Russia, ISIS, North Korea, Iran, and China.
Those five represent the top of most lists for the last decade with respect to U.S. foreign policy challenges. Four years ago, you could argue that ISIS was the most pressing and North Korea the most volatile.
Today, after a reversal of the Obama era policies by the Trump Administration, there is little doubt that all of them remain significant concerns. However, two of those are endangered of dropping to the bottom of the list if not POSSIBLY off the list to a more secondary status.
The World knows of North Korea’s about face on a number of issues and the upcoming summit between the leaders of the two-countries in Singapore in June 12th along with the release of hostages. While there remains a long way to go, there is little doubt North Korea/U.S. relations are substantially better than they have been in decades. It may well be that a more cooperative era is here to stay.
Iran and Russia now clearly outrank North Korea as immediate foreign policy concerns and North Korea is no longer tops on the volatile list – although that is not to say North Korea doesn’t remain a potentially dangerous country.
As for ISIS, as the recent capture of the 5 Top ISIS officials demonstrates, consistent with their mounting losses, they no longer are the most pressing foreign policy issue the United States faces. Again, that is not to declare victory. However, ISIS is not in your TV room like they were in 2014 and their threat is significantly diminished in the view of most.
Even the NY Times describes the recent capture of top ISIS leaders this way:
“[It] represents a significant intelligence victory for the American-led coalition fighting the extremist group and underscores the strengthening relationship between Washington and Baghdad.”
That headline was not possible just four years ago.
We now have more than hope that the trend line with respect to ISIS will continue in that direction. The same can be said for North Korea as the nature of our Top 5 foreign policy concerns shifts if not become significantly diminished.