Frederick Forsyth, who basically invented the modern thriller with such novels as The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File and The Dogs of War, takes a look in his crystal ball for 2017 and likes what he sees:
IT may surprise you but I am far more bullish about 2017 than I might be expected to be. There are several areas where, with good luck, a following wind and a bit of gumption at the top end, we could see things really turn for the better.
- Syria I suspect 2017 might see a huge defeat and reduction of success for Islamic State. The evil organisation is in greater turmoil than might appear from incidents such as the Berlin Christmas Fair massacre. With their capital-city hinterland gone this disgusting terror group becomes another rootless band of assassins.We have seen them before: PLO, Fatah, Baader-Meinhof, Red Brigades, Black September, Red Army Faction, IRA. They all did damage with their bombs and killed innocents. But they all ran out of young fools prepared to kill and die for a mad dream and were defeated.This will happen to IS – not in one year but the die may be cast next year.
- Trump From what I have seen and heard I am no fan but we who are not Americans are only really affected by US foreign policy and its conduct, and Donald Trump knows so little about that mysterious place called “abroad” he stares at a world map with puzzlement. That is why we have to place our hopes in the huge State Department machine and a secretary of state prepared to listen to good advice.All we must do is avoid any more stupid American-led wars of interference. Large parts of the world are horrible but if there is nothing we can do, we should accept that and not join in American attempts to rearrange the planet. Forget not that the early days of Ronald Reagan were times of terrible prophecies but they did not happen.At least in Trump we have a man who seems to like and respect our country. If that is so, we could make our mark simply with sound and shrewd advice.
- Russia For the moment Vladimir Putin seems to be the bogeyman who wins every hand of cards. He gets his way in eastern Ukraine with Russian special forces disguised as Ukrainian rebels, he annexes Crimea, threatens the three Baltic states and wins in Syria. But he has a dangerous Achilles heel.The Russian economy is stretched to breaking point. Putin promised the Russian people heaven on earth and it would all be paid for by humungous oil and gas revenue. Then the world oil price crashed and will not recover for years. Without that tsunami of money, Putin’s promises cannot be delivered and there are early signs of popular restiveness. Red Square and its military parades are not the whole picture in Russia.
- The EU The nakedly contemptuous treatment of our Prime Minister by the European Union mandarins at the recent EU Council meeting in Brussels should not be forgotten. This was not the “from on high to you down there” treatment by a mighty superpower whose fleets cleave the oceans in majesty. It was a deliberate snub from a bunch of official parasites whose very luxury life derives from our taxes and donations. It need not and must not either be overlooked or repeated.This coming year looks likely to bring with it several jarring shocks to the high-and-mighties across the Channel. We should not lift a finger to help them.
Forsyth also opines on the state of the euro (bad) and the prospects for a successful prime ministership for Theresa May (good) and the just-departed year of 2016 (horrid). Lots of fun from one of Britain’s clearest-eyed thinkers.