May 22, 2024

We often hear repeated what is said to be an ancient Chinese curse which, in English, states, “May you live in interesting times.” There is no confirmed source known for this apocryphal saying, but in the short story collection of 17th-century Chinese scribe Feng Menglong, “Stories to Awaken the World,” a sentence appears that appears to carry a similar warning: “Better to be a dog in times of tranquility than a human in times of chaos.”


It would be preferable, of course, to be a human in times of tranquility, but we are not offered the opportunity to choose our place in history. As proof of this, on Monday, the U.S. intelligence services released their 2024 Annual Threat Assessment, and they do not appear to be sanguine about the prospects for times of tranquility in our near future.

U.S. intelligence agencies said on Monday the country faces an “increasingly fragile world order,” strained by great power competition, transnational challenges and regional conflicts, in a report released as agency leaders testified in Congress.

“An ambitious but anxious China, a confrontational Russia, some regional powers, such as Iran, and more capable non-state actors are challenging longstanding rules of the international system as well as U.S. primacy within it,” the agencies said in their 2024 Annual Threat Assessment.

The report largely focused on threats from China and Russia, the greatest rivals to the United States, more than two years after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, as well as noting the risks of broader conflict related to Israel’s campaign against Hamas in Gaza since the Oct. 7 attacks.

China is providing economic and security assistance to Russia as it wages war in Ukraine, by supporting Russia’s industrial base, the report said. It also warned that China could use technology to try to influence this year’s U.S. elections.


Russia is certainly kicking up its heels, but Russia in 2024 isn’t what the Soviet Union in 1945 was. Even under the government of Tsar Vladimir I, Russia is basically an aging gas station with some nuclear weapons. Russia has managed to seize Crimea and parts of Ukraine, but they have not moved further for some time, despite the Western nations pouring literally billions of dollars into Ukraine to prop up the Zelensky government. 

China is trying to build a blue-water navy, but so far, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (yes, it’s called that) is little more than a coastal defense force with little ability to project power. The PLAN may present a threat to Taiwan, parts of Southeast Asia, and maybe Japan, but it’s unlikely that we’ll see Chinese warships off the California coast any time soon, although both Russian and Chinese warships have trailed their coats off the coast of Alaska.

The Middle East, after the October 7th atrocities committed by Hamas in Israel, might be even more unstable than before. In Yemen, the Houthis are threatening shipping in the Red Sea, and in Gaza, the remnants of Hamas hang on in the rubble while much of the rest of the world wags their fingers at Israel.

Interesting times, indeed. The problem is this: the primary concern here may not be who will step into the role of sole mega-power if the United States can no longer fulfill the role, but instead, the possibility that nobody will. There, you will really see some of Feng Menglong’s times of chaos.


See Related: It’s Time for Joe Biden to Get More Aggressive on China 

What Keeps Global Elitists Up at Night? A Possible Second Trump Presidency

Furthermore, it’s not like we don’t have troubles of our own. Here’s one item that should have everyone in the U.S. concerned, more than any other, even considering the source:

FBI Director Christopher Wray expressed concern about the “terrorism implications from potential targeting of vulnerabilities at the border,” noting rising threats from Americans inspired by Islamist groups and other foreign militants since Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct 7.

“The threat has gone to a whole new level,” Wray said.

That much is certain, and the blame for this goes squarely at the feet of the Biden Administration; since 2021, millions of unscreened, unvetted, illegal aliens have been allowed in – or even flown in – and we have no idea what most of them intend to do. My Townhall sister-site colleague, Kurt Schlichter, has some thoughts on the matter, and I’m here to tell you it’s horrifying.

We certainly do live in interesting times. Since WW2, most of the world has lived more or less peacefully under a Pax Americana, with the United States Navy ensuring the safety of global sea lanes and the United States military well-armed, well-manned, and very capable. Those times may now be ending, and there’s little good that can come from that.


See also:

Chris Wray Sounds the Alarm: ISIS Ties Uncovered in US Southern Border Smuggling Operations

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