The Corner

National Security & Defense

Looking Ahead to Some of 2017’s Big Conferences…

The first Morning Jolt of 2017

The Year Ahead

We don’t know exactly what 2017 will bring us, but we know a few key scheduled events and dates. A couple of the things I’ve got marked on the calendar…

January 17-20:  The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Expect a lot of panic and screams, as the world contemplates Brexit, President Trump, populists and nationalist movements rising all over Europe, potential populist wins in French and German presidential elections, the charnel house that is Syria and the refugee waves, and a general uncertainty about whether the global economy is overdue for another recession. For the first time, a Chinese president, Xi Jinping, will attend.

“Oh, Jim, the only good thing to ever come out of the Davos conferences was Jay Nordlinger’s coverage!” The world has thrown down the gauntlet before the globe’s elites. Let’s see how they respond. If there’s anybody in the world who shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by the problems of the world, it’s the crowd at Davos. They’ve got more money, power, resources, influences and connections than all of us. If they want to be leaders, this is the time to step up. Figure out how to steer refugees to countries that speak the same language and require the same skills. Figure out how to turn masses of unskilled workers into skilled workers. Figure out how to make a globalized economy a good deal for almost everyone who’s willing to work.

John Schindler says we’ll see a sudden lurch of progress if the elites of America and Europe to start treating those who disagree with respect:

We must learn to work with moderate nationalists and anti-globalists, who are rising politically across the West. Stop denouncing them as racists and xenophobes, listen to their legitimate concerns, and start cooperating with the reasonable ones against Moscow. Seventy years ago, Washington successfully forged a quiet alliance with the moderate left to fight the Kremlin, and today we must do the same with the West’s moderate right. If we refuse to do so, they will gravitate to the only force which welcomes them, and his name is Vladimir Putin.

February 22-25: The Conservative Political Action Conference, National Harbor, Maryland. And you thought CPAC was dramatic last year! Donald Trump spoke at CPAC for many years until last year; will he address the attendees this year? (I’m betting a video address.) One month into the Trump presidency should still be the honeymoon between Trump and conservatives; there’s a good chance the Supreme Court nominee confirmation will be going on at that date. But will there be conservative grassroots grumbling about a big-spending infrastructure bill? Will there be a sense that the repeal of Obamacare is going to take a lot longer than anyone expected? Will a package of tax cuts be on its way to passage by then?

April 27-30: The National Rifle Association Annual Meeting at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Trump spoke at last year’s convention in Louisville, and the NRA endorsed him there, the organization’s earliest endorsement ever. A projected 80,000 or so gun owners, enthusiasts, and Second Amendment activists are expected to attend. By this point in the year, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is likely to have been confirmed (or less likely, rejected). Will gun owners be cheering the newest Justice? Will the push for concealed carry reciprocity – making a concealed-carry permit that is legal in one state legal in all other states, like with driver’s licenses — be advancing in the new Congress? How about momentum for “Constitutional carry” – the right to carry firearms without a permit?

While Hillary Clinton’s defeat and the elimination of a Hillary-nominated justice represented the biggest win for gun owners in 2016, gun-control advocates did score a few wins. Six new gun laws take effect in California this year. Nevada passed a universal background check measure that covered transactions by private citizens, but the FBI and Nevada’s attorney general deemed it unenforceable because the referendum didn’t include a funding measure. In blue states like Oregon, Democrats are likely to push new gun control laws at the state level.

Sometime in 2017, probably May or June: The 2017 NATO Summit, Brussels, Belgium.

Usually NATO summits come and go with the usual bland speeches and pledges and tributes and photo opportunities. Nope. With a new president who called the alliance “obsolete” and Vladimir Putin’s Russia more aggressive than ever, it’s time for alliance leaders to demonstrate the value of the longstanding institution. Free-riders have to show they’re starting to pull their weight, not just offer more promises.

 Former Pentagon official and Joe Biden national security advisor Julianne Smith puts it:

Think about ways to make it anything but a normal summit. Get rid of the endless rounds of prepared talking points. Engage in candid conversation both at the summit and at the ministerial meetings that precede it. Don’t only think about the alliance’s core message, but engage with the practical aspects of its capabilities: Focus on readiness, on counter anti-access, area denial capabilities, command structure, resilience.

Get creative and act like the future of NATO depends on it. Because, as much as I hate to admit it, it does.

 

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