A serious military confrontation between Russia and a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member state or a severe crisis in North Korea are among top international concerns for 2017 cited by a new survey of experts. The Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) ninth annual Preventive Priorities Survey identified seven top potential flashpoints for the United States in the year ahead.
The Center for Preventive Action's annual Preventive Priorities Survey (PPS) evaluates ongoing and potential conflicts based on their likelihood of occurring in the coming year and their impact on U.S. interests. The PPS aims to help the U.S. policymaking community prioritize competing conflict prevention and mitigation demands.
There are important lessons for the incoming Trump administration on Iran they can learn from their predecessors, argues CFR’s Ray Takeyh. They should recognize that the Islamic Republic is a unitary nation-state purged of reformers, that it is susceptible to a threat of force, and that Iran is not interested in normalizing relations with the United States.
Partitioning Syria under a weak federal structure with a massive Western force to enforce a power-sharing agreement is the only real option the United States and its allies has for solving the Syrian conflict, writes CFR’s Ray Takeyh.
For the first time ever, the United States abstained in the annual United Nations General Assembly vote to condemn the U.S. embargo of Cuba. The vote was bad enough; the explanation of vote offered by our envoy at the UN was in many ways even worse. Elliott Abrams explains the problem in National Review.
The assumptions held by those advocating military action in Syria are weak, writes CFR’s Steven A. Cook. Military punitive measures are not likely to make Russia, Iran, the Syrian regime, or militant forces back down from their current stances, either on the battlefield or in negotiations.
While increased U.S. military action in Syria may be favored by numerous policymakers, the Obama administration remains unwilling to sanction further intervention. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon writes that “The Obama White House has long argued that it was elected to end wars in the Middle East, not to escalate them…” but meanwhile, Aleppo remains “full of carnage and bunker-busting munitions with rockets falling on children and no hope of escape for anyone.”
Many experts and policymakers had predicted the humanitarian catastrophe that is underway in Aleppo, but no one is willing to intervene. “There is nothing either timely or decisive about the world’s approach to Syria, which has become the theater in which global and regional actors pursue their own goals,” writes Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2016 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »