Risk of confrontation between major powers up sharply: survey

Risk of confrontation between major powers up sharply: survey

Experts and officials around the world are anticipating an increased risk of economic and political confrontations — including military clashes — in 2018, according to a new survey.

The World Economic Forum's annual Global Risks Report, which includes responses from nearly 1,000 experts in fields such as government, academia and business, found an increasing expectation that geopolitical tensions would worsen in the coming year.

Among the survey's respondents, 93 percent said they anticipate worsening "political or economic confrontations/frictions between major powers," while nearly 80 percent said they expected the risk of military conflict between countries to increase.


That expectation, the report assessed, is driven by a decreasing willingness by some world leaders to abide by international norms and rules. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE, for example, has unilaterally withdrawn from or shaken confidence in multiple international agreements, including various trade deals, the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear pact.

Also fueling heightened geopolitical volatility and the risk of conflict is the rise of "charismatic strongman politics" around the world, the report said, pointing to Trump and leaders in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines as representative of a "trend towards increasingly personalized power."

The report listed escalating geopolitical risks as a trend of 2017, citing ongoing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, which has displayed a number of advancements in its nuclear weapons and missile programs over the past year.

Trump has repeatedly traded barbs with the country's government, using a speech before the United Nations General Assembly last year to warn that Washington would "totally destroy" North Korea if it threatened the U.S. or its allies.

The Global Risks Report said that the crisis on the Korean Peninsula "brought the world closer than it has been for decades to the possible use of nuclear weapons."

The survey results came just days before the World Economic Forum is set to hold its annual gathering in the Swiss resort town of Davos, which Trump and a delegation of top U.S. officials are expected to attend.