(The Gold Standard for political advertising, dammit. No wonder Mondale/Ferraro got stuffed.)
(Without apologies to the Gipper.)
Firstly, Happy 2012!
It's hard to believe that less than 12 months ago, I posted a tongue-in-cheek piece about autocrats' egomania after the thunderclap of Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution. Yet less than a year on, brave people are protesting (and dying) in Syria, three dictators have gone, with Tunisia, Libya Egypt and Yemen all standing at the dawn of a new and vibrant cacophony of politics and social change, with only Bahrain's regime looking like it has successfully suppressed popular anger. But it is unlikely to end here, as the siren calls of fresh air continue to echo around the Arab world, with unpredictable, but likely positive long-term effects. And crucially, an acceptance in the West that we can't reverse this tide even if we wanted to, so it's much better to be on the right side of history rather than having history's wave crash over you.
Just before Christmas, Chatham House published a really interesting paper on Saudi Arabia's medium term economic and fiscal position which is fascinating (and for Saudis facing a demographic explosion, terrifying). Accountability is going to be key in making the choices that such a fiscal transition will require, so pressure for change will only increase. Interesting times ahead!