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After turbulent 2014, next year may be no calmer

After turbulent 2014, next year may be no calmer thumbnail

From financial crisis in Russia to cyber warfare with North Korea, 2014 has generated new flashpoints right into its final days, setting 2015 up to be just as turbulent.

Almost all of the major confrontations, such as the battle with Islamic State militants, the West’s stand-off with Russia over Ukraine and the fight against Ebola, will rumble on. Others could erupt at short notice.

“Normally after a year like this you might expect things to calm down,” said John Bassett, former senior official with British signals intelligence agency GCHQ now an associate at Oxford University. “But none of these problems have been resolved and the drivers of them are not going away.”

The causes are varied – a global shift of economic power from the West, new technologies, regional rivalries and anger over rising wealth gaps.

In June, a report by the Institute for Economics and Peace showed world peace declining for the seventh consecutive year since 2007, reversing a trend of improvement over decades.

The same group said in November deaths from militant attacks leapt 60 percent to an all-time high, primarily in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, this at a time when the West’s ability to respond militarily is constrained as Washington and its European allies cut defense budgets.


While Western policymakers hope Russia’s economic crisis will curb Vladimir Putin’s ambitions, others worry it could make him more unpredictable.

“It’s not necessarily going to make Russia any better behaved,” says Christopher Harmer, a former U.S. navy pilot now senior fellow at the Institute for Study of War.

NATO officials say the alliance would treat any aggression, even covert, in NATO member Baltic states as an act of war.

China is building up its military might. It lays claim to almost all the South China Sea, believed to be rich in oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims.

In the East China Sea, a string of islets claimed by both China and Japan have strained ties severely.

Some officials and analysts say Western overstretch means a confrontation in one part of the world can encourage potential adversaries elsewhere to try their luck, a potential factor in North Korea’s increased assertiveness.

Washington has accused Pyongyang of launching a cyber attack on Sony Pictures after its film on the fictional assassination of leader Kim Jong Un. North Korea has rejected the charge.

“The recent hack on Sony has highlighted the vulnerability of the West to the growing threat posed by cyber attack,” said Alastair Newton, senior political analyst at Nomura.



Washington’s adversaries are becoming more adept at “ambiguous warfare”, using deniable tactics or proxy forces such as the “little green men” in unmarked uniforms and vehicles the West says Russia deployed in Ukraine.

Covert tactics may no longer be enough to satisfy Israel it can slow Iran’s nuclear program. With a mid-year deadline for a deal, some analysts believe Israel’s government might launch a military strike to knock it back.

“If Iran agrees a deal, and that remains a big “if”, that could constitute a trigger for such an event,” said Nigel Inkster, former deputy chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and now head of transnational threats at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies.

He said much would depend on whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wins March elections and how hardline a coalition results.

On one threat, most of the world’s powers are coalescing.

Pushing back Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is a high priority for western states, Gulf powers and Turkey, Russia and China.

Whether they can bridge differences on the fate of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, however, remains unclear.

Already some worry the anti-IS operation initially to safeguard minority refugees in northern Iraq is suffering “mission creep” as U.S. elections hove into view.

More than 1,000 members of the 82nd Airborne Division will deploy to Iraq in the New Year to help train Iraqi forces.

The first months of 2015 will also be key in tackling a very different foe: Ebola.

A major U.S. military deployment to build treatment centers in Liberia is credited with helping slow new cases there but the virus continues to spread in Sierra Leone and Guinea.

“It really is an unusually broad range of challenges,” said Kathleen Hicks, U.S. Principal Deputy Secretary of Defence for Policy from 2012-13 and now with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.



14 Comments on "After turbulent 2014, next year may be no calmer"

  1. penury on Sat, 27th Dec 2014 4:00 pm 

    Another propaganda piece for American consumption. Blame everyone else for your war causing efforts. Claim military cuts while increasing budgets to the highest ever. The Ebola hoax is going to convince a lot of mouth breathers that we are doing good while we build more bases and extract more tribute from these people.

  2. steve on Sat, 27th Dec 2014 4:49 pm 

    well it is hard to say what will happen…I have take all money out of the stock market….how many of you have as well?….Some of you talk so much of collapse yet you still play the game go to work every day…if collapse is only 10 years away you should quit your job and prepare…it is hard to hear people expound on their doomsday predictions and then they don’t walk the talk…I guess once you are in the system it is really hard to leave no matter how much you disagree with the system.

  3. Arthur75 on Sat, 27th Dec 2014 6:10 pm 

    “little green men”, the “WMD” equivalent spin word for Ukraine that didn’t really worked out.
    Best thing to do would be to nuke the United Slaves, and ASAP

  4. Makati1 on Sat, 27th Dec 2014 7:07 pm 

    Arthur75, you may be right. But at least take down the US economy and trash the USD. That could save the rest of the world from a nuclear exchange.

    I can only say, with increasing certainty, that 2015 will be a whiz bang year that may see the end of everything we think of a BAU. We can only hope.

  5. Nony on Sat, 27th Dec 2014 7:19 pm 

    You all have been hoping for 10 years and it ain’t happened. Maybe it’s time to come out of the bunker. 😉

  6. GregT on Sat, 27th Dec 2014 8:41 pm 

    “Russia can address the economic warfare being directed against its national economy and society as a form of «economic terrorism». If Russia’s banks and financial institutions are weakened with the aim of creating financial collapse in the Russian Federation, Moscow can introduce fiscal measures to help its banks and financial sector that could create economic shockwaves in the European Union and North America.”

