- - Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Understandably, with COVID-19 raging, America — and the world — has turned its attention inward. But, as evidenced by the recent assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s top nuclear scientist, the business of international relations has not paused. With escalating international tensions, America must continue to lead — both in arms and moral fortitude.

The coming months will, to be sure, have their own surprises, but that underscores the necessity for planning how to tackle certain hot-spots. China, Iran and North Korea are good places to start.

First is China. It unleashed the coronavirus on the world and then tried to hide it. America’s economy and school systems have been brought to a year-long halt. And there is no telling the damage of the long-term effects. Can the country allow this to stand without repercussion? The matter of the territorial disputes in the South China Seas further, and critically, demands attention, not to mention Chinese repression in Hong Kong, and an increasingly defensive South Korea and Japan. But handling these situations will not be easy.

In January, the United States killed Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Quds Force, the military division responsible for overseas terrorism. Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, and was hailed as a hero in Iran. So far, his death appears unavenged, but with the targeted killing of Fakhrizadeh, strengthening ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and other Sunni countries, the world must expect something to happen in the new year.

South of the border, America has a more immediate problem, as rival narco cartels vie for control over Mexico. Already deeply entrenched in the Mexican army, police and government, the country is overrun by bad actors. Gruesome murders, mass graves, public executions, and a public cowed into silence, makes this a difficult situation to solve. And until it’s solved, Americans will have to contend with more and more illegal immigrants.

Finally, there is the matter of Rocket Man, Kim Jong-un. Pyongyang seems to have reacted well toward overtures by the Trump administration, but questions of real disarmament linger. Sanctions and wide-spread health issues continue to cripple the country, increasing the likelihood that Mr. Kim could attempt a desperate act.

To this short list could be added innumerable other points of worry. Russia’s aggressive posture toward its neighbors, Iraq and Afghanistan, Chinese incursion into Africa and Latin America, Somali terrorism, and all sorts of digital insecurity and espionage.

This year has been challenging. Best to be alert to the powder kegs and get a jump on 2021.

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