2017: The Year in Review
by Pete Garcia
After a volatile and ‘seemingly unpredictable’ election year, the newly forming Trump administration likewise promises to be one that is largely driven around the personality of Donald Trump. His campaign of Make America Great Again (MAGA) has pumped new vigor into a sagging economy, and has spurred both trepidation and curiosity of almost every nation around the world. President Elect Trump is unlike anything, anyone has ever seen in that office, and has been closely scrutinized for operating largely off script and predictably-unpredictable.
With that said, Fortune Magazine (Fortune.com) has teamed up with IBM’s artificial intelligence “powerhouse” Watson this year for the first time, to give their own version of a 2017 forecast by mining the internet for trends to analyze. While my analysis here is a far cry from having a powerful Artificial Intelligence resource sifting through millions of terabytes of information, I do have one advantage. I’m simply a guy who looks at the world from a Biblical perspective, and bases my understanding through a scriptural prism. Seeing that God is the only Being in existence who can see both the end from the beginning, and the beginning from the end…I’d say the odds are in my favor. (Isaiah 46:9-10)
Last year, I began sort of a light-hearted (as in I don’t take myself that seriously) prediction journal of the year to come, (2016: The Year in Review) on January 4th, 2016, which was based on previous years “Snapshot of a Moving Picture” review of geo-political events. As promised, I wanted to follow-up on just the major ‘hits and misses’ from that brief before going into 2017. So let’s recap those 2016 predictions.
Hit-In January of 2016, my prediction was that Trump would win the Republican Primaries. In September 26th 2016 in the “The Last Trump” article, my prediction was that the General Election would be a “Trump blowout in November”. My hunch then of a Trump victory was based on something rather simple-it was who had the momentum. It didn’t matter what the press, or Hillary, or even fellow Republicans threw at Trump…nothing stuck to him. Things that would have crippled other candidates simply rolled off Trump like water off a duck’s back. This is where his business mind comes in—and that is the art of taking the good and the bad, and making it all work for you. Again, most of the “experts” got it wrong.
Miss-Trump brings in Cruz/Rubio as running mate. I got this wrong because I thought he would use one or the other to solidify the Hispanic vote. Also, I didn’t know much about Mike Pence, but it turned out to be a solid choice and definitely one of the reasons why Evangelicals lined up to support the ticket.
Hit: US keeps troops beyond pull out date. This isn’t really a win per se, but the general consensus was that Pres. Obama would pull an “Iraq” in Afghanistan, and yank everyone out on a certain date regardless of what was happening tactically on the ground.
Miss: US sticks to drawdown numbers. I didn’t think he’d do it, but despite the Pentagon’s advice against doing this, Pres. Obama continued the draw down to around 9,800 troops. Now that has the potential to be reversed under a Trump Administration, but I don’t think he sees Afghanistan as a ‘wise’ investment. At the same time, we can’t leave a vacuum there like we did in Iraq, or another “ISIS” type organization will just pop up.
Miss: Russia bombs Damascus. Although Russia has done a generous amount of bombings all over Syria, I thought they would level Damascus (thus fulfilling Isaiah 17) as a means to clear the rubble for Assad…but alas, this did not happen…yet.
Hit: Intensification of the fight over the Golan Heights as Israel begins limited bombings on the Syrian side along with Iran’s escalation into the fray.
Hit: Israel, Cyprus, and Greece increased cooperation on a transnational natural gas pipeline. Below is some interesting excerpts from a recent article based on a meeting that took place this past December 2016: Israel, Greece, Cyprus to hold second trilateral summit
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades will hold a one-day summit on Thursday. The three first met together in January in Nicosia in what was hailed as the formation of a new “strategic alliance” in the eastern Mediterranean…Israel is currently weighing three options for exporting its recently discovered natural gas. The first is to export to Egypt for its needs. The second is to export to Turkey, a country keen on diversifying its energy supplies, and the third is to lay a pipeline to Cyprus and then to Greece. This option is by far the most expensive.
My hunch is you can bank on option three.
Hit: Saudis (OPEC) to cut production. Having experienced several years of back to back low gas prices, the house of Saud, and by extension OPEC, has finally decided to cut back on oil production. The Saudi’s had been trying to drown the market with excess oil causing lowered prices to knock out US Shale companies while simultaneously putting the economic squeeze on Russia and Iran. The problem though is that the Saudi’s have been blowing through cash like no tomorrow. Well, tomorrow came. OPEC Confounds Skeptics, Agrees to First Oil Cuts in 8 Years
Hit: Serious dialogue predicted, serious dialogue and traction continuing, especially in light of a threatening Russia, and a departing Great Britain. More than ever, a real “need” for an EU Army is emerging.
Israel: US finally moves embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will be a highly controversial move and would expect nothing less than a Psalm 83-type reaction from the Arab world to occur. It’s also likely, that there could be a strong push from within the United Nations to move their headquarters out of New York as a means to protest Trump’s embassy move. It’s hard to say exactly when this would occur, but I would expect it to be within the first year of Trump’s presidency. (Genesis 12:3)
Syria: Like Libya and Iraq, Syria has truly become a borderless, non-nation, international-battleground with many different actors (nations, rebel groups, foreign fighters, and terrorist organizations) all vying for real estate. It is unlikely that the Syria we knew in the 20th century will ever come back into existence.
Now, here is where I want to deviate from my previous prediction on her future. The prophet Isaiah states that Damascus would be utterly and completely destroyed. But that destruction occurs overnight, not dragged out over five years. So that tells me that as we enter into the sixth year of war there, either Damascus is secured by the Syrian “government” (via Russia and Iran), and is rebuilt to some degree, or what’s left of it is bombed triggering the underground chemical bunkers…making it permanently and quickly destroyed as stated in Isaiah 17.