    “The currency war eventually will rebound on Washington and Wall Street. The energy war will also reverse directions. Already, the Kremlin has made it clear that it and a coalition of other countries will de-claw the US in the currency market through a response that will neutralize US financial manipulation and the petro-dollar. In the words of Sergey Glazyev, Moscow is thinking of a «systemic and comprehensive» response «aimed at exposing and ending US political domination, and, most importantly, at undermining US military-political power based on the printing of dollars as a global currency». [22] His solution includes the creation of «a coalition of sound forces advocating stability — in essence, a global anti-war coalition with a positive plan for rearranging the international financial and economic architecture on the principles of mutual benefit, fairness, and respect for national sovereignty».”

    “The coming century will not be the «American Century» as the neo-conservatives in Washington think. It will be a «Eurasian Century». Washington has taken on more than it can handle, this may be why the US government has announced an end to its sanctions regime against Cuba and why the US is trying to rekindle trade ties with Iran. Despite this, the architecture of the post-Second World War or post-1945 global order is now in its death bed and finished. This is what the Kremlin and Putin’s presidential spokesman and press secretary Dmitry Peskov mean when they impart—as Peskov stated to Rossiya-24 in a December 17, 2014 interview — that the year 2014 has finally led to «a paradigm shift in the international system».”

  7. Apneaman on Sat, 27th Dec 2014 9:14 pm 

    Ebola is no hoax and grand conspiracy theories attributed to inefficient government careerists is a contradiction and a form of self flattery. Your naive regarding evolution because you have lived within a small one time period of history in a rich country where every day death from bacteria and viruses was put on hold for awhile due to fossil fuel generated wealth that gave us vaccination, antibiotic’s and superior sanitation. Less than 100 years ago 50 to 100 million died in a two year period from the flu. That type of thing is the norm for all human history except the last 75 years or so and it will be back in full swing within a generation or two; already started. There are also going to be pathogens coming out of the permafrost that we have little or no immunity to. Climate change will also cause all sorts of nasties to migrate with and without people, No government conspiracy needed; just evolution unobstructed by carbon man and a population of morons volunteering for there own enslavement. For the last 50 years 99.9% of people have been figuratively and literally clicking the “I Agree” button without caring because they can’t wait to get their next and never ending dopamine hit. No need to conspire to put one over on the fat sheep. Fat sheep don’t care.

    DNA Shows Malaria Helped Topple Rome

    The Dangers of Hubris on Human Health

    Analysis: Antibiotic apocalypse

    The Systemic Roots of a Global Pandemic

  8. Nony on Sat, 27th Dec 2014 9:17 pm 

    Ebola is TV news BS. You are much more in danger from dying of a bee sting than from Ebola. Just videots watching too much TV.

  9. GregT on Sat, 27th Dec 2014 9:51 pm 


    My wife is a pathologist. The medical community is extremely concerned with this latest Ebola outbreak. There is no cure, and the more infections that occur, the higher the percentage of mutations. If Ebola becomes airborne, it has the potential to wipe out a good portion of the human population. Ebola has been downplayed for very good reason, it is the videots like you that are drinking the koolaid and watch too much TV.

    Again Nony, you’re exposing your ignorance.

  10. Nony on Sat, 27th Dec 2014 10:09 pm 


    I’m skipping it. I got confused with bird flu, Asian flu, swine flu, blackbird disease. Was one of them the same as the other, but another name? Doesn’t matter…none of them did anything.

    I fart in SARS direction.

    Wait. SARS is another one, no? Just ratings crap. They’ll be arresting prostitutes next during ratings week. That’s the real sheople stuff. Turn off the boob tube. Go down to the range and practice with the 9-11. The outdoor air and the recoil and the smell and the knowledge of what the round does will make you alive. Not the boob tube and Survivor or whatever the shows are.

  11. GregT on Sat, 27th Dec 2014 10:29 pm 

    I haven’t watched any considerable amount of TV for the better part of 40 years Nony. Assuming you mean the 1911? I prefer 9mm in pistols and sub guns, and have been re-loading the round for over 20 years. I probably forgot more about ballistics last month, than you will ever learn.

    Just because you fail to understand something does not make it a non-event. I will listen to those with qualifications, before the ramblings of somebody like you, any day.

  12. Nony on Sat, 27th Dec 2014 10:38 pm 

    I meant the 1911. Sorry. Bottle down.

    And no doubt. I actually got my ribbon on the pistol, but it was because I was so lousy, they gave me extra instruction. Then I ended up doing better than the other recruits. Sight alignment, trigger control. Sight alignment, trigger control.

    I went shooting with my troops years later. Had a chief who was total tackleberry. We went to the range and shot all kinds of stuff. Really liked the 9mm. So much gentler really.

    We had to do shotgun and such also. M-14 instead of M-16. So backwards and behind.

  13. Makati1 on Sun, 28th Dec 2014 7:24 am 

    Buckle up! 2015 is going to be a wild ride!

  14. bobinget on Sun, 28th Dec 2014 8:21 am 

    Once again I’ll agree w/ Makati1.

    Last week I predicted the most overused word phrase for 2015 would be.. ‘cyber warfare’
    Add ‘Cyber-Attack’ instead. It seems we have an aversion to the use of dated w-a-r … word.

    Never mind ‘World-War’ which is BTW, the current state of geopolitic.

    APNEAMAN put genuine thought into his post.
    Almost everyone, except those in immediate danger are minimizing the effects of Climate Change, antibiotic resistant bacteria, seemely
    endless virus changelings, population movements,
    ‘social media’, Right Wing Response to Islamic militancy even peak, lost cost oil.

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