It’s an American tradition: Overdo it ringing in the new year and wake up a splitting headache.
And if you behaved responsibly? No need to feel left out. The big bad world out there promises to give us all plenty of headaches throughout 2022.
There are the carry-over hot spots of course: the Korean DMZ, Crimea, Taiwan. Things could explode there almost any time. But trouble is brewing elsewhere, too, and not always in the places we’d most expect. Here are five problem areas to keep an eye on throughout the new year.
Latin America, Leaning Left
Peru, Honduras and now Chile have elected governments intent on making a hard left turn. For those countries, that can open the gates to economic malaise, Chinese encroachment and terrorism. And it could create a lot of headaches here, as well: increased drug smuggling, illegal immigration and crime.
And, with national elections coming up in Brazil and Colombia, things could get worse.
Russia’s bad boy is like a Vegas gambler playing a dozen slots at the same time.
Unfortunately, the Southern Hemisphere’s lurch to the left comes at a time of weak leadership in Washington. The Biden administration has thus far proven inept at everything in Latin America, except insulting and degrading the few friendly and supportive regimes like Guatemala. Over the next year, adversarial regimes around the world will look at Latin America and Biden’s wide-open border and see a tempting and exposed flank ready to be exploited.
In places like Afghanistan, transnational terrorists have more and larger sanctuaries than they did in 2021. Afghanistan is but Exhibit A. And conciliatory moves by the Biden administration have only strengthened and emboldened the world’s number one sponsor of terrorism. Throw in that previously mentioned wide-open border, and it’s easy to see how another 9/11 can be in our not-so-distant future.
Also be on the lookout for a new wrinkle in terrorist attacks: drones. They are now common coin in conflict zones everywhere. It’s only a matter of time before terrorists use them to target innocents.
Out of Africa
Thanks to its Belt and Road Initiative, China is already firmly established throughout Africa. Beijing’s malignant influence is exacerbating the continent’s long-standing problems of poor governance, lack of economic freedom and deteriorating public safety.
All of this leads to oppression and instability. Mass migration, often triggered by the desire to escape armed conflict, is greater than ever. And the mass migration creates even more space and opportunity for terrorists, extremists and sophisticated criminal networks.
This vicious cycle is not an "over there" problem. What is coming out of Africa is already impacting Europe, the Middle East and the Western Hemisphere.
Russia’s bad boy is like a Vegas gambler playing a dozen slots at the same time. Everyone is watching Ukraine today, but Putin has chaos and mayhem in play in Moldova, Georgia, the Balkans and several other places as well.
Odds are that Putin will wait until after the Beijing Olympics in February before rolling the dice on another serious assault on NATO solidarity. But it’s a sucker’s bet to think we’ll go an entire year without Putin kicking up dust somewhere.
White House Wilt
How long can Biden limp along with the lethargic, inept team he has running national security and foreign policy? So far, the only personnel shake-ups he has made involve the Oval Office dog and a cat.
With a domestic agenda on life support, a looming midterm election massacre and global problems galore, can Biden really afford to keep this lame team on the roster? Changes are well in order. But that raises the question: If Biden does bring in new people, will U.S. polices get better or worse?