Happy new year! Reasons for optimism in 2003:
1) Hugo Chávez will probably survive the employers' strike in Venezuela, which is good, and will also have to pay closer attention to the demands of the middle class, which is also be good.
2) Luiz Inacio da Silva, "Lula," is sure to advance economic democracy in Latin America's largest country, Brazil.
3) The Russians' stupid repression of Chechens, and the Chechens' reckless assaults on Russians, may so exhaust the patience of Russian citizens that they force Putin to change policy or get out.
4) Good people in Africa will keep trying (against terrible odds) to make democracy a habit -- Kenya may be the latest example.
5) The Israelis will run out of ways to punish Palestinians and out of patience with their own aggressive settlers, so more of them will demand that the government seek peace.
6) Palestinians are running out of families willing to sacrifice their children in suicidal attacks, so more of them will be willing to respond.
7) My latest novel, just completed, will become a best-seller and a movie, which will make me and my friends very happy.