Presidential elections tend to be all-consuming in America, overshadowing everything else that’s happening in the world for months on end. But the world has a way of marching on regardless. Below are five developments in international affairs that haven’t been getting much media coverage recently, but could reach inflection points during Donald Trump’s administration. (This is a non-exhaustive list—you could easily add, say, political turmoil in Venezuela, which could present Trump with a failed state just a three-hour flight from Miami, or an escalation of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, which would offer Trump a choice between defending Ukraine’s sovereignty and preserving good relations with Russia.)
I’ve framed the developments as questions because they are literally that. The next president of the United States has never held political office, so we can’t consult his track record in predicting how he will govern.
1) Will Iran go nuclear?
The implementation of Iran’s deal with world powers to restrict its nuclear program has been going pretty smoothly, though Iran’s tests of ballistic missiles and financial gains from the lifting of international sanctions have given American opponents of the agreement plenty to criticize. The Obama administration claims that it has prevented Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons—at the very least for the next 10 years—just as Iran was getting close to amassing enough fissile material to build a bomb. Many Republicans claim that the United States has emboldened a longtime U.S. adversary that threatens Israel and U.S. interests in the Middle East, all for an accord that won’t actually stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power in the long run.