爱思英语编者按:如果非要预测,你只有两个选择。一是打保险球,预言那些最显而易见的事;二是做些盲目乐观的预测,可没人会当真。

prediction.jpg

Never make predictions, especially about the future. So said Mark Twain, Yogi Berra or Niels Bohr – or possibly all three.
莫要做预测,尤其是预测未来——大文豪马克·吐温、棒球手尤吉·贝拉和物理学家尼尔斯·玻尔都如是说。

But if you must, there are really only two options: play safe and go for the obvious, or come up with forecasts so giddily optimistic that no one will take you seriously.
可如果非要预测,你只有两个选择。一是打保险球,预言那些最显而易见的事;二是做些盲目乐观的预测,可没人会当真。

Using the former approach, 2016 will produce more tragedy in Syria and Yemen, an uninterrupted stream of refugees into Europe, another iteration of the Grexit crisis, deepening drought in the Chinese east and American west, and further hacking misadventure on both state and corporate levels. And an awful lot of summits to try to deal with all of the above.
要是求稳,2016年会发生更多在叙利亚和也门的悲剧,难民源源不断地涌入欧洲,中国东部和美国西部旱情加剧,两国在政治和经济两个层面摩擦增多,以及为解决上述问题开了一大拨峰会。

Corruption will continue to excoriate three-quarters of the world’s polities – leaving the vast majority of humanity disillusioned and increasingly unlikely to vote. The global economy is due another rout, probably starting in Asia.
腐败继续侵蚀着世界上四分之三的政体,让绝大多数人民梦想破灭,与投票权渐行渐远。全球经济开始另一轮溃败,可能从亚洲发端。

But let’s leave room for a little optimism. There will actually be fewer wars in 2016 than for many years. And while the Koreas are unlikely to reunify, Cyprus might. Elections for two of the top jobs in the world – in the US and at the UN – could produce women in both for the first time. Science will tell us more than we ever knew about our ancestors, ourselves and our universe.
可如果稍微乐观一些,2016年战争会减少,韩国可能统一,塞浦路斯可能也会统一。世界上两个最重要的职位的选举——美国总统和联合国秘书长——会首次选出女性。科学会让我们知道更多的关于祖先、自己和宇宙的知识。

The powerful mixture of birth control and rising prosperity that levelled off birth rates in western societies in the postwar period will continue to take root in Africa, putting downward pressure on overall population levels. We might not get to 11 billion people after all.
战后西方社会通过生育控制,日益抹平人口压力,带来经济繁荣,其共同的强大作用将继续在非洲生根,让全球人口数量下行,我们或许不会拥有110亿人。

And away from the headlines, the overwhelming majority of people will continue to lead decent, unremarkable lives undeflected by the pulses of pessimism that tend to pollute our overall sense of wellbeing.
除新闻头条故事外,绝大多数人还将过着体面、平凡的生活,污染整体幸福观的悲观主义情绪未对我们造成影响。

Who knows, perhaps we will even start to realise that happiness does not reside in social media, and 2015 will go down as the year of peak-share.
谁知道呢,甚至我们开始明白社交媒体上没有幸福,2015年是转帖的巅峰。

Or maybe that’s just too over-optimistic.
也或许一切都太过乐观。

The US election
美国大选

Predicting the course of US politics over the next 12 months is a mug’s game. The battle for the White House – which has already been raging in the media for months – will undoubtedly dominate.
预测接下来12个月美国政治的走向是傻子都会干的事。毫无疑问,逐鹿白宫当仁不让,这已在媒体上叫嚣了数月之久。

But it has barely begun in the minds of the electorate, who have until 4 November to make a choice that will reverberate around the world.
可在选民心里还没开始,11月4日,他们才最终做出回响于全世界的选择。

