Hegemony Daily + Great Power Competition

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America First Does Not Mean America Alone

Leadership Wanted: America Needs to Act, Not Apologize

There Are No Core U.S. National Interests at Stake in Ukraine

Massive military spending useless, need to focus resources at home

Andrew Bacevich, 9-14, 22, Andrew Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular, is president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. His latest book, co-edited with Danny Sjursen, is Paths of Dissent: Soldiers Speak Out Against America’s Misguided Wars. In November, his new Dispatch book, On Shedding an Obsolete Past: Bidding Farewell to the American Century, will be published, Will the U.S. Learn Anything from Putin’s Disastrous Invasion, https://countercurrents.org/2022/09/will-the-u-s-learn-anything-from-putins-disastrous-invasion/

Implicit in this critique, voiced by self-proclaimed American experts, is the suggestion that, if the Russian army had paid more attention to how U.S. forces deal with such matters, they would have fared better in Ukraine. That they don’t — and perhaps can’t — comes as good news for Russia’s enemies, of course. By implication, Russian military ineptitude obliquely affirms the military mastery of the United States. We define the standard of excellence to which others can only aspire. Reducing War to a Formula All of which begs a larger question the national security establishment remains steadfastly oblivious to: If jointness, combined arms tactics, flexible leadership, and responsive logistics hold the keys to victory, why haven’t American forces — supposedly possessing such qualities in abundance — been able to win their own equivalents of the Ukraine War? After all, Russia has only been stuck in Ukraine for six months, while the U.S. was stuck in Afghanistan for 20 years and still has troops in Iraq almost two decades after its disastrous invasion of that country. To rephrase the question: Why does explaining the Russian underperformance in Ukraine attract so much smug commentary here, while American military underperformance gets written off? Perhaps written off is too harsh. After all, when the U.S. military fails to meet expectations, there are always some who will hasten to point the finger at civilian leaders for screwing up. Certainly, this was the case with the chaotic U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021. Critics were quick to pin the blame on President Biden for that debacle, while the commanders who had presided over the war there for those 20 years escaped largely unscathed. Indeed, some of those former commanders like retired general and ex-CIA Director David Petraeus, aka “King David,” were eagerly sought after by the media as Kabul fell. So, if the U.S. military performance since the Global War on Terror was launched more than two decades ago rates as, to put it politely, a disappointment — and that would be my view — it might be tempting to lay responsibility at the feet of the four presidents, eight secretaries of defense (including two former four-star generals), and the various deputy secretaries, undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and ambassadors who designed and implemented American policy in those years. In essence, this becomes an argument for sustained generational incompetence. There’s a flipside to that argument, however. It would tag the parade of generals who presided over the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (and lesser conflicts like those in Libya, Somalia, and Syria) as uniformly not up to the job — another argument for generational incompetence. Members of the once-dominant Petraeus fan club might cite him as a notable exception. Yet, with the passage of time, King David’s achievements as general-in-chief first in Baghdad and then in Kabul have lost much of their luster. The late “Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf and General Tommy Franks, their own “victories” diminished by subsequent events, might sympathize. Allow me to suggest another explanation, however, for the performance gap that afflicts the twenty-first-century U.S. military establishment. The real problem hasn’t been arrogant, ill-informed civilians or generals who lack the right stuff or suffer from bad luck. It’s the way Americans, especially those wielding influence in national security circles, including journalists, think tankers, lobbyists, corporate officials in the military-industrial complex, and members of Congress, have come to think of war as an attractive, affordable means of solving problems. Military theorists have long emphasized that by its very nature, war is fluid, elusive, capricious, and permeated with chance and uncertainty. Practitioners tend to respond by suggesting that, though true, such descriptions are not helpful. They prefer to conceive of war as essentially knowable, predictable, and eminently useful — the Swiss Army knife of international politics. Hence, the tendency, among both civilian and military officials in Washington, not to mention journalists and policy intellectuals, to reduce war to a phrase or formula (or better yet to a set of acronyms), so that the entire subject can be summarized in a slick 30-minute slide presentation. That urge to simplify — to boil things down to their essence — is anything but incidental. In Washington, the avoidance of complexity and ambiguity facilitates marketing (that is, shaking down Congress for money). To cite one small example of this, consider a recent military document entitled “Army Readiness and Modernization in 2022,” produced by propagandists at the Association of the United States Army, purports to describe where the U.S. Army is headed. It identifies “eight cross-functional teams” meant to focus on “six priorities.” If properly resourced and vigorously pursued, these teams and priorities will ensure, it claims, that “the army maintains all-domain overmatch against all adversaries in future fights.” Set aside the uncomfortable fact that, when it counted last year in Kabul, American forces demonstrated anything but all-domain overmatch. Still, what the Army’s leadership aims to do between now and 2035 is create “a transformed multi-domain army” by fielding a plethora of new systems, described in a blizzard of acronyms: ERCA, PrSM, LRHW, OMVF, MPF, RCV, AMPV, FVL, FLRAA, FARA, BLADE, CROWS, MMHEL, and so on, more or less ad infinitum. Perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn that the Army’s plan, or rather vision, for its future avoids the slightest mention of costs. Nor does it consider potential complications — adversaries equipped with nuclear weapons, for example — that might interfere with its aspirations to all-domain overmatch. Yet the document deserves our attention as an exquisite example of Pentagon-think. It provides the Army’s preferred answer to a question of nearly existential importance — not “How can the Army help keep Americans safe?” but “How can the Army maintain, and ideally increase, its budget?” Hidden inside that question is an implicit assumption that sustaining even the pretense of keeping Americans safe requires a military of global reach that maintains a massive global presence. Given the spectacular findings of the James Webb Telescope, perhaps galactic will one day replace global in the Pentagon’s lexicon. In the meantime, while maintaining perhaps 750 military bases on every continent except Antarctica, that military rejects out of hand the proposition that defending Americans where they live — that is, within the boundaries of the 50 states comprising the United States — can suffice to define its overarching purpose. And here we arrive at the crux of the matter: militarized globalism, the Pentagon’s preferred paradigm for basic policy, has become increasingly unaffordable. With the passage of time, it’s also become beside the point. Americans simply don’t have the wallet to satisfy budgetary claims concocted in the Pentagon, especially those that ignore the most elemental concerns we face, including disease, drought, fire, floods, and sea-level rise, not to mention averting the potential collapse of our constitutional order. All-domain overmatch is of doubtful relevance to such threats. To provide for the safety and well-being of our republic, we don’t need further enhancements to jointness, combined arms tactics, flexible leadership, and responsive logistics. Instead, we need an entirely different approach to national security. Come Home, America, Before It’s Too Late Given the precarious state of American democracy, aptly described by President Biden in his recent address in Philadelphia, our most pressing priority is repairing the damage to our domestic political fabric, not engaging in another round of “great power competition” dreamed up by fevered minds in Washington. Put simply, the Constitution is more important than the fate of Taiwan. I apologize: I know that I have blasphemed. But the times suggest that we weigh the pros and cons of blasphemy. With serious people publicly warning about the possible approach of civil war and many of our far-too-well armed fellow citizens welcoming the prospect, perhaps the moment has come to reconsider the taken-for-granted premises that have sustained U.S. national security policy since the immediate aftermath of World War II. More blasphemy! Did I just advocate a policy of isolationism? Heaven forfend! What I would settle for instead is a modicum of modesty and prudence, along with a lively respect for (rather than infatuation with) war. Here is the unacknowledged bind in which the Pentagon has placed itself — and the rest of us: by gearing up to fight (however ineffectively) anywhere against any foe in any kind of conflict, it finds itself prepared to fight nowhere in particular. Hence, the urge to extemporize on the fly, as has been the pattern in every conflict of ours since the Vietnam War. On occasion, things work out, as in the long-forgotten, essentially meaningless 1983 invasion of the Caribbean island of Grenada. More often than not, however, they don’t, no matter how vigorously our generals and our troops apply the principles of jointness, combined arms, leadership, and logistics. Americans spend a lot of time these days trying to figure out what makes Vladimir Putin tick. I don’t pretend to know, nor do I really much care. I would say this, however: Putin’s plunge into Ukraine confirms that he learned nothing from the folly of post-9/11 U.S. military policy. Will we, in our turn, learn anything from Putin’s folly? Don’t count on it.

The liberal international order and the academic enterprise that supports it promotes racist imperialism driven by capitalism.

Mampillly, September-October 2022, ZACHARIAH MAMPILLY is the Marxe Endowed Chair of International Affairs at the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College and is an affiliate faculty member at the Graduate Center, CUNY. He is a co-author of Africa Uprising: Popular Protest and Political Change, The Du Bois Doctrine: Race and the American Century, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/united-states/web-du-bois-doctrine-race-america-century

