James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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What to Worry about in 2012

by James M. Lindsay
January 18, 2012

The New Year's Eve ball in New York (Mike Segar/courtesy Reuters). The New Year's Eve ball in New York (Mike Segar/courtesy Reuters).


I had the pleasure to preside at a CFR meeting today on “What to Worry about in 2012.” The panelists were David Gordon, head of research and director of global macro analysis at the Eurasia Group, Mark Schneider, senior vice president of the International Crisis Group, and Paul Stares, who heads up CFR’s Center for Preventive Action. David, Mark, and Paul are all savvy foreign policy experts, and each worked hard late last year to think through the major international crises that might preoccupy policymakers in 2012. David co-authored a Eurasia Group study entitled, “Top Risks 2012,” Mark’s shop produced “Next Year’s Wars,” and Paul oversaw the publication of CPA’s “Preventive Priorities Index.

We had a robust and far-ranging discussion that touched on virtually every region of the world and for that reason cannot be easily summarized in a few bullets. But here are some of the highlights:

  • David thinks that Europe will muddle through its current crisis and that talk of a looming financial crisis in China is overstated. He does worry about the transition in North Korea and the potential for miscalculation in the South China Sea.
  • Mark worries that we could witness significant potential political instability and conflict in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, and he sees an impending famine in the Kordofan and Blue Nile regions of Sudan.
  • Paul says the Middle East is still in turmoil. Beyond the obvious suspects like Egypt and Syria, he says to keep an eye on Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain.

I encourage you to check out the video of the meeting above or here, or listen to the audio.

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