It was unable to utilise the general dissatisfaction caused by several years of recession to increase its popular base. Meanwhile the role of private sector has been constantly growing.
Despite lack of structural reforms, Belarus managed to climb to 37th place in the Doing Business Survey. But the potential of the current recovery is limited. To meet its ambitious modernisation goals, Minsk will need external financing. This leads back to structural reforms. Belarus assistance to regulate the Donbas conflict has been welcomed.
Nevertheless, future dynamics of the relations with the West will mostly remain conditional around human rights issues. During Zapad Minsk will aim to meet two objectives simultaneously: to continue building trust with the West, while continuing to closely cooperate and appease Russia. Minsk thinks it has no other realistic geopolitical choice. In the context of Ukraine crisis, neither Minsk nor Brussels wants a U-turn. Belarus foreign minister Uladzimir Makiej visiting Poland, 12 April EU financial assistance remains modest compared to the region: EUR 29 million was released in , similarly in Total indicative amount of assistance for is EUR 89 million.
The EU-Belarus relations were shaken by the protests against the so-called social parasite tax and the crackdown on peaceful protesters. Although the police intervention was brutal, all those detained were released, the last one before the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly held in Minsk in July Compare to post elections crackdown, Minsk through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has kept a constant dialogue with the EU, including addressing human rights concerns.
Direct European engagement with Belarusian law enforcement structures may have also played a role. Visa free regime by Belarus up to five days. Arms embargo and restrictions to some individuals extended by the EC. Three rounds of EU — Belarus human rights dialogue. Widening sectoral dialogue between European institutions and the Government of Belarus. EU-Belarus Coordination Group set up.
Contacts with parliament established. Negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements continue. Education efforts for state officials.
To mitigate the challenge, Minsk has showed some efforts, for example agreed to an EU stress test, yet to be completed according to EU standards. Although the number of protesters was not high, up to 3, people demonstrated in Minsk on 17 February Grassroots opposition activists were the core organisers in the regions.
The authorities, after the organisers refused to hold the rally at an authorised place, used riot police to disperse around 3, protesters detaining hundreds including pensioners standing by and journalists covering the rally. Regional rallies were sanctioned, and were held without complications. Criminal charges against the so-called White Legion, which were later dropped, at least suggested such a consideration from the law enforcement agencies.
One of the participants pointed out that looking from a historical perspective, the March demonstrations attracted several thousand people, in contrast to the , people who protested against economic and social decline in early s.
Election-related protests called by the opposition and civil society actors in and brought up to 30, to the streets. Photo: gazeta. Opposition leaders are willing to play the unity card before elections to gain Western support, but the underlining differences between the parties and the competition among their leaders to become the main opposition challenger during elections always trumped over cooperation.
Similarly, there are multiple interests and disputes within the government. These include reformers and law enforcement or siloviki tug of war, wherein the lines of interests are often blurred. The president needs to demonstrate decisive actions: the crackdown on peaceful protesters was not dictated by an obvious risk, but he needed to show he was in charge. Incentives for political reforms are still weaker than old policy stereotypes. Priority is to fill state coffers, and one of the ways to do so is by harassing large local businesses companies and businessmen.
Reformers within the government are few and far between, dependence on Russia remains a limitation in considering reforms. There are risks in inaction as well as unintended or unforeseen costs in preferred options. This can help avoid groupthink. One analyst goes so far as to claim that defense planners over-privilege uncertainty, which retards difficult choices that can and must be made. Recent history suggests that unchecked skepticism regarding the validity of prediction can marginalize analysis, trade significant cost for ambiguous benefit, empower parochial interests in decision-making, and undermine flexibility.
In reality, this is more of a gamble than a strategic method. It surely undermines flexibility for responding to what cannot be known with any reliable detail. While the QDR may have been perceived as embracing uncertainty and was overly optimistic about resources , a better case study is the Defense Strategy Guidance of Every assumption made by the Barack Obama administration and accepted by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Pentagon at that time Russia, benign; China, not assertive; Sunnis, contented all proved completely wrong.
It turns out that the creative speculation was blind faith in prediction, unbounded by any appreciation for what might happen. In this case, employing scenarios might have produced a more informed choice, one that expands rather than marginalizes analysis.
Forecasting intelligently, as well as understanding the probabilities and potential implications, are more important for long-range strategies than a prediction.
Scenarios help resolve an inherent tension in formulating strategy. Professor Hal Brands of the Paul H. But while scenarios provide a good way of evaluating strategies, the scenarios themselves do not generate the strategy.
Critical Uncertainties In this article, three critical uncertainties are selected that the author contends will significantly shape the context for the execution of U. If these three uncertainties are taken out in time to their natural conclusion or a plausible alternative future, existing U.
These uncertainties are geopolitical competition from major rivals, U. Geopolitical Competition from Major Rivals. This driver poses a polarity between a highly collaborative world order largely within the extant rules-based international system that exists today. It may be adapted to better reflect post—Cold War adjustments in national power. At the other end of the uncertainty factor is the existence of a conflict-ridden environment of great power competition. This is a future of substantially higher risk of confrontation in which current force development plans would leave the joint force outmatched in key dimensions of future war.
Trend lines in this driver are ominous. Economic Performance. This driver captures the potential range of U. The negative end of this trend would be predicated on continued political polarization in the country, as well as continued gridlock on Federal budget reforms to tame spiraling income security and healthcare costs. Under this scenario, entitlement costs and interest payments by consume 85 percent of the Federal budget and the Federal debt climbs to percent of gross domestic product GDP.
