Crises afflict the world at a rapid velocity. It is hard to keep up with these developments, let alone develop a historical and critical perspective regarding them. Our Red Alert series provides a brief two page assessment of key crises.

What began as a trade dispute in the 1990s has now escalated into the United States making an existential challenge against China. The threat against China is made for perfectly rational reasons: the US correctly sees that the Chinese economy is slowly going to be the largest in the world, and that the United States understands that China will soon produce the most advanced technology. Various hybrid war techniques to weaken or overthrow the government are simply not available.

In the early evening of August 4, a fire broke out in Warehouse 12 at the Port of Beirut, Lebanon. An explosion immediately leveled the port, the pressure wave reaching 15 kilometres in all directions. What had exploded was not a ship with weapons or fireworks or a missile, but a building that housed 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which had been stored negligently in a port warehouse since November 2013. More than 19 officials have been arrested, including the director of the Port of Beirut and the customs director.

This Red Alert is a primer to explain essential facts about the virus and antidotes, produced in consultation with a range of scientists and engineers.

On 10 November 2019, a coup d’état took place in Bolivia. The commander-in-chief of the Bolivian Armed Forces asked President Evo Morales to resign. The police had already mutinied, and society had already been destabilised – this had been triggered by a presidential election whose results had not been recognised by the opposition and whose results had been suspiciously discredited by the Organisation of American States (OAS).

No such hatred marked US relations with Iran during the reign of the Shah (1941-1979). Only when an economic nationalist – Mohammed Mosaddeq – came to power between 1951 and 1953 and only when he threatened to nationalize Iran’s oil industry, did the CIA, the Shah, and the right-wing of the Iranian army – led by General Fazlollah Zahedi – move against him. But even then, they saw the communists as the threat and not the Iranian people.