If we are talking about immediate danger, that is Russia. They are openly aggressive, have waged war against their neighbors in 2008. 2014 and now have invaded Ukraine and are battling there for no reason other than to gain back territory lost when Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union.
If we are talking about the longer term danger, threat to international peace and to the strategic the position of the United States, that is China.
China has been increasingly threatening its neighbor, Taiwan, by breaching their airspace with military planes and holding military exercises that include mock amphibious invasions near Taiwan. And as recently as this last week, Australia complained to China over an incident in the South China Sea. Australian jets were operating in international airspace when Chinese fighters intercepted them, harassing them by such things as releasing chaff of aluminum shards in front of them. The Defence Dept. of Australia said that the maneuvers resulted in a “dangerous manoeuvre” that risked the safety of the Australian aircraft and its crew.
Similarly, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his government had raised official concerns to the Chinese over similar incidents. Canadian military aircraft are part of a United Nations mission to monitor the embargo of North Korea. The “buzzing,” of aircraft of other nations are “of concern and of increasing frequency,” Canada’s Defense Department said.
As the Canadian government has said, these attempts at intimidation are increasing and becoming more frequent. It is in line with China’s aggressive policy and it seems to be an obvious pre-cursor to expansion in the Pacific. After China watched Russia’s threat to Ukraine, where nothing happened until after the invasion had actually taken place, it must feel emboldened to pursue its expansionist agenda.
We make a tragic mistake when we think that dictators are motivated by anything other than power. And when they sense weakness, they see that as an invitation. Unfortunately, it seems that we may have forgotten the lessons of history, even the relatively recent history of the appeasement of Hitler which led to World War II. The Russian invasion of Ukraine may be changing that and we can only hope that NATO and other countries will react sooner to prevent China from doing something similar.