January 6, 2016 | Commentary on National Security and Defense, Homeland Security

New Year's Calendar Offers U.S. March of Mayhem

Here is a 2016 “calendar” to keep you up at night. Don’t hold me to the dates, but if the next 12 months pass
without witnessing these unsettling moments, then America will be truly blessed.

January. We know the date, for sure: Jan. 12. That’s when President Obama will deliver his last State of the Union Address. What’s not known is whether he’ll have anything new to say about America’s place in the world and how he’ll deal with ongoing challenges such as ISIS, Syria, Iran, Russia, North Korea and China.

Odds are we will hear nothing new. This White House has shown great reluctance to changing course, even though it’s arguably losing ground on every front.

February. There is another Islamist terrorist attack on the United States. Of course, no one can predict exactly when the next attack will come. But this much we do know: the pace of terrorist plotting against the United States has quickened over the years. We’re now uncovering at least one plot every couple of months. Given last month’s attack in San
Bernardino, Calif., by February, we’ll be due.

March. America once viewed Europe as a stable partner. But the fighting in Ukraine, the Euro-crisis and the massive influx of refugees has left the other half of the trans-Atlantic bridge looking pretty shaky. A “Brexit” vote, with Great Britain voting to exit the European Union, would put the whole “one Europe” project in jeopardy. With some British voices pushing for a referendum early in 2016, that body blow may come as soon as March.

April. As the weather warms up, the Taliban prepare for their annual spring offensive. Unfortunately, the White House has been ramping down U.S. support faster than the Afghan government can ramp up its own forces. The Taliban have been working the gap and making gains. In Iraq, the battle with ISIS will heat up as well. All this will build pressure to put more American boots back on the ground in both places.

May. Refugees also start moving as the weather warms. Europe has already taken in more than a million refugees fleeing the chaos in the Greater Middle East. As the Syrian war continues to rage, the human wave will crest again.

June. By this time, Iran will have pocketed the sanctions relief money promised in the nuclear deal brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. So look for the deal to be falling apart. Already there are signs of strain between the United States and Iran over the deal, with Iran complaining that new visa restrictions violate the agreement. Meanwhile, there is a growing consensus that the U.S. “gave away the store.” Expect pressure to build on Congress to walk back the deal.

July. Sooner or later, North Korea will manufacture a crisis. That’s how the rogue nation tries to leverage concessions from D.C. and its allies. Pyongyang is completing upgrades to its missile launch and digging another nuclear test tunnel. So you can pretty much count on a summer surprise from Dear Leader.

August. The world gathers in Rio for the Olympic Games. Everyone will hold their breath praying there is not another Munich or Atlanta. The most intense game will be the terrorists versus Brazilian security.

September. Though busy building artificial islands, China can’t fail to notice another round of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan or the likely election of a less friendly government in Taipei. How many months before Chinese leaders decide to test the ties that bind the United States and Taiwanese?

October. With U.S. national elections approaching, it’s time for an “October Surprise” — an engineered event designed to swing the electorate left or right. Hold your breath. There could be several regimes swinging in different directions at the same time.

November. The scariest event could be the premier of “Bad Santa 2.” It’s slated for release Nov. 23. Do we really need to see Billy Bob Thornton reprise Santa as a drunken, tasteless lout? And who knows what manner of mayhem might mar the last days of the race to the White House?

December. Last chance for a lame-duck president and Congress to put their stamp on world affairs. One possibility: a big dust-up over trade as the White House tries to sneak a major deal with Asia over the goal line before President Obama departs.

Surely 2016 will bring its share of bad times. But, hey, happy New Year!

James Jay Carafano is a Heritage Foundation vice president and director of the think tank’s Davis 
Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy Studies. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.

About the Author

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, and the E. W. Richardson Fellow