Good morning and welcome to Early Warning for Thursday, 13 September.  Did you know that each Friday we produce an intelligence summary that rounds up the latest news and analysis on systems disruption, the risk of war, and organized political violence and unrest?  It’s true. Use coupon code ’13SEP’ for 50% off an annual plan here.  That’s good today only.

Zapad 2017 kicks off tomorrow in Russia and Belarus.  The military exercise will involve somewhere between 12,700 and 100,000 Russian soldiers and civilians, depending on who you ask. (Russia does have a history of under reporting the size and scope of their exercises.) In this year’s scenario, Russian and Belorussian forces will be combating a foreign, hostile military trying to foment rebellion and set up a separatist government in a fictional country in western Belarus.  In 2008 and 2014, the Russian military used large scale exercises as pretexts for their operations in Georgia and Crimea, respectively.  Although some NATO countries are concerned that this becomes another invasion, I wouldn’t hang my hat on it.

Senator Bernie Sanders is up to his old tricks and will introduce a bill to turn Medicare into a universal healthcare program. “This is where the country has got to go,” Sanders said. The bill has the support of at least 15 Democrat senators, but it’s not going anywhere. I fully anticipate the Democrats running again on the platform of universal healthcare in 2018 and 2020, and potentially even universal basic income in near-future elections. In an interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday night, Steve Bannon said that the 2020 general election will be between right wing populism and left wing populism. Here it is.  [source]

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday that China won’t allow war on the Korean Peninsula. “The peninsula issue must be resolved peacefully. The military solution has no way out. China will not allow war or chaos on the Korean peninsula.”  While China supports a return to six-party talks with North Korea, one anonymous U.S. government official says that there’s a 75% “chance of conflict”.  More on that in this Friday’s Executive Intelligence Summary.  (Subscribe here.)

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