The fight over who gets to redecorate the Oval Office is far from over. That said, surveying the unsettled state of the world, there are plenty of signs suggesting what the next president might find on his desk after the inauguration parade. Here’s a look at what the next commander-in-chief might be in for:
- #5. Putin Puts Up a Fight. The cement that holds NATO together is called “Article 5” which commits all the nations in the alliance to collective defense: “an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies.” Putin would like nothing more than to put that proposition to the test. If the Kremlin can engineer a crisis to show that NATO members won’t really stand-up for each other, then the transatlantic security alliance could well fall apart. Nothing would make Moscow happier. While, it is unlikely that Putin would risk World War III, he has not been shy about poking others to see what he can get away with. The next president should plan to get poked. A recent report from the think-tank RAND concludes Russian troops could overrun some NATO countries in days. Bet that Putin has read it.
- #4. Al-Qaeda Rides Again. Even if Obama’s minimalist strategy for trying to strangle the ISIS state shrinks the territory these terrorists control, don’t think the long war is over. Obama may still be boasting that Osama is dead, but al-Qaeda has bounced back. If the ISIS black flag folders look to al-Qaeda to rally the troops back to its banner, transnational terrorism will be a big problem for the next president unless he dumps Obama’s strategy.
- #3. Dealing with Trade. There are two major multinational trade deals on this president’s plate. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is sitting with Congress, but a vote for ratification may not happen anytime soon. Meanwhile, Obama’s team is still negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. There will be calls for the next president to scrap or renegotiate both deals. The U.S. has been losing ground on economic freedom since Obama took office. It will take a concerted effort from the next president to turn that around.
- #2. North Korea Again. It takes three things to turn a failed state into a serious menace: (1) a missile that can reach the U.S., (2) a city-killing thermonuclear weapon, and, (3) the capability to launch an EMP attack that could shut down the American electrical grid. North Korea looks to be getting all three. The Hermit Kingdom also likes to saber-rattle. Obama has done zero to put the “dear leader” in his place or develop a robust missile-defense shield to make a North Korean missile threat irrelevant. The UN just imposed a new round of sanctions. Watch Pyongyang get grumpy and test the mettle of the next American president.
- #1. Slow-Rolled in the South China Sea. Beijing just keeps pushing to see what it can get away with. Recently China deployed missiles in a disputed area. Of course, the first step the regime is going to take when the next president takes office is to see what other provocations it can successfully pull off without rebuke.
Any president who steps into the Oval Office unprepared to deal with these five dangers probably shouldn’t be president in the first place.