Progress Foreign Policy (Journal of Foreign Policy app ) weekly summary of news of national security, defense and cyber security correspondents Jack Dutch foreign policy and Ruby Grammar.
Under the heading “Biden’s blind spots in foreign policy crises,” a briefing this week cautioned that “everyone in Washington seems to be focusing on China while there are some mounting crises that could erupt while they are heedless.”
The two correspondents indicated that every president comes to office with grand plans for the foreign policy agenda, then is shocked by reality and crises erupt out of nowhere.
They pointed to the large collapses looming on the horizon, as seen by national security officials, experts and others familiar with the insides of Washington, about the fermenting trouble spots that haunt them.
Among the crises that the Biden administration may face is a possible collapse in Ethiopia, the magazine says. Many American officials made a comparison between Ethiopia and Yugoslavia in 1992, just before the collapse and sparked a series of wars and gruesome ethnic cleansing campaigns.
Although the analogy is incomplete, the two correspondents say, it highlights the extent of concern for some in Washington about the stability of the most populous country in East Africa, especially in the wake of the conflict in Tigray and the escalating tensions between the Oromia and Amhara regions.
As Biden’s new special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Geoffrey Feltman, has told, the collapse of Ethiopia could make Syria look like “fun.” Likewise, the population of Yugoslavia before the war was about 23 million, which is about the same as the population of Syria before the civil war (Ethiopia had a population of 110 million).
Lebanon is also one of the countries that the magazine’s report warns of collapsing, as it faces a severe monetary crisis and an electricity shortage that could leave the country in darkness later this month.
The US State Department revealed, in a report issued last year, that the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria is making matters more difficult for the Lebanese government, by raising exchange rates and helping Iran-backed Hezbollah to exert pressure.
This means, as the summary said, that any instability in Lebanon could lead to rapid cascading effects across an already volatile region, threatening the security of Israel and the safety of the nearly two million who sought refuge in Lebanon.
The Sahel region – Foreign Policy says – is also no less dangerous to US national security. Western powers have relied on the old ruler of Chad, Idriss Deby, to support them, but his death last month left a potential vacuum of power and a risk of deepening political instability that could worsen rapidly.
Collapse in Libya is a scenario the report warns against, as the new government is still weak and fragile, and if it collapses, the country may return to square one.
Violence in this country has exacerbated the refugee crisis in Europe, provided fertile ground for extremist groups, and exported instability to other parts of Africa, including the Sahel region.