We will start looking ahead at events to watch in 2013. But before giving my take, I want to point everyone to a wonderfully interactive and insightful look ahead published by the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action.
You can engage their predictions of the major crises risks in 2013 here: http://www.cfr.org/conflict-prevention/preventive-priorities-survey-2013/p29673?cid=nlc-cpa-preventive_action_update-link9-20130110
Their top five crises to worry about (and try to prevent) are:
(1) an Iranian nuclear crisis, such as a surprise advance in Iran’s nuclear weapons/delivery capability followed by an Israeli response
(2) a mass casualty attack on the U.S. homeland or on a treaty ally
(3) a highly disruptive cyberattack on U.S. critical infrastructure
(4) a major erosion of security in Afghanistan resulting from coalition drawdown
(5) intensification of Syria’s civil war, including possible limited external intervention
In my view, (1) is not that likely, as Iran is being cautious in advancing its nuclear program. (2) is not that likely either, as al-Qaeda has been greatly weakened, even though affliate groups keep trying. But (3) is a real risk; we just had a major attack on US banking computer systems, and more and worse is almost surely coming. (4) and (5) seem so likely that we should be preparing contingency plans now!
Take a look; they have a sophisticated threat matrix that is fun to play with.