2018 is set to be quite intense and interesting on the world stage for a variety of reasons. Big personalities are set to clash with major world events, new elections and tension points that boiled over from 2017. Even with old wounds bandaged, the threat of re-occurrence is still prime in many nations that want to think they are out of the danger zone. This also does not neglect new threats that may emerge any day now.
The following analysis discusses the the agenda and the struggles that President Donald Trump will face in 2018 on the world stage.
President Trump makes headlines daily with his outgoing and bombastic style in whatever issues he feels pertinent to address. The President has had no trouble sparring with world and even city leaders (Sadiq Khan of London) over policy and response to international tragedies. Trump has upset the apple cart with several international organizations and agreements by calling out members of NATO for “not paying their fair share” and for nations reaping the benefits of the United States scaling back emissions in the Paris Climate Accord. Trump has promised to continue to review deals he perceives as poor for the United States and re-negotiate them in the nation’s favor.
Trump’s bombastic style has taken several rather significant steps into the Middle East. The President’s travel bans have targeted several Middle Eastern countries, along with North Korea and Venezuela, to stop immigration from those countries. The President has indicated verbally and by action that he intends to be the most pro-Israel American President to date by announcing the movement of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, thereby acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Trump has also found himself at odds in the Middle East with Iran and the Syrian conflict. Early on in the Trump Presidency, he warned there would be little room for a red line like President Obama had on chemical weapons. When Syria’s Assad used chemical weapons yet again, Trump struck the airbase the weapons were launched from. The Trump Administration, along with the Department of Defense led by Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis has also taken an aggressive approach to ISIS, ramping up the American campaign in Syria and Iraq. Since Trump took office, ISIS has lost significant territory in Iraq and Syria.
In 2018, look for Trump to announce the revamping of several significant international agreements that the United States is involved in, along with plans to continue to push for a plan in the Middle East for a post-ISIS era.
Trump must also balance his relationships with other key international actors with his promises to Make America Great Again and put America First. This has caused him to clash with the United States’ closest allies in the United Kingdom and Germany over policy. While these relationships started off rocky, strides have been made to return these strategic partnerships to a sense of normalcy.
As ambitious as Trump may be, he faces several major struggles on the international stage. The first is the shadow of ISIS. Even though they have lost significant territory in Iraq and Syria, they continue to push propaganda promising to attack Western nations such as the United States. Trump will need to balance international security with national security in the United States to prevent foreign fighters from entering the United States or lone wolves influenced by ISIS actions overseas from attacking the county.
The second is the ongoing Syrian Civil War. The United States continues to back anti-Assad rebels, including the Kurdish fighters who are also looking for an independent state from Iraq, Syria and Turkey. All three nations refuse to allow such a measure, and decry the Kurdish as terrorists. Adding to the struggles is the meddling of both Russia and Iran in the conflict, both looking to support the Assad regime for selfish gain. Look for the situation between non-radical rebels and the Assad regime to ramp up in the coming months.
The third is the elephant in the room for Donald Trump, Russia. While the focus at home continues to be over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling, this has not stopped Russia from pursuing an aggressive international agenda, and President Trump from responding. Trump has recently received criticism for not signing new sanctions into effect against Russia, claiming Russia already has extremely crippling sanctions. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders backed that up by also noting the President has exported energy to Eastern Europe to deter Russia’s sales and has closed several diplomatic posts as a sign of opposition to Russia’s actions.
Despite American opposition to Russia’s actions, they continue to make attempts to meddle in upcoming elections in the United States and Europe, and keep the Assad regime in power in Syria. There is also little doubt that Russia continues to keep its eye on its former satellite states in Eastern Europe, especially Ukraine, where they continue to provoke anti-government actions there to allow several key territories to break off from the country. If Vladimir Putin sees an opening in Eastern Europe, he will take it, forcing President Trump and European leaders to respond quickly and decisively, something the US and Europe failed to do when Putin invaded Georgia and Ukraine.
The fourth struggle the President may face is the same that any world leader may face in 2018, the unknown. 2018 may be the year that North Korea finally decides to push the envelope too far, or China may take publicly escalate their disagreements with nations over territory in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Trump has made headlines around the world for the harsh stances he has taken on both North Korea and China, but despite the increased rhetoric, war is hopefully still quite a long ways away.
However, another fire like the Arab Spring could ignite anywhere in the world and send the international community into months and even years of uncertainty as to the global impact.
These are just some of the things that President Trump and his team must be prepared to deal with on a daily basis, as America remains the Leader of the Free World.
photo credit: IsraelMFA <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/40294282@N07/34707943391″>Trump Visits Israel</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a>