5 Important Foreign Issues To Watch In 2017

5 Important Foreign Issues To Watch In 2017

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Looking over the five months of foreign policy articles written by Millennial Review contributors, it’s been a crazy end to the year. A president was elected, a tyrant died, a country won the lottery in nuclear deals, and terrorist attacks are on the rise worldwide. However, there are a few foreign policy issues that seem to be present in these past few months, and I believe will also be significant in the coming year.

Unsurprisingly, the Iran/Israel conflict along with the Syrian Civil War make the list, bringing conflict in the international community and a proxy Cold War. What’s new this year is the conflicts between and involving Asian nations, trade deals, and a resurrected proxy Cold War involving Cuba, space and technology. These issues will all play a huge role in the development of US foreign policy, as well as shape the international community’s relations for years to come. 

The Middle East: Iran vs. Israel

There has almost never been a list concerning foreign policy without the Middle East somehow making an appearance. The little area on the map contains some of the most frequently changing regimes, as well as incredible holy sites claimed by several religions. In 2017, the ramifications of the Iran deal will continue to progress, possibly moving beyond monetary concerns to safety concerns, with the threat of nuclear weapons progressing with Russian assistance. Just a few weeks ago, Luke Helms noted that Iran had been patiently waiting for the international community to give it a chance, which it did in the nuclear deal. Despite Obama’s attempts to manipulate domestic acceptance of the deal, Trump has said that the deal is terrible, and hopefully will follow our advice and convince the international community of the truth. 

Israel, on the other hand, has faced international scorn over protecting their people and daring to disagree with the international community on Iran’s “good behaviour”. Having been proven correct, and with a Republican in the White House, it is hopeful that Israel will continue to be strengthened through a renewed friendship, marking the end of Obama’s veiled attacks on Israeli policy, and a return to support of Israel.

Middle East: Syria & ISIS

The topic of Syria and Russian involvement with Syria top the foreign policy concerns over the past five months, and will continue to do so in 2017. The flood of Syrian refugees into Europe caused a rise in nationalism in many European countries, which in turn caused an influx of conservative and right movements in Europe. The actual civil war is important, since it’s a proxy war between Russia and the US, with Russia supporting Assad and the US supporting the rebels. Another country to specifically watch is Turkey, especially after the assassination of the Russian ambassador. Removal of US support may be the best option for the United States, as the Syrian Civil War is slowly losing its rebel force. The conflicts in the Middle East may be our outbound administration’s fault, but at this point we should spend resources combating real terrorist threats like ISIS and future homeland terrorist attacks like that in Germany recently. 

Here are a few other interesting links on Syria: a future with ISIS defeatedObama’s failures, and peace with Russia.

Asian Conflicts

With Trump’s obvious policies against China in trade, along with the recent illegal retrieval of an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) by Chinese forces, Asia can no longer be ignored like a thing of the past. Our trusted ally South Korea is embroiled in domestic conflicts. Overall, conflict is rising in the region, with North Koreans upset with their leader and the Philippines making new alliances with China over the United States. The South China Sea is claimed by China, but greatly affects trade throughout the world, and therefore becomes a legitimate policy concern for the United States. Robert Henderson recommends remilitarization of Japan, a concept that seems ideal along with a Trump presidency that promises to be hard on China. 


The issue of trade was thoroughly thrown into the limelight by the Trump campaign, and promises to be addressed during his administration. Trump has said he plans to remove the US from TPP entirely, and also renegotiate or withdraw from NAFTA. Additionally, he promises to prevent illegal immigration through a wall, which may prevent illegal trade through cartels. He has also cast significant doubts on US participation in NATO, and praised the conservative movements in the Europe. It is assumed that 2017 will bring huge changes to trade and domestic policy. 

The Space Race and Technology

The space race and technology in general have become a threat to the security of the United States homeland. Cyberattacks have become more common, and the Cold War through Russian hackers and media manipulators seem to be on the rise. The United States government is falling behind in technological advancement due to terrible domestic policy under Obama, and the promise of Trump and lowered taxes may be the stimulator to a revived economy, and the advancement of science. Anyone from businessmen to scientists can look forward to 2017, with the promise that Trump will work for the reward to outweigh the risk. 

Overall, foreign policy should be getting better in 2017, although there may be some doubt that Trump will be able to fix the mess set before him. Through the betterment of our nation and the advancement of science, our nation will progress and improve, although maybe not as the liberals would prefer. 

Follow this author on Twitter @UCDavisEngineer

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