This report aims to examine the U.S. Intelligence Community’s (IC) annual threat assessment and its evaluation of global threats to the national security of the United States.
The introduction of the assessment primarily focuses on the imminent threats facing the United States in the coming year. Notably, China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea take center stage in the evaluation. The report underscores critical strategic challenges that the United States and its allies will encounter on the international stage in complex and pivotal ways. It identifies two key international security issues anticipated in 2023 and beyond. Firstly, global powers, emerging regional forces, and non-state actors are expected to compete for dominance in the global order, navigating new conditions and rules that will shape future orders. Secondly, shared global challenges, including climate change, human and health security (such as the COVID-19 pandemic), and economic issues related to food, energy, and water supply shortages, are predicted to pose significant problems.
The assessment suggests that the majority of these challenges stem from Russia, China, Ukraine, and the West, with the Russia-Ukraine war potentially triggering global issues mentioned earlier. The outcomes of these complex and strategic impacts remain uncertain.
Despite their unpredictability, diplomacy often reveals signs that can be foreseen, drawing from both current events and historical lessons. The assessment highlights recurring global actions, emphasizing the inevitability of conflicts and wars without diplomatic intervention. The importance of Humanitarian Diplomacy is stressed, as a lack of understanding and implementation may result in the absence of effective diplomacy altogether.
Specifically, the assessment addresses the regional and global objectives and activities of the mentioned countries, along with their military capabilities, weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), space capabilities, technology and economics, and cyber and malign influence operations. These aspects are discussed in diverse subtitles within the assessment.
In the context of the evolving world order, change now necessitates technological and energy powers, unlike the capital-driven changes seen in the 20th century. Examining the assessment’s subtitles reveals China’s focus on consolidating government control over the country. While China and the United States are major global competitors and threats, diplomatic relations are occasionally required, even though China aims to limit U.S. involvement due to potential restrictions on decision-making.
China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea possess strong nuclear weapons and capabilities but are accountable to NATO and the United States, despite conflicts. Their willingness to take risks, such as cyber attacks and espionage, stems from a desire to act without regard for future global conflicts.
The assessment consistently emphasizes the impact of nuclear and space innovations on reshaping global orders. The Russian-Ukrainian war plays a pivotal role in determining whether nuclear weapons become a global threat or remain a tool of intimidation. Simultaneously, the report anticipates potential pandemics and economic crises in 2023, with troubled third-world countries like India, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iraq, East Africa, and the Western Hemisphere possibly gaining increased attention alongside major and rising powers.
ANNUAL THREAT ASSESSMENT OF THE U.S. INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY, February 6, 2023
Written by: Seda Karakaya
* The ideas in the articles belong to the author and may not reflect the editorial policy of the Divan Research and Education Association.