Both at home and abroad the shape of the post-pandemic world is gradually coming into focus. Geopolitically, this translates to a wave of unforeseen change likely to be in the cards for the later months of 2020 and stretching into early 2022 perhaps. How large, and encompassing this wave will be remains to be seen. A host of variables are going to influence the form, and power of what is to come.
China appears to have a difficult road in front of it as global opinion turns against Beijing and its handling of the pandemic. Suspicion, and mistrust of China and its intentions are nothing new. But the fact that China might’ve been complicit in knowingly transmitting COVID-19 to areas beyond its national borders is making the world take notice, and question just what China’s long-term political, economic, and military goals are. It would also appear that a major move is coming soon concerning Hong Kong. I’ll touch on that more either over the weekend or next week.
In Russia, Vladimir Putin is coming to terms with the reality that his rule will not last forever, and the vast majority of foreign adventures that Russia has engaged in over the last fifteen years have ended badly for his country. Ukraine is a shining example of how Russia’s ambitions have collided head-on with reality. Nothing has been gained after six years of low-intensity conflict between Russian-supported proxy groups and the Ukrainian military. It is true that Crimea has been annexed, but the move has not yet produced any strategic advantage for Russia or its plans for the region. In short, Russia is going to have to make a move somewhere in the near future to jumpstart its long term geopolitical plans. How Moscow moves in Libya, and Syria over the summer could tell a lot about what is to come.
For the United States, a potential crisis is brewing close to home. A group of Iranian tankers is currently in the Atlantic and heading west. These ships, carrying gasoline and related products, are on a course for Venezuela where they will be offloaded as part of a cash-for-oil/gas deal currently in place between Tehran and Caracas. Earlier this week, the US announced it is deploying warships, and maritime patrol aircraft to the Caribbean as the ships grown nearer. In response, Venezuela announced its warships will escort the tankers to Venezuelan ports. The US is wary of these recent moves given it has stringent economic sanctions in place against both nations. There’s growing concern in Iran and Venezuela that the US will attempt to interdict the tankers while they are in the Atlantic and by early next week it will be clear if a confrontation is likely or not.