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Friday, January 02, 2015

Quick! Name 15 Hotspots for 2015

Okay, kids, here's America's newest fun game: "Name that 2015 Hotspot!"

The challenge is to pick 15 places which have the potential to become hell holes for their residents and which will involve the presence of U.S. military forces before the dust clears. Name a place and give a quick reason. The fact that a place is already a disaster does not exclude putting it on this list, but you do have to state why you think it will continue to be a troubled area. You can add places in the comments or send me an email and I'll tack them on the list. It is perfectly okay to challenge things on the list. In fact, it is encouraged. Got more than 15? That's okay, I had to use 15 to make it work with the year.

Contest ends whenever I say it does but no later than 6 January 2015. No prizes are to be awarded. Credit will be given to the most brilliant suggestions unless I steal them.

Here are 5 I came up with to get you started:

1) Nigeria: Potentially one of the richer countries in the world due to its mineral wealth, it suffers from incredible corruption and a nearly complete inability to get its house in order. Criminal gangs, tribal rifts, Boko Haram, pollution, grinding poverty, kidnap for ransom schemes are some of the issues. Just might turn into an even more failed state if it can't get its eastern area under control.

2) Cuba: As the former Soviet empire proved, there ain't no such thing as a "little freedom" for the oppressed masses. The Castro brothers have to die sometime, why not in 2015? With the right support from ex-patriot Cubans the place appears ready to - um- explode? Cuba seems to have lost all its old Commie sponsors. What will the U.S. do if China decides to help out 90 miles off the Florida coast?

3) Venezuela: Can you say failing state? A dysfunctional economy and an oppressive regime riddled with factionalism even in the army. There are opposition groups. Could get really messy, especially if oil prices stay down.

4) Russia: Putin needs a war to keep his power. Oil prices and the embargo (weak as it is) are killing the Russian economy. Somewhere in the Rodina there must be a crowd  of reformers who really want to toss off the corrupt oligarchs and their man in Moscow. I guess the questions are whether Putin's internal police are good enough to stifle freedom and whether the Russians who want to fix things can get any support among Russia's youth.

5) South China Sea: The nasty Dragon covets all that water and the power it would bring. Bullying, lawfare and playing good China/Bad China games are in the Dragon's bag of tools. The little Hobbit lands surrounding the South China Sea look to their east for support. Will/Can the U.S. and its allies help the Hobbits or do more dancing to push this problem off on the administration elected in 2016?

I am also going to put this up at the USNI Blog.


  1. Hotspots (additional to your gratis five):
    1. Albania (the strategic improtance of this NATO member to a certain non-NATO troublemaker is obvious from its surrounding map)
    2. Iran (already a "cold war" spot, and itching to announce nuclear-tipped missles ASAP)
    3. South Korea ('Un will go one step too far, and to save face may then overreact to the renewed fervor he causes)
    4. Syria (untenable situation for Israel)
    5, India (Pakistan is certain to will use some U.S. $$$$ as it wishes, not as promised).
    6. Myanmar/Burma (see #7)
    7. Bangladesh - The two countries have been engaged in occasional naval clashes; soon both will realize the folly of seeking to buy submarines.
    8. France (terrorism) reaction to French public's growing and overt hostility toward Islamists
    9. Phillipine Islands (terrorism) If and only if, U.S. drops the ball
    10. Italy (Compania Region) internicine narcotics struggles and thriving corruption are daily events in Italy's 2nd most populous region.

    I sincerely hope none of the hotspots I (and you) listed come to pass, and that any hostilities that eventuate would soon be quelled by level heads. Good luck to you in your USNI project.

  2. I would also posit that the West African piracy 'issue' may grow much larger. Since the piracy has been reduced out of Yemen, it seems like the pirates have 'moved' to Ghana and other West African areas of operation. Agree completely on China, South Korea.

  3. China is definitely a very nasty dragon. They covet that water, and the tiny pieces of land it surrounds, so much that they are building islands just to extend their territory. They also have no concern with conservation of resources at all, even renewable ones, as they are carving away natural reefs for their resources and land-grab initiative. This just destroys the natural habitat for the fish there, that their fishermen also tend to over-harvest. I'm no environmentalist, but dang, China- do you care at all about the earth?