5 Ways 2017 Could Be As Historic as 2016
Be on the lookout for something big, bold and unprecedented from the dealmaker-in-chief — perhaps an administration overture to the North Koreans that would include the dispatching of senior U.S. officials to Pyongyang in order to determine whether direct, bilateral negotiations would be worth the time and effort. As silly as this may seem at the present time, it wouldn’t be altogether unusual to see a businessman who thinks he can get the deal of a lifetime to explore the outlines of a comprehensive understanding with Pyongyang on the nuclear question. What that arrangement may entail (a verifiable dismantlement of the North’s entire program; an interim cap on nuke development and missile testing; the signing of a formal peace treaty) is anyone’s guess. But the doctrine of strategic patience may very well be replaced with a doctrine of strategic engagement.
4. GOP vs. Trump: The relationship between congressional Republicans and President-elect Donald Trump is being portrayed by GOP spokespeople as one of unflinching harmony towards a brighter, more conservative future. And yet it would be the height of naivety to think that this kumbaya moment will last. Because it won’t.
On everything from border security, deportation policy and immigration reform to a partnership with the Kremlin and the importance of defending the liberal international order, the Trump White House and its Republican colleagues in the House and Senate will be battling in some fashion this year. We could even see GOP infighting in the first few weeks of the new year when Trump’s cabinet nominees face grilling during their confirmation hearings. Instead of the usual Tea Party-GOP establishment-Democratic divides, we could see a Washington divided amongst Trump loyalists, fiscal conservatives, Democrats and GOP establishment types. This isn’t exactly a recipe for productivity in government.
5. The end of the two-state solution: Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry sent a disturbing, but accurate, message: without an end to Israeli settlement-building deep in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and an end to violence directed at Israeli civilians, the two-state solution will be dead and buried sooner rather than later. “The status quo is leading towards one state and perpetual occupation,” Kerry said, "And with this passive resignation, the problem only gets worse, the risks get greater and the choices are narrowed.”
If the Trump administration’s policies towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are at all similar to the views espoused by David Friedman, Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Israel, then the two-state formula that U.S. policy has been based on for the last five decades will indeed be dead. Any further action by the Security Council censuring Israeli settlement construction certainly won’t occur over the next four years. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t exactly in a giving mood towards the Palestinians; in fact, pro-settler parties in Netanyahu's coalition government are celebrating Trump’s tenure as the final nail in the two-state solution’s coffin. All of this will add up to more Palestinian disenfranchisement, more referrals from the Palestinian Authority to the International Criminal Court and greater radicalization on both sides of the 1967 line.
Daniel R. DePetris is an analyst at Wikistrat, Inc., a geostrategic consulting firm, and a freelance researcher. He has also written for CNN.com, Small Wars Journal and The Diplomat.
Image: South Korean missiles. Flickr/Creative Commons/Daniel Foster