“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Predictions for 2008

A democrat in waiting.

One story that has fascinated me over the years has been that of Kosovo. It is the ultimate Carterization of US foreign policy, the preachy, condescending, and evangelical triumphal crusade for democracy, the application of which was extended to Iraq.

That Wilsonian dream was pretty much retired by the close of the Cold War, put away by tough practical men.

Carter, doffed the political mantel and wore it like a cardigan. He dusted off democratic certitude and used it to dissuade the supporters of the Shah from saving their own necks. Many of them heeded Jimmy's solemn advice and were executed by the mullahs, who brought us Iran I.

The democratic crusade has been losing some support lately, but still is referred to when dealing with China and Russia.

Every argument for supporting lopsided trade with China centers around its helping spread democracy to China.

"Democracy will be coming to the Middle East", was another recent expensive trek.

My prediction for 2008 is that Russia and Serbia will not permit Kosovo independence, (which is a euphemism for enlarging Albania). Will the American public finally tire of our Jimmy Carter foreign policy? What do you think 2008 will have in store for us?

Serbia to Shun EU Path if Kosovo Independence Recognized

Serbia said it would reject any offer of membership of the European Union or NATO if they recognized the breakaway province of Kosovo as an independent state, raising the stakes in a long-standing diplomatic battle.
Serbia's national assembly voted 220 to 14 in favor of a resolution, which stated that Serbia would not sign international treaties that did not acknowledge its territorial integrity and sovereignty over Kosovo. The vote which took place on Wednesday, Dec 26, was specifically referring to the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) which would move Serbia along the path to EU membership should it sign on next month.

Kostunica said Serbia will never accept Kosovo's independence
As discussions began in the assembly earlier in the day, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said: "At this moment a powerful resolution which parliament will pass today must be our last line of defence from violence and unilateral independence."

Both President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Kostunica, leaders of the two central parties in Serbia's center-right ruling coalition, backed the resolution, as did the nationalist Radicals and Socialists in the opposition.

But, the discussions over the resolution pitted parliament's nationalist and pro-Western parties against each other, with analysts speculating that the debate served more as a campaign platform for presidential elections in January.

"Blow to Serbia's EU ambitions"

The opposition Liberal Democratic party, led by Cedomir Jovanovic, rejected the resolution, saying the draft represented "a blow to Serbia's ambitions to become an EU member."

Pro-Western Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic expressed hope that Serbia would sign the SAA by the end of January, despite the resolution, but also without forfeiting sovereignty over Kosovo.

Belated funeral of 30 Kosovo Albanians killed during the 1998-99 war between Serbs and Albanian guerrillas
Serbia said it would postpone its decision on NATO membership, and said it would oppose a European Union supervisory mission ready to take over from the United Nations in Kosovo unless it won Security Council approval. Russia has already blocked the move in a bid to support its Serb ally.

"Serbia will never accept the independence of Kosovo," Tadic told parliament on Wednesday, adding that the diplomatic campaign against it would resume at a United Nations Security Council meeting scheduled for Jan. 9.

He also warned that if NATO peacekeepers failed to protect Kosovo's minority Serbs, "the Serbian Army is ready."

Kosovo ready to declare independence

Most Serbs live in northern Kosovo -- more or less already partitioned from the area dominated by the 90-percent Albanian majority. Kosovars, for their part, are preparing to declare independence in the next few months, with support from the European Union and the United States.

The United States and a number of EU countries have indicated
they will recognise a unilateral declaration of independence by
Kosovo Albanians, after the failure of almost two years of
UN-sponsored negotiations on the southern Serbian province's
The United Nations has administered Kosovo since 1999, when a NATO bombing campaign drove out Serb forces who had fought ethnic Albanian separatists. 10,000 civilians had perished in previous clashes and 800,000 people were driven out of the country.

Serbia, which considers Kosovo its cultural cradle, has offered the two million Albanians in the breakaway province broad autonomy, but Kosovars insist on total independence.

War criminal thought to be in Serbia

Outgoing chief UN war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte
Earlier on Wednesday, Serbia's war crimes prosecutor Vladmir Vukcevic said that wartime Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic was hiding in his country. He said that the "noose is tightening" around the fugitive, but said the officials did not yet know Mladic's precise location.

It was the first admission by a Serbian official that Mladic, who is wanted for genocide and crimes against humanity for his role during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, is in hiding in Serbia. In particular, Mladic and Bosnian Serb wartime political leader Radovan Karadzic are wanted for the July 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica.

Belgrade has repeatedly claimed it does not know Mladic's whereabouts. However, Carla Del Ponte, the outgoing chief prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes court in The Hague, Netherlands, has insisted he is in Serbia.


