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What to watch in 2018

10 7 1

LONDON – Professional forecasters like to say that making predictions is difficult, particularly about the future. However, here are some of the key themes — and questions — that look set to shape global events this year.

Will prosecutor Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation mark the end of Donald Trump’s presidency?

Trump didn’t expect to be Time magazine’s Man of the Year for 2017, but 2018 could be the year that we get a clearer idea of the legacy he will leave.

First, it should become clear just how much mileage Mueller’s probe into alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election really has. Further arrests of high-profile figures might signal that investigators have acquired useful information from key individuals now helping them with their inquiries, particularly former national security adviser Mike Flynn and Trump aide George Papadopoulos. So far we have plenty of rumor, but precious little detail.

The real question is whether Mueller can pin evidence of a conspiracy on Trump. If the prosecutor can’t reach Trump himself, some of Trump’s Russia problems may begin to ease. If, however, it becomes clear the president or those near him have attempted to pervert the course of justice, then the situation will change abruptly. U.S. political experts are virtually unanimous in their belief that Republicans will not impeach Trump in 2018, but that calculus may shift if the Democrats manage to capitalize on Republicans’ unpopularity in the November midterms and take control of either the Senate or the House.

Will Trump or North Korea risk moving beyond bluster and posturing to military action?

In many ways, the likely trajectory of events surrounding North Korea is easier to predict. Based on events so far, it seems almost certain Kim Jong Un will continue to test........

© The Japan Times