Category Archives: general

Defense secretary nominee Mattis warns world order under historic threat | Fox News

Defense secretary nominee Gen. James Mattis issued a grave warning Thursday at his Senate confirmation hearing, saying the established world order is under its “biggest attack” since World War II as he called for boosting military readiness and America’s alliances.

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Under questioning from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., about Russia and other threats, Mattis said the U.S. should “recognize the reality” of dealing with Vladimir Putin’s government and that he’s trying to “break” the North Atlantic alliance.

Defense secretary nominee Mattis warns world order under historic threat | Fox News

America’s future looks bleak to academic, intelligence analysts – Washington Times

“The next five years will see rising tensions within and between countries,” the 235-page report concludes. “Global growth will slow just as increasingly complex global challenges impend. An ever-widening range of states, organizations and empowered individuals will shape geopolitics.”

Worse, the analysts predict the post-Cold War era of American world dominance is drawing to a close, along with the rules-based international order in place since the end of World War II.

International cooperation will be much harder, and “veto players will threaten to block collaboration at every turn, while information ‘echo chambers’ will reinforce countless competing realities, undermining shared understandings of world events.”

America’s future looks bleak to academic, intelligence analysts – Washington Times

These Four Growing Risks Threaten Global Stability | | Observer

… Look for inherent instability in the very structure of the international system, its post-Cold War agreements and US-led institutions as we figure out who will lead the way. …

In 2016, we witnessed an unprecedented crisis of political legitimacy in both democratic and nondemocratic countries (in fact, it’s been building for awhile, as I’ve noted before). …

The anti-globalization backlash we are seeing today looks eerily similar to the years leading up to World War I– often termed the first era of globalization, which also led to populism, major conflicts and a depression. …

Yes, sigh – it’s looking fairly bleak for 2017. We are likely headed towards a multi-layered global crisis that will certainly bleed into individual countries and regions. Perhaps we shouldn’t hold our breath for some political visionary to suddenly appear and guide us through. But the silver lining might be that we as global citizens are in an empowered position to be relatively more engaged–to create new ideas and new values to shape a new future, while policy-makers muddle through.

These Four Growing Risks Threaten Global Stability | | Observer

The Global Risks Report 2017 | Articles | Zurich Insurance

This 12th edition of The Global Risks Report is published at a time of heightened political uncertainty, following a year of unexpected electoral results, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. Polarized societies and political landscapes are taking centre stage in many countries, with deepening generational and cultural divisions amplifying the risks associated with sluggish economic recovery and accelerating technological change.

These tensions have been building for some time, and over the past 10 years a nexus of social, political and economic fragilities has been a consistent focus of The Global Risks Report. The events of 2016 should serve as a wake-up call and prompt us to reassess our preparedness in the face of an evolving risk landscape.

While we should be wary of attributing too much influence to a series of very recent electoral results, the consequences of which are still unknown, major unexpected events can serve as inflection points. Long-term trends – such as persistent inequality and deepening polarization, which ranked first and third in perceived importance in the Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) this year – can build to a point at which they become triggers for change. This kind of change might involve risks intensifying or crystallizing, but it is important to recognize that shocks and releases of tension might also lead to a brightening of the risk outlook. We are in a period of flux; paradoxically this is therefore a time when things could improve.

The world is undergoing multiple complex transitions: towards a lower-carbon future; towards technological change of unprecedented depth and speed; towards new global economic and geopolitical balances. Managing these transitions and the deeply interconnected risks they entail will require long-term thinking, investment and international cooperation. It will also require policy-makers to bring voters with them – one of the lessons of 2016 is that we are very far from consensus on how to proceed.

This year’s Global Risks Report takes as its starting point the societal and political polarization that besets an increasing number of countries and that looks set to be a determining feature of the political landscape not just for the next few years but for the next few electoral cycles. In Part 1, the Report draws on the trends and risks highlighted in the latest GRPS to outline the key challenges that the world now faces: reviving economic growth; reforming market capitalism; facing up to the importance of identity and community; managing technological change; protecting and strengthening our systems of global cooperation; and deepening our efforts to protect the environment.

Part 2 explores three social and political risks in greater depth. The first chapter considers whether recent political trends amount to a crisis of Western democracy. It looks at underlying patterns that have led to a weakening of democratic legitimacy and points to three strategies that might help to restore it. The second piece highlights the importance of civil society in mitigating risks and assesses trends towards the curtailment of civil society organizations’ freedom to operate. The final chapter in this part of the Report looks at one of the gravest long-term challenges facing the world: how to build systems of social protection that can cope with the seismic demographic, economic and other changes that have transfigured social structures and individual lives over the last three decades.

