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World Affairs head concerned about global problems
Patrick Ryan, president of the Tennessee World Affairs Council.

With hot spots around the world, Patrick Ryan, president of the Tennessee World Affairs Council, says that as soon as one problem is addressed, another manifests itself.
“It’s like playing a game of Whack-a-Mole at the arcade,” the retired Naval Lt. Commander told members of the Rotary Club of McMinnville. “If you hit one issue on the head, then another pops up in its place.”
Ryan, who heads the TWAC which aims to educate Tennessee citizens on global concerns and issues, assessed the top hot spots around the world the United States has to face. He noted he was only scratching the surface in his address since there are so many problems around the globe.
“No one has all the answers,” he observed. “There are just mainly more questions.”
Ryan said Russia is the No. 1 issue facing the United States given the low-point in relations with the Cold War rival.
“Russia is our primary adversary,” Ryan noted, adding the world power is now starting to restore its military might.
While the U.S. and Russia are butting heads in Syria, Ryan said the true ground of contention could come in a little-known area called the Baltic States since Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are part of NATO.
“An attack on one is an attack on all in the case of NATO,” said Ryan, noting if the Russians ever decide to restore their influence over the Baltic States, then the U.S. would be drawn into a war.
Ryan said Russia is working to undermine the European Union since it’s seen as a threat to their security to allow Europe to share a currency and live without borders.
“That is even more true as the former Soviet bloc countries seek to enter the EU,” Ryan added.
As for the Middle East, Ryan said the entire region is chaotic.
“They aren’t just hot spots, they are on fire,” said Ryan, noting Syria has numerous interests competing for control of the country.
“There are over 800 militias operating in Syria,” said Ryan, noting other Middle Eastern countries aren’t doing much better. “Egypt is an economic basket case, there is a civil war in Yemen which is taking a horrific toll on civilians. Neither a one-state or two-state solution is working for Israel and Palestine. The Kurds are strengthening in Iraq while the Shiites and Sunnis are at odds. And then there’s Iran, which is exerting more control over the region.”
Ryan concluded with what could be the most immediate threat to the U.S., that being the issue in North Korea.
“Seoul is just south of the 38th Parallel and is home to 12 million people,” said Ryan, noting the tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. “Their leader is notoriously unstable but then what do you expect from a man who hangs out with Dennis Rodman?”