It’s hard to argue that Du Bois, perhaps the most celebrated Black intellectual of all time, is underrecognized. His work remains a standard on syllabi across disciplines; prizes from academic associations bear his name. Despite the acclaim, however, Du Bois remains underappreciated—especially when it comes to his thinking on international politics. For a time, Du Bois was a regular contributor to Foreign Affairs, publishing five essays during the interwar period on topics ranging from European colonialism in Africa to the United States’ role in the League of Nations. But Du Bois was an exception in this regard: during his lifetime, this magazine published very few Black voices—and its founding involved acquiring an existing journal that had occasionally trafficked in the racist pseudoscience that shaped the early years of international relations theory. Then, during World War II and amid the hysterical anticommunism of the early Cold War, Foreign Affairs joined the rest of the white American establishment in casting out Du Bois; partly as a result, his contributions to the field have received little attention from scholars in recent decades. Du Bois is rightly still venerated for his work on civil rights. But the erasure of his contributions to debates on U.S. foreign policy and international order represents an enormous loss. By discarding him, the American foreign policy establishment robbed itself of one of the twentieth century’s most perceptive and prescient critics of capitalism and imperialism. His now forgotten texts on world politics prefigured many of the ideas that later shaped international relations theory. They brim with insights on the importance of race, the effect of domestic politics on foreign policy, the limits of liberal institutions, and the relationship between political economy and world order. Revisiting them today reveals how racism marred the dawn of the so-called American century and the liberal internationalism that drove it—and the role of establishment institutions (including this magazine) in that history. And because many of the ills that Du Bois diagnosed in the imperial and Cold War orders persist in today’s putatively liberal international order, rediscovering his work serves more than a purely historical purpose. A better order demands a more complete reckoning, and restoring Du Bois’s rightful place in the international relations canon would be a step toward that goal. STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING? Du Bois was born in 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and his lifespan overlaps almost exactly with the Jim Crow era, a period during which Black Americans faced severe restrictions on their ability to participate in political, economic, and social life. Du Bois’s youth also coincided with a period of domestic expansion after the Civil War, as the U.S. government, newly triumphant over the single greatest threat to its sovereignty, sent its armies west to put down various indigenous insurgencies. The enlargement of the U.S. military that accompanied the pacification of rebellious southern whites and the defeat of Native American resistance did not recede once those projects were complete. Instead, the colonial projects that European countries were pursuing in Asia and Africa galvanized an envious United States to carve out its own colonies. In 1898, a year before Du Bois published his first major sociological study, The Philadelphia Negro, the United States’ imperial ambitions produced the annexation of Hawaii and the acquisition of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines as spoils of the Spanish-American War. At around that time, as the United States began to emerge as a leading global power, modern international relations theory started to take shape. As the political scientist Robert Vitalis has written, “The central challenge defining the new field of ‘imperial relations’ was the efficient political administration and race development of subject peoples.” Most early theorists, such as John Hobson, Alleyne Ireland, and Paul Reinsch, saw as major concerns two interlinked subjects: first, the question of whether the United States should secure a global empire in the manner of its European rivals, and second, the role of race in U.S. foreign policy. Writing in Political Science Quarterly, Hobson, for example, argued that the clear biological advantages enjoyed by the Anglo-Saxon race not merely justified colonial occupation but demanded it: “It is desirable that the earth should be peopled, governed and developed as far as possible by the races which can do their work best, that is, by the races of highest ‘social efficiency’; these races must assert their right by conquering, ousting, subjugating or extinguishing races of lower social efficiency.” Du Bois remains underappreciated—especially when it comes to his thinking on international politics. Today, many scholars dismiss the imperialist, racist logics propounded by the founders of modern international relations theory as merely reflecting the prejudices of an unenlightened era: sins not egregious enough to diminish the value of the sinners’ good works. Vitalis, however, maintains that the origins of modern international relations theory cannot be cleaved from the junk race science and dubious anthropology that were, at the very least, present at its creation. The same could be said about this magazine. In 1922, the Council on Foreign Relations launched Foreign Affairs after acquiring the future publication rights for an existing quarterly called the Journal of International Relations—which, until just a few years earlier, had been known as the Journal of Race Development. Established to be what its editor, George Blakeslee, described as a “forum for the discussion of the problems which relate to the progress of races and states generally considered backward,” the Journal of Race Development published plenty of quackery: for example, articles that considered whether white people could adapt to the tropics and that explored the evolutionary origins of blond hair. But it was hardly a bastion of white supremacism. Indeed, one of its most prominent contributors was Du Bois; in one contribution in 1917, he argued that World War I had its origins in colonial exploitation. And when the publication changed its title, dropping “race development” in favor of “international relations,” Du Bois was skeptical: “I am much more interested in the old name than in the new name of your journal,” he wrote to Blakeslee. And despite Blakeslee’s interest in publishing him, Du Bois did not contribute to the short-lived Journal of International Relations. But a few years later, after Foreign Affairs had launched, Du Bois submitted an article titled “Worlds of Color,” which revisited his concept of a global “color line” in light of the events of World War I. In a letter to Du Bois accepting the piece, the magazine’s managing editor, Hamilton Fish Armstrong, praised “the admirable restraint with which you have expressed yourself.” The essay was published in 1925, a quarter century after Du Bois had initially developed the concept, and it garnered a good deal of attention. In that piece and four others that he published in Foreign Affairs over the following two decades, Du Bois offered a real-time assessment of the emerging world order, decrying the yawning gap between its proponents’ putatively liberal values and the order’s actual consequences for the colonized world. “BLACK AND POOR IN A RICH, WHITE WORLD” One of the central questions that motivated Du Bois was why the white working class in the United States refused to align with formerly enslaved Black Americans to challenge their common oppression. His solution to this puzzle rested on his views about the nature of race and the tensions between democracy and capitalism. Unlike most of his white contemporaries, Du Bois did not see race as an immutable characteristic but as a social construct. “Humanity is mixed to its bones,” he wrote in a 1935 article for Foreign Affairs. Race was not a product of primordial competition among different groups of humans but a useful fiction of sorts, employed by economic elites to justify hierarchies that served their interests. “The medieval world had no real race problems,” he noted in the same article. “Its human problems were those of nationality and culture and religion, and it was mainly as the new economy of an expanding population demanded a laboring class that this class tended . . . to be composed of members of alien races.” And later, writing on European colonialism, he argued, “The belief that racial and color differences made exploitation of colonies necessary and justifiable was too tempting to withstand. As a matter of fact, the opposite was the truth; namely, that the profit from exploitation was the main reason for the belief in race difference.” Du Bois saw this dynamic clearly at work in the United States, where white elites avoided economic redistribution and retained political power by offering white workers “a public and psychological wage” in the form of control over police forces, access to politicians, and flattering media portrayals. But white American elites did not rely solely on such tactics to secure the allegiance of the white working class: beginning after the collapse of Reconstruction in the late 1870s, global capitalism and imperialism improved the living conditions of poorer white Americans by providing resources for their segregated schools, parks, and neighborhoods, all without meaningfully transferring power to them. In this way, Du Bois argued in his seminal 1935 work, Black Reconstruction, white elites in the United States had created a double proletariat divided by a racial line. On one side were poor and working-class whites, afforded some material gains but no genuine social mobility or political power. On the other were Black Americans, bereft of any hope for either economic or political gain. Through imperial war and capitalism, the United Statesin concert with the European powers—had created a global system for upholding white supremacy. In the interwar period, Du Bois initially placed his faith in the emergence of international institutions to redress these inequities. In 1921, he presented a petition to the newly created League of Nations on behalf of the Pan-African Congress, concluding that the league might spark a “revolution for the Negro race.” But over the next decade, his views soured as the league failed to live up to its liberal ideals and became a tool of the superpowers. The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution In a 1933 Foreign Affairs essay on Liberia, he detailed an unholy alliance between the Firestone corporation, the league, and the U.S. government. Despite a league-commissioned investigation that found that Firestone, in connivance with Liberian elites, had used forced labor, the United States sided with the company against the league’s plan for reform. The result was Liberia’s indebtedness and loss of sovereignty. As Washington debated whether to increase its military involvement to resolve the consequent crisis in Liberia, Du Bois asked, scathingly: “Are we starting the United States Army toward Liberia to guarantee the Firestone Company’s profits in a falling rubber market?” Long before such charges became a staple of left-wing criticisms of American hegemony, Du Bois foresaw the troubling effects of commingling U.S. military power with private interests and the ease with which major powers could employ international organizations to hide their imperialist agendas under a veneer of legitimacy. The exploitation that Du Bois detailed in his report on Liberia was something of a blueprint for how, long after the end of direct colonialism, global superpowers would use debt to guarantee the subservience of countries in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world. By the time he published his Foreign Affairs piece on Liberia, Du Bois had come to see the promise of Western liberal internationalism as hollow.Liberia is not faultless,” he wrote. “She lacks training, experience and thrift. But her chief crime is to be black and poor in a rich, white world; and in precisely that portion of the world where color is ruthlessly exploited as a foundation for American and European wealth. The success of Liberia as a Negro republic would be a blow to the whole colonial slave labor system.” In his final essay for Foreign Affairs, in 1943, Du Bois rejected the idea that World War II was a fight between liberal and illiberal powers, arguing that it was competition for colonies that produced the fighting instead. “Is it a white man’s war?” he asked, rhetorically, on behalf of Africans and Asians. And by the time of the San Francisco Conference that birthed the United Nations in 1945, which he attended on behalf of the NAACP, Du Bois’s skepticism of the emerging liberal order had calcified. Afterward, he wrote a letter to Armstrong, who had become the editor of Foreign Affairs in 1928 (and would stay in the position until 1972), pitching a critique of the nascent organization. In his estimation, the conference “took steps to prevent further wars” but “did not go nearly far enough in facing realistically the greatest potential cause of war, the colonial system.” The magazine rejected the pitch, and Du Bois would never again publish in Foreign Affairs. AGAINST EMPIRE, FOR DEMOCRACY In exploring the relationship between race relations inside the United States and the country’s quest for power in the international system, Du Bois anticipated the ways in which, in the mid-twentieth century, scholars of international relations would increasingly focus on domestic politics to explain countries’ foreign policies. And he applied this lens to cases besides the United States. In trying to understand the costs of European competition for control over Africa, for example, Du Bois argued that domestic factors would undermine the clear military advantage European countries had over their colonial subjects. As a keen observer of emergent anticolonial struggles in India and elsewhere, Du Bois deduced how the occupation of foreign lands would engender resistance among the colonized. But Du Bois also saw another dilemma that imperialism created for European countries: colonial domination abroad often required the sacrifice of democracy at home. Imperialism inevitably led to increased racial and economic inequality at home: military adventures and opportunities for extracting natural resources empowered the capitalist class (and its favored segments of the underclass) and stoked racial prejudice that justified further interventions in foreign lands. As Du Bois put it in “Worlds of Color” in 1925: “One looks on present France and her African shadow, then, as standing at the parting of tremendous ways; one way leads toward democracy for black as well as white—a thorny way made more difficult by the organized greed of the imperial profit-takers within and without the nation; the other road is the way of the white world, and of its contradictions and dangers English colonies may tell.” Du Bois’s increasing engagement with international politics also shaped his evolving views of the United States and its racial and class hierarchies. Early in his career, Du Bois developed the concept of “the talented tenth,” the idea that marginalized groups require their own internal elite to pull the rest of the group out of poverty. But his study of European colonialism in Africa forced him to reassess his faith in minority elites as a vehicle for racial uplift. In Liberia, Du Bois had initially supported Firestone’s investment as a way to buttress the legitimacy of the ruling Americo-Liberian community. But by the 1940s, he had grown disenchanted with the idea of the talented tenth, warning that it would empower “a group of selfish, self-indulgent, well-to-do men.” This change in his thinking dovetailed with the fact that, in his personal life, he was becoming increasingly estranged from Black elites in the United States, who he felt had not supported him during his investigation by the United States government. Du Bois argued that Washington’s quest for a liberal order could never be reconciled with a Jim Crow system at home. Eventually, Du Bois embraced the strategy of “assigning transformative responsibilities to the international proletariat,” as the political scientist Adolph Reed has put it. His change in thinking was reinforced by his interpretation of how international capitalism was developing: instead of a tool to uplift the darker races, it was the cause of their exploitation. As a result, long before he fully embraced communism, he had moved toward a form of democratic socialism. Yet even as he developed a theory of working-class agency, Du Bois could never fully shake his faith in the idea of a chosen few leading the way toward emancipation or in the potential for global cooperation. But it would not be Western elites, with their attachment to racial and economic hierarchies, who would lead the way. Rather, he believed, it was the rising powers of Asia, as well as the Soviet Union, that would upend the global system of white supremacy and liberate Black Americans. This view is palpably present in one of his most personal works, the novel Dark Princess, which Du Bois wrote in 1928. Inspired by his participation in the First Universal Races Congress in 1911 and in other forums, such as the League Against Imperialism in 1927, Dark Princess tells the story of Matthew Townes, an African American medical student in self-imposed exile in Germany, where Du Bois had conducted some of his graduate studies. An obvious surrogate for Du Bois, Townes encounters elites from multiple African and Asian countries who seek to overthrow colonial rule but whose own prejudices prevent them from recognizing the potential of the Black working class in the United States. One of these characters is the Indian princess of the novel’s title, who overcomes her prejudices and commits a form of class suicide, giving birth to a child fathered by Townes. Du Bois positions the child as a messiah figure who will someday rescue the oppressed darker races of the world. Because of their historic prejudices, Europe and the United States—as well as rich elites elsewhere—were denying not only themselves but all of humanity of the potential benefits of lifting up marginalized groups. WHAT DU BOIS SAW That Du Bois died a member of the Communist Party is no secret. But his journey to the left took decades. Du Bois first encountered socialism as a student in Germany in the 1890s, but it was not until the 1930s that he began to seriously engage with leftist politics. Given Du Bois’s stature as the predominant Black intellectual of his time, his leftward drift was a source of suspicion for the U.S. government. The FBI began investigating Du Bois in 1942, following his visit to imperial Japan, where he delivered a speech praising the country as a potential friend to Black Americans. Despite concluding that there was “no evidence of subversive activity,” the FBI continued to investigate Du Bois for the rest of his life, derailing his career and strengthening his anti-Americanism. During the McCarthy era in the early 1950s, U.S. authorities arrested Du Bois and charged him with being a secret Soviet agent after he circulated a petition calling for a ban on nuclear weapons. At his trial, a federal judge summarily acquitted Du Bois as soon as the prosecution rested its case, citing a lack of evidence. But the controversy rendered Du Bois persona non grata—and penniless. The State Department refused to issue him a passport in 1952, a harsh blow for a man who had spent his entire adult life visiting and studying foreign countries. In 1957, Du Bois sought to regain his passport to attend Nkrumah’s inauguration. Du Bois sent a personal appeal to Vice President Richard Nixon, who was scheduled to attend on behalf of the United States. But the State Department denied the request. The following year, the Supreme Court declared the policy of denying passports to suspected communists unconstitutional. Du Bois secured a new passport—although, in Ghana just a few years later, he would be unable to renew it—and immediately embarked on a ten-week trip to China, where he met with both Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai. Having last visited the country in 1936, Du Bois was amazed by China’s progress, praising its rising industrial prowess and calling the changes nothing short of a “miracle.” The success of American democracy required that political and economic equality be extended to all people around the world. Du Bois’s admiration for authoritarians such as Nkrumah and Mao, and his fulsome praise for the Soviet tyrant Joseph Stalin were inconsistent with his lifelong support for democracy. But his unfortunate embrace of such figures arguably represents a misapplication of his well-founded belief that democracy was incompatible with racial and economic inequality. His decades-long persecution at the hands of the United States also fed his misgivings about Western liberalism’s ability to foster racial and economic equality. In his writings on international politics, Du Bois argued that the domestic could never be divorced from the global, and that Washington’s quest for a liberal order could never be reconciled with a Jim Crow system at home. Although American society has changed since Du Bois’s time, that fundamental tension has never been resolved: from the Cold War to the “war on terror” and beyond, the United States has cast itself as a champion of freedom and equality, despite never meeting its own standards in its treatment of American citizens and despite routinely enabling and empowering authoritarians and other enemies of liberal values when doing so has served U.S. economic or national security interests, as defined by establishment elites. Realists often excuse or even demand such inconsistency and hypocrisy, suggesting that liberals are naive to believe that domestic values should guide foreign policy. Meanwhile, hawks of all stripes—from neoconservatives to liberal interventionists—refuse to acknowledge the inconsistency and hypocrisy at all, claim they are transient aberrations, or insist that they don’t really matter. By linking his devastating insights into the realities of American apartheid with his analysis of Western imperialism, Du Bois charted a unique course through this perennial debate. His work upends the liberal fantasy of the United States’ inevitable progress toward a “more perfect union” that would inspire a just global order and gives the lie to the realist fantasy that how the country behaves internationally can be separated from domestic politics. For Du Bois, the success of democracy in the United States required that political and economic equality be extended not only to U.S. citizens but to all people around the world. It is an uncompromising and inspiring vision; embracing it cost Du Bois dearly. But it may be just what the country needs as it faces the waning of American imperium

Russia will never accept the LIO

Haas, September-October 2022, RICHARD HAASS is President of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the forthcoming The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens., The Dangerous Decade, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/united-states/dangerous-decade-foreign-policy-world-crisis-richard-haass

This failure is especially noticeable when it comes to Russia. In the years immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the juxtaposition of vast American power and staggering Russian weakness made it seem unlikely that, three decades later, world affairs would once again be dominated by hostility between the Kremlin and Western capitals. Debates rage about how this came to pass, with profound disagreements over how much blame the United States deserves and how much should be attributed to Putin or to Russian political culture more broadly. But whatever the cause, it is difficult to deny that six U.S. presidential administrations have little to show for all their efforts to build a successful post–Cold War relationship with Russia. Today, under Putin, Russian behavior is fundamentally at odds with the most basic tenets of international order. Putin shows no interest in integrating Russia into the prevailing order but rather seeks to ignore it when he can—and when he cannot, to undermine or defeat it. He has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to employ brutal military force against civilian populations in Europe and the Middle East. Putin’s regime does not respect the borders and sovereignty of other countries, as witnessed with its ongoing invasion of Ukraine and attempt to annex parts of the country.

Epkskopis, 9-5, 22, Why Gorbachev’s Dream for Russia Failed, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/why-gorbachev%E2%80%99s-dream-russia-failed-204614

Gorbachev, eulogized in the West as a visionary and “great emancipator,” is generally regarded by Russian public opinion as a fatally misguided idealist at best and a “traitor” at worst. “He is a traitor, not a General Secretary. He destroyed the state, a precedent for betrayal from above. It is synonymous with betrayal,” said Nikolai Kolomeitsev, the first deputy head of the Russian Communist Party, following Gorbachev’s death. “I am convinced that the time will come when the truth about Gorbachev will prevail in Russia and the world, and we will all be horrified [by it],” stated Russian politician Sergei Baburin. “He was a terrible person who not only betrayed not only his country but his civilization.” The Kremlin has not joined hawkish Russian commentators and politicians in openly condemning Gorbachev, instead striking a more ambivalent tone. “Gorbachev gave an impulse for ending the Cold War and he sincerely wanted to believe that it would be over and an eternal romance would start between the renewed Soviet Union and the collective West,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “This romanticism failed to materialize. The bloodthirsty nature of our opponents has come to light, and it’s good that we realized that in time.” It was reported earlier this week that Putin is planning to refuse Gorbachev a formal state funeral in what Russian and Western media outlets speculated would be a final, stinging rebuke of his legacy. The Russian president opted for a less confrontational course, approving a semi-state funeral ceremony in the Pillar Hall of the House of the Unions near the Kremlin on Saturday. Putin, who will not attend the ceremony, privately laid flowers at Gorbachev’s coffin on Tuesday. Yet Putin has repudiated Gorbachev’s legacy in a much more profound way: not in word, but in deed. “What Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev did is all destroyed. Gorbachev’s reforms—to zero, to ashes, to smoke,” Russian opposition journalist Alexei Venediktov told Russian Forbes magazine in 2020. “I can tell you that Gorbachev is upset, of course, he understands. This was his life’s work. Freedom—this was Gorbachev’s work.” Gorbachev’s ambitious foreign and domestic reforms were premised on the conviction that there is a place for Russia in the grand project of a “common European home.” But the intoxicating chiliasm of the 1990s soon gave way to a more familiar set of mutual suspicions, historical grievances, and conflicts of interest. It became increasingly clear to lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic that Russia could not be integrated into the liberal international order as a post-Soviet nation-state. By the same token, the Kremlin concluded that the liberal international order as it is currently constituted poses an existential threat to Russia’s statehood. The Gorbachovian vision of a unified Europe stretching “from Lisbon to Vladivostok” has been dashed against the rocks; in its place is the Kremlin’s concept of a “Russian World” that stands in diametrical opposition to the “Collective West.” The Ukraine War, described by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg as the most dangerous moment for Europe since World War II, marks the most visceral rejection yet of the post-Cold War world envisioned by Gorbachev. It is a forceful reaffirmation of the very same imperial identity that Gorbachev believed Russia, if encouraged by a prudent and forward-looking West to act on its better instincts, could outgrow. Gorbachev’s contemporaries triumphantly theorized that his tectonic reforms heralded the “end of history,” or the undisputed hegemony of Western liberal democracy. Instead, the Soviet collapse opened a new chapter in the global great-power struggle for supremacy that may well turn out to be bloodier and more destructive than the last.