The Republican field has been led most recently by two improbable outsiders,Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who look as likely to eventually stumble as they ever have. So far, they continue to make fools of pundits who underestimate the anti-establishment groundswell.
共和党阵营出乎意料地被两个外人把持:唐纳德·特朗普和本·卡森,虽然最终二人可能和以往一样功亏一篑。迄今为止,二人继续耍弄着那些低估了反正统风潮的书呆子们。

Barack Obama’s natural heir in the Democratic party, Hillary Clinton, is a surer bet: safely ahead now of the leftwing challenger Bernie Sanders in the polls and showing more resilience in the face of once worrying email allegations.
奥巴马的民主党总统继承人希拉里·克林顿是当仁不让的盘口:目前在民意调查中稳稳领先于她的左翼竞争者桑德斯,她一度面对电邮门指控也游刃有余。

Her vulnerability to Sanders’ more authentic populism remains troubling, however, for a frontrunner who lost to Obama eight years ago and has yet to ignite the excitement that a potential first female president might expect.
然而,相比桑德斯真诚的亲民形象,希拉里仍有不及。八年前,她同样处于领先,最后却输给了奥巴马,现在她还没有充分调动民众选出一位女总统的热情。

But on the assumption that harsh political reality will eventually overcome the anger on the right and idealism on the left, it is possible to see a plausible narrative emerging for 2016.
可鉴于严酷的政治现实会最终会战胜右派的愤怒和左派的幻想,2016年可能发生一段并不离谱的故事。

The Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary in February will play their usual quirky role as starting bells rather than bellwethers in the long nomination contest to come.
2月份的爱荷华党团会议和新罕布什尔初选通常会发挥吊诡的作用,在漫长的提名竞争中敲响起跑钟,却并非系铃的领头羊。

The Tea Party champion Ted Cruz could upset Trump to win Iowa and begin the slow descent of the billionaire’s ego-inflated balloon. Marco Rubio stands a chance of beginning his ascent to the top of the polls by taking New Hampshire.
茶党斗士特德·克鲁兹在爱荷华州击败特朗普,让这位百万富翁自我充气的竞选飞艇开始缓慢降落。拿下新罕布什尔州的马尔科·卢比奥有机会翻盘登顶。

The Democratic race will be at its most competitive. Sanders may still take one or two early states before hitting the higher hurdle of Clinton’s “southern firewall” in March.
民主党一方的竞赛最为激烈。桑德斯将拿下一两个早期州,3月就会遭遇希拉里“南部火墙”的阻击。

It is in these 10 Super Tuesday states that the Republican party machinery and money will begin to work its muscle too – rallying behind a candidate such as Rubio to appeal to the broader electorate.
也正是这10个“超级星期二”州,共和党的党制和财源开始发力,集结在卢比奥这样的候选人身后,斩获更多的选民。

Those months of fighting Trump will have taken their toll, though, and Rubio’s reputation as a pro-immigration unifier will have taken a severe pounding.
尽管与特朗普的鏖战牵扯了众人的精力,卢比奥作为一个支持移民的统一论者,必将饱受攻击。

What is left of his youth and charisma will be pitted against Clinton’s experience and the chance to make history by electing both a woman and a tough commander-in-chief.
他只剩下年轻和魅力对垒于希拉里的老练,后者还有望创造女人与军中强人的双料总统。

The best prediction is that these predictions will be wrong. My next best bet? Clinton pips Rubio in a squeaker.
最准的预测是所有预测都是不准。我压哪头儿呢?希拉里险胜卢比奥。

China
中国

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2016 heralds the year of the monkey, an auspicious time for expectant parents hoping for quick-witted sprogs.
照中国的黄道理论,2016年是猴年,对于希望孕育一个伶俐的小家伙的父母而言可谓吉时。

