From time to time it is important to take a step back from the noise and splatter of the news cycle (and oh my has there been a lot of noise and splatter this year!) and take a good deep, hard look at trends old and new to see how they are strengthening, weakening, and weaving themselves into new forms.
The big three megatrends that guide my work – the American withdrawal from global management, the steepening inversion of global age demographics, and the ever-advancing shale revolution – remain my guiding stars. Shale has slowed somewhat but that’s largely irrelevant as the U.S. and Canada combined are only a rounding error away from becoming net oil exporters. The global demographic shift is right on schedule (it is far too late in the game to magic up a fresh batch of Millennials). And the American withdrawal from the global order has obviously accelerated under the ever-thoughtful, always-restrained, humble modesty of President Donald Trump.
Lurking under the rumbling tectonic plates, however, are roughly a score of significant issues that are breaking out into the open. Some of these – like the coming European crisis, the Saudis’ beef with Qatar, the breakdown of the global Left, and all things North Korean – I’ve written about. But others, still on simmer, have yet to reshape the discussion.
They’re coming, and in about a year they will be with us.
To that end I’m putting together a three-part newsletter about what everyone will be worried about next year. These are issues that will have an outsized impact not just for the United States, but the wider world that will impact regional events for a decade to come:
- With the Islamic State all but wrapped up, it is time for the Middle East to embark on its next – and far more violent and far reaching – military conflict.
- The pause in the violence of the drug war is nearly over and what comes next will have far greater implications for both Mexico and the United States.
- The one trade deal that the Americans made for economic, rather than strategic, reasons is in danger. The year 2018 will be when NAFTA’s future is decided one way or another.