The political tumult that rocked the world in 2016 might be an appetizer for 2017.
Crucial elections loom this year in France and Germany, where the same anti-establishment backlash that produced Donald Trump and Brexit could offer an opening to nationalist leaders who oppose Muslim immigration and further erode the European unity that has been a signature of the post-World War II era.
The Middle East is spiraling deeper into the mire of fraying borders and sectarian disorder while violence in places such Syria is unleashing a tide of desperate refugees that is destabilizing Europe. Meanwhile, rising powers such as China, Russia and Iran are closely watching the developments to determine whether the convulsions in the West give them an opening to advance their own interests.
Of course, the 15 years since the September 11 attacks have been dominated by war, strife and economic disruption. But what makes 2017 so unique is that America – long a force for stability – is poised to inaugurate one of the most impulsive presidents ever to walk into the Oval Office.
Far from acting as a brake against turmoil sweeping the globe, America under Trump could exacerbate it. Nicholas Dungan, an Atlantic Council senior fellow, said uncertainty about the President-elect could widen divides in the transatlantic alliance, the bedrock of 70 years of Western stability.
“Donald Trump is in many respects the anti-Barack Obama,” said Dungan, who teaches at Sciences Po, an international research university in France. “With Obama, th