The newly elected president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, is the first hard-line conservative to take office since the administration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005–13). With Raisi as president, hard-line conservatives control each branch of the Iranian government - conservatives closely aligned with supreme leader Ali Khamenei. Hard-line conservative dominance of the government will likely mean that the negotiations with the United States, focused on a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, will become much more difficult. Iranian backing of regional militias, which have been problematic to United States interests, will almost certainly continue. Negotiations regarding the Iranian ballistic missile program will almost certainly not happen. Most importantly, regional disputes will likely become more contentious under a hardliner-controlled Iran.
The Taliban remains a threat to the stability and continual development of a democratic government in Afghanistan. A lack of an American military presence will likely encourage the Taliban to expand their power. Aggression against Afghans has increased dramatically since the start of this year. If the Taliban were to gain control, the country could become a renewed haven for terrorist groups and threats to the United States.
Moving forward, the United States may stabilize regional power in the American continent by removing a critical Russian ally, Venezuela. Nicolas Maduro, the controversial, authoritarian president of Venezuela, is backed by the Russian government and continues an anti-American narrative beneficial to Russian interests in the American hemisphere. If the United States can challenge the relationship between Russia and Venezuela by becoming Venezuela’s ally, the United States could directly contest Russian interests in the American hemisphere.
In 2020 and into early 2021, the military forces of the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) clashed multiple times in hand-to-hand combat in northwest India along the nuclear-armed neighbors’ 3,500 kilometer-long disputed border—resulting in their deadliest skirmish in 45 years. Given the tension between these two global powers, the United States is seeking to strengthen defensive ties with the Republic of India to signal its commitment to defending the world’s largest democracy.
Recent Russian cyber-attacks on public and private U.S. sectors have put cyber security into the forefront of American thought and public concern. While cyber-attacks are aimed hourly at countries, companies, and individuals, accusations of cyber-attacks between the United States and Russia have created a digital Cold War in a race to see who can exploit the most vulnerabilities in the infrastructure and supply chains of the opposing power.
At the beginning of 2020, the United States watched the Kingdom of Thailand experience unprecedented calls for reform of the Thai monarchy. The turmoil in the country prompted the United States to determine how they would both support the human rights of the citizens while also maintaining interests with the current Thai government. Protests in Bangkok against the royal family, specifically King Vajiralongkorn, have been spearheaded by the upcoming generation of Thai young adults. The protesters consistently demand the dissolution of parliament, an end to the intimidation of the people, and a new constitution. In other words, the protesters of the monarchy in Thailand are pro-democracy. Despite the continuation of the protests, the demands seem to be falling on deaf ears. The monarchy has not directly acknowledged these demands from the protesters. Instead, they have sent the military to take back the streets with riot shields, rubber bullets, and water cannons. These protests are taking place mainly in Bangkok around the different college campuses and government monuments. The Royalists, for their part, have not been passively watching on the sidelines during these protests.
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