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2016: More of the Same

On this, 2016 New Year’s Day celebration, Janus’ countenances on the recto verso fascia sculpture of the Roman god are looking bewildered, confused, angry, and apprehensive. This 2015-2016 Janus visage is bewildered at how rapidly 2015 elapsed in a memento mori personal prompting to mankind; it is confused about the myriad outcomes of a bad 2015; it is angry at the depravity to which humanity has descended; and it is apprehensive about the footpath onto which modern day civilizations are about to embark.

With a tinge of a Cassandra, a Tiresias, and a Hamlet, what follows are a few predictions for 2016:

· The U.S. Presidential campaign is going to get nastier. On the Republican side Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Marco Rubio will duke it out, and the personal attacks will increase exponentially. With his smug, weasel-like look, Cruz will win over Zionist Evangelicals and their ilk; Trump’s vitriol will get more nasty and personal, and he’ll maintain, if not increase his following; Rubio’s lack of experience will be his biggest vulnerability. All three will recycle their Islamophobia into new motifs and fears. O’Malley will drop out; Hillary will pull out all the stops and do her utmost to discredit and ruin a Sanders candidacy, and, should she and Bernie have a one-on-one debate, Sanders will gain more ground and give Hillary a run for her hysterical laughter and lies. Hillary, Rubio, Cruz and Trump will fabricate and tailor the truth to cater to their crowds-de-jour. And the media will not give Sanders his due.

· In his last year in office, Obama, a lame duck president for most of his presidency, will drone his way through the Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria Wars. To make up for his failed foreign policy, in all likelihood he will unleash more military might on defenseless nations he considers vulnerable and incapable of defending themselves; he’ll do his best to discredit Putin, and he will challenge China in the Pacific and attempt to sabotage China’s economic investment in Africa, both to weaken China economically, and, by arming and propping up African tyrants, he’ll try to introduce exploitative one-sided neo-liberal economic policies, policies that rape the environment, impoverish the natives, and accrue tremendous profits to U.S. and European corporations.

· With oil prices at a low $35 per barrel oil, American consumers will benefit greatly and help keep the economy afloat. Low oil prices will weaken the adventurism and political clout Saudi Arabia and its neighbors have enjoyed for years and, with a dwindling petro-dollar treasury, the House of Saud might curtail its support for ISIS and its ill-advised murderous war in Yemen. While Russia will also be hurt by low oil prices, India and China’s economies will benefit.

· With continued U.S. taxpayer dollars, Egypt’s military tyrants will continue ruling the masses with an iron fist, and Egypt will continue to do America’s bidding by cooperating with and enforcing Israel’s brutal siege of Gaza, now in its tenth year.

· While ISIS and Daesh will be weakened because of Russian, American, French, and British bombing, they will remain a force to be reckoned and, as their real estate in Iraq and Syria shrinks, they will attempt to carry out bloody murders across the globe. Tragically, no country is immune to their depraved, morbidly sick violence. Turkey will continue to serve as a conduit for new ISIS recruits from the Caucuses and Uyghurs from Central Asia. And Obama will not dare censure Erdogan.

· As Iraq and Syria make modest gains against ISIS and Daesh, Syria and Iraq (thanks to Bush and Obama) will further split along ethnic and religious lines and into mini states with new boundaries, a recipe for permanent future conflicts. The Kurds’ national aspirations will portend enduring conflict between a future Kurdistan and Iraq, Syria, Iran, and, most significantly, Turkey. This means that a likely war between Turkey and the Kurds will keep the Near East imbroglio alive and well, with the strong possibility of a Turkish military assault on weakened Syria and Iraq in a land grab whose real intention is to steal rich agricultural lands, water, and oil resources a la Israeli mode.

· Thanks to Hillary, a follow-others Obama, and NATO, Libya will continue to be a tribal battle ground for the regressive Islamist fanatics and their Qatari and Emirati sponsors. And the spillover into Mali, Somalia, Sudan, and Nigeria will continue in the form of further terror, thus providing excuses for U.S., French, and NATO military interventions. Just follow the rich African natural resources for a link to intervention under the guise of protecting civilians from fanatic dictators and terrorist groups – while support for Western-sponsored thugs (whose countries are rich in minerals and other natural resources) will continue to be business as usual.

· Because of corporate and human greed, environmental degradation and global warming will continue unabated.

· Privacy and individual freedoms in the so-called democratic Western Hemisphere, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Korea, will be curtailed under the guise of national security. Repression and freedom of expression In Asia, Africa, and the Near East, including Israel, the thuggish only democracy in the Near East, will become more brutal and intrusive in a region already suffering from such.

· In his last year in office Obama will reward the 1% and other rich donors, for after all, funds for a presidential library must be raised, and securing lucrative coveted corporate and Wall Street board positions for himself and for Michelle are the payola our politicians have come to expect. And I wonder whether he and Michelle are counting on amassing as much in speaking and consulting fees as the Billary team has. At last count the duo became 1%ters, and are believed to have collected some $135 million.

· Having outmaneuvered Obama at every turn, Netanyahu will continue to play the victim card, thumb his nose at the world, colonize the West Bank at an unprecedented pace; he will kill more Palestinian civilians, demolish more Palestinian homes, attack Syria and Lebanon whenever and wherever he chooses; he will lecture the world about morality, resort to xenophobia to rally his depraved Fascist settlers, use the Palestinians as scapegoats, continue to build the Wall of Separation, and he will continue doing what he does best – incite his hate-mongering settlers to burn Palestinian farm lands, mosques, and churches, and he will evict Palestinians from their ancestral homes and lands by killing them and then blaming them for incitement. In return for Netanyahu’s “affluenza” in general and the Iran deal in particular, Obama has promised him exactly what he wanted all along. Like the abused spouse, Obama’s gifted the man who humiliated and stuck to him a check for 50 billion tax-payer dollars to be cashed in arms and a tacit approval for a continuation of the colonization of Palestine. In effect, in his last year in office, Obama has condemned the Palestinians to perpetual occupation. And, during his tenure, Obama sat on his hands as Israel waged three wars on Gaza’s 1.8 million prisoners, exterminating them as one would exterminate vermin. Dead Palestinian children are Bibi’s specialty. I would not be surprised if Netanyahu takes advantage of Obama’s weakness to find another excuse to wage a fourth war on Gaza in which civilians are mercilessly slaughtered to test new Israeli weapons that would then be sold to the world’s arms merchants as war-proven killing machines.

· Abbas and his cronies, and Hamas and its chums, will continue to be corrupt, compete with each other at the expense of Palestinians, and hang on to power compliments of meagre Western and Qatari welfare handouts, in a region in which Sunni vs. Shia rivalry and antagonism will continue to add fuel to the cauldron of hatred, brutality, and endless wars in which billions of dollars will be squandered to enrich and prop up the Western economies.

· And finally, a just announced news report about a pre-new year celebration during which a luxury sky scraper hotel fire in downtown Dubai was destroyed is perhaps a metaphor for a disease called human apathy. Even though the fire was still raging and debris was blowing into the wind, the Dubai authorities went ahead with the New Year’s fireworks celebration. Brings Nero, his harp, and a burning Rome to mind. In like manner, as war rages in the Near East creating millions of refugees, the rich nations get richer, enjoying the fruits of human misery, and celebrating the good life paid for with the suffering, blood and lives of innocents.

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Raouf J. Halaby has just recently been awarded a Professor Emeritus status. He taught English and art for 42 years. He is a writer, a sculptor, a photographer, and an avid gardener. He can be reached at rrhalaby@suddenlink.net

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