the coming year. In keeping with this tradition, I offer five such points of interest below (in no particular order). These in my view will be the most important flashpoints of 2016.
1. Trump Vs. the Establishment
The ‘Trump phenomenon’ (as Donald Trump’s quest for the Republican nomination has become known) is far from the crude ‘cult of personality’ portrayed by the Western media and its believers. While Trump’s admirers (myself included) do admire his quirks of character, – his braggadocio, scalpel-pointed insults and personal success – this is nowhere near sufficient to explain his political momentum.
No, the secret of Trump’s wildfire success is rather his opposition to the status quo, the establishment; the flaking, zombiefied bureaucracy, unaccountable to those in whose name it pretends to operate. This is the disease to which Trump’s medicine appears effective. And unless that is understood, his nomination (at least) will be assured.
2. The EU Vs. British Independence
David Cameron, as part of his manifesto for the 2015 general election, promised an in-out referendum on British membership of the EU ‘before the end of 2017’. Most commentators in the national press confidently and convincingly predict that this vote will be held in 2016, possibly as soon as April, in order to get it out of Mr Cameron’s way. If this is true, the coming year could scarcely be more important. It will decide whether Britain is born again as an independent nation, or whether the EU juggernaut rolls mercilessly onward, gaining in centralised power like a snowball.
3. ISIS Vs. Europe
I predicted some time ago that ISIS would launch a campaign of violence across the European Union. In Paris and elsewhere, I was proven right. As ISIS suffers a long and humiliating decline in its base of operations, expect the violence to become a frequent event, with all the disruptive political consequences that will entail.
4. Russia-China Vs. American Policy in the Middle East
Russia and China have been kept out of the Middle East for over 30 years. Despite numerous attempts to break into what is still the most important strategic region in the world, America’s network of alliances has proven remarkably watertight. In Riyadh, Amman, Jerusalem, Beirut, Doha and Cairo, Middle Eastern regimes have remained loyal to Washington for as long as can be remembered. 2016 may be the year that this changes. As I write, Russia is establishing an active military presence in Syria, and China is sending troops to the same war-torn nation. As the failures of the Arab spring, as well as the escalating war of doctrine between Sunnis and Shias intensify, opportunities for Russian, Chinese and Indian penetration will increase and be seized upon.
5. Censorship Vs. Reality
Political correctness is a phenomenon already on its last legs. Once a roaring lion, the established norm of ideological censorship now resembles a wounded sheep. When Donald Trump boldly suggested that all Muslims be barred from entering America – a notion that only ten years ago would have been considered National Socialist – the outcry was weak, short-lived and completely ineffective. Despite a rapidly assembled battalion of media luvvies issueing around-the-clock condemnation, the public at large held perfectly true to their first instincts. Many mainstream polls showed approval, and few if any showed the kind of phantom outrage the press brazenly claimed was sweeping the world.
After the end of political correctness comes the end of moderation. We are entering an age of political frankness. The Left will be Left. The Right will be Right. This doesn’t guarantee the victory of either. But it is something all honest people should welcome with open arms.
Conclusions: Fear Vs. Conviction
All of these coming dramas will trigger a confrontation in the minds of men; fear vs. conviction. At the moment fear has the upper hand. Despite what I would prefer, something in me doubts that America will choose Trump at the 2016 general election. He is too revolutionary, too unpredictable. People are afraid of him; of the harshness of his medicine. Likewise on the UK/EU question, the official predictions favour the victory of fear. People are just too intimidated by the risks of detaching ourselves from a powerful political bloc. Some even fear revenge measures by EU powers (including Germany). Anxieties like these might ultimately prove decisive.
As for ISIS, with all their fiery, battle-hardened certainty, what do we have that is capable of stopping them? Conviction, yes. But still again, this conviction is crippled with fear. Shouldn’t we just leaven them alone? Shouldn’t we just plead neutrality and keep ourselves safe in the short term…? And should America bother to prise off Russia and China from the near east and retain the stability on which the American (and Western) way of life economically depends? Since the fear in this case is of apocalypse, who can be sure of Obama’s choice? Finally – should we even speak our minds on these matters, or button up and hold our tongues like cowards? It’s certainly the safer option to stay quiet.
Conviction, it would seem, is the underdog of 2016. We must hope for an upset.