Welcome to Threat Status, a weekly roundup of the biggest news inside the Pentagon, on the border and around the world. Sign up to receive Threat Status each week from a national security reporting team headed by veteran Washington Times journalists Ben Wolfgang and Guy Taylor.
With winter bearing down on Kyiv, we’re watching the Russia-Ukraine war from every angle. U.S. and Western aid groups are scrambling to deliver blankets, heaters, bottled water and food to Ukrainian citizens facing the darkest, coldest, and perhaps deadliest season in the country’s 31-year history.
But the fallout from the Russian invasion has spread far beyond eastern Europe, with direct implications for U.S. national security. Washington Times Military Correspondent Ben Wolfgang explained how the war in Ukraine has derailed key U.S.-Russia nuclear negotiations, fueling fears that any cooperation between the old Cold War foes may be impossible in today’s wartime environment.
The Pentagon is closely tracking the fighting in Ukraine, but military officials have their own problems. From “woke” social policies to fears about domestic extremists in the ranks, Pentagon Correspondent Mike Glenn dove into why Americans’ approval of the military has taken a nosedive. The Defense Department is taking fire from Capitol Hill, too, as its COVID-19 vaccine mandate appears doomed. The Times explained how the policy faces both legal trouble and serious political peril as Congress appears poised to scrap it as part of the looming $847 billion National Defense Authorization Act.
COVID-19 is also making headlines on the other side of the world, as the Chinese Communist government faces widespread protests over its strict COVID policies and has refused to change course. But why has Beijing reverted to isolation and lockdowns nearly three years after the pandemic began? Washington Times National Security Team Leader Guy Taylor dug deep to find out how China’s substandard vaccines and refusal to use Western-designed treatments helped spark the crisis.
Despite China’s inability to move past coronavirus lockdowns, it has spent the pandemic making major investments in its military. National Security Correspondent Bill Gertz took a look at Beijing’s unfolding plans to use space-based weapons to target U.S. assets on the ground, in the air and at sea.
World Cup 2022 in Qatar has seen plenty of drama on the pitch, but the U.S.-Iran match on Nov. 29 carried more than its share of geopolitical intrigue. The showdown came against the backdrop of failed diplomacy between the two countries aimed at securing a new deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program. At the same time, the U.S. has vocally backed Iranian protesters who have spent months demonstrating against the regime, leading to speculation that Iranian World Cup team members could show solidarity for those protesters ahead of the U.S. match. Iran went to great lengths to stop such a move. The Times reported on how Iran’s religious rulers even threatened players’ families with torture if they spoke out on the world stage.
Closer to home, we’re keeping an eye on the Biden administration’s uncontained crisis dealing with the southern border. The Times’ Stephen Dinan took a hard look at the steady flow of illegal immigrants pouring into the U.S. through gaps in the border wall. With Republicans set to take control of the House in January, immigration is shaping up to be a major issue in 2023. And it’s sure to be a central part of the here-before-you-know-it 2024 presidential election cycle.
President Biden’s take? ¯_(ツ)_/¯ . He avoided the southern border during his visit to Arizona on Tuesday, citing “more important” matters.
Speaking of POTUS, our opinion writers have their own thoughts on how Mr. Biden — despite his 2020 campaign promises to the contrary — has emboldened some of the world’s worst dictators. The Times’ Commentary Editor Kelly Sadler took a sobering look at the 46th president and his failure to follow through on his vow to get tough on the Saudis, Chinese and other American adversaries around the world. And don’t forget China’s status as the world’s biggest polluter — a fact that The Times’ editorial board believes can no longer be ignored by the president and his left-wing allies.