2024: What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

Every January, CFR’s annual Preventive Priorities Survey analyzes the conflicts most likely to occur in the year ahead and measures their potential impact. For the first time, the survey anticipates that this year, 2024, the United States will contend not only with a slew of global threats, but also a high risk of upheaval within its own borders. Is the country prepared for the eruption of election-related instability at home while wars continue to rage abroad?

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  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Molly McAnany - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • Paul B. Stares
    General John W. Vessey Senior Fellow for Conflict Prevention and Director of the Center for Preventive Action

Show Notes

For the first time in its sixteen-year history, CFR’s annual Preventive Priorities Survey found that the leading concern among foreign policy experts lies within U.S. borders: the possibility of domestic terrorism and political violence in the wake of the 2024 U.S. presidential election. 


Among the thirty other threats deemed plausible by experts were a wider regional conflict in the Middle East borne out of the war in the Gaza Strip and a mass migration crisis on the southwest U.S. border. An escalation in the war between Russia and Ukraine, a military conflict between China and Taiwan, and a highly disruptive cyberattack on U.S. critical infrastructure all present serious economic and national security risks as well.




Whether or not these threats come to a head in 2024 depends on how global leaders navigate growing tensions both at home and abroad.


Read the full 2024 Preventive Priorities Survey


Check out the Center for Preventive Action’s Global Conflict Tracker.



From CFR


Will Freeman, ”Tough New Immigration Rules Risk Empowering the Cartels,” TIME


Will Merrow and Kali Robinson, “Iran’s Regional Armed Network


David Sacks, “Why Is Taiwan Important to the United States?


Jacob Ware, “The Southern Border Poses Terrorism Risks. Homegrown Threats Still Loom Larger


From Our Guest


Averting Major Power War: The Logic of Mutual Assured Survival


In This Turbulent Year, Peace Has to Start at Home for the United States,” The Hill


Read More


Bruce Hoffman and Jacob Ware, “God, Guns, and Sedition: Far-Right Terrorism in America


Ten Conflicts to Watch in 2024,” International Crisis Group


Watch and Listen


What to Worry About in 2024,” CFR.org 

Israel-Hamas War: Regional Ripple Effects,” CFR.org

Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Thirty years ago, Rwanda’s government began a campaign to eradicate the country’s largest minority group. In just one hundred days in 1994, roving militias killed around eight hundred thousand people. Would-be killers were incited to violence by the radio, which encouraged extremists to take to the streets with machetes. The United Nations stood by amid the bloodshed, and many foreign governments, including the United States, declined to intervene before it was too late. What got in the way of humanitarian intervention? And as violent conflict now rages at a clip unseen since then, can the international community learn from the mistakes of its past?


Many Americans are losing faith in the benefits of internationalism. But whether it’s wars in the Gaza Strip and Ukraine, worsening extreme weather as a result of climate change, or the trade-offs of globalization, events abroad are increasingly having a local impact. At the same time, more state and local officials in the United States are becoming involved in global affairs, conducting their own form of diplomacy on international issues and driving investment home. What role should the United States play in the world economy? And how do states and cities fit in?


Unidentified flying objects (UFOs) are real. And the truth about them is often hidden from the public, for reasons related to national security. That secrecy has fed conspiracy theories about the possibility of alien life on Earth, creating a stigma around the legitimate scientific search for life on other planets. Why are UFOs considered a defense concern? And does a defense framing of UFOs inhibit scientific research?

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