The latest edition of Strategic Survey offers impartial analysis of the events of the year that shaped relations between major powers. It includes essays on the future of the World Trade Organisation, electoral disruption and the liberal order, urbanisation and violence, and the resurgence of information warfare. It also features illuminating infographics on North Korea’s illicit economic network, constitutional change and conflict in Turkey, and the burgeoning food-security crisis.

Strategic Survey 2017

Strategic Survey 2017: The Annual Assessment of Geopolitics provides objective, in-depth analysis of the global political and security environment.

North Korea’s nuclear-weapons and missile programmes proceeded at a troubling pace in the year to mid-2017 despite the expansion of punitive UN sanctions, pressure from Beijing and warnings from Washington. The presidency of Donald Trump cast doubt on the United States’ commitment to the global trading system and decades-long alliances. The European Union remained preoccupied with internal challenges, not least increasing electoral volatility among its member states. Russia reasserted itself as a major power in the Middle East and conducted a wide-ranging information campaign to destabilise and deter its opponents in the West. Meanwhile, China became increasingly extrovert and confident in its foreign policy, maintaining expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea and pursuing its economic interests through the Belt and Road Initiative. Against this background, most major powers appeared to have a declining capacity to shape the political and security environment in their favour.

The book includes thematic essays on:

  • the future of the World Trade Organization
  • electoral disruption and the liberal order
  • urbanisation and violence
  • the resurgence of information warfare

The Strategic Geography section includes maps on North Korea’s illicit economic network, constitutional change and conflict in Turkey, and the burgeoning food-security crisis.

The Drivers of Strategic Change section identifies the most important overarching trends in each region using select data and other indicators.

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  • Chapter 1: Prospectives

    The year to mid-2017 witnessed a dramatic fracturing of alliances and strategic relationships internationally that previously had been held to be safely solid. Substantial efforts will be required in 2018 and beyond to repair the damage done to these alliances and partnerships.   The NATO Alliance was buffeted by very substantial warnings from the United States that Washington’s support for the Alliance would be moderated unless rapid, real increases were made...
  • Chapter 2: Drivers of Strategic Change

    In the following pages, IISS experts seek to highlight developments and themes that have the potential to drive strategic change in individual regions, and in the world as a whole. They do not offer forecasts of specific future events: this annual book remains a review of international affairs covering a 12-month period, in this case from mid-2016 to mid-2017. However, regional experts use their analysis of developments in this and...
  • Chapter 3, Part I: Future of the World Trade Organisation

    The foundation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995 was less a birth than a transformation. The event created a permanent, international organisation from a lesser-known but long-standing multilateral agreement on global trade. In the aftermath of the Second World War, major industrialised economies met routinely and developed a sustainable, rules-based and non-discriminatory trading system designed to prevent a repeat of the nationalist, protectionist mistakes of the Great Depression. Twenty-three...
  • Chapter 3, Part II: Electoral Disruption and the Liberal Order

    Strategic Survey 2017: The Annual Assessment of Geopolitics provides objective, in-depth analysis of the global political and security environment. North Korea’s nuclear-weapons and missile programmes proceeded at a troubling pace in the year to mid-2017 despite the expansion of punitive UN sanctions, pressure from Beijing and warnings from Washington. The presidency of Donald Trump cast doubt on the United States’ commitment to the global trading system and decades-long alliances. The European...
  • Chapter 3, Part III: Urbanisation, Violence and City-Led Policymaking

    Strategic Survey 2017: The Annual Assessment of Geopolitics provides objective, in-depth analysis of the global political and security environment. North Korea’s nuclear-weapons and missile programmes proceeded at a troubling pace in the year to mid-2017 despite the expansion of punitive UN sanctions, pressure from Beijing and warnings from Washington. The presidency of Donald Trump cast doubt on the United States’ commitment to the global trading system and decades-long alliances. The European...
  • Chapter 3, Part IV: Resurgence of Information Warfare

    Strategic Survey 2017: The Annual Assessment of Geopolitics provides objective, in-depth analysis of the global political and security environment. North Korea’s nuclear-weapons and missile programmes proceeded at a troubling pace in the year to mid-2017 despite the expansion of punitive UN sanctions, pressure from Beijing and warnings from Washington. The presidency of Donald Trump cast doubt on the United States’ commitment to the global trading system and decades-long alliances. The European...
  • Chapter 4: Asia-Pacific

    The ramifications of China’s extrovert and confident foreign policy, together with concerns over the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear-weapons and missile programmes, continued to dominate the Asia-Pacific security landscape in the year to mid-2017. However, from late 2016 onwards, the approach of an extraordinary new US administration led by Donald Trump created uncertainty and complex problems for the region’s states, particularly Washington’s allies and security partners. Behind China’s policies...
  • Chapter 5: South Asia and Afghanistan

    India’s economy experienced two major changes in the year to mid-2017. The first came on 8 November, when the government suddenly demonetised the country’s 500- and 1,000-rupee notes; the second on 1 July, with its enactment of the Goods and Services Tax. The demonetisation, which affected 86% of all currency in circulation, was a bold but abrupt attempt to curb corruption by voiding so-called ‘black money’ (illegal or unaccounted-for currency...
  • Chapter 6: Sub-Saharan Africa

    The countries of sub-Saharan Africa experienced a shift in some aspects of their security environment in the year to mid-2017. Funding constraints on several of the region’s main powers led to an increased focus on multilateral responses to democratic failures and security threats such as insurgencies. Meanwhile, the election of Donald Trump as US president raised the prospect of a shift in Washington’s engagement with the region. Judging by his...
  • Chapter 7: Middle East and North Africa

    The Middle East and North Africa remained in disorder during the year to mid-2017. Intense competition between, and hedging by, the region’s powers made for a troubled strategic landscape with sustained conflict exacting a rising humanitarian cost. Wars raged in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. The rapid erosion of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, accelerated territorial and political opportunism wherever the group was driven back; Turkey’s...
  • Chapter 8: Russia and Eurasia

    Throughout the year to mid-2017, Eurasian politics continued to be dominated by Russia’s stand-off with the United States and Europe, and Russia’s involvement in the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. Russia and the West viewed each other as a defence priority, if not an outright threat. In an updated foreign-policy concept released in November 2016, Moscow accused the Euro-Atlantic community of promoting instability and regional conflict, warning that...
  • Chapter 9: Europe

    Populism, the threat of EU disintegration and the impact of the Trump administration on the transatlantic relationship dominated European politics in the year to mid-2017. The challenges posed by large-scale migration, financial fragility and terrorism also continued to draw significant attention from policymakers. Against this backdrop, Europe’s political leaders worked to craft a compelling vision for the future. Within the European Union, they sought to explain the continuing relevance of...
  • Chapter 10: Latin America

    On the night of 2 October 2016, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and his administration received the shock results of a national referendum on a peace accord with FARC. Having begun in secret in Havana years earlier, the process that led to the plebiscite was designed to end Colombia’s 52-year conflict with the rebel group. Santos had thrown his entire political weight behind the accord, and with its signing won...
  • Chapter 11: North America

    A historically divisive and ugly presidential campaign; the shock election of Donald Trump as president; subsequent months of turbulent politics, featuring scandal and erratic presidential pronouncements but little legislative action: these were the chief elements of an extraordinarily eventful and disruptive period for the United States during the year to mid-2017. They left other governments around the world unsure whether long-standing tenets and assumptions about the US still held, and whether...
  • Strategic Geography 2017

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