It looks set to be another year of repetitive, uninspiring status quo.
By Robert E. Kelly
Last month I suggested a list of the biggest issues in Asian security of the previous year (as well as a look back at big U.S. foreign policy events in the region). This month I thought I would look forward and make some general predictions. As with look-back reviews at the end of the year, look-forward projections at the beginning are equally important for pundit accountability and credibility. Prediction is, ideally, the goal of good social science and punditry. It will be curious to revisit these forecasts a year from now to see what went wrong…and right.
So here are some thoughts on East Asia going forward this year. In brief, there is little to suggest the status quo will be seriously disrupted, because nationalists and social conservatives committed to traditional ideologies and growth models dominate the region’s administrations.
That is of course a safe and dull prediction – but nonetheless likely true. The only loose cannon in a region obsessed with stability and development is North Korea. External tension serves North Korea’s internal legitimacy needs, so it always a good bet it will do something foolish. One easy prediction is that North Korea’s interest in new technologies like drones and hacking, and the fear that inspires in Washington particularly, will gin-up at least one faux crisis this year.
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