New Year New hopes New Wars

On Sunday, we will be recovering from the celebrations the night before and wondering if we really meant our New Year resolutions.

The Chinese will keep their powder dry till February 4th, the first day of the Year of the Rabbit.

Long before nearly a billion and a half East Asians make a resolution, we will have broken ours, probably by the first week.

And what do we have before us as we travel the road M2011.

Some will pat themselves on the back for ‘avoiding’ the VAT increase to 20%. Or is that another way of saying we all went to Westfield and Oxford Street to spend £300 on stuff we could have lived without to save £7.50.

Now, what’s the APR interest on £300….. around £80? We will soon know as the credit card bills arrive on our doormats late January and early February.

By this week, 100,000 public sector workers will have received their redundancy letter (a Xmas present unwrapped to offer the statutory 90 day notice before the New financial year in April).

House prices are forecast to fall somewhere between 5 to 10%, though central London may buck the trend.

Last year, one in five properties in London were bought by mainland Europeans…. I imagine some swish Greek millionaires were in there, having taken out their Euros from Athens to avoid waking up one morning and finding the Euros had turned back to Drachmas… that’s on the cards in 2011.

The Irish rue that phrase ‘the luck of the ……’ as they go to the polls and kick out Fianna F and bring in FG…. no one is bothered unless…. the new lot (with Irish Labour & maybe Sinn Fein support) demand a review of the onerous IMF/EU austerity package…. Then watch the financial markets.

Europe’s PIIGS will be dancing on thin ice as Portugal goes to the wall… and everyone wonders how they can save Spain… all this we can watch in high definition by March.

The Italians (with a €1.9 trillion debt) will suffer Berlusconi again and probably face their moment of death/debt next winter or 2012.

This will be a year for Germany. They will decide the fate of the Euro and Europe as a project. How Margaret Thatcher must hate the idea of a German Thatcher, in the guise of Angela Merkel,  deciding the future while a British Prime Minister watches from the side, and twiddles his thumbs.

Surely there will be a spread of wars in Africa, though I wonder whether the ‘progressive Left’ will notice in London, so engrossed are they with the Eastern Mediterranean (or part of it).

The Congo will continue to burn… but will we notice? Five million dead so far but that’s not news unless the raw materials stop coming our way..,,,

West Africa looks like it has found a new victim…. while Sudan is on the verge of a split,  offering a vision of an African Arc of Instability from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic.

The Afghan War, which looked like it was entering the final chapter this time last year, has suddenly added a few more chapters as the Energy companies & weapons manufacturers twist Obama’s arm (though he does not need much persuading) to guarantee four more years of profits…. The TAPI pipeline is back on the agenda and the Afghan Army is being trained to protect it. The pipeline is set to start in 2012 and pumping out Turkmenistan ‘s gas into Pakistan and India by 2014.

Well, that’s the plan.

WIll there be any new Asian Wars in 2011? Every year we think it could be Iran. Maybe. The democratic Green Revolution failed so it leaves only a military strike to produce regime change. If Obama wants to be re-elected, he probably doesn’t want it in 2012, which is why 2011 looks like a dangerous window…

The Maoist war in India will gather strength though no Guardianista will notice unless Arundhati Roy is arrested….. that war is a slow burning fuse which will be the ultimate game-changer this decade …… but just as we do with Africa, we will ignore it and keep our narrow focus across the Middle East (or West Asia as it is known elsewhere).

The big financial story, besides the Euro, will be the bankruptcy of some US cities (and maybe a couple of European ones too).

With house prices falling too, the second leg of the crisis will be upon us….

What a dark canvas this all is…….. the positive splashes of paint will be the rise of political and social consciousness among millions of Europeans… about time too…. and there will be small victories along the way…. but 2011 seems more like work-in-progress rather than the finished article….

The almost non-existent English Left are pinning their hopes on the emerging student movement but that’s just another way of saying the ‘Left’ want to piggy back rather than broaden the opposition…

Most voters or citizens haven’t got an alternative vision firmly implanted because most of us haven’t communicated this consistently.

Between a token Union day out (sorry,  big terrifying strike) and the Royal Wedding, the unpalatable news will be that the World financial markets will show off London and the UK as a beacon of right wing neo-liberal governance.. and sterling might even soar with that vote of confidence…… imagine all those cheap holidays in Cyprus……

The climate change talks will collapse in South Africa even there if there is a meaningless ‘agreement’ and shedload of pledges.

The idea of the villains and the victims somehow burying the hatchet and over-ride the greed of oil companies and the oil dependent agri-business giants to construct a road map to a Greener World is touching…… this road started in 1992 and still has little to show…. so the only way we can call this ‘good news’ is to suggest that this will mark a turning point.

The negotiation process is not much better than the decades of conferences on poverty…. and where did we get with that then?…… Or Third World Debt…..

Hmm…. perhaps I am being gloomy because this is the down time between Xmas and the New Year….. perhaps when the rabbit sings in February I might look forward to the end of the dark winter and scent the spring with its hopes of a brighter future… Let’s hope so….

But let’s end in a positive way…. remember Soros said he was enjoying a good year of the Crisis…. and let’s rejoice in the good fortune of all those bankers planning how to spend their bonuses on yachts and trophy wives…… and all those companies in the ‘security business’ who are making hundreds of billions in providing us with floor to ceiling coverage of ‘protection’…… with 500,000 CCTVs in London (solving just 1,000 crimes),  reading our emails, following our Oyster card movements, tracking our purchases, recording our phone calls, profiling us on spiffy software and categorising us as trouble makers…….. I think we are in the wrong business trying to save the world…….. it seems so much more rewarding destroying it..

Lucky for some then.

Have a happy 2011


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