COLOGNE, Germany – The current year will be one that could see the globe’s many flash points come to a head, either through peaceful resolution or all-out conflict, according to a new report by the organizers of this month’s Munich Security Conference.
Meant as a scene-setter for the Feb. 16-18 event, the document draws the picture of a perfect storm of rising nationalism worldwide and a Washington seen as increasingly unreliable to uphold world order.
At the same time, potentially moderating countries like Canada, Germany, France or Japan lack the capabilities and will to fill the void, according to the report, which draws heavily from recent think thank studies worldwide.
Crises cited as ripe for a tipping point include the personal feud between the President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un over nuclear weapons, the increasingly hostile relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the ongoing war in Ukraine with its dynamic of pitting Russia against NATO.
In addition, the potential reversals of critical arms-control agreements and nonproliferation pacts, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, threaten the global security environment, the authors write.
While countries like Russia and Iran have hailed the advent of what they consider a post-Western international order, undecided states looking for new alliances may not find either regime a suitable friend in the long term, opening the door for China’s further rise.
And despite China’s proclamations of coming in peace, its military build-up and the construction of bases in the disputed South China Sea continues to worry Western analysts.
Environmental insecurity also contributes to an overheated climate in which even the smallest mistake or misunderstanding could trigger war, according to analysts.
“In the end, few experts doubt the long-term effects a changing climate will have in international security,” the report states.
Senior leaders from around the world will meet in Munich this month for what has become a key gathering on the international-security conference circuit. Defense News will cover the event from the Bavarian capital.