Behold, riding in on a pale horse: Fentanyl, China v. Taiwan, and a humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border.
2023 dawned cool and bright for President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party.
The president’s party had, against all odds, done better than expected at the midterm. Republicans were bickering — publicly — over the Speakership.
Political fortunes can turn on a dime, however, and this past week was a real doozy. Whatever happens next with classified documents stored — it would seem — improperly by both Biden and former President Donald Trump, one thing is certain:
2023 is sure to be a wild ride for political junkies, news hounds, media personalities, elected officials, voters, constituents, and just about anyone else capable of opening a laptop or turning on a television.
Lawmakers from both parties, from Joe Biden’s executive branch to the House of Representatives — newly fallen into Republican hands — are beset with problems on all sides as 2023 kicks off in earnest.
At home, inflation is easing — if slowly. But other long-simmering problems are reaching a boiling point.
It’s the same story abroad: Some economic markers are improving and supply chain woes easing; other trends are less encouraging.
Putin isn’t winning in Ukraine. Unfortunately, he probably isn’t losing, either. However long that conflict continues, still other serious issues are besetting the United States, many of them relating to foreign policy.
The deadly scourge of fentanyl continues to destroy lives and communities across the U.S.
Accidental overdoses, including deadly overdoses, are rising so rapidly, a generation’s worth of health gains are in danger, including longevity numbers for some demographic groups.
In wealthy nations like the U.S., it is very unusual for life expectancy to drop in this manner.
The fentanyl crisis, which has been brewing for years, is currently reaching epic proportions, due in part to another of the major foreign policy challenges facing this year’s class of Congressional lawmakers.
Recently elected Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Michael McCaul has been outspoken about the Biden Administration’s growing border crisis, which even progressive publications are being forced to admit is becoming a problem.
McCaul, hailing from Texas, has likely been hearing from his constituents directly about the overwhelming number of immigrants and asylum seekers pouring over the U.S. southern border.
Republican Governors Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Greg Abbott (R-TX) have been getting a great deal of negative attention in the press over busloads of undocumented border crossers they’ve sent to Democrat-run blue districts which have declared themselves “sanctuary cities.”
The press had less to say when it was revealed that Colorado’s Democratic Governor has been doing the same thing, out of sheer desperation, for some time.
McCaul has a unique perspective on U.S. Foreign Policy, including the lax border-enforcement policies which have allowed an untold amount of deadly fentanyl to cross into the U.S. and human trafficking to flourish as never before.
“Today several of my bills became law when @POTUS signed the #NDAA including my: FENTANYL Results Act — strengthens global cooperation against drug trafficking; Taiwan Policy Act — deters CCP aggression in Taiwan; War Crimes Deterrence Act — helps prosecute & stop Russian war crimes,” Rep. McCaul said in a statement posted to Twitter just before Congress adjourned for the holiday season.
McCaul made a good point: Besides the situation at the border, the U.S. is beset on all sides by other foreign policy issues and potential threats.
The world was shocked and appalled when Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in February.
In retrospect, no one should have been surprised. Russia’s war on Ukraine had actually begun much earlier.
Before finally invading outright, the Kremlin had been using information warfare strategies, hacking and infrastructure attacks, economic sabotage, election interference, and other nasty tricks to weaken Ukraine — for over a decade.
All that time, Putin was waiting for the opportunity to launch an open military attack on Ukraine.
Watching for this opportunity, Putin must have noticed how much his biggest geopolitical opponents — like the United States and Germany — had weakened themselves during Covid19. Putin knew a once-in-a-generation opportunity when he saw one. He may be a warmongering former-KGB strongman, but he isn’t stupid.
Neither is the Chinese Communist Party’s Xi Jinping.
The CCP has been using the same strategies against Taiwan that Russia used against Ukraine prior to invasion — and for just as long.
As each day passes, the CCP — which has been completely open about its intention to annex Taiwan by force — inches closer to crossing the red line from information warfare to open warfare.
And Xi Jinping’s window of opportunity on Taiwan is, even now, in the process of closing.
If western companies are moving manufacturing centers out of China as fast as they possibly can — and they are — the CCP’s leverage is rapidly dissipating.
If Xi Jinping waits for western nations to stop being dependent on Chinese manufacturing before annexing Taiwan by force, he will have nothing to bargain with against sanctions, embargoes, and other economic deterrents.
Xi Jinping would be a fool to wait for American and European corporations to finish moving valuable assets out of China before invading Taiwan.
Xi Jinping is no fool.
With new leadership in Washington, it is to be hoped that these dire challenges can be addressed and the blunders of the past avoided.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)