For the Communist party chief, Xi Jinping, who completes three years as president in January, the omens are less promising. Thus far, Xi has built a reputation as one of China’s most dominant leaders in decades: a super-sized centraliser whom headline writers call Big Daddy Xi.
中共领导人习近平执政三年,已成为几十年来最给力的领袖之一,媒体头条称之为“习大大”。
......
He has set about restoring the Middle Kingdom to the centre of world affairs, pursuing an increasingly audacious foreign policy and attempting to reforge China’s role within the United Nations.
他着手复兴中央王国,奉行日益凌厉的外交政策,推动重塑中国在联合国的地位,旨在将中国推到世界事务的中心。

In September, the Chinese president celebrated his apparent supremacy by throwing a bombastic military parade at which nuclear missile launchers and thousands of troops paraded through Tiananmen Square.
9月,中国举行盛大的军演以示政柄金固,核导弹和数千士兵走过天安门广场。

Yet for all Xi’s swagger, there was mounting evidence in 2015 of his weaknesses and those of the 87 million-strong party he leads.
但对于8700万的政党而言,2015年亦有劣处。

There was the mismanaged stock market rout, an affair so badly handled that Xi reputedly lambasted top financial officials.
管理不善的股市大跌,金融大佬常因此受责。

There were the catastrophic Tianjin explosions – a tragedy some described as a Chinese Katrina – which devastated lives and exposed deep-rooted problems of government corruption and incompetence.
天津发生灾难性连环爆炸,这一悲剧被称为“中国的卡特里娜”,造成大量人员伤亡,暴露了政府腐败和低能等深层次问题。

All the while, lurking just beneath the surface, was the near constant rumbling of political intrigue that has long threatened to tear the Communist party apart.
表面之下,暗流涌动,这长期以来威胁到党的生存。

Those rumblings will intensify in 2016 as rival factions step up their opposition to Xi’s anti-corruption campaign and his stewardship of a rapidly sagging economy.
这些杂音在2016年有增无减,他们变本加厉地反对习的反腐,反对习对这一快速萧条的经济体进行治理。

Facing growing political pressure from within, Xi will look to foreign policy and his domestic security apparatus to ensure public support.
面对来自内部压力,习将运用外交政策和国家安全力量获得公众支持。

He will stoke up nationalism by further ratcheting up tensions in the South China Sea, already the scene of a controversial island-building campaign that has put Beijing and Washington at loggerheads.
中国将继续在南海保持压力,以激发民族自豪感,此前的造岛让北京和华盛顿剑拔弩张。

He will continue to escalate his war on corrupt Communist party “tigers” – aiming to snare perhaps his biggest victim to date in the second half of the year.
习近平将加大力度在党内反腐大老虎,下半年可能有更大的老虎被捉。
...
Jubilant couples will pack maternity wards as China enters the year of the monkey. But for Xi it threatens to prove an annus horribilis.
中国进入了猴年,满心欢喜的夫妇将挤满产房,可中国却是个多事之秋。

Brexit
英国退出欧盟

By this time next year, Britain may very well have voted to leave the EU. There is, of course, no certainty about this. But let us consider the evidence.
明年此时,英国兴许已经投票脱离欧盟。当然,这也不一定。让我们分析一下。

First, the timing of the vote. Most observers agree that David Cameron will not delay his long-promised referendum beyond next year, because he has nothing to gain from it.
首先投票的时机。大多数观察者认为卡梅伦不会将公投拖过2016年,他一直承诺如此,拖延对他毫无好处。

Neither France nor Germany will be making new concessions in 2017, because both will by then be embroiled in big elections. So best get it over with: in September, probably.
2017年法国和德国不会做出新的让步,因为两国都会迎来大选。所以最好赶快公投:可能在九月。

Next, the nature of the debate. The in and out campaigns will argue numbers – how many jobs might be saved by staying, how many immigrants kept out by leaving, what will be the impact on GDP – but for many voters, Europe is not about numbers. It’s a question of belief. This is a debate largely impervious to fact.
其次,争论的性质。至于走或不走,政治宣传的往往是数目字:留下来能保有多少岗位,离开能挡住多少移民,对GDP影响几何——可对大多数投票者而言,欧洲不仅仅是数字。这是一种信念。争论的性质更大程度上与事实无关。

