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Saturday 19 Aug 2017 | 10:20 | SYDNEY
Saturday 19 Aug 2017 | 10:20 | SYDNEY

As William Shatner once said...

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18 January 2010 09:36

'I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you're gonna die...Yes it's gonna happen because it's happened to a lot of people I know. My mother, my father, my loves. The president, the kings and the pope. They all had hope. And they muttered just before they went, 'Maybe, I won't go'.

Last weekend The Australian ran a feature piece by various Lowy staff on '10 aspects of our world that may vanish by 2020'. I don't know why, but they dropped my contribution, on the foreign policy figures who are likely to die in the next decade.

This was surprisingly hard to write. I couldn't be too mawkish or flippant, and I had to restrict myself to listing old people, since speculating about which world leaders will be assassinated or executed after a coup is considered poor taste. I also had to leave off younger leaders who are thought to be in bad health — I'm in no position to be playing doctor. Anyway, here's what I wrote:

To paraphrase the satirical newspaper, The Onion, it’s safe to predict that, in the next decade, the world death rate will hold steady at 100%.

But although we’re all going to die, in geo-political terms, some deaths matter more than others. So without going into ghoulish speculation about which political leaders might fall to war, terrorism or assassination, here are a few notable people who continue to influence world affairs, but who are statistically unlikely to see out the decade.

Queen Elizabeth II (83 years old); King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand (82); Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (81); US statesman Henry Kissinger (86); Archbishop Desmond Tutu (78); former Cuban President Fidel Castro (82) and his successor, brother Raoul (78); the Dalai Lama (74); Shia Islam’s most influential scholar, Ayatollah Sistani (79); Sunni Islam’s most influential scholar, Yusuf al Qaradawi (83); Singapore’s minister-mentor Lee Kuan Yew (86); King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (85); former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (83); Pope Benedict XVI (82); Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (77).

Finally, those who thought the public and media reaction to the death of Princess Diana was excessive will want to take a week’s holiday when Nelson Mandela (91) dies.

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