Weekend Briefing 4/18/21

Escalation in Ukraine and the South China Sea threatens an end to American intervention.

SOUTH CHINA SEA (April 9, 2021) The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group transits in formation with the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group in the South China Sea April 9, 2021. The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73) are conducting expeditionary strike force operations during their deployments to the 7th Fleet area of operations. As the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed fleet, 7th Fleet routinely operates and interacts with 35 maritime nations while conducting missions to preserve and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brandon Richardson)


With the decision to decisively withdraw from Afghanistan only recently announced, the Taliban has already claimed victory. With their forces approaching the capital, it is clear that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan shall likely rise again. However, in many ways, the United States did not fail.

The 2001 intervention in Afghanistan resulted from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and NATO intervened to make further attacks impossible. This was achieved by the killing of Osama bin Laden and the compromises reached with the Taliban. With troops withdrawing, Biden’s administration can claim a strategic victory and end America’s longest war, prolonged due to the false hopes of a democratic Afghanistan by the current government.


Biden’s most significant challenge comes from ensuring his message of peace and withdrawal does not happen as he is embroiled in yet another war. Putin’s recent amassing of troops upon the Ukrainian border, and Ukraine’s call for global cooperation in reclaiming Crimea, has tested Biden’s willingness and ability to preserve Ukraine (and by extension, Europe)’s self-determination while ensuring his domestic public opinion does not suffer being immersed in yet another war.

Currently, Ukraine has called for faster integration into NATO. It has begun to work independently with NATO allies such as Turkey as it takes initial steps to address its concerns in Decree 117/2021 regarding the reintegration of Crimea. Biden recently announced the presence of two warships that would pass into the Black Sea, but these were both withdrawn, allowing Russia to send in more warships to blockade the Black Sea itself.

Biden’s lack of decisive action, wherein he has sought an ignored peace summit rather than giving Putin a clear message, results from not wanting to be involved in another war. However, allowing Putin to trespass upon more of Ukraine, as he has done for the past six years, cannot be done. Biden must send a clear message to Putin and oppose the annexation of Crimea by economic, diplomatic, and military means.

Sanctions against Russia may increase internal unrest and discontent, but Putin may also invade Ukraine as a media distraction. If this is the case, the United States and NATO must be ready to oppose and deter all military efforts by Russia to further encroach upon Ukraine’s sovereignty and assist Ukraine in reclaiming its occupied territories.


While what may become a bitter regional war develops in Europe, an old conflict resurges in the South China Sea. China has recently taken an increased interest in Taiwan,

In February, Japanese politicians renewed interest in discussions with Taiwan, whose defense is currently the responsibility of the United States. These proposals would strengthen previous American-Taiwanese security treaties that have kept Chinese aggression at bay.

Since, tensions have only escalated, as Chinese fighter jets have made dangerous close passes in Taiwanese airspace and encroached upon Taiwanese and Japanese islands. Recently, a rumored militia fleet funded by the CCP with blue ships has been reported in the region. Though hawkish Chinese diplomats have denied the existence and purpose of this fleet, it is clear they challenge the maritime boundaries of other nations along the South China Sea.

Recently, nations like Vietnam have been reinvesting in their naval capacity, setting a dangerous, mobilized turn for negotiations. If the crisis in Ukraine spirals out of control, many fear China could then seek to press its claim on Taiwan.

As the world monitors tensions in several distinct regions, America’s leadership is put to the test. America may not be equipped to handle every theatre of 2021’s geopolitical world, whether it be Ukraine, Taiwan, Iran, Myanmar, and more. For the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, regional powers must take the initiative where the U.S. cannot.

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