Kinks in the global supply chain have increased demand for goods, contributing, in turn, to some inflationary pressures on prices. Fortunately, many nations around the world have developed strategies to address this phenomenon.
Canada supplies over 70% of the world’s maple syrup, with the US its single largest consumer. A spike in demand over the last year outpaced the capacity of suppliers, forcing the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers Federation to release 50 million pounds from its strategic maple syrup reserves, nearly half the total stockpile.
Maple syrup aficionados may recall in 2012 the headlines tracking the theft of 3,000 tons, about $19 million Canadian, from the reserve by a well-organized group of thieves.
The federation has announced plans to tap 7 million more trees in the near future to replenish the reserve and bolster capacity to meet demand. South of its border, President Biden announced that 50 million barrels of oil would be released from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve to counter inflationary pressures.
The concurrent actions by both nations should ease consumer concerns and offer relief that pancakes and waffles can be topped with Canada’s liquid gold as Americans drive to the nearest IHOP for breakfast, with some assurance of ability to top off the gas tank.
Pacific, meaning peaceful, has been in short supply in recent months in the far eastern region of the Pacific Ocean, as China has continued to exercise its intention to create hegemony.
Some may recall that in 1955, China blockaded two sets of islands, Quemoy and Matsu, off its coast to restrict Taiwan’s presence. That struggle continues, as Singapore and Hong Kong have repeatedly come under pressure to become part of the Republic of China.
Prior to the start of WW II, the Solomon Islands were a British protectorate and the focus of key strategic battles in the Pacific. In the postwar period, the US established deep economic ties with the nation and formally established diplomatic relations following its 1978 independence from Britain. The Solomons have a permanent representative to the United Nations, also serving as ambassador to the US.
In 2019, the government of the Solomon Islands formally recognized China in place of Taiwan. The decision has set off conflicts in the nation, most particularly between two of its largest member islands, Guadalcanal, home to its capital, and Malaita, the most populous of the country’s 650,000 people. Tensions between the two have simmered for many years, and the latest violence has taken place in Guadalcanal’s Chinatown.
Australia and Papua New Guinea have sent police and troops to quell violent demonstrations in the capital, while its Prime Minister attributed the outbreaks to unnamed outside countries, of which he states, “we know who they are.”
Beijing opened an embassy in Honiara, the capital of the Solomons in Guadalcanal, despite severe criticism from Malaita. The two islands have a history of clashing and this latest row has only exacerbated tensions. Over decades and annually, US foreign aid to the country totals in the millions of dollars.
China’s aggressive foreign and economic policies raise serious concerns for the US and Pacific allies such as Australia.
Belarus has drawn increased attention in the last few months concerning border disputes, largely with Poland, but also involving other border neighbors Latvia and Lithuania. Its president, Alexander Lukashenko, assumed dictatorial power in September 2020 following questionable election results.
The present border conflicts are the result of recruitment of migrants by Belarus involving a pipeline from middle-eastern nations such as Syria and Afghanistan. In turn, the migrants are shuttled to the borders of neighboring states and encouraged to cross borders. In effect, Belarus has weaponized the migrant crisis and created a serious dilemma for its neighbors. The strategy was not adopted as a prank.
Belarus, with a population of some 9.3 million, has become a pawn in Vladimir Putin’s European aggression against European unity, particularly NATO. Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania are NATO members surrounding the landlocked Belarus. It also shares a border with Ukraine. Warnings by NATO members to Belarus have received a response that it is prepared to “turn off the natural gas pipelines” serving those nations. At the same time, Russia has continued to amass troops in Ukrainian territory.
The stakes for the prospect of an outbreak of military action are extremely high as Belarus prods its neighbors and Putin hovers over Ukraine. It is a situation testing the foundations of Western democracy and resilience.
Remember P45 said “they (Mexico) were not sending us their best.” Belarus appears to agree.