Netanyahu's October Surprise --Alon Ben-David and others
"[Benjamin Netanyahu] is determined to attack Iran before the U.S. elections.… I doubt Obama could say anything that would convince Netanyahu to delay a possible attack." --Aug. 20, 2012
This year, the Israeli media was rife with speculation that Israel would launch an attack on Iran before the U.S. elections. Alon Ben-David, the well-connected defense correspondent for Israel's Channel 10, made his prediction based on conversations with high-ranking military officers. Commentators Nahum Barnea and Simon Shiffer joined in, predicting in the paper Yedioth Ahronoth, "Insofar as it depends on Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, an Israeli military strike on the nuclear facilities in Iran will take place in these coming autumn months, before the U.S. elections in November." An article in the newspaper Maariv said that Sept. 25 -- Yom Kippur eve -- was the crucial decision date. In the United States, Harvard University historian Niall Ferguson predicted in a widely panned article for Newsweek that Obama would launch a U.S. strike on Iran in order to boost his reelection chances. Tensions are still high, but the election came and went without any moves from Tel Aviv -- or Washington.
We've Solved the Greece Problem --Angela Merkel
"We Europeans showed that we are able to reach the correct conclusions. We found agreement on a complete package." --Oct. 27, 2011
It's a well-rehearsed ritual at this point. European leaders meet to discuss measures needed to bail out Greece and preserve the eurozone, announce that they have finally reached a breakthrough, and then several months later are at it again. Despite German Chancellor Angela Merkel's assurances that European leaders had finally turned the page after reaching an agreement to reduce Greece's debt in the fall of 2011, the continent is still at odds over how much aid to extend to Greece. Germany was dragged into supporting a bailout for Greece and other aid-stricken countries by European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi this fall, but it's still very much touch-and-go. The chancellor recently griped, "In all my life I have never thought so much about Greece."
And the Nobel Will Go to … --Kristian Berg Harpviken
"Harpviken's favourite for 2012 is Gene Sharp, who has been a main analyst and inspirator on non-violent action, which has proven its strength in numerous uprisings over the past couple of years. The second favourite is Memorial, the Russian organization focusing on human rights, democracy, and reconciliation through historical documentation, alongside founding member Svetlana Gannushkina. Third on Harpviken's list is Echo of Moscow, an independent media house, and its editor, Aleksei Venediktov. A fourth possible outcome in 2013, suggests Harpviken, is a shared prize to Archbishop John Onaiyekan and Mohamed Sa'ad Abubakar, both of Nigeria, for their contribution to interreligious dialogue. A fifth possible winner, within the always controversial peacemakers category, is Myanmar's President Thein Sein" --Peace Research Institute Oslo's website, October 2012
Every year, Kristian Berg Harpviken, director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, a Norwegian think tank, gets major media attention -- yes, from us too -- for his "speculations" about who will win the Nobel Peace Prize. And every year they are wrong. Only one of his shortlisters -- Al Gore in 2007 -- has ever taken home the prize. But Harpviken keeps soldiering on. This year's winner, the European Union, wasn't mentioned at all in Harpviken's list of dozens of potential winners. Interestingly, the Irish betting side Paddy Power did list it as a potential winner. Chalk one up for the wisdom of the crowd.
The Olympics Will Be a Disaster --Der Spiegel
"London and the Olympic Games are clearly not made for each other. Visitors will need determination and, most of all, patience to reach the venues at all. And, for the locals, it all can't end soon enough." --July 17, 2012
The German weekly Der Spiegel wasn't alone in suspecting that Britain's economic woes, security concerns, labor unrest, and poor infrastructure would turn the London Games into "one big, soggy mess." In the run-up to the Olympics, everyone from novelist Nick Hornby to the New York Times to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was questioning whether London was really up for it. Comedian Russell Brand summed up the feelings of many of his compatriots when he predicted that, compared with the impressive Beijing Games, London 2012 would be a "right balls up."
Of course, by nearly any standards, the London Games were a smashing success. They were the most watched event in TV history, the facilities held up, security concerns proved overblown, and the home team took home a record number of medals.
London followed the Beijing Games and South Africa's World Cup as events that were widely expected to be disasters but turned out just fine. Maybe we can cut Brazil some slack this time?
The Coming Collapse of China (Redux) --Gordon Chang
"Not long ago, everything was going well for the mandarins in Beijing. Now, nothing is. So, yes, my prediction was wrong. Instead of 2011, the mighty Communist Party of China will fall in 2012. Bet on it." --Dec. 29, 2011
Author and commentator Gordon Chang made the list last year for his 2001 book, The Coming Collapse of China, which predicted that Communist Party rule would fall in 2011. Chang acknowledged that he had jumped the gun, but in an article for Foreign Policy, he simply moved his prediction forward one year. Nevertheless, despite a year of transition, scandal, and uncertainty, the mandarins in Beijing are still there.