While this has been one of the rare weeks where no SMS alerts have been issued by the AlertsUSA service, there are developing situations that should be on everyone's radar, particularly with the approach of the end-of-year holidays.
Up first, there are two places in the world where an authoritarian power is threatening to invade a small nearby democracy. That would be Russia on Ukraine and China on Taiwan.
For the second time in a year, Russia has conducted a large-scale military mobilization along Ukraine’s borders, deploying as many as 175,000 Russian troops, along with all manner of tanks, artillery, air defense systems, field hospitals, transport aircraft, and every other type tool and implement needed to conduct an invasion.
Most of Ukraine fell to the Russian Empire under the reign of Catherine the Great (1762-1796) before becoming a Soviet republic in 1937. Ukraine gained independence in 1991 with the break up of the Soviet Union.
Since that time, most of the population of the country has leaned away from Russian influence and more towards the West, including the overthrow of a pro-Russia Putin-backed leader in 2014 and aspirations to join NATO.
Putin has made clear this would cross a red line, as have plans by some NATO members to set up military training centers in Ukraine.
Last week, Putin emphasized that Russia will seek "reliable and long-term security guarantees" from the U.S. and its allies "that would exclude any further NATO moves eastward and the deployment of weapons systems that threaten them in close vicinity to Russian territory."
Amid the flurry of diplomatic efforts and tepid conversations between different leaders, there are threats being thrown around, including one U.S. senator talking about leaving all options on the table in response to an invasion, including the use of nuclear weapons.
On Wednesday, senior Biden administration officials told Congress that China’s military is actively preparing for a potential attack against Taiwan and the Pentagon is working closely with the island’s military to deter a direct assault and develop asymmetric weapons to fight off Beijing.
According to Ely Ratner, assistant defense secretary for Indo-Pacific security affairs, amid growing military coercion toward Taiwan, China is preparing to "unify Taiwan with the PRC by force while simultaneously attempting to deter, delay or deny third-party intervention on Taiwan’s behalf."
This week the Global Times newspaper, a mouthpiece for China's Communist rulers, said Chinese troops will attack any US forces sent to defend Taiwan in the event a war over the island breaks out.
The threat was issued after national security adviser Jake Sullivan vowed that Washington will 'never allow' a Chinese invasion to take place. The Global Times responded by saying such threats are not credible because the US 'cannot afford' the cost of defending Taiwan, and urged Sullivan to shut his 'big mouth' and avoid 'creating more embarrassment for your country'.
As if to underline the threat, China on Friday sent 13 warplanes to menace Taiwan's airspace, including eight fighters and two nuclear-capable bombers.
In order to tie these two geopolitical hotspots together, consider the following:
If you were a foreign leader hostile to the United States, how would you view the U.S. today?
You would know that the U.S. on the backside of two disastrous wars, you know the U.S. civilian leadership is unpopular and weak, you know that the military is undergoing dramatic social change, and you know that the public is deeply polarized, distracted by a weakening economy, and unlikely to support any new military conflicts.
Perhaps most important, you know that big changes are coming with America's mid-term elections, and more so, with the next presidential race.
Both China and Russia are keenly aware there is a narrow window in which to achieve any expansionist goals before strong leadership returns to the U.S. And that window is closing.
AlertsUSA continues to monitor the domestic and international threat environment around the clock and will immediately notify service subscribers, via SMS messages to their mobile devices, of new alerts, warnings and advisories or any developments which signal a change the overall threat picture for American citizens as events warrant.