Iran has also recently created the “Fifth Attack Corps”, which is a new formation of between 50-70,000 fighters-much akin to a Shiite Foreign Legion, made up of mixed fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iraqi Shia, Iranians, and Syrian loyalists, all backed militarily by Russia. The name “Fifth Corps” may be an attempt to mock Iran’s main antagonist in the region, the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which is based opposite Iran in the Sunni-Arab state of Bahrain.
Iraq: ISIS will finally be driving underground from Iraq through renewed US and allied forces efforts to dislodge, dismantle, and destroy ISIS. Meanwhile, I fully expect that the Iraqi Kurds will finally secure statehood this year in northern Iraq as the central government in Baghdad continues to struggle to find its own sovereignty.
BREXIT: Fizzles and stalls…not completely off the table, but no clear way forward on making it a reality in 2017. In other words…easy to vote, hard to enact.
Germany: Angela Merkel loses her reelection as chancellor
France: Marine Le Pen wins. I am not completely sold on this choice, but given all the issues the French have had this past year with Islamic terrorism…it’s not a stretch either.
EU Army: Continues to be solidified…especially in light of Trump’s stance on the EU (and other allies) bearing more of the cost to provide for their own defense. This could also be the year we start to see the crossover of NATO commands and personnel to the newly forming EU Defence force.
NATO: NATO must decrease so that the EU Defense force can increase. While an EU centric army has not truly existed since the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it is not hard to imagine from what pool this new EU Army will recruit from. If you are a Colonel in some role within NATO, and the EU Army offers to make you a general or admiral…trust me, it will not be hard to get the leadership. They also have largely failed economies in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece…so you have a large number of unemployed youth to recruit from.
CERN: Finally opens the inter-dimensional star-gate. [Sarcasm intended-but who knows?]
Russia: Trump has been accused of cronyism with Vladimir Putin and his ilk. If my memory serves me right, it was President Bush who saw his soul-mate in the eyes of Putin, and it was President Obama who assured his intentions openly (via live microphone) to then President Dimitri Medvedev that he (Obama) would have more flexibility to act after the 2012 elections. While Trump has at least two Russia-friendly cabinet picks thus far, it is not guaranteed that he will be any more accommodating towards Russia than his predecessors were. At the end of the day, there is still plenty of daylight (Ukraine, Iran, and Syria) between Russia and the United States. And considering his wife Melania is Slovenian (former Yugoslavian province), she is more than adequately adept at helping him navigate the little nuances from that region of the world.
Democrats: Look for a renewed and increasingly hostile reaction to the Trump Administration, similar to the last few years of the Bush Presidency. Expect CALEXIT and other state secessionist movements to pick up steam.
A Pacific Pivot at last? Pres. Obama had signaled a Pacific shift back in 2011 as new strategy away from the Middle East, but I believe he was a bit too premature on this. Actually, his Pacific Pivot was more economic (think Trans Pacific Partnership) than it ever was militarily. But as the nontraditional candidate, business magnate, and now president-elect, I believe we will finally see that major shift to the Pacific (militarily) under Trump as he consciously picks at the scab we know as the Taiwan Conundrum, to which China is extremely sensitive towards. This has already played out with some aggressive (even by China’s standard) chest thumping, and could play out by loosening the leash of even more unhinged North Korea.
Pizza-gate: This has been and continues to be an extremely disturbing story. According to Megyn Kelly from Fox News, the whole thing is a ‘conspiracy theory’ generated by “fake news”. She then ran a cover piece with practically zero digging into the actual story, but centered solely on one lone crazy gunman. I don’t expect this story to go away. The potential fallout from this for those of the predominantly Democrat flavor, but could be a real game changer to American politics. Yes…it is that big. Now, considering the mainstream media has and continues to largely be in the tank for the Democrat party, means that this story has to fight its way through the bias, the slant, and the political cover-up…which is a significant hill to climb…but I believe there will eventually be a full blown “Benghazi” investigation. See also Sky Watch News report on it.
Afghanistan: As mentioned earlier, I believe we will start to look at serious options for a pull-out. Since Trump was not an elected official when either the Iraq and Afghanistan military operations began, and we have dragged this on now for 16 years, I expect him to get a no-frill (am I getting what I’m paying for??) brief from both the new SECDEF and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on continued operations in the proverbial ‘graveyard of nations’. He may use the threat of a complete military pull-out as a means to renegotiate Pakistan’s role in harboring the seasonal and migratory Taliban and Haqqani Network, who largely move back and forth from Afghanistan to Pakistan’s Waziristan region at will, making this war nearly impossible to ever end.
As always, I’m looking at future events from a 2016 perspective, and there are is always the potential for the ‘black swan’ events to come out of nowhere and throw our world into turmoil. North Korea could launch a preemptive assault on South Korea. The South China Seas could flare up in hostilities. Major earthquakes and tsunamis could happen in various places. And as always, the Rapture of the Church could still happen at any moment.
The Bible predicts that the world will wax worse and worse. It predicts that the world will come under one system. It predicts that Damascus as a city will be destroyed overnight, and never lived in again. The Bible predicts that the Antichrist and the ‘Beast’ system will arise again out of the ashes of the old Roman Empire. But in order for them to rise, the current world super power, has to be set aside as the leader so Europe can step into the void. We balance that with the knowledge that Jesus said (Luke 17:26-30) that the world will be normal (or have a sense of normalcy to it) when He returns for the Church. What we are seeing now, is the continued fine-tuning of the geo-political and social formations arranging themselves so that when the time for fulfillment comes, it will happen exactly as the Bible says it will.
So take comfort in the reality that while I may be wrong in my understanding in the timing of how Scripture plays out, and many of my predictions may fall flat, the God we serve knows and His word never falters.
Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ Isaiah 46:9-10