Tensions continue to heat up between the US and North Korea. The new US administration’s strengthening of alliances with Middle East monarchies and Israel has expanded war fronts. The trigger points for World War III grow.
Even as war drums beat louder, the economic struggles of many countries are stirring civil unrest. Dissatisfaction with the power elite in governments and the billionaire class is deepening and widening.
As we have repeatedly forecast, when leaders and policies fail, and the people become angered and disenfranchised, our leaders take us to war.
That trend line is forming today.
US-led coalition attacks and troop build-ups have resulted in mass destruction and thousands of Iraqi civilians killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. The Mosul campaign, which the military predicted would end months ago, has accelerated with no end in sight. President Trump has filled his administration with military personnel and has empowered them to take unilateral military action.
Images of Syrian suffering or dead babies who were victims of alleged chemical-weapon attacks orchestrated by the Assad government prompted Trump to act. The US fired 59 missiles into Syria, despite a lack of evidence. Justifying its claims, the US has massively armed rebel forces while increasing troop strength and air strikes against a sovereign nation and against international law.
A day before Trump made Israel his second stop through the Middle East in May, the country’s security cabinet announced the creation of a committee charged with legalizing Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank. Illegal Jewish settlements have been expanding in recent months in direct defiance of international law. And their anti-Iranian war talk grows louder.
The war in Yemen that has killed over 10,000 has escalated again, intensifying the humanitarian catastrophe in the Middle East’s poorest country, with 10 million people suffering from starvation. The recent Saudi-led bombing campaign has the full support of the US military, which has been conducting air and drone strikes.
On the first stop of Trump’s first international road trip, the president made an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth $350 billion over the next decade. The deal, leaders said, would significantly enhance Saudi Arabia’s ability to combat terrorism and respond to rising conflicts in the region. Thus, we expect they will expand military aggression beyond their involvement in the civil war that is devastating Yemen.
Under the all-too-familiar War on Terror guise, this time targeting al-Shabaab, the US, for the first time since 1993, sent dozens of troops to Somalia to train and provide military equipment to the Somali National Army. Trump, in March, signed an agreement identifying part of Somalia as an “area of active hostilities.”
In response to massive military exercises by the US and its allies, which North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un feels threatened by, he has increased ballistic missile tests. In response, Trump has stated all options are on the table when dealing with North Korea.
Fifteen years and counting, with hundreds of thousands dead, America’s Afghan War has no end in sight. Now, with the Taliban gaining strength and gaining territory from the US-installed government, the US is poised to increase its troop strength.
South China Sea
Trump’s senior adviser, Steve Bannon, famously proclaimed that China and the US would go to war over islands in the South China Sea in the next 10 years. China claims the islands belong to them. Recently, the US sent a naval patrol that came within 12 nautical miles of a disputed reef. In response, a Chinese guided missile destroyer “expelled” the US ship, warning it to leave the area. Even the Philippines has been sending troops to an island it controls. Troops from the US and Japan as well as some European countries routinely conduct drills in the region. China has made it clear it will react to any military threat.
While presidential candidate Marine Le Pen lost in the election in France to liberal Emmanuel Macron, the populist movement she led will continue. As evidenced by voter turnout, the lowest in nearly half a century, neither of the candidates inspired the population. That one out of every three voters cast a ballot for Le Pen is reflective of how far the movement has evolved — and its future will depend on the strengths and weaknesses of the economy.
Venezuela is in economic and political crisis. The lower oil prices go, the deeper its oil-dependent economy will sink. Protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro are intensifying and becoming more frequent. With unemployment rates rocketing past 25 percent, worsening food shortages and consumer prices soaring 700 percent year over year, protests have become increasingly more violent. Scores have been killed and personal freedoms curtailed. Since April 1, 63 people have been killed in street protests.
Since 2015, when political centrist Mauricio Macri won the presidency, high expectations for a strong economic recovery have failed. As its middle class living standard decreases, strikes and protests are increasing. Consumer prices rose 40 percent last year, while inflation has increased 27.5 percent. The International Monetary Fund is forecasting moderate growth, but we forecast that growth will be too moderate to prevent further protests and civil unrest.
Suffering through the worst recession in its history, Brazil continues to decline both economically and politically, as the popularity of its new president, Michel Temer, dives amidst a political corruption scandal. In just one day, Brazil’s stock market closed down 8.8 percent and the downward spiral continues in response to the scandal. Protests and civil disorder continue to escalate. We forecast that will continue since there are no prospects for dynamic economic growth or political solutions.
President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in Mindanao after clashes between government troops and Islamic terrorists. Duterte has threatened to greatly expand martial law across the nation. He has broad support. Thus there will be little resistance.
An important US ally that hosts the US’ Fifth Fleet, the civil unrest in Bahrain during the Arab Spring is again flaring up. The Sunni monarchy is battling against the Shiite majority in its fight against oppression and submission. This may be a warning sign for Arab Spring uprisings recurring in other Middle East nations.
Since 2014, when Ukraine’s democratically elected government was overthrown in a coup supported by the US and Europe, the country has been engulfed in civil war. Crimeans in East Ukraine rejected the new government and voted in favor of annexation. Over 10,000 lives have been lost and Ukraine’s economy is in shambles, a harbinger of more suffering to come.