Russia and China aligned against the LIO

Haas, September-October 2022, RICHARD HAASS is President of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the forthcoming The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens., The Dangerous Decade, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/united-states/dangerous-decade-foreign-policy-world-crisis-richard-haass

What is certain is that Xi and other Chinese leaders seem to assume that China will pay little if any cost for its aggressive behavior, given that others are too dependent on its exports or on access to its market. So far, this assumption has been borne out. Yet a conflict between the United States and China no longer seems like a remote possibility. Meanwhile, as Washington’s relations with Moscow and Beijing grow tenser, Russia and China are growing closer. They share an animosity to a U.S.-led international system that they see as inhospitable to their political systems at home and their ambitions abroad. Increasingly, they are willing to act on their objections and do so in tandem. Unlike 40 or 50 years ago, it is the United States that now finds itself the odd man out when it comes to triangular diplomacy.

Promoting the LIO undermines global cooperation on key issues, democracy vs the world fails [should focus on climate change]

Haas, September-October 2022, RICHARD HAASS is President of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the forthcoming The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens., The Dangerous Decade, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/united-states/dangerous-decade-foreign-policy-world-crisis-richard-haass

There is another reason for prioritizing the promotion of order over the promotion of democracy—one that has nothing to do directly with Russia and China. Efforts to build international order, be it for the purpose of resisting aggression and proliferation or combating climate change and infectious disease, have broad support among nondemocracies. A world order premised on respect for borders and common efforts on global challenges is preferable to a liberal world order premised on neither. That so many countries have not participated in sanctioning Russia is revealing. Framing the crisis in Ukraine as one of democracy versus authoritarianism has, not surprisingly, fallen flat among many illiberal leaders. The same logic applies to the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, which the Biden administration is belatedly working to repair: a preference for democracy and human rights is one thing, but a foreign policy based on such a preference in a world defined by geopolitics and global challenges is unwise and unsustainable.

A similarly clear-eyed view should determine how Washington approaches cooperation on global challenges. Multilateralism is far preferable to unilateralism, but narrow multilateralism is far more promising than universal or broad forms of collective action that rarely succeed; witness, for example, the course of climate-change diplomacy and trade. Better to pursue realistic partnerships of the like-minded, which can bring a degree of order to the world, including specific domains of limited order, if not quite world order. Here, too, realism must trump idealism.

This observation has direct implications for dealing with climate change. Climate change poses an existential threat, and although a global response would be best, geopolitics will continue to make such collaboration difficult. The United States and its partners should emphasize narrower diplomatic approaches, but progress on mitigation is more likely to stem from technological breakthroughs than from diplomacy. That owes not to a lack of possible policy tools but rather to a lack of political support in the United States and other countries for those measures or for trade pacts that could encourage mitigation by imposing taxes or tariffs on goods derived from fossil fuels or manufactured through energy-inefficient processes. As a result, the goal of adapting to climate change should receive more attention and resources, as should exploration of the technological possibility of reversing it.

No international cooperation on climate now

Haas, September-October 2022, RICHARD HAASS is President of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the forthcoming The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens., The Dangerous Decade, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/united-states/dangerous-decade-foreign-policy-world-crisis-richard-haass

Among other global challenges, climate change has arguably received the most international attention, and rightly so—yet there is little to show for it. Unless the world makes rapid progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions during this decade, it will be much more difficult to preserve and protect life as we know it on this planet. But diplomatic efforts have come up short and show no sign of improving. Individual countries determine their own climate goals, and there is no price for setting them low or not meeting them. Generating post-pandemic economic growth and locking in energy supplies—a concern heightened by the war in Ukraine and the disruptions it has yielded in the energy sector—have increased countries’ focus on energy security at the expense of climate considerations. Once again, a traditional geopolitical concern has collided with a new problem, making it harder to contend with either one.

China dominance of Taiwan would kill US leadership and cause an economic shock

Haas, September-October 2022, RICHARD HAASS is President of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the forthcoming The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens., The Dangerous Decade, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/united-states/dangerous-decade-foreign-policy-world-crisis-richard-haass

Washington and its partners will also need to respond forcefully if China moves against Taiwan. Allowing China to capture the island would have massive ramifications: every American ally and partner would reconsider its security dependence on the United States and opt for either appeasement of China or some form of strategic autonomy, which would likely involve obtaining nuclear weapons. A conflict over Taiwan would also lead to a profound global economic shock owing to Taiwan’s dominant role in manufacturing advanced semiconductors.

Great Power Competition now due to Russian aggression; the West must endorse real politic and deterrence to manage

Charles A. Kupchan, 9-2, 22, National Interest, The War in Ukraine and the Return of Realpolitik, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/war-ukraine-and-return-realpolitik-204515?page=0%2C2

GREAT POWER competition is back. The transatlantic alliance must revise its grand strategy accordingly and downsize its idealist ambitions in favor of pragmatic realism. Throughout the crisis over Ukraine, the West’s ideological North Star—the promotion of democracy—guided statecraft, with NATO supporting and encouraging Kyiv’s aspirations to join the Western alliance. But Russian president Vladimir Putin, unwilling to let Ukraine leave the Russian fold and emerge as a democracy anchored in the West, launched a war to put Kyiv back under Moscow’s sway. Putin owns this war, with the death and destruction that it has produced.

The West’s reaction—arming Ukraine, sanctioning Russia, bolstering NATO‘s eastern flank while extending membership to Finland and Sweden—is fully justified. Yet legitimate outrage over Russia’s pummeling of Ukraine threatens to obscure the need to draw sober lessons from the war. Perhaps the most important is that the world is reverting to the rules of power politics, requiring that ideological ambition more regularly yield to strategic realities in order to ensure that the West’s purposes remain in sync with its means. This adjustment means that the West will need to focus more on defending, instead of expanding, the democratic community. To be sure, by combining its values with its power, the West has bent the arc of history away from the practice of realpolitik and toward greater freedom, human dignity, and peace. But the transatlantic community must now temper its idealist ambitions with greater strategic pragmatism to successfully navigate a world that has just shifted back toward Hobbesian realism.

The unrulier and more competitive world that is taking shape will naturally bolster transatlantic unity—just as the threat posed by the Soviet Union contributed to NATO’s cohesion during the Cold War. Yet the political ills that have been plaguing the West have not dissipated; Russia’s invasion, along with the prospect of a new cold war, is not enough to cure the United States and Europe of illiberalism and political dysfunction. In fact, the war in Ukraine has produced economic spillover effects that could further weaken political centrism. Accordingly, America and Europe face a double challenge: they must continue getting their own houses in order even while they stand together to resist Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

THIS TENSION between lofty ambition and strategic reality is nothing new, particularly for the United States. Since the earliest days of the republic, Americans have understood the purpose of their power to entail not only security, but also the spread of liberal democracy at home and abroad. As Thomas Paine wrote in 1776, “we have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now.”

Paine was surely engaging in hyperbole, but successive generations of Americans have taken the nation’s exceptionalist calling to heart—with quite impressive results. Through the power of its example as well as its many exertions abroad—including World War I, World War II, and the Cold War—the United States has succeeded in expanding the footprint of liberal democracy. At the time of the nation’s founding, republics were far and few between. Today, more than half of the world’s countries are full or partial democracies. The United States played a leading role in effecting this transformation.

But these ideological aspirations have at times fueled overreach, producing outcomes that compromise the nation’s idealist ambitions. The founding generation was determined to build an extended republic that would stretch all the way to the Pacific coast—a goal that the nation achieved by the middle of the nineteenth century. Much of the United States’ westward expansion took place under the exalted banner of Manifest Destiny, which provided ideological justification for expanding the frontier—but also moral cover for trampling on Native Americans and launching a war of choice against Mexico that led to U.S. annexation of roughly half of Mexican territory. The Mexican-American War and the bout of expansion that accompanied it came back to haunt the United States by intensifying the sectional rift over slavery and pushing the North and South toward civil war.

President William McKinley in 1898 embarked on a war to expel Spain from Cuba—one of its few remaining colonies in the hemisphere—insisting that Americans had to act “in the cause of humanity.” Yet victory in the Spanish-American War turned the United States itself into an imperial power, as it asserted control over Spanish possessions in the Caribbean and Pacific, including the Philippines. “There was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them,” McKinley insisted as U.S. forces occupied the Philippines. The resulting insurgency led to the death of some 4,000 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Filipino fighters and civilians. The United States held on to the Philippines until 1946.

into World War I, President Woodrow Wilson declared before Congress that “the world must be made safe for democracy.” After U.S. forces helped bring the war to a close, he played a leading role in negotiations over the League of Nations, a global body that was to preserve peace through collective action, dispute resolution, and disarmament. But such idealist ambitions proved too much even for Americans. The Senate shot down U.S. membership in the League; Wilson’s ideological overreach cleared the way for the stubborn isolationism of the interwar era.

Just before launching the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush affirmed that “we believe the Iraqi people are deserving and capable of human liberty … they can set an example to all the Middle East of a vital and peaceful and self-governing nation.” The result of the war in Iraq was far different: region-wide suffering and sectarian conflict poised to continue for generations. As for Afghanistan, Bush proclaimed in 2004: “Now the country is changing. There’s women’s rights. There’s equality under the law. Young girls now go to school, many for the first time ever, thanks to the United States and our coalition of liberators.” But two decades of exhaustive U.S. efforts to bring stability and democracy to Afghanistan fell embarrassingly short, with the U.S. withdrawal last summer giving way to Taliban rule and a humanitarian nightmare. Across these historical episodes, noble ambitions backfired with dreadful consequences.

THE UKRAINE question has similarly exposed the inescapable tensions between lofty ambitions and geopolitical realities. These tensions were, for the most part, in abeyance amid the bipolarity of the Cold War, when geopolitical expedience guided the U.S. strategy of containment. The Yalta agreement struck by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin at the end of World War II was the ultimate realist compromise, leaving much of Eastern Europe under Soviet domination. Roosevelt and Churchill were wisely yielding principle to pragmatism by providing Soviet Russia with a buffer zone on its western flank. Such strategic restraint paid off handsomely; it contributed to stability during the long decades of the Cold War, buying time for a patient policy of containment that ultimately led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the implosion of the Soviet Union.

NATO’s eastward expansion then began in the 1990s, the era of unipolarity, when Washington was confident that the triumph of American power and purpose would usher in the universalization of democracy, capitalism, and a liberal, rules-based international order. The Clinton administration embraced a grand strategy of “democratic enlargement”—a key plank of which was opening NATO’s doors to Europe’s new democracies and formally welcoming into the West the states of the defunct and discredited Warsaw Pact.

NATO’s eastward enlargement has fostered both moral and strategic gains. The West capitalized on the opportunity to reverse Yalta; NATO members could reassert their moral authority by integrating Europe’s newest democracies. The allure of meeting the political standards for entry into the Western alliance helped guide through democratic transitions more than a dozen countries that long suffered under communist rule. Opening NATO’s doors also provided the alliance strategic depth and increased aggregate military strength. The defense guarantee that comes with membership serves as a strong deterrent to Russian adventurism—a prized commodity given Moscow’s renewed appetite for invading its neighbors. Indeed, Finland and Sweden have left behind decades of neutrality in order to avail themselves of that guarantee.

But despite these principled and practical benefits, the enlargement of NATO also came with a significant strategic downside: it laid the foundation for a post-Cold War security order that excluded Russia while bringing the world’s most formidable military alliance ever closer to its borders. It was precisely for this reason that the Clinton administration initially launched the Partnership for Peace—a security framework that enabled all European states to cooperate with NATO without drawing new dividing lines. But that alternative fell by the wayside early in January 1994, when President Bill Clinton declared in Prague that “the question is no longer whether NATO will take on new members but when and how.” The first wave of expansion extended membership to the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland in 1999, followed since by four additional bouts of enlargement. So far, NATO has admitted fifteen countries (encompassing some 100 million people) that were formerly in Russia’s sphere of influence.

The Kremlin objected to NATO enlargement from the get-go. As early as 1993, Russian president Boris Yeltsin warned that Russians across the political spectrum “would no doubt perceive this as a sort of neo-isolation of our country in diametric opposition to its natural admission into Euro-Atlantic space.” In a face-to-face meeting with President Clinton in 1995, Yeltsin was more direct:  I see nothing but humiliation for Russia if you proceed … Why do you want to do this? We need a new structure for Pan-European security, not old ones! … For me to agree to the borders of NATO expanding towards those of Russia – that would constitute a betrayal on my part of the Russian people.

Moscow’s discomfort only grew when Putin took the helm in 1999 and reversed Yeltsin’s flirtation with a more liberal brand of governance. At the Munich Security Conference in 2007, Putin declared that NATO enlargement “represents a serious provocation” and asked, “Why is it necessary to put military infrastructure on our borders during this expansion?”

Russia soon began concrete efforts to stop further enlargement. In 2008, not long after NATO pledged that Georgia and Ukraine “will become members of NATO,” Russia intervened in Georgia. In 2012, Moscow allegedly attempted to organize a coup in Montenegro to block its accession to the alliance, and later worked to prevent North Macedonia’s membership. These efforts in the Balkans were to no avail; Montenegro joined the alliance in 2017 and North Macedonia followed suit in 2020. Now Putin has invaded Ukraine, in part to block its pathway to NATO. In his February 24 address to the nation justifying the beginning of the “special military operation,” Putin pointed to “the fundamental threats which irresponsible Western politicians created for Russia … I am referring to the eastward expansion of NATO, which is moving its military infrastructure ever closer to the Russian border.”

The United States has largely dismissed Russia’s objections. While the Kremlin has been anxiously watching NATO’s advance, Washington has viewed NATO’s eastward expansion primarily through the benign lens of America’s exceptionalist calling. Enlarging the alliance has been about spreading American values and removing geopolitical dividing lines rather than drawing new ones.

As he launched NATO’s open-door policy, President Clinton claimed that doing so would “erase the artificial line in Europe drawn by Stalin at the end of World War II.” Madeleine Albright, his secretary of state, affirmed that “NATO is a defensive alliance that … does not regard any state as its adversary.” The purpose of expanding the alliance, she explained, was to build a Europe “whole and free,” noting that “NATO poses no danger to Russia.” That’s the line that Washington has taken ever since, including when it came to Ukraine’s potential membership. As the crisis over Ukraine mounted, President Joe Biden insisted that, “the United States and NATO are not a threat to Russia. Ukraine is not threatening Russia.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed: “NATO itself is a defensive alliance … And the idea that Ukraine represents a threat to Russia or, for that matter, that NATO represents a threat to Russia is profoundly wrong and misguided.” America’s allies have mostly been on the same page. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, affirmed during the run-up to Russia’s invasion that: “NATO is not a threat to Russia.”

