Headlines for 2010: Part II

The first year of the “tweens” promises radical change—and resolutions to some of the unfinished business of the decade before.

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The year 2010 is just a few days old, but already promises to be full of drama. Here are my predictions for the political headlines of the year to come. If they don’t come true, don’t hate!


6. The American Backlash Abroad

The “aughts” were defined by a radical restructuring of the world order. In 2010, the fall of the Berlin Wall comes of drinking age, the G8 is now the G20, and the unipolar world dominated by the United States is being remade by powerful economies in unexpected, emerging markets. Even as the world thrills to the idea of Barack Obama’s presidency, the United States will spend 2010 reaping the global problems, from war to banking crises to climate change, that it helped sow—and even Obama can’t prevent the coming backlash. The American wars that require NATO support will continue to strain the resources of foreign powers, while major humanitarian concerns, such as the lead-up to a referendum in Sudanese partition, will not receive adequate American attention. Major developing economies such as India, China and Brazil may break with the United States for its empty moralizing on climate change. And at some point, the human rights violations Obama is overlooking at home, as well as in undemocratic nations like China and Russia are going to erode his moral authority.

As the United States struggles to stay astride world public opinion, one relationship to watch is the dance between China and Africa, as well as the rise of Brazil as the most popular kid in the hemisphere. Other powers to watch in the new world order include G20 second stringers Australia, South Africa, Turkey and Mexico.