And those who believe Britain would be better off out are edging ahead. Look at the polls: a year ago, the stay camp was in front by margins of up to 25%. That gap has now narrowed to between two and four points, and three of the past eight polls have the leave camp ahead. The trend seems clear.
相信“英国脱欧会更好”的人正在壮大。看看民调:一年前,留欧阵营以25%的比例领先。这一优势目前缩小到2到4个百分点。过去的八个民调中有三个显示离欧阵营领先,趋势显而易见。

The unspoken assumption may be that most “don’t knows” will back the status quo, but precedent shows that when a vote is about the EU, voters lash out. Here, Ukip won last year’s European elections; on the continent, every recent referendum on an EU issue bar one has ended in a no.
统计者默认,大多数说“不知道”的人都会支持保持现状,可此前的情况显示,一到有关欧盟的投票,投票者就会大加鞭挞。这样看来,英国独立党赢得了去年的欧洲选举,对欧洲大陆事务的每一次公投,结果都是“不”。

What’s more, in none of those countries were the press and governing party even remotely as Eurosceptic as in Britain. In the UK, the stay campaign is swimming against a decades-old tide of populist anti-EU sentiment relayed by an influential wing of the Conservative party and much of the media.
还有,所有欧洲国家的媒体和执政党的欧盟怀疑论调都没有英国走得远。在英国,留欧阵营在对抗几十年来的反欧民粹主义逆流,有影响力的保守党一翼和多数媒体接力传递着这种情绪。

The prime minister has succeeded in reducing what he wants in the way of reform to a bare-bones list of demands, many of which the EU may even agree to. But the real issue is whether those demands will satisfy his own party, and succeed – even temporarily – in turning back that Eurosceptic tide.
首相已经成功地把要求缩减到极致,大多数欧盟国家甚至都会同意。可真正的问题是这些要求能否令他自己的保守党满意,并暂时压制住欧洲怀疑论的冲击。

With record numbers of EU citizens arriving in Britain, further Schengen zone terror possible, a second summer of refugee and migrant chaos probable, a well-funded out campaign gathering pace, and much of the media having made up their minds, it will be a tight vote.
欧洲公民抵达欧洲的数量将史无前例,更多申根区恐怖成为可能,难民和移民可能造成第二个混乱的夏天……这些都让财力充足的推欧行动加快脚步,大多数媒体都预测,结果难料。

Until Cameron, his cabinet and, perhaps more crucially, Boris Johnson say soon, often and unequivocally that Britain’s future depends on its remaining in the EU, I know where I’d put my money.
卡梅伦和他的内阁,可能更为关键的伦敦市长约翰逊很快会说——他们常常如此,甚至毫不含糊——英国的未来取决于它留在欧盟,看来我知道我该压哪边赢了。

Russia
俄罗斯

Vladimir Putin’s 16th year in charge of Russia is perhaps the most unpredictable yet. The air force is engaged in an operation outside the borders of the Soviet Union for the first time in a generation, Russia’s proxies in Ukraine have been left in the uneasy limbo of a semi-ceasefire, and the Russian economy is creaking as oil prices stay low.
普京执掌俄罗斯的第十六载,可能是最难预测的。苏联解体后,空军首次在苏联边境外地区作战,俄国在乌克兰的代理人被抛在半停火的炼狱中,油价低迷让俄罗斯经济举步维艰。
creak:吱吱嘎嘎地勉强行进。The story creaks along to a dul conclusion.

