The great global collision

CFR President Richard Haass, author of «A World in Disarray,» suddenly needs a more dire title. Now, pointing to «the world’s deterioration»:

  • «U.S.-China trade war,hottest July ever, Hong Kong on the edge, odds of US-Iran, Turkish-Kurdish conflicts mounting, new India-Pakistan Kashmir crisis, Japan-S Korea diplo/eco confrontation, looming Brexit.»

Why it matters: None of those are passing events.

  • All are long-term crises that require expertise and bandwidth that are lacking in the always short-staffed Trump administration.

Ian Bremmerpresident of the Eurasia Group, in a letter to clients, calls them «geopolitical “fat tail” risks»:

  1. Cold War II:Tensions between the U.S. and China, he writes, have «hit a tipping point,» with the risk of destabilizing global technology supply chains.
  2. S./Iran conflict.
  3. S./Russia cyberwar.
  4. Italy fiscal crisis.
  5. China vs. Hong Kong.
  6. Trump and Taiwan.
  • Bremmer’s bottom line:The likelihood of every single one of these «is likely to increase over coming months. [I]f in a normal geopolitical environment these would be, individually, 1-5% scenarios, over the coming year they’re more like 10-30%. [I]n other words, we should expect at least one or two to actually happen. [A]nd that’s not priced into the markets right now.»

Here’s how Jeb Bush put it on Twitter:

Apart from the two tragic mass murders, this weekend saw: China’s devaluation of the yuan and suspension of US ag exports into the country; Japan and South Korea in a full fledged diplomatic fight started over Japan’s occupation of Korea 80 years ago; … the escalation of the crisis in Hong Kong; India scrapping the special autonomous status in parts of Kashmir; Turkey amassing tens of thousands of troops along the Syrian border to attack the Kurds; Moscow police arresting 600 people for participating in an «unsanctioned rally» … no progress on Brexit; and Iran interdicting an Iraqi fuel vessel.

Bush’s punchline: «And to think many now believe that America’s leadership in the world is not necessary.»


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