haass166_ROBERTO SCHMIDTAFP via Getty Images_UScapitoljanuary6 Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

America’s Year of Living Dangerously

If the United States is distracted and divided over the results of the presidential election in November, it will lack the focus and unity to act in the world. America’s adversaries could be tempted to take advantage and press to achieve long-sought objectives.

NEW YORK – More than six dozen countries will hold elections this year, but none will be more consequential than the one scheduled for November in the United States. After all, what happens in the US invariably has outsize impact, given America’s economic, military, and diplomatic power and influence. Countries in both Europe and the Indo-Pacific count on the US to guarantee their security – a guarantee they have not had reason to question for three-quarters of a century.

Moreover, unlike most presidential elections in American history, this is one in which the differences between the two likely major party candidates far outweigh their similarities. Much the same can be said about which of the two parties wins control of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

What makes the coming year so fraught for America and the rest of the world, though, is the reality that American democracy faces multiple hurdles. Indeed, the near future consists of three distinct phases, each with its own challenges and dangers.