The World in 2012

2012 seems like a big year. Personally, I leave Natchitoches for God knows how long, Christa and I are having what I know will be a beautiful baby girl, I have to go job searching and get ready for actual, physical classes in grad school and I will have to start coming up with a thesis topic for said grad school. Around the world, though, things are even more hectic, what with the Arab Spring, Arab Summer, Arab Fall and Arab Winter (thanks, Syria!). 2012 is going to see a lot of interesting changes in both the U.S. and how we deal with upstanding countries like Iran and China.

Here in the United States of America, we’re looking at a very important election for the most powerful position we can give someone (no, not Darth Vader). The president we elect this Fall will, despite what most voters think, have to do a lot of maintenance and repair work with our international partners, as well as come up with an overall grand strategy for future diplomatic work. Now, I do love the freedoms a democratic republic offers us, but part of the problem is that, every time we get a new chief executive, priorities will be changed. If Obama continues to be the president, he will have to develop a grand strategy because, despite successes (Conservatives refuse to give him credit for), he has provided us with very little direction. Instead, we’ve been all over the place with no sort of strategy other than “Contain Iran,” which is nice, but there are tons of other countries we need to view and deal with, as well.

If we get a Republican in office, then the groundwork laid by Obama either gets hijacked and warped to meet their objectives or tossed out completely, leading to another few directionless years. In all things, but foreign affairs, especially, it takes time to establish a grand strategy. A future Republican president needs to take a firm look at our allies and enemies and determine where to spend the next four years pursuing. Do we, as a country entrench ourselves and strengthen our ties? Or should we look into making new friendships (or getting people less angry at us)? This may not be the biggest challenge or nation faces, but it is in the top three.

Globally, we Syria on the verge of outright civil war and it’s only a matter of time before the Arab League gets really involved. More importantly, though, North Korea has undergone a huge change with the loss of Kim Jong Il and the ascension of Kim Jong Un. North Korea’s future has a major impact on two nations the U.S. has a lot of dealings with: South Korea and China. The former seems like it is interested in reunification, but North Korea’s past actions toward the south have been a major issue. China wants a stable North Korea because instability could mean a huge wave of refugees across the borders to China, which their government does not want.

In the Arab world (outside of Syria), we’ll get to see just how well Iraq stands without U.S. military support. While the war there was a terrible idea, we got to the point where we were really in no way able to leave them before the full implementation of a nation building strategy could take place. Instead, we could very well see Iraq collapse into an irreparable state, ensuring Iran is the sole major power in than region.

Now, I am by no means an expert, just really curious about the subject. If you want a more educated opinion, check out this blog by Dr. Greg Granger, a good friend and  mentor of mine.

 

Happy New Year, folks!

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2 thoughts on “The World in 2012

  1. Let’s not forget that it was Bush who put us back in the red and it’s his fault that we’re in such a position. Obama was basically handed the equivalent of the Labyrinth to figure out economically and he’s been heckled by the Minotaur (most Republicans) in there.

  2. Good post, Joe, raising important questions. In foreign policy I do not expect to see major change, just as we see much continuity between Bush and Obama. One area of change could be U.S. relations with Israel, but the fact is, according to many Israeli leaders, Obama has been a much closer friend than the U.S. press has reported. I certainly haven’t see Obama doing many favors for the Palestinians over the past 3 years. As for broader, or “grand” strategy, I just do not know if that is truly possible to formulate and sustain in a rapidly changing world. As you state, there are numerous states, including and beyond Iran, with which we need to deal, and numerous non-state actors and transnational issues. How does that add up to a single, unified grand strategy? It doesn’t. Rather, multiple mid-level strategies to meet multiple challenges are more likely to be the norm for the short term at least. Sometimes these will overlap one another, sometimes they may contradict one another. But trying to impose one grand strategy onto the world we’re in can easily lead to mismatches between strategy and realities on the ground. This was the case more than once during the Cold War, when everything in the world was tied to Containment of Soviet communism and power, ignoring the local qualities of individual crises. Keep up the good work.

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