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World Views: 2013 Predictions, Global Trends by 2030 (Dec 28, 2012)

Suzette Grillot and panelists Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, Rebecca Cruise, an expert on international politics and global security, are joined by former World Views host Zach Messitte to look back at 2012 and forward to 2013.

"There are going to be massive protests, maybe even terrorist attacks,” Messitte said in January regarding the upcoming Summer Olympics in London. “And this will be sort of the galvanizing event of 2012 for the protest movement.”

Messitte left the University of Oklahoma in July to become the 13th President of Ripon College, in Ripon, Wisconsin. On December 15, Grillot succeeded him as the Dean of OU’s College of International Studies.

Landis predicts that Bashar al-Assad will still be alive by the end of 2013, but questions whether or not Assad will still hold Damascus, or whether he will fall back to the coastal region where Alawites are still a majority.

“The opposition is extremely divided,” Landis said. “Syria is going to be, I think, troubled by civil war even after Assad is shoved out of Damascus."

He also predicts that Libya “will have pulled itself away from the brink and will be on the mend.”

Cruise addresses issues in the European Union for the upcoming year, and says the currency crisis will continue, resulting in sustained high unemployment rates and protests.

“This could have an effect on Croatia entering into the EU in July,” Cruise said. “Croatia, with the possible exception of Iceland, may be the last country to enter the EU for quite some time."

Messitte forecast serious problems in the Eastern Mediterranean in both Greece and Turkey.

“There may not be coups,” Messitte said. “But there will be things that will come very close to it where the ruling political class and the military in some strange alliances [will challenge the governments and political systems.]”

Grillot focused on the passing of international leaders in her predictions, saying that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez may not survive his fourth bout with cancer. She also says should Cuban leader Fidel Castro die as well, there could be a strong shift in Latin American relations with the U.S.

Earlier this month, the National Intelligence Council issued its Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds report, forecasting a framework for thinking about the next two decades.

Cruise said she expects to see a power shift away from the United States and the West, and agreed with the report's assessment of an increasingly influential China, along with Brazil. Rio de Janeiro hosts the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, which she says will be a test for their economic development.

Cruise also predicted a rise of importance for non-state actors, such as non-governmental organizations, because the economic power of the nation-state has diminished. Charitable organizations will have to do the sort of relief work governments used to.

"States are going to remain important, but we're going to need more of these NGOs – more non-state actors, regional organizations that step in and help where the state can't act."

On the other hand, Cruise also said terrorist groups and even organized crime could play more of a role over the next two decades.

Landis forecast heightened income inequality due to globalization and market capitalism.

"Even though China, Brazil, and these other countries are distributing that wealth more evenly around the globe, there are still winner and loser nations," Landis said. "The Arab Spring is driven in part by these loser countries. They have bad governance. People have gotten terribly poor, typically the bottom 50 percent."

Grillot focused on technology growth, particularly sensory-based technology involving sounds and smells.

"Earthquakes, for example, which are really difficult to predict, well, they're pretty much unpredictable," Grillot said. "I think some sort of sound technology is perhaps going to help us do that over the next many years, but also smell technology. I've been really intrigued by the growing ability to, with the smell of breath, or the smell of a particular person, you can predict illness."

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