The goal of shaping the international strategic environment seems out of reach even for the larger powers, unless resources are made available to meet the complex and hybrid threats that have emerged.  

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 in European defence expenditure, and by uncertainty over the approach that the new president would take to Russia. European and US tensions with Turkey placed in serious doubt Turkey’s reliability as a NATO ally. In the Pacific region, the US decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement shocked America’s Asian partners, and gave China a freer hand to woo neighbours to its economic vision, not least around the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The admission of Australia, New Zealand and Singapore (along with Canada) as associate members of the Pacific Alliance – comprising Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru – kept alive the flame of trans-Pacific trading arrangements, but at a rather humbler level.

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