Conflicts to Watch in 2020

Preventive Priorities Survey Results
Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

Newswise — Each year since 2008, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action (CPA) asks foreign policy experts to rank thirty ongoing or potential conflicts based on how likely they are to occur or escalate in the next year, and their possible impact on U.S. interests.

This year, “perhaps as an indication of rising concern about the state of the world, respondents rated more threats as likely to require a U.S. military response for 2020 than in any other Preventive Priorities Survey (PPS) from the last eleven years,” notes Paul B. Stares, CPA director and General John W. Vessey senior fellow for conflict prevention. “Of the thirty conflicts in this year’s survey, only two were judged as having a low likelihood of occurring in 2020.”

Experts continue to rank threats to the U.S. homeland as top concerns. For the second year in a row, a highly disruptive cyberattack on critical infrastructure, including electoral systems, was the top-ranked homeland security–­­related concern. A mass-casualty terrorist attack was a close second. A confrontation between the United States and Iran, North Korea, or with China in the South China Sea remain the biggest concerns overseas.

Many of the conflicts identified in previous years have remained concerns for 2020. For the first time, however, four threats from the Western Hemisphere were considered, and three were ranked as top concerns: organized crime–related violence in Mexico, the risk of mass migration from the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras), and an intensification of the economic crisis and political instability in Venezuela.

Similar to previous years, experts judged Africa and the Middle East as the most crisis-prone regions in 2020. However, only one conflict was ranked as having a high impact on the United States: an armed confrontation between Iran and the United States or one of its allies.

Thirteen conflicts were identified as top priorities for the United States next year:

Impact: High
Likelihood: Moderate

  • A highly disruptive cyberattack on U.S. critical infrastructure, including its electoral systems
  • A mass-casualty terrorist attack on the United States or a treaty ally directed or inspired by a foreign terrorist organization
  • An armed confrontation between Iran and the United States or one of its allies over Iran’s involvement in regional conflicts and support of militant proxy groups
  • A severe crisis on the Korean Peninsula following the collapse of the denuclearization negotiations and renewed long-range missile testing
  • An armed confrontation over disputed maritime areas in the South China Sea between China and one or more Southeast Asian claimants (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam)
  • A severe crisis between Russia and Ukraine following increased fighting in eastern Ukraine and/or a major military clash in contested areas
  • Deteriorating economic and security conditions in the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras), resulting in increased migration outflows from the region

Impact: Moderate
Likelihood: High

  • Intensification of organized crime–related violence in Mexico
  • Increasing political instability in Iraq exacerbated by underlying sectarian tensions and worsening economic conditions
  • Escalation of violence between Turkey and various Kurdish armed groups within Turkey and/or in Syria
  • Continued violent reimposition of government control in Syria leading to further civilian casualties and heightened tensions among external parties to the conflict
  • Increased violence and political instability in Afghanistan resulting in further advances by the Taliban insurgency and potential government collapse
  • Intensifying economic crisis and political instability in Venezuela leading to further violent unrest and increased refugee outflows

View the full results and prior surveys at www.cfr.org/pps.

CPA’s Global Conflict Tracker plots ongoing conflicts on an interactive map paired with background information, CFR analysis, and news updates.

The Preventive Priorities Survey was made possible by a generous grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the Center for Preventive Action.

Filters close

Showing results

110 of 6051
Newswise: COVID-19 update: coping with increased cases, breakthrough infections, national masking mandates and vaccine requirements
Released: 29-Jul-2021 4:05 PM EDT
COVID-19 update: coping with increased cases, breakthrough infections, national masking mandates and vaccine requirements
Keck Medicine of USC

Keck Medicine of USC experts speak out on the continued physical and emotional consequences of COVID-19

Newswise: Federal Government Commitment Necessary to Protect Voting Rights for Historically Marginalized People, Fraga Testifies
Released: 29-Jul-2021 3:55 PM EDT
Federal Government Commitment Necessary to Protect Voting Rights for Historically Marginalized People, Fraga Testifies
University of Notre Dame

On July 27, Luis Fraga, the Rev. Donald P. McNeill, C.S.C., Professor of Transformative Latino Leadership at the University of Notre Dame, testified via Zoom at the House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties hearing on “The Need to Enhance the Voting Rights Act: Practice-Based Coverage.”

Released: 27-Jul-2021 12:05 PM EDT
Government Law Center Releases New Explainer on NY Redistricting
Albany Law School

The Government Law Center at Albany Law School has just released its latest explainer to help attorneys, politicians, and the public at large understand the complexities of New York’s redistricting process.

Released: 26-Jul-2021 12:40 PM EDT
GW Politics Poll Finds Varying Confidence in State and Local Elections
George Washington University

Democratic voters continue to have more faith in state and local elections than Republicans, according to new data from the George Washington University Politics Poll.

Newswise: Radiation Oncologists Urge Congress to Reverse Proposed CMS Cuts and Create More Equity in Access to Cancer Treatments
Released: 26-Jul-2021 11:30 AM EDT
Radiation Oncologists Urge Congress to Reverse Proposed CMS Cuts and Create More Equity in Access to Cancer Treatments
American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO)

A record number of radiation oncologists met with Congressional leaders and staff last week as part of the largest American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Advocacy Day in the Society's history. The physicians urged Congressional leaders to intervene in response to consecutive Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposals that call for significant cuts to radiation oncology facilities.

Newswise:Video Embedded newswise-expert-panels-on-covid-19-pandemic-notable-excerpts-quotes-and-videos-available
VIDEO
Released: 26-Jul-2021 10:00 AM EDT
Newswise Expert Panels on COVID-19 Pandemic: Notable excerpts, quotes and videos available
Newswise

Newswise is hosting a series of Expert Panels discussion on unique aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This tip sheet includes some notable quotes from the panelists.

22-Jul-2021 8:00 AM EDT
National Poll: Parents Split on Whether to Vaccinate Younger Kids Against COVID
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

Many parents are missing opportunities to discuss questions and concerns about the COVID vaccine for kids with a doctor.

Released: 20-Jul-2021 4:30 PM EDT
Small-Scale Worker Resistance Impacts Food Delivery Economy in China
Cornell University

Research from Cornell University has revealed a new form of bargaining power among Chinese platform-based food delivery workers, who conduct invisible mini-strikes by logging out of apps and airing grievances over.


Showing results

110 of 6051

close
1.31156