While the situation at America’s southern border is debated as to whether it is truly a crisis or not; and while congress debates the extent of the administration’s infrastructure bill, there is a much more ominous situation developing on the world scene that could impact, indeed, the entire world.
Both Russia and China are flexing their perspective military muscles in different parts of the globe, and the foreign policy implications for the Biden administration are, to say the least, critical.
Russia has begun a major troop buildup in the annexed Crimea territory. According to a Moscow based intelligence group, Conflict Intelligence Team, it is the largest since 2015, and it is no token show of force: armored vehicles and tanks are being placed right up close to the border along with said troop movements.
The reasons for these new military moves are manifold, depending on who is commenting on them. As far as Ukraine is concerned, it is simply an intimidation tactic brought on by the Ukrainian government’s statements on Crimea. Namely, that the annexed territory, now part of greater Russia, could at some point be taken back by Ukraine. This pronouncement was made official last month by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
Russia, on the other hand, sees Ukraine as the aggressor and claims it wants to protect Russian speaking citizens from a Balkan-style ethnic cleansing within the disputed territory.
Crimea was annexed in 2014 by Russia after a failed coup in Kiev by a paramilitary group backed by the US.
President Biden has declared his “unwavering support” of Ukraine in the present tensions.
This begs the obvious question: what does “unwavering support” mean?
Should the conflict escalate, will the administration offer a stern rebuke to Russia, but stay on the sidelines?
Taking a worst-case scenario, what if Russia tries a World War ll style invasion of Ukraine, throwing all caution to the wind. How will America respond?
Such an invasion would put the world on alert, and an unleashed Russian bear meeting no opposition would change the entire world military dynamic. However, to stand up to Russia militarily would involve, not just the US, but our NATO allies as well.
There is no telling if such a conflict would be very intense, but regional, or, morph into World War lll.
The US has been a staunch ally of Ukraine, and, in fact, Biden was the point man in Ukraine for the Obama administration. There is a lot at stake here, for the US, the world, and Biden personally. Biden could, if he does not act in some way, as they say in the orient, “lose face.” The US could be seen as weak and inactive against a marauding Russia.
And then there is Taiwan.
Since 1949, when the Communists drove the Chinese federal government out of the main land and onto Taiwan and some surrounding islands, Taiwan has always been considered by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a renegade province. The CCP has made it clear it will never accept an independent Taiwan, and has never ruled out the use of force.
Indeed, over the last month China has conducted naval drills within the nautical territory of Taiwan. China’s air force has also breached Taiwan’s air defense area.
What if China, perceiving a weak or otherwise, well occupied, administration in Washington, decides to go for it all, and order a full-scale invasion of the pesky Taiwan. The US is Taiwan’s number one ally. The US would instantly be drawn into a major conflict with a major world power.
Again: a regional conflict—or World War lll?
We cannot ignore the possibility of both conflicts happening simultaneously. That would be two major wars with two super powers.
What will Biden, his administration, and the Pentagon do? Is America prepared for such conflicts? Will there be a sustained diplomatic effort to head off said conflicts?
This would be an existential threat that perhaps we have never dealt with before. It will require rational thinking and fearless action, whether military or diplomatic.
Right now, all sides are looking at each other with a wary eye. And while they look at each other, we are reminded of the old 1960’s adage:
“The whole world is watching!”
Joseph M Bianchi is an independent journalist based in Greenville, SC. His work has appeared in national and international publications.