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Strategic Trends 2018

US President Donald Trump returns to the White House after addressing the Republican Congressional Retreat, 1 February 2018. Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Strategic Trends 2018: The CSS has published its annual analysis of major developments in world affairs. The four topics covered include whether or not emerging trends suggest the US could become a less reliable partner for Europe; why Russia and China are likely to continue building closer relations; the potential impact of energy technologies on international politics; and how resilience can act as an instrument of deterrence.

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Strategic Trends 2018 offers a concise analysis of major developments in world affairs, with a primary focus on international security. It provide succinct interpretations of key trends and contain numerous graphics.

Superpower Constrained

In the first chapter, Jack Thompson looks at the new foreign policy of the US un­der President Trump. In his view, the US will remain the most important player in global affairs, but is struggling to adapt to the evolution of the international system and will be more vulnerable than ever to changes in the geopolitical landscape. At the same time, the new administration has expressed ambivalence when it comes to playing its traditional role in leading the Liberal World Order and shows little willingness to engage in questions of international governance, which poses new security questions for the Europeans.

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Room for Maneuver: China and Russia Strengthen Their Relations

Managing relations with Russia and China will be among the main challenges that the West will face in the coming years. Brian Carlson examines the China- Russia relationship and its effects on world politics. The two countries have built an increasingly close relationship, which is apparent in arms sales, energy, and cooperation in addressing the North Korean nuclear issue. This trend is likely to continue, though the relationship will be increasingly tilted in China’s favor.

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Technological Innovation and the Geopolitics of Energy

China is also an important factor in Severin Fischer’s chapter on the impacts of technological change in the energy sector. In his view, China will be the domi­nant player in the world of new and clean technologies, notably solar and bat­teries. This could be good for development goals and limiting global warming, but not necessarily for the influence of the Western world in other regions. At the same time, the US is re-entering the hydrocarbon markets as a supplier due to increased hydraulic fracturing and mixing up existing power relations. In this context, the role of infrastructure will massively change in the coming decades.

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Resilience: The ‘Fifth Wave’ in the Evolution of Deterrence

Within this changing, and increasingly complex, international system, calls for improving national resilience across different sectors in states and economies are becoming louder. Tim Prior’s chapter examines the growing focus on resil­ience in Western security policy, particularly with respect to deterring asym­metric threats. He explores how systemic changes in governance arrangements, embodying networked approaches that match the nature of the 21st-century threat landscape, could present advantages in addressing security issues in the international system.

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