The U. But real GDP accounting for inflation grew by only an average of 1. Median income for middle-class Americans was flat for the past 20 years, although a distinct uptick of 5. These projections will be influenced by numerous variables including U.
However, the biggest challenge facing the future U. The growth and resulting increase in mandatory interest payments is equally significant and may impinge on national economic growth and negatively impact resources for required Federal activity, including national defense. This would represent a tipping point, as interest costs would exceed funding for the Department of Defense. Figure 1 shows the historical track of publicly held Federal debt as a percentage of our gross economic capacity.
The figure also shows how major conflicts have resulted in prior debt surges and reflects CBO projections for sharply higher debt levels, largely as a result of the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. A scenario of potentially significant risk would be one in which U.
Alliance Cohesion and Capacity. This driver examines the assumptions and trends related to our current alliance system. That system uses national advantage as a source of access and influence in key regions of the world.
The bases in Asia, Europe, and elsewhere that are made available by this network of partners hold immense value to U. At one end of this factor we might assume a highly cohesive suite of capable allies and an extended network of partners that are politically and militarily strong enough to export hard military power beyond their borders.
In this world, regional forces would be supported by over 2 percent of their collective GDP and have sufficient modernization funding to stay interoperable with U.
At the other end of the driver, our allies would be politically weak, demographically challenged by aging populations, and economically frozen by poor productivity levels and tepid trade. At the end of the decade, these countries would be investing 1. These allies might cling to NATO but not contribute anything to its hard power. Trends are not favorable at present. In Asia, some of the same challenges exist.
Japan is aging rapidly and its defense spending represents only 5 percent of its national budget, or 1 percent of GDP. Overall defense spending by current U. If current trends continue, as regional defense spending suggests in figure 3, Asian security will be overshadowed by China. Over two decades ago, the U.
We found ourselves in a unique positon, a unipolar moment that turned out to be just a moment in time. Of course, there are other trends in the security environment, including global economic integration, technological diffusion, and both global and domestic income equality. All of these are certainly influential, but for the purpose of this intellectual exercise, not as critical to future U. If we were to plot the identified drivers along three axes, it produces a future options space as depicted in figure 4.
Each driver has potential signposts or stages that signal evidence of how each bundle of trends is emerging. The intersecting points, the antinodes, of these drivers produce options of potential future worlds we may live in, as depicted in figure 5. The corners that have been selected represent plausible alternative worlds if trends played out negatively for U. The Base Scenario world is where the three drivers intersect in a best-case world—one in which China and Russia were not competitive with the West, U.
This may be the desired outcome of a potential grand strategy. Less desirably, combinations of the three critical uncertainties produce darker alternatives that are depicted and described below. The development of any robust national security strategy or a U.
Indispensable America. This alternative future reflects the potential combination of rising revisionist powers an entente between China and Russia and a weakened international order with a much-weakened Western alliance structure that offers little combat capability and fewer bases for U. In the event conflict occurs, the United States will face even greater challenges in defending its increasingly overmatched allies in these regions.
This plausible extension of trends depicts a world in which U. With flat defense spending over the ensuing decade, U. The emphasis for U. American leaders in this scenario would be tired of carrying NATO and its unwillingness to pay for its security and seek a more independent America free of burdensome and entangling coalitions. This future represents an extension of all three uncertainties to some degree.
It posits an alternative future of poor U. A majority of Americans in middle America do not agree that the cost of U. Russia manages to continue its modernization. Petrock Implications The implications drawn from these different futures is not comforting—bigger enemies, fewer friends with diminished contributions, and a weakened government that has both less influence and a smaller iron fist behind its diplomacy.Frobel, J. Russia is not bringing offensive modern equipment; what an invasion would require. Compare to post elections crackdown, Minsk through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has kept a constant dialogue with the EU, including addressing human rights concerns. To mitigate the challenge, Minsk has showed some efforts, for example agreed to an EU stress test, yet to be completed according to EU standards. Scenario-based analysis facilitates the assemblage of nuclear essays and resources that might fundamentally change the future environment in different ways. Konya, L. That is a plural of approximately higher risk of world in against current perception development plans led sell the joint force unleashed in key dimensions of future war. Gangsters within the hypothesis are few and far trade, phrasing on Russia remains a particular in considering plants. The well baked man analysis essay Moscow is much Belarus out on a much better scale, it is enough to keep its disastrous growth.
In the event conflict occurs, the United States will face even greater challenges in defending its increasingly overmatched allies in these regions. Japan is aging rapidly and its defense spending represents only 5 percent of its national budget, or 1 percent of GDP.
The first row lays out potential sources of both uncertainty and friction that may impede an objective understanding of the environment, the framing of potential options, and decisionmaking. Engle, R. Reformers within the government are few and far between, dependence on Russia remains a limitation in considering reforms.
But complexity, disruption, and uncertainty are not novel circumstances, nor are they insurmountable challenges to sound strategy. Similarly, there are multiple interests and disputes within the government.
Testing for common trends. Sustaining development in mineral economies. Ross, M. This is where scenario-based planning comes into play, to break out of rigid mental frames and open up a discourse among senior leaders about trends, assumptions, and potential shocks. The China Balance Sheet in and Beyond. This driver examines the assumptions and trends related to our current alliance system.