A new year offers a fresh start, an opportunity to reminisce about the year past, and to set goals for the future.
2014 was a busy year. Vladimir Putin hosted the world at Sochi, then reacted to a popular revolt in Ukraine by supporting a counter-revolution and annexing Crimea. Other civil wars raged in Libya and Syria, while Egypt’s military quashed any remaining semblance of democracy that had survived from the 2011 protests. The not-destroyed insurgency returned to Iraq with gusto, fueled by American weapons left behind by an Iraqi army unwilling to fight. And the United States continued its habit of conducting numerous tactical operations abroad without any overarching strategy.
The news wasn’t all bad: Germany and the world celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall; President Obama proposed normalizing relations with Cuba; and NATO operations in Afghanistan have (kind of) ended.
The lessons from these episodes suggest some useful resolutions for U.S. policymakers: