Among school age children, the stronger often bully the weak. In the corporate world, senior executives work to win market share from competitors — and among nations, the strongest become targets for other countries who long to gain superiority.
While the United States military might is formidable, with few, if any, other nations up to the task of challenging them for control of world oceans and land — terrorist groups, enemy nations and megalomaniac individuals seek to weaken us in areas where they perceive we might be vulnerable. Enemies are even likely to team up to challenge us on multiple fronts, aiming to divide our power – to conquer us.
The U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of State have identified a plethora of national threats we must be continuously vigilant against if America is to remain exceptional.
In terms of military threats, global expansion of China and Russia may challenge U.S. access to waterways, airspace and outer space. They are also working to strengthen our enemies militarily and build strong allied relationships and loyalty with them. China for one has given billions of Yuan to help build roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects in developing countries, buying those nations’ loyalty and indebtedness. Further, key players looking to develop their missile and nuclear capabilities include Iran and North Korea, plus smaller players may be prompted to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as well.
Despite handshakes and gracious political posturing between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jimping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, it is no secret that these leaders, plus Iran’s embattled Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, are toiling to enlarge their scope of power – and envision creating a post-American international order – aiming to tip the balance of power both militarily and financially. While President Trump has expressed the importance of maintaining a dialog with these leaders, the potential for real trust and reliable agreements is tenuous at best.
In the works are faster, longer-range and stealth aircraft — and Mach-5 weaponry that can penetrate existing anti-missile defense shields and space-based orbiting offensive missile systems. A longer-term goal is to create space-based Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Platforms with the capability of real-time tracking of people and logistical equipment movements world-wide. Broad-based improvements in stealth submarine warfare are also being implemented.
Terrorist groups and unstable governments in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean could threaten the U.S. in several ways that would need to be addressed. Modalities would include biological or chemical warfare; global online recruiting and propaganda to build their discipleships – using social media communications modes to their fullest. They will continue to expand their use of new technologies, like 3-D printing, to create light-weight weaponry that can resist scanners.
As we all reap the benefits of our reliance on the Internet and all its ramifications, it also puts us at risk from criminals wishing to profit financially from hacking us; or from foreign nations looking to steal restricted information.
Competitive nations are developing their capabilities to create technologies that can disrupt U.S. communications, computer systems and satellite networks. In this vein, artificial intelligence(AI), facial recognition capabilities, access to citizens’ personal information, data manipulation and quantum communications (QC) can merge to crack codes and encryption, create inviolable e-mail messages and open top secret corporate and governmental communications networks to interception by enemy interests.
Drones, also known as unmanned aerial systems (UAS), can be used for surveillance as well as physical attacks – from the ground, air, underwater and space bases. Ballistic missiles can also be deployed similarly.
The computer age has brought to our daily lives, businesses and national endeavors, amazing speed and efficiency; however these analog and digital systems must be maintained at optimum function – otherwise critical infrastructure could shut down; air-traffic control glitches could result in the grounding of airplanes – or plane crashes; our electrical grid could black out and satellite communications could be interrupted. Whether by accident or cyberattack, not only would our televised entertainment be disrupted, but our crucial financial and banking systems, vital utilities, military, government and intelligence operations, could cease to run.
America’s porous borders, wide-open port cities and widespread global travel result in major losses of control within our sovereign nation. We lack knowledge of how many people trespass within our country, where they are from, why they are here and what their intentions may be. Without the implementation of an advanced identification program, our elections could be compromised and new therapy-resistant diseases could be spread.
Shifting gears now to natural disasters, e.g., hurricanes, tornadoes, massive floods and earthquakes, these unpredictable events can further tax global powers to deal with humanitarian crises and human migrations.
While few conservatives would doubt regulated capitalism is the best system in the world — the power and reach of key mega-corporations, if left unchecked, can garner resources that would allow them more influential in the future direction of the United States than our individual States themselves. New legislation may be needed, or existing laws may need to be enforced, to ensure the media, universities, and large information technology corporations can remain profitable without becoming monopolies or overwhelmingly powerful.
Hindsight is always a great teacher – and we all learn important lessons from crises of all types – like the current COVID-19 pandemic – on how to best be prepared to respond next time. Perhaps it is high time now, as this virus winds down, leaving our economy and citizens with huge challenges – to shrink our bloated federal bureaucracy to perhaps one-half its current size – crack down on wasteful spending and fraud in our government programs and focus even more to plan for the inevitable threats we will face in our uncertain future.