While the US is consumed by the coronavirus, global dangers continue to simmer

THE STATE.COM

The invisible coronavirus has infected thousands of people, the country’s economy and financial stability, killed jobs and stalled the daily lives and educations of millions while corrupting political campaigns for choosing government’s next leaders at all levels. This sudden singular obsession with the epidemic and its ephemera is deployed by a media eagerly using the health crisis and accompanying fears to attract hungry news consumers with no balancing social life and — oh, look! — further inflict damage and distractions on an administration that can be proficient at doing that itself. But this nonstop saturation of body counts, unqualified speculation and unremitting gloom has also obscured a global rash of foreign events that collectively pose more serious long-lasting threats to the country’s well-being. The normal uncertainty and political turbulence of a presidential selection process can present to potential adversaries tempting glimmers of vulnerability to seek strategic advantages. Because of the virus, the Pentagon last week extended its global lockdown of the entire military from early May until the end of June. This means canceling all new deployments, extending existing ones, halting all travel, training and leaves, even critical war games with other units and allies. Many units have been operating for weeks now on minimum staffing with other members trying to work from home but on unclassified devices. Even recruiting and the start of basic training were delayed. The U.S. military now has about 1.3 million active duty members and 865,000 reserves. A geographically-dispersed organization with a vast array of diverse duties and assignments around the country and world, it operates on complex interlocking schedules designed months in advance by each service. To suddenly wipe out more than two entire months creates a Star Wars-type disturbance in the Force with cascading effects tumbling into the future on training, readiness and morale. The virus knocked out of commission one of the Navy’s 10 nuclear carriers, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, now docked in Guam minus 85% of its 4,800-person crew. In recent days, Iranian, Chinese, Russian and North Korean forces have tested U.S. readiness and resolve. Russian military planes regularly approach U.S. boundaries, tracking radar frequencies and reaction times. Now, they’re more frequent and aggressive. Already developing military bases in the South China Sea, China is stretching its maritime muscle, sending its aircraft carrier to probe national waters around Taiwan and Japan. Its other forces sank a Vietnamese fishing boat in disputed waters

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