  1. 2164th: My prediction for 2008 is that Russia and Serbia will not permit Kosovo independence, (which is a euphemism for enlarging Albania).

    For justification they will point to Iraq, and say that American policy there is a unified Iraq, so why not a reunification of Yugoslavia?

    Will the American public finally tire of our Jimmy Carter foreign policy?

    They might, if they get Jimmy Carter stagflation to go along with it.

    What do you think 2008 will have in store for us?

    1. Romney and Clinton in the general, Romney after a brokered GOP convention, Clinton after beating Obama by the skin of her teeth. The election will be close again, like 2000 or 2004, but I cannot foresee which way it will tip.

    2. Oil prices reach a more reasonable $50 a barrel as Iraqi production is jacked up and slow growth tempers demand. Larry Kudlow continues to tell Goldilocks stories, at least until Hillary gets in there and raises taxes.

    3. The United States, assisted by a collapsing dollar, ramps up on domestic manufacture of high-ticket items like cars and planes for export and domestic sale. Troops in Iraq are brought down to a level sufficient to get Romney into office but not enough to allow the insurgency to restart.

    4. China starts making more of the middle-range stuff like refrigerators and television sets, and officially becomes a full partner in the global system, symbolized by the Olympics.

    5. The strong Euro means Europe starts making more of the dollar store stuff, with local Muslims providing the touch labor. This makes them even more dependent on immigration from Algeria and Pakistan. Labor difficulties are not handled with strikes but with car and subway bombs.

    6. Pope Benedict XVI rules ex cathedra, officially closing the door on female clergy and married priests in the Church (currently there are ambiguous statements from JP2 governing that issue). He tempers this by defining Mary's role as co-Redemptrix as Catholic Dogma, beatifies Johannes Paulus II Magnus, and canonizes Theresa of Calcutta.

    7. The writers strike surpasses the duration of the 1988 one, running into the fall season. The long term effect is to kill the sitcom and drama format and completely turn television over to "reality" shows like Celebrity Bowling. Small independent films written by their director/producers dominate the Oscars.

    8. The CD music format finally dies, killed by downloads, both legal and illegal. DVD rental vending machines appear at the front of every gas food mart. Sunglasses with GPS "heads-up" displays and built-in cellphones are the rage. Cars are fitted with computers and sensors that prevent tailgating, and this becomes mandatory by statute.

    9. As the President sleepwalks through his final year in office, Bush Derangement Syndrome begins to go into remission worldwide. After a few incidents of mega-terrorism in Canada and the Netherlands, the non-Islamic world wakes up from their America-bashing dream and finds it it's still a dangerous place out there and the touchy-feely stuff doesn't always cut it.

    10. A tunnel from Gaza to a village in the Negev permits Hamas to kidnap a number of civilians, including children, whose brutal torture is posted on YouTube. Israel responds with a full invasion that divides Gaza indefinitely into eight zones administered by IDF colonels. Abbas proceeds with "final status" negotiations for the West Bank, fearing the similar division and subdivision of Judaea and Samaria.

  2. For the record:
    December 27, 2007
    Bhutto Injured in Attack on Political Rally

    RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was wounded in a gun and suicide bomb attack after an election rally in the city of Rawalpindi, a party security official and police said.

    "She is injured," said party security official Rehman Malik. She had been taken to hospital.

    A Reuters witness at the scene said he heard two shots moments before the blast.

    "As party leaders, including Bhutto, started coming out a man tried to go close to them and then he fired some shots and blew himself up," said Yaseen, a police officer, at the scene.

    Police said about 15 people had been killed in the blast.

    Earlier, party officials said Bhutto was safe.

    A Reuters witness said he saw about eight bodies on a road as well as a mutilated human head.

    An Interior Ministry spokesman said initial reports suggested it was a suicide bombing and more than 10 people had been killed.

    A suicide bomber killed nearly 150 people in an attack on Bhutto on Oct. 18 as she paraded through the southern city of Karachi after returning home from eight years in self-imposed exile.

  3. Francine -- great list!

    To add one more -- in late 2008, Russia demands that EU governments remit to Russia 20% of the taxes they collect on gasoline & diesel refined from Russian oil. Russia claims to need additional capital to invest in oil field developments to feed Europe's high demand for imported oil.

    EU lefties think that this is a good idea ("only fair"), and EU govs know that Russia's hand is on the valve controlling their gas supply. President Rodham-Clinton supports Russia's demand. EU gives in.

    Winter of 2009, Russia is back for more.

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