Take Care 2015 Could face These Risks

The year 2015 will be rife with conflict and turmoil to a degree not seen in decades. That’s the forecast from Eurasia Group, a consulting and research firm based in the United States that focuses on examining the affects of political events and trends on international markets. “Geopolitics is back,” says the firm’s Top Risks 2015 report, published on January 5. “As 2015 begins, political conflict among the world’s great powers is in play more than at any time since the end of the Cold War,” the report noted. “Russia is lashing out, the Middle East is fragmenting, Islamic radicalism is expanding, and Europe faces challenges on all of these fronts.”
Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer said, “[F]or the first time since starting the firm in 1998, I’m starting to feel a serious undercurrent of geopolitical foreboding.” The report lists several of the developments contributing to the bleak assessment:
U.S. relations with Russia are fully broken. China is charting its own course. The ties that bind Europe are fraying on multiple fronts. Others—Gulf Arabs, Brazil, India—are hedging their plans and alliances in reaction to increasing geopolitical uncertainty. Ultimately these realignments will reshape the world order, but for now their impacts, while noteworthy, are more regional than global. … Crises in the Middle East have produced a world with more refugees than at any time since the Second World War .… Russian revisionism is a direct threat to swathes of Europe .…
The report says 2015 will also see a significant increase in tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and also between China and Taiwan. The “ideological reach” of the Islamic State will spread across the Middle East, boosting the risk for further destabilization, it noted. Another trend the firm expects is a rupture in cooperation between America and Europe, especially regarding how the two sides deal with Tehran and Moscow: “To this point, the U.S. and Europe have worked closely together on sanctions and other punitive measures against both Iran and Russia. But we don’t expect that unity to hold in 2015 as Europe begins to feel more economically vulnerable and U.S. politicians, those in power and those preparing for 2016 elections, take a tougher approach. All of which creates a backlash that will roil international politics. … 2015 will see more geopolitical challenges than 2014.”The Eurasia Group points to a shift in America’s foreign policy as the main reason for the increasing potential for conflict around the globe. Instead of playing its historic role as “global policemen,” the report says, the U.S. “in recent years has more often acted just like any other country: sometimes proactive, sometimes belatedly reactive, and sometimes indifferent—but with much greater impact. … In part, that’s because the costs to the United States of risk aversion will remain low … as cans are kicked further down the road—as we expect with deliberations on climate change, growing tensions in Asia, and probably nuclear negotiations with Iran.”
As the size of America’s foreign policy footprint decreased, global stability would diminish. As far as global stability is concerned, America is shrinking to an Albania-size power at a terrible time. … You can be certain that the number of crises is going to increase. The calls for action, for intervention, are bound to escalate. And because America is no longer the one to step up, the position of dominance is up for grabs, both within regions and globally. It will be ugly. We are leaving behind a comfortable era of Western dominance—and entering a new and uncertain era of violent competition for supremacy among remorseless foes.
The Top Risks 2015 report shows that this assessment was spot on, and that in the year ahead it could be proven all the more accurate.

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