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Activists light candles to spell the phrase "Safe Passage" in remembrance of the migrants who died in the Mediterranean Sea in front of the German parliament, Berlin, Dec. 15, 2016 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

Thinking Beyond Worst-Case Scenarios for 2017

Ellen Laipson Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017

The drama and disruptions of the year just ended fill some with dread for the new year. Will the challenges of domestic polarization and a tilt in international influence toward the nondemocratic powers of the East only worsen? Without sounding too naïve, it’s possible to imagine outcomes that are not the worst-case scenarios for three of the world’s enduring problems: the European refugee crisis, the Syrian civil war and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The past year has been full of tumult, domestically in the U.S. and several major Western powers, as well as on the international stage. The election of Donald Trump as U.S. president startled and frightened half the American electorate. Russian policies have seemingly triumphed over American preferences in Syria. And uncertainties about power in the international system continue to grow. Some have already concluded that 2017 will be as bad if not worse than the year just past. ...

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