Each year, CFR’s Center for Preventive Action asks hundreds of foreign policy experts to rank the conflicts they feel might escalate next year and harm the interests of the United States. Paul Stares, the center’s director, highlights three things to keep an eye on in "what promises to be another challenging and deadly year:"
Iraq and Afghanistan: A spiraling conflict in Iraq, where ISIS is attempting to expand its foothold, or in Afghanistan, where an increasingly violent Taliban insurgency looms, could embroil the U.S. military in costly counteroffensives, warns Stares.
Major Power Rivalries: Disputes in Ukraine and the East and South China Seas could increase friction between the United States, Russia, and China, impairing their ability to cooperate on several important issues, Stares says.
Nuclear Ambitions: The nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea could ensnare those regions in conflict, Stares says. A breakdown in international talks with Tehran over its controversial program could prompt military strikes against Iran. Meanwhile, without limits on North Korea’s program, the Kim Jong-un regime could amass twenty nuclear warheads by 2016.