Here’s how Vladimir Vladimirovich might imagine a dream year as he’s drifting off to sleep in his palatial residence: Russian jets continue pounding all manner of rebel groups in Syria while the Kremlin vaunts its anti-Islamic State resolve.
睡在寝宫里的弗拉基米尔-弗拉迪米洛维奇会在梦乡里想象:俄罗斯战斗机继续打击叙利亚的各种反对派,克里姆林对反IS的决心自吹自擂。

Irritation in the west turns to grudging respect and an agreement with Putin that Bashar al-Assad will remain in charge as the best of a set of bad options.
西方的恼怒结果变成了充满怨恨的尊重,与普京达成协议,认可巴沙尔仍然执政,这是一系列坏选项里最好的。

In Kiev, infighting and corruption paralyse the government; the pro-rebel territories are pushed back into Ukraine but give Russia a permanent veto over Kiev’s policies; the west accepts this, forgets about Crimea and ends the sanctions.
基辅方面,内斗和腐败令政府瘫痪,把反对派地区还给了给乌克兰,却让俄罗斯对乌克兰政策拥有了永久否决权。西方接受现状,忘了克里米亚,结束制裁。

Oil prices go up, the rouble stabilises and sky-high approval ratings last through the autumn parliamentary elections.
油价上涨,卢布趋稳,秋天的杜马选举中普京支持率爆棚。

Putin’s beleaguered foes would suggest a different scenario: a fragile international alliance over Syria breaks down over obviously disparate aims, and western sanctions over Crimea and Ukraine are extended. The economy continues to tank, real wages fall.
可处于困境中的普京的对手却设想了另一番情形:因目标迥异,脆弱的叙利亚国际联盟崩溃,西方对克里米亚和乌克兰的制裁展期。经济继续跳水,实际收入跌落。
Tank: (informal) To suffer a sudden decline or failure

The middle class, shorn of the weekends in Europe and consumer goods it was used to, becomes edgy, while workers pushed to economic dire straits begin serious protests – a flicker of which was visible at the end of 2015 as long-distance truckers went on strike.
在欧洲加班工作的中产阶级,失去了过去享用的消费品,他们焦躁不安;被推入经济绝境的工人阶级开始严厉抗议,2015年底长途卡车司机罢工显示出了端倪。

Both of these scenarios are eminently possible; what actually happens will probably be somewhere in the middle. How Russia makes it through 2016 and beyond, until the 2018 presidential election when Putin is expected to stand again, will depend on so many things – from the oil price, to the prevailing international mood and Putin’s personal health.
两种景象都只是可能性,真正发生的可能会介于两者之间。俄国如何度过2016年,一直捱到2018年总统大选中普京再次当选,这取决于许多因素:油价、国际氛围和普京的个人健康。

Making predictions about Putin’s Russia is hard because the system is brittle and unpredictable. Events such as the revolution in Ukraine or the Turkish shooting down of a Russian jet can completely change policy vectors and outcomes.
对普京的俄国进行预测很难,因为这一系统脆弱无常。乌克兰革命和土耳其击落俄战机这样的事件会完全改变政策方向和结果。

Putin’s system, lauded by Kremlin strategists for its stability, is in fact remarkably unpredictable, partly because it is entirely dependent on the one man at the top of the pyramid.
克里姆林宫的战略家吹捧普京俄国的稳定,可事实上难以预料,部分原因在于它全然依赖金字塔尖上的一个人。

Putin’s disappearance for a week in spring, and his aides’ refusal to admit that he had a bout of flu, caused unease and speculation that provided a glimpse into what could happen if the leader were ever seriously indisposed.
普京15年春天消失了一周,其助手否认他患了流感,这导致外界的不安和猜测,这侧面反映了如果普京严重身体不适,俄国会发生什么。

UN secretary general
联合国秘书长

By the end of 2016, there will be a new UN secretary general and there is a better than even chance it will be a woman, for the first time. Whether this will make any real difference to the world is unclear.
2016年底,联合国安理会会产生新的秘书长,可能头一回是一位女性。这是否会给世界带来什么不同尚不清楚。

The job has been described as the “world’s chief diplomat” or even the “secular pope”, though in reality it is more akin to the manager of a posh restaurant. You get to rub shoulders with a lot of powerful people, but rarely on equal terms.
这份工作被称为“世界的首席外交官”,甚至“世俗教皇”,尽管说实话,更像是豪华酒店的大堂经理。你和许多大佬擦肩而过,可鲜能相提并论。

