Hawaii Intelligence Digest, 31 December 2016, 16:30 hrs, UTC, Post #68
Accessed on 31 December 2016, 16:30 hrs, UTC.
Author: Stratfor Geopolitical Intelligence.
Stratfor is one of the most respected private intelligence-gathering organizations in the United States. Every year, the intelligence analysts at Stratfor issue a comprehensive, detailed report on geopolitical intelligence and strategic forecasting for the coming year.
The 2017 Stratfor Annual Forecast says these issues will dominate international politics in the year 2017:
The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) will continue to expand its economic and military presence in Asia and Africa. The gradual shift of power to China “will have a dramatic and enduring impact on the global economy and ultimately on the shape of the international systems for decades to come.”
President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign was based on retrenchment–“The idea that the United States will pull back from overseas obligations…” This retreat from active participation in regional affairs will give China and the Russian Federation opportunities to extend their influence in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe.
The United States will impose more trade barriers against China, which could cause a military confrontation between the two world powers. If this occurs, look for especially dangerous conditions in the Pacific Theater.
As the United States pulls back from Asia and Europe, look for the Russian Federation to play spoiler and peace maker in the Middle East. Expect Russia to flex its economic and military muscle in Eastern Europe.
The European Union may slowly dissolve and break up into regional blocks, giving the Russian Federation an opportunity to exploit the growing economic weakness of France, Germany, and Italy. That trend will be supported by Russian attempts to interfere with European elections and, thereby, sow doubt in the democratic process. Look for nationalistic, center-right political parties to gain leverage in Europe as economic conditions worsen.
The terrorist threat to Europe and the Middle East will not lessen, despite a temporary peace in Syria brokered by the Russian Federation and Turkey. Stratfor analysts believe Al-Qaeda will quietly rebuild itself in depressed areas of North Africa and in Saudi Arabia. The threat to Saudi Arabian and Iraqi oil fields will grow.
Stratfor intelligence analysts summarize their findings and projections with this statement:
“The United States is pulling away from its global trade initiatives while the United Kingdom, a major free trade advocate, is losing influence in an increasingly protectionist Europe. Global trade growth will likely remain strained overall, but export-dependent countries such as China and Mexico will also be more motivated to protect their relationships with suppliers and seek out additional markets. Larger trade deals will continue to be replaced by smaller, less ambitious deals negotiated between countries and blocs. After all, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership were themselves fragments spun from the breakdown of the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization.
Economic frustration can manifest in many ways, not all of which are foreboding. In Japan, the government will be in a strong position in 2017 to try to implement critical reforms and adapt its aging population to shifting global conditions. In Brazil and India, efforts to expose and combat corruption will maintain their momentum. India has even taken the ambitious step of setting its economy down a path of demonetization. The path will be bumpy in 2017, but India will be a critical case study for other countries, developed and developing alike, enticed by the efficiencies and decriminalized benefits of a cashless economy and who increasingly have the technology at their disposal to entertain the possibility.”
In sum, the United States is tired of playing the role of “World Policeman”, and will abandon that role to others–some of which will prove to be our most difficult adversaries. The United States will become more protectionist and retreat from the world stage. China, Russia, India, Iran, and a host of other nations will fill the vacuum left by our departure. Running a global economic and military empire is difficult, demanding work, and, according to Stratfor’s intelligence experts, we’ve run out of steam. Many in the United States want the federal government to concentrate on our own domestic problems. This trend reminds me of the 1930s depression era, when the United States ignored the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, rejected the League of Nations, and tried to protect itself by remaining “neutral.” That move didn’t work, and we found ourselves confronting our mistake in a costly, devastating world conflict. Will history repeat itself? Only time will tell.
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Hawaii Intelligence Digest