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An Outlook on Global Politics 2018

| Jan. 23, 2018

The year 2018 promises to be a year of significant challenge to global stability and peace. As an uncertain United States under President Donald Trump continues to back away from its traditional leadership role, it remains to be seen if other democratic powers, most notably Europe, India and Japan, can fill the vacuum created by an increasingly self-isolating American administration.

The most consequential change in global politics today is rising concern about American dependability as well as doubts about the increasing dysfunction in the US Congress and the quality of presidential leadership in the White House. Strengthening authoritarian powers Russia, Turkey and China will seek to take advantage of American weakness by extending their influence in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, which leaves much of the traditional responsibility for the defense of western interests and values to Europe.

The world is experiencing the most profound leadership transition in a generation. Among the key issues to watch in the year ahead are:

  1. whether a strengthening Europe can continue to cope with a multiplicity of serious internal and external threats,
  2. whether Middle East countries can manage to contain the powerful forces that make theirs the most violent and unstable region in the world, and
  3. whether China and the USA can find a balance in their complicated relationship as both partners and rivals, while avoiding a possibly catastrophic conflict in North Korea.
A rebounding Europe faces new threats

Could 2018 be the year when Europe comes all the way back from the low growth, uncertainty and uneven leadership of the last decade? The past year was successful in crises averted. Right-wing nationalists did not win in the Dutch, French and German elections. The economy of most European Union members returned to positive growth. Most notably, in German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the new French President Emmanuel Macron, Europe has again a strong leadership duo to meet the challenges ahead.

Macron has impressed in his first months in office, managing simultaneously to keep Trump close and Russia’s Vladimir Putin at bay. His labor reforms are designed to boost French competitiveness and self-confidence. Macron’s late 2017 international

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For Academic Citation: Burns, Nicholas. “An Outlook on Global Politics 2018.” 2018.