Yet Russia saw things quite differently—and not without reason. Geography and geopolitics matter; major powers, regardless of their ideological bent, don’t like it when other major powers stray into their neighborhoods. Russia has understandable and legitimate security concerns about NATO setting up shop on the other side of its 1,000-mile-plus border with Ukraine. NATO may be a defensive alliance, but it brings to bear aggregate military power that Russia understandably does not want parked near its territory.

Indeed, Moscow’s protests have been, ironically, very much in line with America’s own statecraft, which has long sought to keep other major powers away from its own borders. The United States spent much of the nineteenth century ushering Britain, France, Russia, and Spain out of the Western Hemisphere. Thereafter, Washington regularly turned to military intervention to hold sway in the Americas. The exercise of hemispheric hegemony continued during the Cold War, with the United States determined to box the Soviet Union and its ideological sympathizers out of Latin America. When Moscow deployed missiles to Cuba in 1962, the United States issued an ultimatum that brought the superpowers to the brink of war. After Russia recently hinted that it might again deploy its military to Latin America, the State Department spokesperson Ned Price responded: “If we do see any movement in that direction, we will respond swiftly and decisively.” Given its own track record, Washington should have given greater credence to Moscow’s objections to bringing Ukraine into NATO.

For almost three decades, NATO and Russia have been talking past each other. As Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov quipped amid the flurry of diplomacy that preceded the Russian invasion, “we’re having the conversation of a mute person with a deaf person. It’s as though we are hearing each other, but not listening.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine makes clear that this disconnect between Russia and the West has exploded into the open, finally doing so for a number of reasons. Moscow took the entry into NATO of a band of countries stretching from the Baltics to the Balkans as a strategic setback and political insult. Ukraine, in particular, looms much larger in the Russian imagination; in Putin’s own words, “Russians and Ukrainians are one people. Kiev is the mother of Russian cities.” The 2019 split of the Orthodox church of Ukrainian from its Russian counterpart was an especially bitter pill; the Ukrainian church had been subordinated to the Moscow patriarch since 1686. Russia today is far more capable of pushing back than it was during the early post-Cold War era, bolstered by its economic and military rebound and its tight partnership with China.

Yet the Kremlin made several gross miscalculations in proceeding with its invasion of Ukraine. It vastly underestimated the willingness and capability of Ukrainians to fight back, producing early Russian setbacks on the battlefield. Moscow saw numerous sources of Western weakness—Brexit, the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, ongoing polarization, and populism—leading to an underestimation of the strength and scope of the West’s response. In Putin’s mind, a combination of Russian strength and Western frailty made it an opportune moment to throw down the gauntlet in Ukraine. But Putin was wrong; the West has demonstrated remarkable steadiness as it has armed Ukraine and imposed severe sanctions against Russia.

These miscalculations help shed light on why Putin chose to address his grievances through war rather than diplomacy. Indeed, Putin had the opportunity to settle his objections to Ukraine’s membership in NATO at the negotiating table. Last year, President Biden acknowledged that whether Ukraine joins the alliance “remains to be seen.” Amid the flurry of diplomacy that preceded the Russian invasion, President Emmanuel Macron of France floated the idea of “Finlandization” for Ukraine—effective neutrality—and proposals for a formal moratorium on further enlargement circulated. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy admitted that the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO may be “like a dream.” His ambassador to the United Kingdom indicated that Kyiv wanted to be “flexible in trying to find the best way out,” and that one option would be to drop its bid for NATO membership. The Kremlin could have picked up these leads, but instead opted for war.

THE SAGA of NATO enlargement exposes the gap between the West’s ideological aspirations and geopolitical realities that has been widening since the 1990s. During the heady decade after the end of the Cold War, the United States and its allies were confident that the triumph of their power and purpose cleared the way for the spread of democracy—an objective that the enlargement of NATO would presumably help secure.

But from early on, the Western foreign policy establishment allowed principle to obscure the geopolitical downsides of NATO enlargement. Yes, NATO membership should be open to all countries that qualify, and all nations should be able to exercise their sovereign right to choose their alignments as they see fit. And, yes, Moscow’s decision to invade Ukraine was in part informed by fantasies of restoring the geopolitical heft of the Soviet days, Putin’s paranoia about a “color revolution” arising in Russia, and his delusions about unbreakable civilizational links between Russia and Ukraine.

Yet the West erred in continuing to dismiss Russia’s objections to NATO’s ongoing enlargement. In the meantime, NATO’s open door policy encouraged countries in Eastern Europe to lean too far over their strategic skis. While the allure of joining the alliance has encouraged aspirants to carry out the democratic reforms needed to qualify for entry, the open door has also prompted prospective members to engage in excessively risky behavior. In 2008, soon after NATO ignored Russian objections and promised eventual membership to Georgia and Ukraine, Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, launched an offensive against pro-Russian separatists in South Ossetia with whom the country had been sporadically fighting for years. Russia responded promptly by grabbing control of two chunks of Georgia—South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Saakashvili thought the West had his back, but he miscalculated and overreached.

In similar fashion, NATO overreached by encouraging Ukraine to beat a path toward the alliance. The 2014 Maidan Revolution toppled a pro-Moscow regime and put Ukraine on a westward course, resulting in Russia’s intervention in Crimea and the Donbas. NATO’s open door beckoned, prompting Ukrainians in 2019 to enshrine their NATO aspirations in their constitution—a move that set off new alarm bells in the Kremlin. Given its proximity to Russia and the devastation caused by Moscow’s further aggression, Ukraine would have been better off playing it safe, quietly building a stable democracy while sticking with the neutral status that it embraced when it exited the Soviet Union. Indeed, Ukraine’s potential return to neutrality has figured prominently in sporadic talks between Kyiv and Moscow to end the war.

NATO has wisely avoided direct involvement in the fighting in order to avert war with Russia. But the alliance’s unwillingness to militarily defend Ukraine has exposed a troubling disconnect between the organization’s stated goal of making the country a member and its judgment that protecting Ukraine is not worth the cost. In effect, the United States and its allies, even as they impose severe sanctions on Russia and send arms to Ukraine, have revealed that they do not deem the defense of the country to be a vital interest. But if that is the case, then why have NATO members wanted to extend to Ukraine a security guarantee that would obligate them to go to war in its defense?

NATO should extend security guarantees to countries that are of intrinsic strategic importance to the United States and its allies—it should not make countries strategically important by extending them such guarantees. In a world that is rapidly reverting to the logic of power politics, in which adversaries may regularly test U.S. commitments, NATO cannot afford to be profligate in handing out such guarantees. Strategic prudence requires distinguishing critical interests from lesser ones, and conducting statecraft accordingly.

STRATEGIC PRUDENCE also requires that the West prepare for the return of sustained militarized rivalry with Russia. In light of the tight partnership that has emerged between Moscow and Beijing—and China’s own geopolitical ambitions—the new Cold War that is taking shape may well pit the West against a Sino-Russian bloc stretching from the Western Pacific to Eastern Europe. Like the Cold War, a world of rival blocs could mean economic and geopolitical division. The severe impact of the sanctions imposed on Russia underscores the dark side of globalization, potentially driving home to both China and Western democracies that economic interdependence entails quite considerable risk. China could distance itself from global markets and financial systems, while the United States and Europe may choose to expand the pace and scope of efforts to decouple from Chinese investment, technology, and supply chains. The world may be entering a prolonged and costly era of de-globalization.

The return of a two-bloc world that plays by the rules of realpolitik means that the West will need to dial back its efforts to expand the liberal order, instead returning to a strategy of patient containment aimed at preserving geopolitical stability and avoiding great power war. A new strategic conservatism should seek to establish stable balances of power and credible deterrence in the European and Asia-Pacific theaters. The United States has a playbook for this world: the one that enabled it to prevail in the first Cold War.

What Washington does not have a stratagem for is navigating geopolitical division in a world that is far more interdependent than that of the Cold War. Even as it stands up to autocracies, the West will need to work across ideological dividing lines in order to tackle global challenges, including arresting climate change, preventing nuclear proliferation and pursuing arms control, overseeing international commerce, governing the cybersphere, managing migration, and promoting global health. Strategic pragmatism will need to temper ideological discord.

Washington also lacks a stratagem for operating in an era in which the West faces homegrown threats to liberal democracy that are at least as potent as the external threats posed by Russia and China. During the Cold War, the West was politically healthy; liberal democracies on both sides of the Atlantic enjoyed ideological moderation and centrism, buttressed by broadly shared prosperity. A steady and purposeful brand of U.S. grand strategy rested on a solid political foundation and enjoyed bipartisan support.

But the West today is politically unhealthy, and illiberal populism is alive and well on both sides of the Atlantic. In the United States, the bipartisan compact behind U.S. statecraft has collapsed—as has the nation’s political center. Ideological moderation and centrism have given way to bitter polarization amid prolonged economic insecurity and gaping inequality. The war in Ukraine has not helped matters; Biden’s ambitious agenda for domestic renewal, already scaled back due to gridlock in Congress, suffered further as a result of Washington’s focus on the conflict. And high rates of inflation, fueled in part by the economic disruptions arising from the war, are stoking public discontent, likely costing Democrats control of Congress in the upcoming November midterms.

In Europe, the political center has broadly held. Mainstream center-left and center-right parties have lost ground to anti-establishment parties, but they have stayed ideologically centrist and, for the most part, remained in power. Yet illiberal populists continue to govern Hungary and Poland, and their fellow travelers wield political influence in most European Union (EU) member states. Indeed, Italy’s centrist government collapsed in July and the hard right may well surge in approaching elections. The United Kingdom has engaged in a stunning act of self-isolation and self-harm by quitting the EU—London remains tangled up in uneasy negotiations with Brussels over the terms of Brexit. The economic damage wrought by inflation, skyrocketing energy prices, and potential energy shortages abetted by the West’s sanctions on Russia, may end up undermining the continent’s political center and weakening European and transatlantic solidarity.

As the United States and its allies contemplate mounting tension with a Sino-Russian bloc, they must ensure that they continue to redress the West’s own internal vulnerabilities. It is true that during the Cold War, the discipline that the Soviet threat imposed on American politics helped mute partisan conflict over foreign policy. Similarly, the current prospect of a new era of militarized rivalry with Russia and China is reviving bipartisan cooperation on matters of statecraft.

This return to bipartisanship is, however, likely to be short-lived—just as it was after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Americans should not operate under the illusion that a more competitive international environment will of its own accord restore the country’s political health—especially amid the highest U.S. inflation rate in forty years. In similar fashion, even though Europe has demonstrated impressive unity and resolve during the war in Ukraine, it will undoubtedly face renewed political challenges as it copes with a huge influx of Ukrainian refugees and deals with additional economic burdens, including weaning itself off of Russian energy.

Both sides of the Atlantic thus have hard work to do if they are to get their own houses in order and reinvigorate the globe’s anchor of liberal order. Given the potential for the politics of grievance to make a comeback in the United States, the Biden administration urgently needs to continue advancing its domestic agenda. Investing in infrastructure, education, technology, health care, climate solutions, and other internal programs offers the best way to alleviate the electorate’s discontent and revive the country’s ailing political center. Europe’s agenda for renewal should include economic restructuring and investment, reform of immigration policy and border control, and more expenditure in and pooling of sovereignty on foreign and defense policy.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine heralds the return of a more realist world, requiring that the West’s idealist ambitions more regularly yield to cold strategic realities. Even though the war has certainly helped revive the West and its cohesion, the homegrown threats to liberal democracy that were front and center before the war still require urgent attention. It would be ironic if the West succeeds in turning Putin’s gamble in Ukraine into a resounding defeat, only to see liberal democracies then succumb to the enemy within.

China economy slowing – real estate, COVID, unfavourable demographics, high levels of debt, intervention in corporate affairs

Stella Yifan Xie, Sept. 2, 2022, Wall Street Journal, Will China’s Economy Surpass the U.S.’s? Some Now Doubt It, https://www.wsj.com/articles/will-chinas-economy-surpass-the-u-s-s-some-now-doubt-it-11662123945?mod=hp_lead_pos4

The sharp slowdown in China’s growth in the past year is prompting many experts to reconsider when China will surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest economy—or even if it ever will. Until recently, many economists assumed China’s gross domestic product measured in U.S. dollars would surpass that of the U.S. by the end of the decade, capping what many consider to be the most extraordinary economic ascent ever. But the outlook for China’s economy has darkened this year, as Beijing-led policies—including its zero tolerance for Covid-19 and efforts to rein in real-estate speculationhave sapped growth. As economists pare back their forecasts for 2022, they have become more worried about China’s longer term prospects, with unfavorable demographics and high debt levels potentially weighing on any rebound. In one of the most recent revisions, the Centre for Economics and Business Research, a U.K. think tank, thinks China will overtake the U.S. as the world’s biggest economy two years later than it previously expected when it last made a forecast in 2020. It now thinks it will happen in 2030. The Japan Center for Economic Research in Tokyo has said it thinks the passing of the baton won’t happen until 2033, four years later than its previous forecast. Other economists question whether China will ever claim the top spot. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said China’s aging population and Beijing’s increasing tendency to intervene in corporate affairs, along with other challenges, have led him to substantially lower his expectations for Chinese growth. He sees parallels between forecasts of China’s rise and earlier prognostications that Japan or Russia would overtake the U.S.—predictions that look ridiculous today, he said. “I think there is a real possibility that something similar would happen with respect to China,” said Mr. Summers, now a Harvard University professor. Researchers debate how meaningful GDP rankings are, and question whether much will change if China does overtake the U.S. The depth and openness of the U.S. economy mean the U.S. will still have outsize influence. The dollar is expected to remain the world’s reserve currency for years to come.

China growth critical its global leadership and replacing the US as the global hegemon; current growth rates do not allow for that

Stella Yifan Xie, Sept. 2, 2022, Wall Street Journal, Will China’s Economy Surpass the U.S.’s? Some Now Doubt It, https://www.wsj.com/articles/will-chinas-economy-surpass-the-u-s-s-some-now-doubt-it-11662123945?mod=hp_lead_pos4

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said China’s aging population and Beijing’s increasing tendency to intervene in corporate affairs, along with other challenges, have led him to substantially lower his expectations for Chinese growth. He sees parallels between forecasts of China’s rise and earlier prognostications that Japan or Russia would overtake the U.S.—predictions that look ridiculous today, he said. “I think there is a real possibility that something similar would happen with respect to China,” said Mr. Summers, now a Harvard University professor. Researchers debate how meaningful GDP rankings are, and question whether much will change if China does overtake the U.S. The depth and openness of the U.S. economy mean the U.S. will still have outsize influence. The dollar is expected to remain the world’s reserve currency for years to come. Size alone doesn’t reflect the quality of growth, said Leland Miller, chief executive officer of China Beige Book, a research firm. Living standards in the U.S., measured by per capita gross domestic product, are five times greater than in China, and the gap is unlikely to close soon. Still, a change in the ranking would be a propaganda win for Beijing as it seeks to show the world—and its own population—that China’s state-led model is superior to Western liberal democracy, and that the U.S. is declining both politically and economically. Over time, it could lead to more-substantive changes as more countries reorient their economies to serve Chinese markets. “If China slows down substantially in its growth, it impacts China’s capacity to project power,” said Mr. Summers. How the two countries stack up economically matters to Chinese leaders: After the U.S. economy grew faster than China’s during the last quarter of 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping told officials to ensure the country’s growth outpaces the U.S.’s this year, the Journal previously reported. Economic fortunes can reverse quickly. In 2020, when China bounced back faster than the U.S. did from initial Covid-19 outbreaks, it looked like China’s economy might surpass the U.S. sooner than expected. Some economists appear less perturbed by near-term threats to China’s growth. Justin Yifu Lin, a former chief economist at the World Bank who has long been bullish on China’s potential, argues its larger population means the country’s economy will wind up twice as big as the U.S.’s eventually. At a forum in Beijing in May, he predicted that process would continue despite the country’s latest slowdown. Nevertheless, economic problems keep piling up in China, in part because of policy choices Beijing has made to contain Covid-19 and rein in debt. The country’s real-estate slowdown is showing no signs of letting up. An index tracking consumer confidence plunged to its lowest level in decades in spring this year. Urban youth unemployment is at a record high. The Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank, noted in a March report that it expects Chinese growth to average only about 2% to 3% a year between 2021 and 2050, compared with some researchers’ expectations that China could maintain 4% to 5% growth until midcentury. The institute cited unfavorable demographics, diminishing returns from infrastructure investments and other challenges. With growth of 2% to 3% a year, China could still become the world’s largest economy, the institute noted. “But it would never establish a meaningful lead over the United States and would remain far less prosperous and productive per person than America, even by mid-century,” it wrote. Its growth also wouldn’t be enough to give it any significant competitive advantage. In a response to questions, the Lowy Institute said China’s further economic slowdown since the report came out has “at minimum pushed back the likely moment when China might overtake the U.S., and made it more likely that China might in fact never be able to do so.” easured by purchasing power, which takes into account differing costs of goods and services across countries, China already overtook the U.S.’s economy in 2016, according to World Bank figures. Measured in U.S. dollar terms, however, China’s GDP was 77% of the size of the U.S’s. in 2021, up from 13% in 2001, data from the World Bank shows. Capital Economics researchers wrote in a report early last year that their most likely scenario envisions China’s economy expanding to about 87% of the size of the U.S.’s in 2030, before dropping back to 81% in 2050. It blamed China’s shrinking working population and weak productivity growth, among other factors. “A lot of people for a long time have overestimated the competence of China’s leadership and have been shocked by the missteps with Covid and the property sector,” wrote Mark Williams, the firm’s chief Asia economist, in an email in which he reaffirmed his firm’s forecast. “The weakness these crises have revealed have been present and growing for a long time.” Bert Hofman, director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore and a former economist at the World Bank, said he believes China can surpass the U.S. in GDP size by 2035, if it raises its retirement age, allows more rural workers to move to cities, and takes steps to enhance productivity such as spending more on education and healthcare. But China won’t be able to catch the U.S. if policy makers pursue only “limited reforms,” he said, or if it suffers a debt crisis. Further decoupling with the U.S. could make it harder for China to advance, as the flow of knowledge from abroad is disrupted, he said. Other economists worry that size comparisons risk eliciting nationalism that can be detrimental to both countries. “Too many people have lost sight of the fact that our economies are mutually beneficial,” said Andy Rothman, an investment strategist at Matthews Asia. Since China joined the World Trade Organization, he noted, U.S. exports to China are up over 600%, compared with 126% to the rest of the world. “Looking at the Chinese economy and the U.S. economy as a zero-sum game—that’s not accurate,” he said.

Afghanistan withdrawal has not weakened US credibility, credibility arguments are BS and regions are different

Larison, 9-2, 22, Responsible Statecraft, Amazing: US ‘credibility’ still intact a year after Afghanistan withdrawal, https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/09/02/amazing-us-credibility-still-intact-a-year-after-afghanistan-withdrawal/

Hawks denounced the withdrawal from Afghanistan for many reasons, but one of their recurring complaints was that it threatened to wreck U.S. credibility in the world. According to the standard hawkish view, withdrawing from a failed war signals weakness and a lack of resolve, which in turn causes allies to lose confidence in U.S. commitments to protect them and encourages adversaries to become aggressive on the assumption that the U.S. is unwilling or unable to oppose them. Hawks hold to a quasi-mystical view of credibility where a withdrawal anywhere invites aggression everywhere, and they then try to blame the withdrawal for causing whatever goes wrong anywhere else in the world afterwards. In the year since the last U.S. forces departed Afghanistan, the record clearly shows that the hawks were panicking over nothing, and that the hawkish credibility argument is nothing more than an ideological fantasy. Policymakers should remember this the next time they are inclined to heed blood-curdling warnings about the need to maintain credibility by going to war or staying bogged down in one. Leaving Afghanistan was supposed to deal a fatal blow to U.S. credibility with global consequences. But today, one looks in vain for the adverse effects that they predicted. U.S. alliances are no weaker, and allies are arguably more reliant on the U.S. and more trusting of its promises than before. Adversaries have acted much as they were acting before the withdrawal, and any changes in their activities are much more reasonably explained by factors specific to them and their regions. Credibility hawks strain to link disparate events around the world to a single U.S. policy in a different region unrelated to any of the others, but this is irrational. Simply put, no government makes its policy decisions in its own region based on what the U.S. does or doesn’t do in a distant war in another part of the world. Hawks rely on the fallacy that everything that happens after a withdrawal has happened because of it. Their argument requires us to assume an absurdly American-centric view of the world in which other states’ actions are governed by whether the U.S. maintains a military presence in an entirely different part of the world. One need only consider the counterfactuals to realize how silly the argument is. Would keeping a residual U.S. force in Afghanistan have somehow prevented a Russian invasion of Ukraine? How would that possibly have worked? Maintaining a U.S. military presence isn’t a magical ward against misfortune. Withdrawing that presence doesn’t trigger global disaster. The U.S. should not fear quitting a lost war because of credibility concerns, and it should not choose to wage an unnecessary one for that reason, either. If allied governments were unhappy about the way that the United States withdrew, this did not weaken their belief in U.S. commitments to them. Leaving a 20-year war in a country where America has no vital interests has no implications for Washington’s willingness to fight on behalf of treaty allies. Just as choosing not to bomb Syria had no discernible negative effects on U.S. alliances, the decision to pull out of a failed war after two decades did not diminish allies’ trust in U.S. security guarantees. Hawks are compelled to exaggerate the significance of “inaction” or withdrawal because they cannot provide good arguments for their preferred policies. Their alarmist claims are a tacit admission on their part that these hawkish policies have nothing to do with making the United States more secure. Predictions of the disasters that are supposed to follow lost credibility don’t come true. If you listened to credibility hawks during the Afghanistan withdrawal, you would have expected U.S. alliances to weaken and crumble as America’s security dependents began hedging and then abandoning the United States. Former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said that the U.S. would suffer “severe political consequences, in connection with our credibility with our allies and partners.” Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that “this debacle will certainly harm America’s credibility with its friends and allies.” AEI’s Kori Schake said, “It is hard to overstate the damage to U.S. credibility wreaked by this fiasco,” but grossly overstate it she did. She also made a specific prediction that the “disastrous withdrawal will make it harder for Washington to put together such coalitions in the future,” but within half a year of the war’s end the U.S. had rallied NATO and other allies into a formidable coalition in support of Ukraine and in opposition to the Russian invasion. As it turned out, none of the predicted setbacks happened. Allied governments recognize that U.S. commitments are rooted in shared interests, and they understand that those commitments were not compromised at all by the decision to leave Afghanistan. Insofar as ending the war freed up resources and attention for other parts of the world, allied governments likely welcomed the long overdue conclusion to an unsuccessful war. We need to remember that treaty allies were relieved by the end of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, and in practice we are seeing much the same thing today. Far from losing credibility, Ben Friedman pointed out earlier this week that “the U.S. has too much credibility among its allies.” If the U.S. wants its allies to take up a larger share of responsibility for their own security, it should reassure them much less than it has done. In order to believe that ending a failed policy in one place would have devastating consequences for U.S. credibility elsewhere, one must assume that international events are all closely linked together and depend on each other. As Christopher Fettweis explained in The Pathologies of Power, “All the evidence that does exist actually points in the opposite direction, suggesting that international events are generally independent.” Despite the strong evidence that other states do not judge credibility as hawks think they do, the credibility argument flourishes because it is a convenient crutch for advocates of aggressive and militaristic policies. It is no accident that hawks shriek about credibility only when the U.S. is considering ending a war or when it might choose not to start or join one. It is an argument ready-made to justify perpetual war, no matter how divorced from national interests it is, and it is the hawkish fallback when they want to get the US into a new war in places where U.S. interests do not warrant military action. As Fettweis observes, “Most of the time, when arguments for action are based on credibility, nothing of importance is likely at stake.” The U.S. has blundered disastrously when it has chosen to shore up its credibility through war. Dedicating countless lives and fortunes to preserving credibility is inherently wasteful. Any war in which credibility is one of the main justifications is not worth fighting. The more that hawks emphasize credibility as a reason for doing something, the more likely it is that policymakers should hasten to do the opposite of what the hawks want. If credibility hawks had gotten their way in blocking withdrawals from desultory wars, U.S. troops would have been dying in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan for many more years than they already had. As abstract as the debate over credibility may sometimes seem, the consequences of buying into credibility nonsense are serious and impose real costs on the U.S. military and the country.

China-Russia ties increasing

Sarang Shadore, 9-1, 22, Sarang Shidore is Director of Studies at the Quincy Institute. His areas of research and analysis are geopolitical risk, grand strategy, and energy/climate security, with a special emphasis on Asia. Sarang has collaborated and published with multiple organizations including the Asian Peace Program, Brookings Institution, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Strategic Risks, Oxford Analytica, Paulson Institute, Stimson Center, UK Ministry of Defense, and Woodwell Climate Research Center. He has more than 80 publications to his credit in journals, edited volumes, and media outlets in his areas of expertise. Prior to his current role at the Quincy Institute, Sarang was a senior research scholar at the University of Texas at Austin and senior global analyst at the geopolitical risk firm Stratfor Inc. and earlier also spent a decade in product management in the technology industry, Responsible Statecraft, Vostok military exercises indicate that Russia is far from isolated, https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/09/01/vostok-military-exercises-indicate-that-russia-is-far-from-isolated/

The next iteration of Russia’s quadrennial Vostok exercise has just begun in its far east region, involving more than 50,000 troops, 140 aircraft and 60 warships. Vostok (which means “east” in Russian) is one of four exercises Russia routinely conducts every four years, the others being Zapad (west) Tsentr (center), and Kavkaz (south), the directions corresponding to the locations of the drills within the country. The previous iteration of Vostok (in 2018) included China for the first time, as well as Mongolia; these being the first two states outside the former Soviet Union to join these exercises. The 2018 exercise was also much bigger. The Ukraine war, which has utilized many units normally stationed in the east, appears to have seriously crimped Russian abilities to mount a large-scale drill. But the true significance of Vostok 2022 is not size, but its participants. This year, the list of countries from outside the former Soviet Union joining as participants or observers is much longer and, apart from Mongolia, also includes Algeria, Syria, Laos, Nicaragua, and India. Of these, China is clearly the most significant. The Russian-Chinese security convergence has garnered global headlines since earlier this year, when their two leaders issued a joint statement asserting a “no limits” partnership just prior to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. But in fact, Russia and China have been strongly converging since the 2014-15 period, in the wake of the first Ukraine war. Their security partnership is not a formal alliance — it lacks a mutual assistance agreement — but has steadily grown closer, with increasingly sophisticated joint exercises (including in distant regions such as the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea), sales of Russia’s most advanced weapons systems such as the S-400 and the Su-35 to Beijing, and co-development of defense equipment. Since 2018, Vostok has not simulated an invasion by China, which was at least partly a focus of its previous versions. There is no evidence, at least yet, that Moscow and Beijing have moved to the stage of joint operational planning for wartime contingencies. Still, in many ways, China and Russia can be said to be informal allies, a development brought on in substantial measure by the simultaneous containment strategies of Washington toward both. Vostok will include major maritime exercises in the Sea of Japan. After an attempted rapprochement when Shinzo Abe was Japanese prime minister, ties between Tokyo and Moscow have worsened significantly. Japan imposed major sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, and the rhetoric between the two is now much more adversarial. Of the rest of the Vostok participants, Algeria, Laos, Nicaragua, and Syria have either distant or adversarial relations with the United States. However, their involvement in Vostok is more symbolic of the gathering oppositional coalition than substantive, given their limited geopolitical heft. India’s involvement though has more significance. A close U.S. partner and even a quasi-ally on China, India has nevertheless taken a sharply different view on the Ukraine conflict, not condemning Russia by name, and greatly increasing its oil purchases from Moscow. Concerned by a further deepening of Russian-Chinese ties since the Ukraine war began, India recently dispatched its National Security Advisor to Moscow where he also reportedly assured Russia that India was not in any camp. India is also a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a grouping led by China and Russia, and takes part in security dialogues and military exercises under its rubric. These include an upcoming counter-terror exercise in India in which Chinese, Russian, Iranian and Pakistani troops (among others) will participate. The upshot of all this is that, more than six months into a brutal war, the United States and its European allies have made almost no headway in adding to their coalition ranged against Russia. Except for Japan, and to an extent Singapore, the major Asian and Eurasian states are not only not in, but some of them seem to be building even deeper ties with Russia. Washington may wish to reflect as to why its Russia strategy is failing to excite most Asians.

Multilateral institutions cannot constrain new global aggression

Tugenhadt, 9-1, 22, TOM TUGENDHAT is a Conservative Member of the British Parliament and the Chair of its Foreign Affairs Committee, Foreign Affairs, Britain After UkraineA New Foreign Policy for an Age of Great-Power Competition, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/united-kingdom/britain-after-ukraine

Six months after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of a European democracy, the West is awakening to a startling reality: the nation-state is back. The institutions built to constrain rogue actors are vulnerable, and technology has given autocracies new forms of leverage. Rather than the last gasp of nationalism, the attack on Ukraine shows the new direction of power. Risks that were only possible now look probable. The Baltic states’ paranoia about Russia now seems well founded, and Finland and Sweden’s once-vaunted neutrality no longer appropriate. Even Beijing’s threats against Taiwan look less performative and more preparatory. The severity of the international response to Russia’s aggression is just as notable. For years, Moscow made clear its plans—cyberattacks on Estonia in 2007, the occupation of Georgia in 2008, the attack on Ukraine in 2014—but Europe and the West treated these events as business as usual. This time is different. Governments from Tokyo to Stockholm are proving their resolute support for Ukraine with military aid and unprecedented economic sanctions on Russia. The global order has been upended, and the events of the past year show that the world has moved into a new era of brutish great power politics. Western democracies now inhabit a world in which multilateral institutions are no longer able to provide the stability or security they once promised. For a country such as the United Kingdom, whose economic and diplomatic model is based on its status as a globally connected nation, the new instability presents an acute threat.