The incumbent, Ban Ki-moon, was chosen in 2006 in part because he appeared sufficiently unthreatening to the world’s major powers.
现任者潘基文之所以在2006年当选,部分原因在于他看起来对世界主要强国不构成威胁。

If the rules of the game remain unchanged, with the permanent five members of the security council choosing his successor in secret and presenting the result to the rest of the world as a fait accompli, we can expect a similar outcome.
这一游戏规则不会改变,五个安理会常任理事国密谋潘的继任者,随后告诉其他国家这一既成事实,这回也不例外。

There is a growing drive, however, to change the rules and throw the contest open to the light of public scrutiny. The 1 for 7 Billion campaign, backed by hundreds of NGOs, is proposing an official shortlist of candidates who will have to publish broad manifestos and subject themselves to questions.
可挑战规则的力量在增长,将竞争放在阳光下,在数百个非政府组织的支持下,一个人管70亿人的竞争会出台一份正式候选人短名单,他们要公开发表宣言并回答公众问题。

The security council would still present a shortlist, but it would have to be a list of more than one. More than 170 million people around the world have signalled their support.
安理会提交短名单,短名单不该只有一人。全世界有超过1.7亿人签字表示支持。

The idea is to produce someone who is less secretary and more general, with a broad power base and an independent mandate, rather than to be beholden to some murky backroom deal.
这一想法旨在产生不那么secretary(秘密)却更general(有代表性)的Secretary General,其权力基础更广泛,独立授权,而不是蒙某种闭门交易的恩赐。

There are signs that the security council is beginning to take heed of the groundswell. In an initiative pushed by the UK, a letter is to be sent to the 193 delegations in the general assembly in the New Year inviting candidates and setting a timetable and format for the election.
有迹象显示安理会正在听取这一要求。英国推动了这一倡议,193个联合国大会成员国在新年收到信函,邀请参选者并设定时间表和选举程序。

Until then, the campaign among aspiring secretary generals continues to be a discreet affair, mostly played out in private by unannounced candidates behind closed doors in midtown Manhattan.
到目前为止,竞选秘书长还低调进行,潜在的竞选者未公开宣布,他们多在曼哈顿市中心暗地里角力。

At this early stage, the conventional wisdom favours someone from eastern Europe (a region yet to take a turn in providing a secretary general) and a woman (all eight holders of the position thus far have been men).
在这一阶段,传统规则青睐于来自东欧的女性当选,这一地区还没出过秘书长,此前的八个秘书长都是男性。

There are a handful of names who fulfil both criteria, including two Bulgarians – the Unesco chief, Irina Bokova, and the EU’s budget commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva – as well as the former Croatian foreign minister Vesna Pusić.
符合要求的人有两个保加利亚人——联合国教科文组织总干事Irina Bokova,欧盟的预算委员Kristalina Georgieva,以及克罗地亚前外交部长Vesna Pusic。

Also thought to be in the running are Helen Clark, the former New Zealand prime minister who now runs the UN Development Programme, and Kevin Rudd, the former Australian prime minister.
被认为将参选的的还有新西兰前总理Helen Clark,现在执掌联合国发展计划和澳大利亚前总理陆克文。

Not even the idealists in the 1 for 7 Billion campaign believe the permanent five are going to give up the veto and throw the vote open completely.
在这场1人管70亿人的竞争中,就算理想主义这也不会相信五个常任理事国打算放弃否决权,诉诸于公开竞选。

But the hope is that the major powers hit deadlock over their own favourites and find themselves unable to resist a genuinely popular choice thrown up by the general assembly. Whichever way it goes, it will be a critical year in UN history.
可希望各大国打破各自属意的僵局,发现自己没法抗拒联合国大会的民意选择。无论如何,这都是联合国历史上的关键一年。