This is what Happens when America is Perceived as Weak

The B52 Stratofortress. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Emerson Nuñez.
B52 Stratofortresses like this one flew over the sea of Okhtoska in retaliation for Russian bombers flying close to the U.S. coast. . Photo by Tech. Sgt. Emerson Nuñez.

Russian bombers fly towards Alaska and we scramble fighter planes in response. A few days later, American B52 bombers fly in the Sea of Okhtosk, a place surrounded on three sides by Russian lands and where no American planes have flown before, forcing Russians to scramble their fighters.

Also in the Pacific, Chinese bombers flew towards Taiwan, forcing them to scramble fighters.  This is thought to be a reaction to the degrading relationship between the U.S. and China.

Actual hostilities broke out along the Chinese and India border, and while conversations have been held to reduce the chance of further conflict, the Indian media reports that Indian soldiers have been given permission to open fire on their Chinese counterparts if invade Indian territory.  This resulted in a vocal response from China, ratcheting up tensions further.  Meanwhile India is in negotiations to buy 30 or more fighter aircraft from the Russians, apparently seeking to beef up their capabilities should their problem with China escalate.

North Korea has been acting out, but on a much smaller scale, as the country suffers its worst economic recession since 1997.  Expect small-scale attacks on South Korea, missile tests, and other provocative acts and statements from North Korea as they try to get global leaders to pay attention to them and relax sanctions.

The Heart of the Trouble

The reasons for these actions all track back to COVID-19 and its impact on the world, both economic and social. 

First, China is being blamed for the outbreak of COVID-19, and whether or not they actually developed the virus or it occurred naturally may never be known, it is obvious that the Chinese knew about the outbreak weeks and possibly months before they talked about it publicly.  There is clear evidence that they purchased large amounts of PPE before sharing the news and also prevented data on the coronavirus from being publicly disclosed when it might hurt their public standing.

Backed into a corner, facing irrefutable evidence that they are to blame for COVID-19, China is on the defensive.  It is trying to change the focus, to distract both its populace and the eyes of the world by acting out in other arena’s such as the South China Sea and the Indian Border.  If you are worried about war, that little virus suddenly loses its importance.

Second, the Global economic slowdown caused by the virus and various shutdown orders is hurting economies, governments, and citizens around the world, including China, North Korea, and Russia.  Economic problems are probably the greatest cause of regime change in history, which is why countries are rattling their sabers, complaining about threats of war, and taking other measures to distract their populace.  If they can generate feelings of patriotism, maybe the people won’t notice that they are hungry, out of work, and dying by the thousands. 

Finally, this kind of acting out is what happens when America looks weak.   Despite saying it no longer wants to be the world’s police officer, the United States has continued to ac  a bit like the mob enforcer, willing to break a few legs or smash some heads when things get out of hand.

Thanks to COVID-19 and the subsequent riots and protests, the U.S. looks weak to its foreign adversaries.  The political chicanery that weakens the president, and the unknown status of his re-election campaign, further emboldens countries who have much to gain if the enforcer is busy fighting internal battles rather than focusing externally.

Perception vs Reality

I don’t think the U.S. is weak, but I can certainly see why other countries may think so.  Seeing American youth marching in the streets, tearing down statues, and calling for police to be defunded probably looks very serious when seen through Chinese or Russian eyes.  These countries ruthlessly suppress rioters, arresting and “disappearing” ringleaders, as communist countries have done for generations.  They don’t realize that protesting has a long history in the United States and is actually part of how change is brought about in the U.S.  

They see internal strife and think this makes us unwilling or unable to fight.  But the opposite is probably true.  An external attack like 9/11 would force Americans to come together.  A smaller attack would allow President Trump to act presidential.   Like President Clinton who would bomb something every time a new scandal broke out, Trump would probably welcome the opportunity to lash out prior to his election.

Frankly, I think our military is probably far readier to strike back at an overt, aggressive war-like action from another country today compared to five or six years ago.

Unsettling Times

The danger of this increased tension and fear at national and global levels is that one small slip can result in an over-reaction that sets the world on fire.  To this day, 244 years later, no one really knows who fired the first shot when the Red Coats marched out of Boston and were met by the Minutemen.  One clumsy oaf who didn’t remember to keep his finger off the trigger may have ignited the Revolutionary War. Today, we are one slip away from a disaster of unexpected consequences.

If you are a prepper, prep. Plan for the worse. Stockpile thing you think you will need in a SHTF situation. I find being prepared helps relieve the stress, worry and anxiety about the future by giving you some control over the unknown.

Beyond that, my advice to step back and take a deep breath.  Let your anger and your fear cool down.  Take a break from social media.  Go outdoors and breathe some fresh air.  Put your hands in the dirt.  Feel the sun on your skin.  Relax.  Don’t worry about what other people think.  They are entitled to their feelings and their position, even if it is the opposite of yours.  That’s what Freedom is all about: The right to be young and dumb, or old and set in your ways, or just ignorant and misguided.

Being in condition orange or red 24×7 isn’t healthy.  Dial it back to condition yellow occasionally and relax.