This will be a year to watch just how far strongmen dare to extend their gains, given the erosion of global rules to constrain them and the retreat of the world’s policeman in Washington that long predates Trump.
Watch Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine, in the wake of Russian incursions in the Sea of Azov, and amid falling popularity at home, as Kiev faces crucial presidential elections in March. Also track Chinese President Xi Jinping as he tackles an economic slowdown with a mixture of economic and nationalist stimulus.
“The wind is in the sails of strongmen worldwide,” writes Robert Malley, the president and CEO of the International Crisis Group, in a Foreign Policy review of 2019 trouble spots.
The greatest risk of 2019 might be that of strongmen miscalculating as they test limits.
Back in Colorado a few days ago, our 10-year-old daughter Johanna exulted at the bottom of a mogul-strewn black diamond run.
“That was so empowering!” she said, speaking to a camera. “My ankles are killing me, but it was worth it.”
Double-black diamond years can shape history, for better or worse.
Set your bindings to expert – and Happy New Year!
Frederick Kempe is a best-selling author, prize-winning journalist and president & CEO of the Atlantic Council, one of the United States’ most influential think tanks on global affairs. He worked at The Wall Street Journal for more than 25 years as a foreign correspondent, assistant managing editor and as the longest-serving editor of the paper’s European edition. His latest book – “Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth” – was a New York Times best-seller and has been published in more than a dozen languages. Follow him on Twitter @FredKempeand subscribe here to Inflection Points, his look each Saturday at the past week’s top stories and trends.
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