Four of the five biggest threats to the global political system this year are directly related to President Donald Trump's administration, according to an assessment from a Washington-based policy think tank.
"What's worrisome about the first days of President Trump's second year is that the political stress emanating from Washington is escalating while the world's ability to absorb new shocks is diminishing," Fred Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council, said in a note this week.
Trump's White House has strongly signaled its willingness to depart from traditional U.S. foreign policy.
"So, hold on to your seats for a year ahead that is fraught with risk, one in which the U.S. and the world will face a stress test amid potential political and economic shocks," Kempe said.
Those possible shocks, according to Kempe, include:
- "A U.S. presidency being scrutinized by an intensifying investigation into potential collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election and undergoing unprecedented leadership turnover."
Following last month's indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities, Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents earlier this month.
That comes amid the president's dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the resignation of economic adviser Gary Cohn, and speculation that national security adviser H.R. McMaster may be next to go.
- "Potential trade wars following the Trump administration's imposition of new aluminum and steel tariffs, which could be exacerbated by additional trade measures against China, in particular those related to intellectual property theft."
The White House is reportedly set to announce Thursday up to $60 billion in new duties on Chinese imports, which could trigger an aggressive response from Chinese President Xi Jinping. Potential targets of retaliation include U.S. agriculture products, particularly soybeans.
- "Dealing with an emboldened Vladimir Putin in Russia."
The Russian leader secured a fourth term in power on Sunday thanks to a national election which, as with most Russian elections in recent years, is widely suspected of fraud. Putin this week claimed a democratic mandate even as the Kremlin is believed to have interfered with the most recent U.S. national election and Europe and stands accused by UK authorities of attacking a former Russian operative with a deadly nerve agent on British soil.
- "Preparing for a historic U.S.-North Korea summit, taking place as early as May, which could greatly reduce or heighten the risk of war on the Korean peninsula."
Trump has been criticized for accepting a face-to-face meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The White House has stressed that talks must lead to an end of the rogue state's nuclear program.
- "Growing tensions with Iran, as Trump's May deadline to decide whether to leave the nuclear deal draws closer."
Trump's administration is looking to change an existing deal that agreed to lift long-running sanctions against Tehran in exchange for limits on Iran's nuclear program. The future of the deal is uncertain.