Global autocracies are no longer deterred, West not credible

Tugenhadt, 9-1, 22, TOM TUGENDHAT is a Conservative Member of the British Parliament and the Chair of its Foreign Affairs Committee, Foreign Affairs, Britain After UkraineA New Foreign Policy for an Age of Great-Power Competition, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/united-kingdom/britain-after-ukraine

Nor are these the only forces undermining global stability. Viewed from Beijing and Moscow, Western disasters such as the botched U.S.-led withdrawal from Kabul in 2021 have reinforced a perception of weakness. Watching Washington’s failures in Afghanistan—where its strategic impatience left allies exposed—autocrats concluded that Western democracies have lost the will to endure. Moscow’s assault on Kyiv may have failed, but China is watching and absorbing lessons on how to threaten Taiwan. The era of “respectful disagreement”—when dictatorships had more to gain from using existing systems than breaking them—is over. Where many Western leaders in the first post-Cold War generation saw globalization as bringing greater interdependence and efficiency, our rivals saw the creation of new vulnerabilities.

Russia and China engaging in Great Power Competition

Tugenhadt, 9-1, 22, TOM TUGENDHAT is a Conservative Member of the British Parliament and the Chair of its Foreign Affairs Committee, Foreign Affairs, Britain After UkraineA New Foreign Policy for an Age of Great-Power Competition, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/united-kingdom/britain-after-ukraine

Six months after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of a European democracy, the West is awakening to a startling reality: the nation-state is back. The institutions built to constrain rogue actors are vulnerable, and technology has given autocracies new forms of leverage. Rather than the last gasp of nationalism, the attack on Ukraine shows the new direction of power. Risks that were only possible now look probable. The Baltic states’ paranoia about Russia now seems well founded, and Finland and Sweden’s once-vaunted neutrality no longer appropriate. Even Beijing’s threats against Taiwan look less performative and more preparatory. The severity of the international response to Russia’s aggression is just as notable. For years, Moscow made clear its plans—cyberattacks on Estonia in 2007, the occupation of Georgia in 2008, the attack on Ukraine in 2014—but Europe and the West treated these events as business as usual. This time is different. Governments from Tokyo to Stockholm are proving their resolute support for Ukraine with military aid and unprecedented economic sanctions on Russia. The global order has been upended, and the events of the past year show that the world has moved into a new era of brutish great power politics. Western democracies now inhabit a world in which multilateral institutions are no longer able to provide the stability or security they once promised. For a country such as the United Kingdom, whose economic and diplomatic model is based on its status as a globally connected nation, the new instability presents an acute threat.

Until recently, the United Kingdom’s response to this discordant new world has been dangerously inadequate. Shaped by the post-Cold War decades of globalization, British foreign policy has found itself unprepared for the rise of autocracy and the combustible new conflicts that have come with it. The country’s dependence on others for energy and technology have exposed it to powerful new forms of external pressure that weaken its economic foundations.

Too often, the United Kingdom has responded by ignoring the problem or turning inward. Instead, the United Kingdom must exploit its own traditional strengths of outreach, diplomacy, and influence by seeking new kinds of partnerships with current allies and future powerhouses. And it must do so while reducing its exposure to malign powers and building its economic resilience at home. Accomplishing both will be tough, but failure to do so could risk reducing the country into a vassal of the new world order. The costs of maintaining the status quo are already apparent, not only in growing energy insecurity and severe economic pain but also in the gradual erosion of liberal values that underpin freedom.

INTO A DANGEROUS WORLD

British foreign policy did not start from here, of course. Over the past three decades, from the end of the Cold War through the first decade of this century, burgeoning connectedness and growing partnerships took root across the world. International institutions such as the World Trade Organization, by and large, worked well enough. Even after the September 11 attacks, the threat of international terrorism was asymmetric and comparatively limited, affecting only small parts of the global network at any one moment, even if specific incidents echoed more widely. Where geopolitical conflicts emerged, such as the messy breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s or even the reignited wars in Sudan and Yemen, they rarely seemed to threaten the institutions that buttress the international order.

During these years, the rise in connectivity delivered remarkable prosperity and freedom for hundreds of millions of people, not only in the West but all across the world. Technology and the Internet promised opportunity and openness as flows of trade and information delivered growth and built new connections between countries and communities.

The climax of this hopeful era arrived only a few years ago. It was marked not only by extraordinary trade between United Kingdom and China but also by Germany’s industrial strategy, built on a deliberate dependence on Russian energy through Baltic Sea pipelines. Policymakers and businesses made thousands of smaller decisions based on the assumption that geopolitical rivals were no longer threats and that economic competition was based on fixed rules.

Where Western leaders saw new prosperity, their rivals saw new vulnerabilities.

Over the past decade, however, these assumptions have come crashing down. The forces of globalization that made the United Kingdom richer, reduced its costs, and knotted its citizens into a global network also helped authoritarian governments create monopolies and turn international hubs into choke points. China’s dominance in manufacturing, for example, leaves British citizens medically dependent on Guangzhou for items no longer made in Europe. Just-in-time commerce has become not just a supply chain principle but a way for adversaries to amass power. The quest for efficiency has led to dependency, and technology has accelerated the change.

Nor are these the only forces undermining global stability. Viewed from Beijing and Moscow, Western disasters such as the botched U.S.-led withdrawal from Kabul in 2021 have reinforced a perception of weakness. Watching Washington’s failures in Afghanistan—where its strategic impatience left allies exposed—autocrats concluded that Western democracies have lost the will to endure. Moscow’s assault on Kyiv may have failed, but China is watching and absorbing lessons on how to threaten Taiwan. The era of “respectful disagreement”—when dictatorships had more to gain from using existing systems than breaking them—is over. Where many Western leaders in the first post-Cold War generation saw globalization as bringing greater interdependence and efficiency, our rivals saw the creation of new vulnerabilities.

The world is witnessing a turning point and perhaps the end of the post-Cold War order. This transformation has led us back into great power competition, where the biggest states build influence and assert their interests through strength, not negotiation.

Competitive deterrence against China and Russia key, attempts at cooperation fail and strengthen China

Gabriel Scheinmann, the executive director of the Alexander Hamilton Society, 8-31, 22, Here’s What Biden’s New National Security Strategy Should Say, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/08/31/biden-national-security-strategy-russia-china-geopolitics-competition-military-defense-spending/?tpcc=recirc_latest062921

After a long wait, the Biden administration may finally release the new U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS) this fall. Originally scheduled for publication late last year, the document was withheld as Russian war preparations on Ukraine’s borders intensified. The invasion and its fallout then presented Washington with a new strategic situation, requiring the document to be rewritten. Its absence has left many wondering about the administration’s strategic objectives, priorities, and plans to achieve them. The Biden administration laid out its initial impulses on national security in its Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, published shortly after the new team moved into the White House in early 2021. That document prescribed a heavy dose of cooperation with other powers—including the United States’ adversaries. Beijing and Moscow were presented as partners on such issues as climate change, nonproliferation, arms control, public health, and economic stability. Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s unleashing of the biggest European war since 1945—as well as his Chinese counterpart’s declaration of “no limits” support—laid the administration’s ideas and intentions to waste. It is critical, therefore, that the new NSS adapts to the new reality and sets Washington on a different course to prevail in the increasingly direct geopolitical competition with Moscow and Beijing. A successful approach to the challenges posed by these adversarial regimes must involve a global strategy to counter threats, not merely manage crises as they pop up. This includes, most importantly, a substantial increase in U.S. defense spending. A serious strategy would begin by recognizing that the post-Cold War era is over. Beijing and Moscow have thrust a new cold war on Washington and its allies, despite the West’s best efforts to embrace these two powers as partners. The new NSS must end this unrealistic and naive approach. If the United States is to win this long-term competition and reckon with its inability to deter Russia—and potentially China—from invading their neighbors, the Biden administration must provide immediate, real, and sustained increases in the U.S. defense budget. Washington’s allies and friends should of course be encouraged to do the same. As a percentage of GDP, U.S. defense spending is at one of the lowest levels since World War II. It’s not enough for Congress to top up Biden’s budgets, as it has done. Even achieving the lowest level of Cold War-era spending of 4.5 percent of GDP, as former National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster and I suggested in Foreign Policy—let alone spending 5 percent, as incoming Republican Senate Armed Services Committee leader Roger Wicker has proposed—would require a roughly 50 percent increase or more of the budget. Hard power is not the relic of a bygone era but the foundation of any successful attempt to win what Biden rightly calls “the competition of the 21st century.” The new NSS should clearly recognize that helping Ukraine defeat Russia is not only the strategic priority in Europe but also a key front in deterring China. A suitable strategy would recognize that China is the primary threat to the United States. To deter China from the use of force against Taiwan or its other neighbors, the United States must urgently arm its allies and partners (like it is now, belatedly, doing in Ukraine), as well as bolster its own deterrent capabilities. Should China attack Taiwan, U.S. and allied forces must be capable of quickly reinforcing the island and rapidly attriting China’s attacking of naval and air assets. This hinges on U.S. investment in areas that would allow Washington to quickly counter Beijing’s navy. It also requires expanding integrated joint and combined operations capability, forward basing, economic integration, and multilateral engagement through organizations like the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad)—a U.S. quasi-alliance with Australia, India, and Japan. As the Cold War has taught us, success means deterring an attack, not merely responding to one after it occurs. This isn’t only about defense. Deterring China and Russia in the military sphere will ensure—not undermine, as some contend—the preconditions for broad, shared economic prosperity at home. The United States and its allies must stop facilitating the growth of Chinese and Russian economic power—and must enhance their own instead. The United States cannot continue to enable China’s economic and technological rise—both absolute and relative—and simultaneously meet the challenge of a long-term competition. The first priority must be to end those forms of engagement that mostly advance Beijing’s national security goals and economic strength while weakening Washington’s. This will require a strategic, selective economic decoupling from China. From restructuring supply chains to reshoring production of high-end manufactured products to better monitoring and regulation of technology and capital flows, the NSS must make reducing the economic leverage held by America’s adversaries a priority. Europe’s extreme energy dependence on Russia—which Putin is now turning against countries supporting Ukraine—demonstrates where that leverage leads. The Chinese leadership is paying close attention to the war in Ukraine. The new NSS should clearly recognize that helping the Ukrainians defeat Russia is not only the immediate strategic priority in Europe but also a key front in deterring and weakening China—which has made it abundantly clear that it seeks global, not merely regional, power and influence. As part of its Europe strategy, the administration should make sure NATO allies, such as Germany, follow through on their new commitments to spend the NATO minimum of 2 percent of GDP on defense—and support them as they enhance Europe’s defense. The NSS should also commit Washington to help Europe diversify energy supplies and turn away from its dependence on Russia. While the United States no longer relies on the Middle East for energy, many of America’s allies and partners still do. In tandem with increasing U.S. energy production and export capacity, the NSS should prioritize cooperating with major Arab oil producers to undercut Russian energy blackmail against Europe and use China’s energy vulnerabilities to weaken it. Biden’s pledges to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah” and consign fossil fuels to history created a chasm between the United States and its major Arab energy-producing partners—a chasm that helped fuse the Saudi-Russian oil cartel and create an opening for China. Building on the Abraham Accords and other regional groupings, a smart NSS would recognize and respond to the growing security cooperation between China, Russia, and Iran. This week’s news of a Russian-Iranian oil swap to bust Western sanctions is a case in point. The administration should abandon any effort to use a nuclear agreement with Tehran to reintegrate Iranian oil into the marketplace, which would only finance the regime’s continued assaults—and lead America’s Arab partners to hedge against U.S. credibility by seeking better relations with Russia and China. U.S. presence and leadership in the Middle East is essential to—not a distraction from—geopolitical competition with Beijing and Moscow. In releasing the new strategy, the Biden administration has an opportunity to take stock and change course. Indeed, there are ample precedents of other Democratic administrations making such a pivot amid geostrategic shifts. In 1950, President Harry Truman and Congress reacted to the shock of the Korean War by doubling the defense budget, which brought to an end the post-World War II shrinking of U.S. forces. In 1979, the Carter administration underwent a similar transformation: Spurred by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and other geopolitical challenges, President Jimmy Carter ended a failed strategy of accommodation with Moscow and began a sustained boost of U.S. defense spending, which eventually put the Soviets back on their heels. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine should serve as such a wake-up moment for Biden. By producing an NSS that reinvigorates U.S. power and deterrence, the Biden administration has the opportunity to set America on a course to prevail in the geopolitical competition that will determine the future of the United States and the world.

