Cassandra The World in 2013

Cassandra’s farewell


CASSANDRA’s mythical namesake was never wrong in her prophecies—her curse, courtesy of the scorned Apollo, was not to be believed. This particular Cassandra, on this final day of predictions for 2013, cannot pretend to her infallibility. Indeed, I have to confess to the occasional (a weasel word, since I dread to count) error, not least in predicting that the English cricket team would be humiliated in the test series against India but would prosper in the one-day version of the game. As things turned out, and to my great pleasure, the opposite was true.

But, as Yogi Berra famously observed, “it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Moreover, bear in mind the sage observation of that great English philosopher, George Harrison (who also made a living as one of the Beatles):

It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.

Well, with all due respect to the late George, I think there will be a future, assuming of course that an asteroid snappily named 2012 DA14 and scheduled to come very close to Earth on February 15th does not confound the scientists by actually hitting us (it is, after all, the size of an Olympic swimming pool). 

So let me leave you with a few reasonably safe, though not necessarily pleasing, predictions for the coming months: the “Arab Spring” (more accurately the “Arab awakening”) will continue its slow, often bloody advance towards greater freedoms; sectarian strife will scar much of the Muslim world, especially Syria but also Pakistan; America will make precious little progress towards effective gun-control, but will manage some form of immigration reform; the euro will survive even as the whole of the European Union flirts with recession; there will be no new war over the Falklands/Malvinas; and Asia in general, and China in particular, will continue to drag the world economy out of its post-Lehman doldrums (assuming that China and Japan do not stupidly go to war over some god-forsaken rocks in the Pacific). 

Note that, in the interests of good taste, I do not dare make predictions on the mortality of the Castro brothers, or Hugo Chávez. Nor do I venture a bet on an American or Israeli attack on Iran (though if forced, I would bet against it), or on the discovery of some cancer-beating or AIDS-preventing therapy. 

Instead, let me invite you to offer your own predictions of what Donald Rumsfeld famously called “known unknowns and unknown unknowns“. And meanwhile, as The World in 2013 gives way in November to The World in 2014, Cassandra will borrow from Arnold Schwarzenegger (now back on our screens after his foray into politics):

I’ll be back.

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