As the world focuses on the war in Ukraine, the United States’ adversaries are not taking a break. With China’s eyes on Taiwan and North Koreans building more destructive weapons with longer and longer ranges, the Biden administration is in a precarious situation in terms of defending what is regarded as U.S. interests.
North Korea recently tested a new missile platform. For the first time, the hermit kingdom successfully launched a missile from a submarine. This is a troubling development and could be potentially destabilizing to the international order. Submarine launches are difficult to detect, and the mobile platform allows for an increased range of attacks, potentially putting the United States at risk.
Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un has been promising increased nuclear tests, persistently pushing his country to develop more sophisticated weapons. In the past, such advances have been used as leverage for gains in international talks with the West. With NATO and President Biden focusing on Ukraine, North Korea feels less threatened by the United States, and, therefore, may be willing to take more risks.
It is also a certainty that China is paying close attention to how the United States will react to these developments with North Korea. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) still covets the island of Taiwan. An invasion of the island is always being contemplated by the CCP as part of its One China policy. The real likelihood of that happening, however, is unknown.
Still, the United States may not be able to give as much aid to Taiwan as it is giving Ukraine. The U.S. economy continues to slide into — at least — a recession. The markets are roiling as inflation continues its climb. The public support may not be there for a second proxy war in a faraway land. All of these factors may add up to the possibility of a Chinese invasion of Ukraine.
The Biden administration is not projecting a large amount of strength. How it handles the North Korea problem may sway China one way or another. The world is getting more complicated, as the United States loses its position as the sole hegemon. The Biden administration must step carefully going forward.