China will not attack Taiwan, claims that it will be militarily aggressive in Asia are without evidence, projecting power against China risks war

Michael D. Swaine, 8-29, 22, The Taiwan issue, at root, is not about military balances but political motives., Michael D. Swaine is director of the Quincy Institute’s East Asia program.. https://nationalinterest.org/feature/why-colby-wrong-taiwan-204512

In his recent Foreign Affairs article “America Must Prepare for a War Over Taiwan,” Elbridge Colby argues that the solution to sustaining stability in the Taiwan Strait is for the United States to greatly ramp up its defense spending in Asia in order to deter an otherwise likely Chinese attack on Taiwan and preserve peace in Asia. Politics Strategy Game Yet instead of preserving the peace, Colby’s approach would guarantee conflict, produce an open-ended U.S-China arms race, significantly increase the chance of further conflicts over Taiwan or other issues, and of course, destabilize the global economy. Colby consistently fails to adopt any frame of analysis for the Taiwan issue other than a simplistic force-on-force approach. In doing so, he overestimates the capabilities of the Chinese military to take Taiwan and totally ignores the reality that even a militarily inferior Beijing will still employ force against the island if it believes that the United States were using its military might to back a clear bid by Taipei for independence. As examined in my recent Quincy Institute study of U.S. threat inflation, the Chinese military has certainly greatly increased its capabilities relevant to Taiwan over the previous decades and poses an increasing threat. But it has not amassed anything approaching the level of superior force that would be required to confidently subdue Taiwan while deterring or defeating any U.S. intervention. The Chinese military still operates under a wide array of limitations in weapons, logistics, training, and experience that would make any full-scale resort to force a gigantic roll of the dice. Thus, continuing to sustain such a high risk for Beijing does not require a huge increase in U.S. defense spending, as Colby suggests. But Beijing would be quite willing to throw the dice if it were to conclude that Washington had entirely discarded its One China policy and decided that Taiwan is a vital strategic asset for the United States that must be kept from China, as a recent senior U.S. defense official has suggested. Such a Chinese attack could come in the form of a blockade or an attempt at an outright invasion of Taiwan, or a lesser but still highly escalatory kinetic action designed to force Washington to reconsider. Any of these would almost inevitably lead to a direct Sino-U.S. clash with disastrous consequences for all. The Chinese leadership would take this gamble and essentially be willing to fight and possibly lose an initial conflict over Taiwan if the alternative were to risk a permanent loss of the island by doing nothing. Such a national disgrace would almost certainly bring down the regime, given the close link that exists between its legitimacy and the completion of the sacred Chinese task of national reunification. And if the Chinese lost the initial engagement, they would assume that there would be subsequent rounds and thus increase their capabilities even further in order to establish a military advantage in the future. I know of no reputable China security specialist who doubts this. All this means that to avoid producing the outcome Colby ostensibly seeks to avoid, any “peace through strength” strategy must also include credible reassurances that American strength will not be used to backstop the permanent separation of Taiwan from China. This requires a very credible, continued U.S. commitment to its One China policy, something Colby does not even mention. Indeed, his other writings suggest that this policy could be hollowed out or discarded entirely by bringing Taiwan within the U.S. defense perimeter, i.e., making it into a de facto security ally. Why does Colby ignore the fact that the Taiwan issue, at root, is not about military balances but political motives? I think it is partly because he is a defense analyst who believes most security problems are nails that only require a solid hammer to resolve. More importantly, I suspect it is because he has not spent any part of his career trying to understand Chinese views on the issue. He simply believes that the Chinese will behave like unrestrained power maximizers, a tenet touted by the offensive realist theory he champions. And so, he posits a People’s Republic of China that goes from seizing Taiwan to attacking Japan, then the Philippines, or any other place in Asia that just might challenge China. This extreme notion lacks any substantive evidence to back it, relying only on theoretical assumptions. There is a more financially feasible, less provocative, and dangerous approach to the Taiwan issue. Rather than unnecessarily doubling down on defense spending, bringing Taiwan into the U.S. defense perimeter, and denying, in effect, the efficacy of the U.S. One China policy, the United States should adopt a more stabilizing, defense-oriented, and affordable force posture in Asia, along with genuine efforts to reinvigorate the One China policy. And the United States should also coordinate this defense strategy with the more cautious, restrained stance of America’s allies in the region. None of them, including Japan, want the kind of militaristic, zero-sum stance toward Beijing that Colby proposes. The same can be said of the American public, who, despite their growing concerns about China, want Washington to engage the Chinese in meaningful diplomacy, not risk yet another war or engage in endless arms racing. This is all spelled out in a recent report by the Quincy Institute, a multi-authored document that includes former U.S. government officials and intelligence officers on the defense budget, the Chinese military, and China’s foreign and defense strategy.

US regularly trashes the Liberal International Order; it’s hegemony cannot sustain it, only destroy it

Fraser, 8-29, 22, Sam Fraser is a communications associate at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He holds a B.A. in International Relations from Claremont McKenna College. His studies there focused on U.S. foreign policy and Latin America, and he has conducted field research on human rights and transitional justice in Argentina. He has also studied the issue of impunity for U.S. foreign policy officials for his undergraduate thesis entitled “The Catastrophe Artists: Understanding America’s Unaccountable Foreign Policy Elite.”, Responsible Statecraft, Why US hegemony is incompatible with a ‘rules-based international order’, https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/08/29/why-us-hegemony-is-incompatible-with-a-rules-based-international-order/

The second claim is even more striking. In essence, Spencer-Churchill argues that all peoples self-evidently desire liberal democratic capitalism, and therefore capitalist democracies like the United States have a right to deliver this system to them by force, whether asked for or not.

This contention, of course, is nothing new. It has helped sell numerous U.S. military interventions since the Second World War and itself is only a refinement of the “civilizing missions” of earlier European imperialisms. Yet, in a year when the United States has rallied global opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the name of upholding the rules-based international order, state sovereignty, and self-determination, the absurdity of Spencer-Churchill’s claims is shown in stark relief.

In Spencer-Churchill’s formulation, the United States and its allies serve as the guarantors of a rules-based international order, but also enjoy license to violate these rules under broad circumstances of their own determination. While it is not often laid out so bluntly, this is largely how American foreign policy has operated for over seven decades. The United States points to a liberal order as the justification for and result of its predominant military power and global influence, and will invoke that order in the face of other parties’ abuses, but will accept no restraints on its own freedom of action.

This is well demonstrated by Washington’s habitual rejection of international treaties produced by the United Nations system (the creation of which, of course, was led by the U.S. itself). The U.S. will nonetheless wield these treaties against the behavior of other nations, as it does with China’s maritime claims and the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, which the United States has neither signed nor ratified.

When proponents of liberal hegemony acknowledge this tension, some argue that it is necessary, even beneficial to the project of building a stable, liberal world order. The international system is anarchic and actors worse than the United States abound, ready to fill any power vacuum left vacant by Washington or its close allies. Such an order needs a powerful state to enforce it, and sometimes it may be necessary to bend or even break rules in defense of higher principles.

In a recent article for The Atlantic, journalist Tom McTague made such a case, examining the “idea that convinces U.S. leaders that they never oppress, only liberate, and that their interventions can never be a threat to nearby powers, because America is not imperialist.” McTague recognizes that this – the notion that the U.S. is driven by universal values and acts in the universal interest – is both a “delusion” and “lies at the core of [the United States’] most costly foreign policy miscalculations.” Yet McTague asserts that this delusion is necessary to sustain America’s commitment to upholding global order and keeping more malicious powers at bay.

Never mind that some of the heroic interventions McTague cites — like the Korean War — were in fact atrocity-ridden debacles that could not credibly be presented as defenses of democracy at the time they actually took place, his larger case is also unpersuasive. Outside of the U.S. and Europe, what he calls the “necessary myth” of American benevolence has been hemorrhaging credibility, and the hypocrisy at the heart of the liberal international order is not a means to its perpetuation, but rather to its steady undoing.

Decades of lawless interventions in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America have left nations of the Global South deeply and rightly skeptical of the United States as an upholder of international law. Younger Americans increasingly reject U.S. exceptionalism and global military dominance as well

As America’s relative power declines and we move toward an increasingly multipolar international system, the contradictions inherent in Washington’s version of the liberal order will become even harder to ignore. A United States that faces more and greater challenges to its power will likely turn to increasingly coercive means to defend that power, rendering its “liberal” guise increasingly threadbare.

It is clear that, going forward, the laudable goal of creating a global order based on international law and mutually agreeable rules of conduct is incompatible with U.S. hegemony — or for that matter, the hypothetical hegemony of any other power. Any state possessing a preponderance of power will, as the U.S. has, reject external restraints on that power. Any “rules-based order” put forward by a hegemon will be wielded in service of hegemony, not the other way around.

Hegemonic decline and a turn toward multipolarity  means US military aggression

Fraser, 8-29, 22, Sam Fraser is a communications associate at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He holds a B.A. in International Relations from Claremont McKenna College. His studies there focused on U.S. foreign policy and Latin America, and he has conducted field research on human rights and transitional justice in Argentina. He has also studied the issue of impunity for U.S. foreign policy officials for his undergraduate thesis entitled “The Catastrophe Artists: Understanding America’s Unaccountable Foreign Policy Elite.”, Responsible Statecraft, Why US hegemony is incompatible with a ‘rules-based international order’, https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/08/29/why-us-hegemony-is-incompatible-with-a-rules-based-international-order/

As America’s relative power declines and we move toward an increasingly multipolar international system, the contradictions inherent in Washington’s version of the liberal order will become even harder to ignore. A United States that faces more and greater challenges to its power will likely turn to increasingly coercive means to defend that power, rendering its “liberal” guise increasingly threadbare.

Multipolarity means miscalculated wars

Kroenig, 8-27, 22, Matthew Kroenig is deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and a professor in the Department of Government and the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. His latest book is The Return of Great Power Rivalry: Democracy Versus Autocracy From the Ancient World to the U.S. and China, Foreign Policy, International Relations Theory Suggests Great-Power War Is Coming

Realists argue that multipolar systems are unstable and prone to major wars of miscalculation. World War I is a classic example. Multipolar systems are unstable in part because each country must worry about multiple potential adversaries. Indeed, at present, the U.S. Defense Department frets about possible simultaneous conflicts with Russia in Europe and China in the Indo-Pacific. Moreover, U.S. President Joe Biden has stated that the use of military force remains on the table as a last resort to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. A three-front war is not out of the question. Wars of miscalculation often result when states underestimate their adversary. States doubt their opponent’s power or resolve to fight, so they test them. Sometimes, the enemy is bluffing, and the challenge pays off. If the enemy is determined to defend its interests, however, major war can result. Russian President Vladimir Putin likely miscalculated in launching an invasion of Ukraine, incorrectly assuming that war would be easy. Some realist scholars warned for some time that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was coming, and there is still the possibility that the war in Ukraine could spill across NATO’s borders, turning this conflict into a direct U.S.-Russia conflagration. In addition, there is the danger that Chinese President Xi Jinping might miscalculate over Taiwan. Washington’s confusing “strategic ambiguity” policy as to whether it would defend the island only adds to the instability. Biden has said he would defend Taiwan, but his own White House contradicted him. Many leaders are confused, including possibly Xi. He might mistakenly believe he could get away with an attack on Taiwan—only to have the United States intervene violently to stop him. Moreover, after several U.S. presidents have threatened “all options on the table” for the Iranian nuclear program without backing it up, Tehran might assume that it can make a dash for the bomb without a U.S. response. If Iran is mistaken in doubting Biden’s resolve, war could result.

Liberal multilateral institutions are manipulated by those engaging in conflict

Kroenig, 8-27, 22, Matthew Kroenig is deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and a professor in the Department of Government and the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. His latest book is The Return of Great Power Rivalry: Democracy Versus Autocracy From the Ancient World to the U.S. and China, Foreign Policy, International Relations Theory Suggests Great-Power War Is Coming

Even liberalism, a more optimistic theory in general, provides a reason for pessimism. To be sure, liberals are right that institutions, economic interdependence, and democracy have facilitated cooperation within the liberal world order. The United States and its democratic allies in North America, Europe, and East Asia are more united than ever before. But these same factors are increasingly sparking conflict on the fault lines between the liberal and illiberal world orders.

In the new Cold War, international institutions have simply become new arenas for competition. Russia and China are infiltrating these institutions and turning them against their intended purposes. Who can forget Russia chairing a meeting of the United Nations Security Council as its armies invaded Ukraine in February? Similarly, China used its influence in the World Health Organization to stymie an effective investigation into COVID-19’s origins. And dictators vie for seats on the U.N. Human Rights Council to ensure their egregious human rights abuses escape scrutiny. Instead of facilitating cooperation, international institutions are increasingly exacerbating conflict.

Liberal scholars also argue that economic interdependence mitigates conflict. But this theory always had a chicken-and-egg problem. Is trade driving good relations, or are good relations driving trade? We are seeing the answer play out in real time.

China containment risks great power war

Wertheim, 8-24, 22, Stephen Wertheim last week, who makes the case for American restraint. Wertheim is a senior fellow in the American Statecraft Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the author of Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/08/24/us-restraint-ukraine-taiwan-wertheim-interview/

However, when I look at the U.S. side, I see the United States as having leapt from the so-called engagement strategy to containment. In other words, engagement was always a kind of regime-change strategy. The idea was that the United States would be fine with coexisting with China and engaging in a great amount of trade with China, so long as China came to look more like the United States, more like a liberal democracy, and fulfilled our expectations internationally, accepted U.S. leadership, etc. Well, that hasn’t happened. And so, noting the increasing scale of Chinese power, the United States beginning under the Trump administration moved essentially to a containment approach, saying, we have to get tough with China and view the expansion of Chinese power and influence as a significant threat to the United States. I think that we passed over another option, which is mutual coexistence, being clear-eyed that China has its own system that we don’t approve of, and we’re going to continue to object to Chinese human rights abuses like the large-scale ones in Xinjiang, but we also are going to clearly signal to China that we can coexist. We don’t seek to change the Chinese regime, and not all aspects of Chinese power run counter to U.S. interests in the world, and some things are also not worth antagonizing China over, because when you have the world’s two leading powers, there’s a risk of great-power war.

American unilateralism and Isolating China will trigger the end of civilization

Lieven , 8-24, 22, Anatol Lieven is Director of the Eurasia Program at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He was formerly a professor at Georgetown University in Qatar  and in the War Studies Department of King’s College London. He is a member of the advisory committee of the South Asia Department of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He holds a BA and PhD from Cambridge University in England. 1985 to 1998, Anatol Lieven worked as a British journalist in South Asia, the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and covered the wars in Afghanistan, Chechnya and the southern Caucasus. From 2000 to 2007 he worked at think tanks in Washington DC, Putin fairly deconstructed: a man, a myth, the state, https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/08/24/putin-fairly-deconstructed-a-man-a-myth-the-state/

Lieven is author of several books on Russia and its neighbors including “The Baltic Revolutions: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence” and “Ukraine and Russia: A Fraternal Rivalry.”

Short is however at pains to bring out the fact that the changes in Putin’s ideology did not take place in a vacuum, and reflected (as well as shaped) much wider changes in Russian attitudes. The repeated willful disregard for Russian views and Russian interests displayed by Western governments not only helped to produce a catastrophic backlash in Russian foreign policy but also contributed greatly to the growth of illiberalism at home. Short quotes Sir Francis Richards, former British diplomat and head of GCHQ (the British equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency), on the West’s failure to reciprocate the gestures of support and goodwill made by Putin after 9/11:

“We were quite grateful for Putin’s support after 9/11, but we didn’t show it very much. I used to spend a lot of time trying to persuade people that we needed to give as well as take…I think the Russians felt throughout that [on NATO issues] they were being fobbed off. And they were.”

As Short indicates, Putin’s help to the Bush administration, and that administration’s subsequent abrogation of the ABM Treaty and advocacy of NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine led to “a growing feeling in the Russian elite that Putin was being played.” This domestic embarrassment most likely contributed to the ferocity of Putin’s approach to the Ukraine issue.

Short’s ultimate conclusion is a profoundly pessimistic one: that largely irrespective of individual leadership on either side, American determination to pursue unilateral global leadership (and European acquiescence in this) was bound to bring America and Russia into confrontation, given Russia’s determination to remain one pole of a multipolar world. “America, the global power, believes that its role is to lead. Russia refuses to be led.”

For this reason alone, Short should be read by U.S. policymakers — because if Washington repeats the same approach with regard to the vastly more powerful Chinese state, the result could be the end of civilization.

