Alex WilnerBy Alex Wilner, Jan. 16, 2017

The world is an increasingly messy place. Diplomatic relations between the major global powers – the United States, China, Russia, and the Europeans – are strained. Continued American leadership in military and economic affairs is uncertain: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) wobbles as a result. Armed brinkmanship in the Pacific, competition in the Arctic, and even open conflict in Europe remain distinct possibilities. Meanwhile, militant organizations control large swaths of territory in parts of North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Mass-casualty terrorist attacks in the West have become a common occurrence. And cyber threats, from the exfiltration of sensitive data to attacks on critical infrastructure, continue to proliferate.

With the Global Security Look Ahead project, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI) dives headfirst into this complexity. We asked seven scholars from Canada and around the world to provide us with an expert assessment of the major threats and concerns Canadians, and their friends and allies, are likely to face in the coming year. MLI is going beyond today’s headline to provide Canadians with a glimpse of tomorrow’s security and policy concerns. Our goal is to cast our gaze forward, to provide Canadians with strategic guidance to the conflicts, challenges, and issues emerging on the horizon.

Each article in this series explores a distinct and timely issue. Stéfanie von Hlatky from Queen’s University assesses NATO’s nuclear and conventional deterrent capabilities for warding off Russian challenges in Europe and beyond. Turning their attention northward, Aurel Braun and Stephen Blank – from University of Toronto and the American Foreign Policy Council, respectively – gauge Russian ambition in the Arctic. Carleton University’s Alex Wilner explores the counterterrorism and national security consequences of the Islamic State’s defeat and collapse in Syria and Iraq. Stephen Saideman, also from Carleton University, discusses the effects a Donald Trump Presidency might have on US strategic planning and foreign policy. Renowned strategist Edward Luttwak from the Center for Strategic & International Studies assesses the geostrategic consequences of Chinese expansionism in the Pacific. And Ray Boisvert, formerly from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), describes various security considerations and strategies for addressing cyber security.

Complexity need not lead to strategic confusion. That contemporary global affairs have turned difficult, even chaotic at times, suggests only that Canadians need to redouble their efforts to better identify their priorities and secure their interests. MLI’s Global Security Look Ahead provides some much needed clarity on the emerging issues that require greater Canadian attention.