The U.S.'s foreign policy panjandrums have determined what are the most likely global crises facing the U.S. in 2014 and have found that the Caucasus and Central Asia pose almost no threat to U.S. interests.
The Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S.'s most prestigious foreign policy think tank, has released its annual Preventative Priorities Survey for 2014. The survey, CFR says, "seeks to help policymakers choose among competing conflict prevention demands by offering what is essentially a risk assessment of the United States’ geopolitical environment over the next twelve months." It does so by first crowdsourcing a list of 30 potential crisis scenarios, then polling experts and policymakers as to how likely the threat of a crisis is, and how much of a threat to U.S. interests the crisis would be. The only Eurasian scenario to make the top 30 is "an outbreak of military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh," and that was ranked in the lowest possible tier as both a low risk of happening and posing a minor threat to U.S. interests.
The survey also asked the respondents to suggest other possible scenarios, and of the handful that CFR said were mentioned more than others included some more Eurasian scenarios: "rising political instability in Russia," "possible Russian intervention in Georgia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet states," and "rising political instability in Kyrgyzstan."
The Economist Intelligence Unit, meanwhile, released another list looking at 2014's global risks from a somewhat different perspective, assessing how likely an outbreak of "social unrest" is over the next year in 150 countries. It sounds like we're in for a bumpy ride overall: 65 countries around the world are deemed a "high" or "very high" risk of social unrest. And here, our region is somewhat better represented: Uzbekistan is listed as one of 19 countries at "very high risk," while Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan all rate as "high risk" countries. (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia all are at "medium risk."
Coming soon: The Bug Pit's own (highly subjective) risk assessment for 2014.