2010 is barely two weeks old and has already begun with a bang. The 7.0 earthquake in Haiti has devastated a country that was already in dire straights. Suicide bombings have already killed hundreds in Pakistan, Iraq and Russia. In many ways, 2010 is looking very similar to 2009.
But what can we hope for in the year to come? While international policy is hard to predict, especially given the ever changing economic, political and financial climates worldwide, certain expectations can be made. 2010 should be the year of learning, by looking to past mistakes in order to restructure the future.
#1: US presence in the Middle East
With Barrak Obama’s pledge to withdraw U.S. military from Iraq by the end of August, the question turns to the future of Iraq. No announcements have been made about what post-withdrawal plans look like, but Obama must ensure that this step does not leave Iraq even more unstable.
The plan to send more troops to Afghanistan, meanwhile, should be done carefully. Obama should look to his predecessor to see what went wrong and what was done right. The last thing the region needs is another Iraq.
#2: The Role of the G8 and the G20
The two G20 meetings taking place in 2010 (one in Canada and one in South Korea) will set the stage for recovering from the global economic crisis. Agendas will focus on rebuilding the economy. Here, every sector that was affected by the crisis – whether they were public or private – must look at their risks and how to mitigate them. The G20 has always been seen as a place for debate and change, and the 2010 meetings will be no exception. This year, we can hope that the decisions made are implemented.
#3: Iran, Iran, Iran
The June 2009 election protests brought the focus on Iran for something other than their nuclear plans. Unfortunately, two weeks of continuous protesting did not change the political landscape much: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is still the (disputed) president and the government continued to run as if nothing had happened. However, the protests have continued, and 2010 will likely bring more dissent from the people. The people of Iran have shown that they are tired of the government in place. While an overthrow of the government (a la 1979) is unlikely, we can expect to see continued resistance from the citizens of Iran.
#4: Revamping Disaster Policy
The response to the devastating earthquake that shook Haiti has been met with criticism and comparisons to the response after 2006’s Hurricane Katrina. Discussion of not enough aid entering the country, confusion over the relief supplies that have made it in and medical teams “abandoning” their posts have all been covered in the major media. Post-disaster situations are always stressful and there is no “one size fits all” plan for response. But action should be taken in order to get relief supplies into disaster zones quicker.
Some steps have already been taken – in 2007, several logistic companies signed an agreement with the United Nations to assist with delivering supplies during natural disasters. More must be done. After the bulk of relief gets to Haiti, the various players should get together to discuss what more can be done to ensure relief efforts are done as quickly and efficiently as possible.