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National Security

Top Foreign Threats Facing the U.S. in 2020

Iran, North Korea, and China lead the list of foreign challenges facing Trump this year.

Thomas Gallatin · Jan. 2, 2020

As we enter a new year and a new decade, Americans were reminded anew that our old geopolitical foes still present a significant threat to our nation and our way of life. In Baghdad, Iraq, the U.S. embassy was attacked by Iran-backed “protesters” angered at President Donald Trump’s authorization of air strikes against the Iran-backed terrorist group Kataib Hezbollah — a jihadi group that had killed an American civilian contractor. Trump was quick to send in the U.S. Marines to secure the embassy and prevent another Benghazi fiasco. He also warned, “Iran killed an American contractor wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible.”

Iran continues to be provocative in an effort to get Trump to back off his crippling sanctions, while the regime continues its pursuit of building a nuclear weapon. Thus far, Trump has avoided being pulled into a war with Iran, but as the Iranians get more desperate, expect an increase in the number of attacks against U.S. interests and allies.

At the same time, North Korea has once again ramped up its saber-rattling, with Kim Jong-un claiming to possess a “new strategic weapon” while also suggesting he will end the moratorium against testing long-rang missiles. For the moment, Trump seems content to hold the line on sanctions while continuing his charm offensive. He continues to avoid offering any heated criticism of Kim while effectively calling on Beijing’s puppet to uphold the denuclearization agreement “he did sign.”

Finally, the ongoing trade war with China. There was some recent positive news, as the White House announced that a “phase one” deal agreed to last month would be signed on January 15. The deal would cancel a new round of $156 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods as well as slash current tariffs on another $120 billion in goods. While it is undeniable that the trade war has hurt certain sectors of the U.S. economy, it has been necessary to fight against Chinese cheating. However, this fight is far from over, as Beijing would love nothing more than to see Trump lose his reelection bid with an aim to continue its unfair trade practices.

In short, as 2019 passes into 2020, there are some things that haven’t changed and will require continued American vigilance.

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