Although political forecasting and economic prognostication have long made astrology look respectable, there is still a latter-day Nostradamus who has defied the odds. "If Nostradamus were alive today," said the New York Post, "he'd have a hard time keeping up with Gerald Celente" - the man who tracks the world's social, economic, and business trends for corporate clients.
Mr. Celente's accurate forecasts include the 1987 stock market crash, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the 1997 Asian currency crash, the 2007 subprime mortgage scandal that he said would soon engulf the world at a time when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, a macroeconomist and expert on the Great Depression, told us, "the worst is behind us." In November 2007, Mr. Celente also told UPI a massive devaluation of the dollar was coming and that some Wall Street giants were headed for total collapse. He called it "The Panic of 2008."
"Worse than the Great Depression," Mr. Celente opined. Beginning with a sharp drop in standards of living, and continuing with an angry urban underclass that threatens a social order that allowed the mega-rich to continue living behind gated communities with summer escapades to luxurious homes on the French and Italian Rivieras or to bigger and better and more expensive boats from year to year.
This time, Mr. Celente's Trends Research Institute, which the Los Angeles Times described as the Standard & Poor's of pop culture, can see a tax rebellion in America by 2012, food riots, squatter rebellions, job marches and a culture that puts a higher premium on food on the table than gifts under the Christmas tree.
Mr. Celente says, "There will be a revolution in this country," though not until 2012, and it will take the form of a bloodless coup and the meteoric rise of a third party. While all this sounds like claptrap to sophisticated observers inside the Beltway, one can't ignore the high marks his forecasting gets from such prestigious global publications as the Economist: "A network of 25 experts whose range of specialties would rival many university faculties."
The George Washington blog listed all the kudos Celeste Celente received from a wide variety of newspapers, magazines and television shows. He has a solid track record. The catastrophe that is about to hit our nation, he says, has its origin in wars we were told would be "off budget" and would not affect more tax cuts. This is the school that says there's nothing wrong with a little deficit funding.
One of the cornerstones of America's giant economy is the ability to borrow from other countries - primarily China and Japan - from $2 billion to $3 billion a day in order to maintain the world's highest standard living, which is based on conspicuous consumption, at a time of growing world shortages. That was bound to change. But Mr. Celente does not believe we can switch to a thrifty society without a gigantic upheaval from which a new paradigm will emerge.
On a global scale, scarce resources, including energy and water, will, at the very least touch off regional resource conflicts. Mr. Celente is not that far removed from what the 100,000-strong, 16-agency Intelligence community has been doing with its almost $50 billion Intel budget. A report released by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) this week, titled "Global Trends 2025," points to global mayhem, but not as soon as 2012, or in three years time, as Mr. Celente predicts.
The Mideast and nuclear proliferation, says NIC's report, will continue to be the CIA's principal concern inside the "great arc of instability stretching from sub-Sahara Africa through North Africa and the Middle East, the Balkans, the Caucasus, South and Central Asia and parts of Southeast Asia."
NIC's most immediate alarm is "The Prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran spawning a nuclear arms race in the greater Middle East will bring new security challenges to an already conflict-prone region, particularly in conjunction with the proliferation of long-range missile systems."
By 2025, NIC also says the United States will have to face the prospect of a relative decline of its economic and military power. In the interim, new superpowers will have emerged in China and India. And China is "poised to have more impact on the world over the next 20 years than any other country."
Iraq, following a U.S. withdrawal at the end of 2011, will have to face many conflicting tribal and ethnic groups that could easily explode and spill over into neighboring states. The perennial Mideast conflict over the creation of a state for Palestinians will certainly not be settled by the time President Bush leaves office. And it will retain its lethal potential for sudden eruptions of violence and wider conflict.
Behind the scenes, Palestinians mutter darkly about a "one-state solution displacing the two-state approach." The secret Palestinian weapon is quite simply demographics. Since creation of the state of Israel in 1947, Arabs have gone from 87 million to 310 million. They expect to be half a billion by 2025.
Assuming President Obama can revive the long-playing peace process and come up with a new road map to peace, it will be a nonstarter if it doesn't include Arab East Jerusalem as the site of the Palestinian capital. For Israel, Jerusalem is a red line, a capital that cannot be shared.
Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large for The Washington Times and for United Press International.