The period in which Habakkuk lived had a lot of international tension. Judah was caught between two treacherous world powers. Prior to the events of the book, the king of Egypt had murdered the king of Judah and set up a puppet government in Judah. The Babylonians were also a world power known for their treachery. They were enemies of the Egyptians. The Babylonians were soon to overthrow the Egyptians, but for Judah this was like going from the frying pan into the fire. Habakkuk wondered what God was going to do in this morass. He did not realize that God also saw Judah as a part of the problem in the world.
Habakkuk was a contemporary of Jeremiah. Both prophets challenged the nation to give up their idolatry, pride and desire for wealth gained at the expense of the poor and by destroying the land. When Jeremiah delivered this message, he was persecuted for being unpatriotic (Jer 20:1-3).