Global Conflicts to Watch in 2017

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Source: The Atlantic

The uncertainty surrounding what a Trump presidency will mean for Russian behavior in Eastern Europe hints at a larger point: The biggest unknown for U.S. interests in the world in 2017 may lie not in Russia or North Korea or the Middle East, but in the United States itself. Trump has consistently suggested that he will depart dramatically, in style and substance, from decades of agreement among Republicans and Democrats on the general outlines of U.S. foreign policy. We simply don’t yet know whether that will enhance or diminish U.S. security and global stability. What can be said with more confidence is that Trump will introduce greater unpredictability into international affairs, perhaps reshuffling the way the world is ordered in the process.

“When you’re looking at how the world might evolve, it’s logically silly to put the U.S. off to the side as if it’s a neutral or passive actor,” Stares told me. “How some of these contingencies evolve reflects very much what the U.S. may do immediately before or during the crisis. [The United States is] just too important a player for it not to have that effect.”

This year’s moderately likely, high-impact risks include not just a showdown between Russia and NATO, but also a major cyberattack on U.S. critical infrastructure—a prominent worry in Washington at the moment following Russia’s suspected meddling in the U.S. election. They also include a “mass-casualty terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland or a treaty ally.” Trump has described terrorism as a much graver threat to the United States than Barack Obama has, and his administration looks set to wage a broader battle against “radical Islam.”

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