Part 3 turns towards technology, which is at once a source of disruption and polarization and an inevitable part of whatever responses to these trends we choose to pursue. Informed by the results of a special GRPS module on emerging technologies, the urgency of the governance challenge in this area is stressed. This is followed by two in-depth assessments of specific technological risks: first, in relation to artificial intelligence, and second, in relation to our rapidly changing physical infrastructure needs and vulnerabilities.

The Global Risks Report 2017 | Articles | Zurich Insurance

What the World Might Look Like in 5 Years, According to U.S. Intelligence – The Atlantic

Every four years, a group of U.S. intelligence analysts tries to predict the future. And this year, in a report released just weeks before Donald Trump assumes the presidency, those analysts forecast a massive shift in international affairs over the next five years or so: “For better and worse, the emerging global landscape is drawing to a close an era of American dominance following the Cold War,” the study argues. “So, too, perhaps is the rules-based international order that emerged after World War II.”

The National Intelligence Council (NIC), a unit within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is essentially marking the potential end not just of America’s status as the world’s sole superpower, but also of the current foundation for much of that power: an open international economy, U.S. military alliances in Asia and Europe, and liberal rules and institutions—rules like human-rights protections and institutions like the World Trade Organization—that shape how countries behave and resolve their conflicts.

What the World Might Look Like in 5 Years, According to U.S. Intelligence – The Atlantic

The Stories You Missed in 2016 | Foreign Policy

From China’s bubble to Russia’s undersea drones, here are big stories around the world that flew under the radar this year.

The past year had no shortage of monster storylines. The surprise eruption of Donald Trump from primary sideshow to GOP nominee to president-elect probably tops the list. But close behind are Britain’s sudden departure from Europe, the rise of populism across the board, and especially a resurgent Russia’s effort to sow dissension in the West to grease its return to global prominence. Those massive headlines overshadowed many others that were huge and important. Here’s a few you may have missed.

The Stories You Missed in 2016 | Foreign Policy

One of World’s Most Dangerous Supervolcanoes Is Rumbling

Italy’s Campi Flegrei may be awakening from a long slumber, scientists warn.

A long-quiet yet huge supervolcano that lies under 500,000 people in Italy may be waking up and approaching a “critical state,” scientists report this week in the journal Nature Communications.

Based on physical measurements and computer modeling, “we propose that magma could be approaching the CDP [critical degassing pressure] at Campi Flegrei, a volcano in the metropolitan area of Naples, one of the most densely inhabited areas in the world, and where accelerating deformation and heating are currently being observed,” wrote the scientists—who are led by Giovanni Chiodini of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics in Rome.

One of World’s Most Dangerous Supervolcanoes Is Rumbling

Commentary: Yes, 2016 was bad. Next year could be worse | Reuters

The killing of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey on Monday evening might have prompted knee-jerk comparisons to the 1914 assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, but it almost certainly won’t spark a World War One-type conflict. The lethal truck attack that killed 12 in Berlin a few hours later, however, could ratchet up the prospect of yet another political shock in Europe.

2016 looks set to keep throwing out unexpected, often brutal surprises right to its end. If 1989 – the year the Berlin wall fell – was the point at which globalization, liberal democracy and the Western view of modernity was seen to triumph, the year now concluding might yet be seen as when the wheels came off.

… . The next year could see a step back towards moderation. But it could equally see things spiral further out of control.

Commentary: Yes, 2016 was bad. Next year could be worse | Reuters

Geert Wilders, Dutch Far-Right Leader, Is Convicted of Inciting Discrimination – The New York Times

Geert Wilders, the far-right politician who is seen as a likely contender to become prime minister when Dutch voters go to the polls next year, was convicted on Friday of inciting discrimination and of insulting a group for saying that the Netherlands would be safer with fewer Moroccans.

The three-member judiciary panel found that Mr. Wilders, the leader of the Party for Freedom, had violated Dutch law for remarks he made on March 19, 2014, around the time of municipal elections in The Hague, but it elected not to convict him of inciting hatred and rejected the prosecutors’ request to fine him 5,000 euros, or about $5,300.

Geert Wilders, Dutch Far-Right Leader, Is Convicted of Inciting Discrimination – The New York Times