To Keep An Eye On

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November 23, 2021 8:42 a.m.

Global geopolitics, especially in its military dimensions, remains mostly outside the purview of this site. But I want to make sure you’re current on some key developments around the world, any number of which could develop into crises fairly quickly.

We’ve discussed the on-going tensions over Taiwan. Last week there was a minor incident in Chinese Coast Guard vessels used water cannons on Philippine resupply ships on their way to the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. The State Department sent out a message in which it pointedly noted that “an armed attack on Philippine public vessels in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S. Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.”

Taiwan is not the Philippines of course. But both conflicts are part of the PRC’s interrelated ambitions both to reunite Taiwan with the mainland and to extend its dominance over areas like the South China Sea where various countries in the region lay claim to coastal waters and various small islands.

Then turn back to Europe. According to CNN, the Biden administration is considering sending military advisors and new weaponry to Ukraine, as Russia continues its major buildup of military forces on Ukraine’s border. Other reports suggest that US military intelligence estimates that Russia would have sufficient forces in places to launch a major new offensive in January or February. (Don’t miss Josh Kovensky’s discussion of the situation on the ground. He lived in the country as a reporter for three years.)

There are lots of other points to discuss about both these situations – and others are much more able to delve into the details. But the very big picture is clear enough: we have two evolving crises which could end up with the US either directly or indirectly in active military conflict with China or Russia. Not great! And that’s with the Pandemic, economic recovery, smoldering political crisis in the US.

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As I said above, I don’t have a huge amount to share on these two fronts. My point is only to say, keep an eye on this. These are two very serious situations that could possibly become extremely serious and dangerous pretty quickly.

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