Post-Mattis uncertainty and the future of U.S. defense policy
Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is not expected to reverse his predecessor’s key Pentagon policies, such as Gen. James Mattis’ signature program to improve force readiness, but he will not be as effective as his predecessor in explaining the vagaries of U.S. policies to allies abroad. Also, President Donald Trump may find out that his ambitious plan for force strengthening and modernization proves even more difficult to push through Congress in the absence of a well-recognized figure at the Pentagon.
Opinion: Why they migrate
Discussions of migration from Central America into the United States tend to lump the principal countries of origin – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – into a single subregion, the Northern Triangle. While similarities between the three states make it convenient to treat them as a unit, the practice can also be misleading. Different push factors operate in each country, and without taking these distinctions into account, no amount of international aid is likely to reduce the migrant flow.
2019 Outlook: U.S. foreign policy to stay the course
Unconventional as his leadership style may be, President Donald Trump, succeeded in 2018 in getting both U.S. allies and competitors to pay serious attention to his foreign policy agenda. His administration is undaunted in pursuing U.S. policy goals despite replacements of key officials in the president’s national security apparatus. Mr. Trump will remain focused on crushing transnational terrorist threats to the U.S. and its allies, and dealing with great power competition in Europe, the Middle East and Asia in 2019 before he turns his attention to his bid for reelection.
Europe’s China policy challenge
As it tries to manage the effects of the trade war with the United States, China is seeking more allies and partners in the West. Europe could benefit greatly – if it could speak with one voice. China is exploiting divisions in the EU, intensifying its relations with cash-strapped member states. But Europe as a whole stands to benefit from constructive engagement with Beijing, especially if it can steer the latter toward continued reform.
2019 Global Outlook: Market forces move developments in energy
2019 begins with the U.S. a dominant producer of oil and gas, while OPEC has allied with countries like Russia to try to put a floor under prices. Green energy sources continue to rise in popularity, but still have only a small impact on global consumption. And while developed nations phase out coal, developing countries will likely remain dependent on the fuel for the foreseeable future. How will all of these factors affect the global energy market going forward?
2019 Global Outlook: Playing for high stakes in North Korea
Less than a year after the Korean Peninsula appeared poised for war, little on the ground has changed. North Korea appears to be forging ahead with its nuclear program. Yet the public perception is that things are moving ahead on the diplomatic front, and there is even a whiff of détente in the air. When dealing with Pyongyang, however, surprises come with the territory.
Opinion: The Iran-Sunni feud and prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace
An unspoken rapprochement is settling in between Israel and a Saudi-led group of Sunni Arab states as they work together to counteract Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however, is holding back even closer cooperation. Could the Saudis pressure the Palestinians to become more flexible and finally accept a peace agreement with Israel? Much still stands in the way of a lasting peace.
2019 Global Outlook: China’s regional impact
China will cast a long shadow in East Asia again this year. 2019, however, is shaping up to be less volatile than 2018. In security matters, expect China to use more “carrot” than “stick” as its neighbors try to balance Beijing against Washington. In economic terms, a stimulus program and a trade understanding with the United States could ameliorate China’s slowdown.