Beckley & Hands are wrong: Decline doesn’t necessarily lead to war

Andrew Latham, 8-22, 22Andrew Latham is Professor of International Relations and Political Theory at Macalester College, St. Paul, MN, and Research Associate with the Centre for Defence and Security Studies, Canada. Professor Latham has taught courses such as Chinese Foreign Policy, Regional Conflict and Security (which has alternatively focused on the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific Region); War and Islam; US Foreign and Defense Policy, International Security, and Advanced International Theory, What if China is not rising, making it more dangerous?, https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/08/22/authors-china-is-not-rising-but-that-makes-it-more-dangerous/

In their recently released book “Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict with China,” Hal Brands and Michael Beckley challenge key aspects of this conventional wisdom. At the risk of oversimplification, their argument is that China is not a rising power, at least in the sense that it is on a linear trajectory to become ever more prosperous and powerful, and perhaps one day predominant. Rather, it is a faltering power, one that is fated first to stumble and then decline, at least in relative terms. Furthermore, this looming reversal of fortunes, they argue, is neither a remote possibility nor one that is contingent on some policy misstep on the part of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It is baked into China’s demography and economy, and it is reinforced by the logic of geopolitical counter-balancing.

At this point, according to the authors, there is simply nothing the CCP can do to avoid the “middle-income trap,” the imminent prospect of “growing old before growing rich,” or the effort on the part of weaker neighbors to band together to constrain what they consider to be an increasingly menacing China. Simply put, though China’s star might seem to be still ascendant, it has effectively peaked. And it has done so long before supplanting the United States as a global, or even regional, hegemon.

While this might seem like a blessing, Brands and Beckley argue, if history is any guide a faltering China is likely to prove anything but. Consider the two historical cases of Germany in 1914 and Japan in 1941. In both cases, a rising power — a power that had grown increasingly wealthy and that wanted to claim its rightful place in the sun — began to lose ground, in the German case demographically, in the Japanese case strategically.

Having realized that their relative power positions were likely to get worse over time, both powers decided to initiate wars they knew had only a slim chance of winning because they also suspected their prospects were only going to get worse with each passing year. In both cases, the hegemonic contender made a desperate bid to lock in its relative power position by launching a war to reset the international system in their favor.

In neither case was war caused by rising states leaping through open windows of opportunity created by actual military advantage. Instead, they were caused by a stalled rising power, at a current or imminent military disadvantage, attacking despite this disadvantage because it was the least bad of several very bad options open to them. Reasoning by historical analogy, the authors conclude that the most important foreign policy challenge facing the United States over the next decade or so will be to figure out how to deal with a China that, like Germany in 1914 and Japan in 1941, sees the ring of regional and perhaps global predominance slipping away.

This is an ambitious book and, as such, has much to recommend it. The focus on China peaking or plateauing — as opposed to rising — is particularly salutary as it forces us to think about the strategic implications of what remains an under-appreciated shift in China’s developmental trajectory.

Like every ambitious book, however, this one rests on a number of assumptions, assertions and arguments that are open to conceptual and/or empirical challenge. The most significant of these can be found in the authors’ conclusions regarding the implications of peak China for international peace and security. Via historical analogy, the authors come to the conclusion that the next decade will be a moment of considerable peril, similar in kind — and fraught with the same risk of war — as the years immediately preceding 1914 and 1941.

Now, in the abstract at least, there’s nothing inherently wrong with using this sort of historical analogy to shed light on a contemporary geopolitical dynamic. The devil, however, is in the details. Faulty or false analogies can arise when one likens one case to another when the differences between the two outweigh the similarities. Similarly, one can misanalogize by treating one version of an historical case as objective history when in fact there are multiple, competing versions of the narrative, any of which could lead to quite different conclusions about the contemporary dynamics.

In this case, the authors appear to have fallen prey to the latter type of logical fallacy, very selectively drawing on one theory out of many that purport to explain the outbreak of war in 1914 and 1941 in order to make an argument about the dangers associated with China’s coming decline. Having for many years taught a college course on the politics of the world wars, I can point to any number of theoretical explanations for the causes of those wars that have little or nothing to do with German or Japanese fears of relative decline.

That the authors treat the most convenient accounts of these wars as simply the way things happened, and then conclude that we are now entering a similar period of heightened risk, may be suggestive but it is far from dispositive.

 

Russia will inevitably build strong ties with China

Marks, 8-21., 22, Ramon Marks is a retired, New York international lawyer, No Matter Who Wins Ukraine, America Has Already Lost, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/no-matter-who-wins-ukraine-america-has-already-lost-204288

Regardless of who wins the Ukrainian war, the United States will be the strategic loser. Russia will build closer relations with China and other countries on the Eurasian continent, including India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states. It will turn irrevocably away from European democracies and Washington. Just as President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger played the “China card” to isolate the Soviet Union during the Cold War, presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping will play their cards in a bid to contain U.S. global leadership.

Knowing that it can no longer keep Europe as its top energy customer, Moscow has logically moved to grow its fossil fuels sales with Asia, notably China and India. Since the Ukraine invasion, Russia has become China’s top oil provider, replacing Saudi Arabia. It is true that in the short to medium term, transfer capacity will limit how much more fossil fuels Russia can sell to China. Russia currently has just one overland oil route to China, the ESPO pipeline. The only gas pipeline currently in operation is Power of Siberia. Pipeline sales of both oil and gas are supplemented by seaborne routes to mainland China. In the years ahead, China and Russia will doubtlessly make substantial investments to expand oil and gas transmission between the two countries, better enabling Russia to be the primary supplier of fossil fuels to China. The Chinese will likely be able to reduce their dependence on fossil fuel shipments from the Middle East which must pass through vulnerable naval choke points such as the Malacca Straits. Closer energy relations between China and Russia will help to draw them closer as strategic allies with “no limits” on the Eurasian continent. By having a committed Russian energy supplier in its backyard, China will inevitably obtain more strategic flexibility for dealing with the United States and its Indo-Pacific regional allies, all to the detriment of Western democracies.

Multilateralism failing to stop global conflict and solve problems

World Politics Review Insight, 8-19, 22, What’s Next for Multilateralism and the Liberal International Order?, https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/

The United Nations is perhaps the most prominent manifestation of an international order built on balancing sovereign equality with great-power politics in a bid to maintain international peace. But its capacity to do that—and to meet its other objectives, which include protecting human rights and delivering aid—have been severely constrained in recent years by its member states. The real power in the U.N. lies with the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council—the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain and France. And they have used their positions to limit the institution’s involvement in major recent conflicts, including civil wars in Syria and Yemen. But perhaps no global crisis has underscored the Security Council’s limitations more than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Because of its veto, Moscow has been able to block all efforts at the council to condemn or intervene in a war of aggression that clearly violates the United Nations Charter. Beyond the Security Council, the U.N. has sprouted additional specialized agencies to address specific issues—health, women’s rights and refugees, among others—that have met with varied degrees of success. In some instances, they have been able to galvanize global action around urgent goals, like UNAIDS’ work curbing the international AIDS crisis. But many of those agencies are now also facing funding shortages that could severely curtail their work, not least the World Health Organization, which has led the global coronavirus response. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 24, 2019 (AP photo by Richard Drew). In addition to the U.N. and its agencies, multilateralism of all stripes is under strain, in part because of the Trump administration’s hostility during its four years in office toward these organizations due to the perceived constraints that multilateralism places on Washington’s freedom of action. In the absence of U.S. leadership and at times in the face of U.S. obstructionism, many multilateral efforts floundered. Heightened tensions and strategic competition among the U.S., Russia and China have also blocked efforts to address crises, even where their interests converge, as in Afghanistan. President Joe Biden promised to adopt a more conventional U.S. approach to multilateralism and America’s global role, and his administration has already followed through with efforts to correct course on both scores in its first year and a half in office. But whether that will be enough to shore up the international order remains to be seen. It is unclear whether the WTO will be able to reassert itself as global trade revives after the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance. The International Criminal Court, which could play a vital role in pursuing charges of war crimes emerging from the war in Ukraine, is under pressure from all sides—including the U.S. And the WHO has emerged from the coronavirus pandemic with its reputation severely damaged by its perceived inability to hold countries—particularly China—accountable for failing to meet their responsibilities under the global health governance system. Other multilateral bodies, including the G-20 and G-7, are finding themselves ill-equipped to exercise any influence, as global powers are increasingly interested in competition rather than cooperation. While Moscow, Beijing and, increasingly, Washington were already looking to shake up the status quo, the pandemic encouraged other countries to try to take advantage of the situation for their own political, economic and strategic gain. Bodies like the G-20 and the G-7 were designed to leverage the economic power of rich countries around a unified response to international crises, but there is little unity to be found at the moment. WPR has covered the U.N. and multilateral institutions in detail and continues to examine key questions about their future. Will veto-wielding Security Council members continue to curtail U.N. involvement in key geopolitical hotspots, and what will that mean for the legitimacy of the institution? Will the U.N. and its specialized agencies be undone by threatened funding cuts? Will the world be able to formulate a multilateral approach to addressing the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic—and now the war in Ukraine? Below are some of the highlights of WPR’s coverage.

China is an aggressive global power that will become even more of a threat as it declines

Brands & Beckley, 8-13, 22, Hal Brands is the Henry A. Kissinger distinguished professor of global affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Foreign Policy, What Does China Want? https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/08/13/what-china-wants-us-conflict/ Michael Beckley is an associate professor of political science at Tufts University and a nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

The greatest geopolitical catastrophes occur at the intersection of ambition and desperation. Xi Jinping’s China will soon be driven by plenty of both. In our new book, Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict with China, which this article is adapted from, we explain the cause of that desperation: a slowing economy and a creeping sense of encirclement and decline. But first, we need to lay out the grandness of those ambitions—what Xi’s China is trying to achieve. It is difficult to grasp just how hard China’s fall will be without understanding the heights to which Beijing aims to climb. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is undertaking an epic project to rewrite the rules of global order in Asia and far beyond. China doesn’t want to be a superpower—one pole of many in the international system. It wants to be the superpower—the geopolitical sun around which the system revolves. That ambition is now hard to miss in what CCP officials are saying. It is even more obvious in what the CCP is doing, from its world-beating naval shipbuilding program to its effort to remake the strategic geography of Eurasia. China’s grand strategy involves pursuing objectives close to home, such as cementing the CCP’s hold on power and reclaiming bits of China that were ripped away when the country was weak. It also includes more expansive goals, such as carving out a regional sphere of influence and contesting American power on a global scale. The CCP’s agenda blends a sense of China’s historical destiny with an emphasis on modern, 21st-century tools of power. It is rooted in the timeless geopolitical ambitions that motivate so many great powers and the insatiable insecurities that plague China’s authoritarian regime. Although China’s drive to reorder the world predates Xi, it has accelerated dramatically in recent years. Today, CCP officials outwardly evince every confidence that a rising China is eclipsing a declining United States. Inwardly, however, Beijing’s leaders are already worrying that the Chinese dream may remain just that. China’s grand strategy is typically found more in a rough consensus among elites than in detailed, step-by-step plans for the future. Yet there is ample evidence that the CCP is pursuing a determined, multilayered grand strategy with four key objectives. First, the CCP has the eternal ambition of every autocratic regime: to maintain its iron grip on power. Since 1949, the Chinese regime has always seen itself as being locked in struggle with domestic and foreign enemies. Its leaders are haunted by the Soviet collapse, which brought down another great socialist state. They know that the collapse of the CCP-led system would be a disaster—and probably fatal—for them personally. In Chinese politics, paranoia is thus a virtue rather than a vice. As Wen Jiabao, then China’s head of government, once said, “To think about why danger looms will ensure one’s security. To think about why chaos occurs will ensure one’s peace. To think about why a country falls will ensure one’s survival.” The CCP has historically gone to enormous lengths—plunging the country into madness during the Cultural Revolution, killing hundreds or perhaps thousands of its own citizens amid the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989—to protect its power. And the goal of perpetuating the CCP’s authority is at the core of every key decision. Xi’s fundamental purpose, as a reporter summarized one official’s explanation in 2017, was “ensuring the leading role of the Communist Party in all aspects of life.” Second, the CCP wants to make China whole again by regaining territories lost in earlier eras of internal upheaval and foreign aggression. Xi’s map of China includes a Hong Kong that is completely reincorporated into the CCP-led state (a process that is well underway) and a Taiwan that has been brought back into Beijing’s grasp. Elsewhere along its periphery, the CCP has outstanding border disputes with countries from India to Japan. Beijing also claims some 90 percent of the South China Sea—one of the world’s most commercially vital waterways—as its sovereign possession. Chinese officials say that there is no room for compromise on these issues. “We cannot lose even one inch of the territory left behind by our ancestors,” Xi told then-U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis in 2018. The CCP’s third aim is to create a regional sphere of influence in which China is supreme because outside actors, especially the United States, are pushed to the margins. Beijing probably doesn’t envision the sort of outright physical dominance that the Soviet Union exercised in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. The CCP envisions, rather, using a mix of attraction and coercion to ensure that the economies of maritime Asia are oriented toward Beijing rather than Washington, that smaller powers are properly deferential to the CCP, and that the United States no longer has the alliances, regional military presence, or influence necessary to create problems for China in its own front yard. As Xi said in 2014, “It is for the people of Asia to run the affairs of Asia, solve the problems of Asia, and uphold the security of Asia.” Other officials have been more explicit. In 2010, then-Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told 10 Southeast Asian countries that “China is a big country and you are small countries, and that is a fact.” The final layer of Beijing’s strategy focuses on achieving global power and, eventually, global primacy. State media and party officials have explained that an increasingly powerful China cannot comfortably reside in a system led by the United States. Xi has talked of creating a global “community of common destiny” that would involve “all under heaven being one family”—and presumably obeying the fatherly guidance of the CCP. Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, makes no bones about who will shape global affairs once China’s national rejuvenation is achieved: “By 2050, two centuries after the Opium Wars, which plunged the ‘Middle Kingdom’ into a period of hurt and shame, China is set to regain its might and re-ascend to the top of the world.” The struggle to “become the world’s No.1 … is a ‘people’s war,’” the nationalist newspaper Global Times declares. “It will be as vast and mighty as a big river. It will be an unstoppable tide.” The four layers of Chinese grand strategy all go together. The CCP argues that only under its leadership can China achieve its long-awaited “national rejuvenation.” The quest for regional and global power, in turn, should reinforce the CCP’s authority at home. This quest can provide legitimacy by stoking Chinese nationalism at a time when the regime’s original ideology—socialism—has been abandoned. It can deliver prestige, domestic as well as global, for China’s rulers. And it can give China the ability, which it is using aggressively, to silence its international critics and create global rules that protect an autocratic state. Chinese grand strategy thus encompasses far more than the narrowly conceived defense of the country and its ruling regime. Those goals are tightly linked to the pursuit of an epochal change in the regional and global rules of the road—the sort that occurs when one hegemon falls and another arises. “Empires have no interest in operating within an international system,” writes former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in his book Diplomacy, “they aspire to be the international system.” That’s the ultimate ambition of Chinese statecraft today. Americans might be surprised to find that Chinese leaders view the United States as a dangerous, hostile nation determined to hold other countries down. Yet even as China has, in many ways, flourished in the Pax Americana, its leaders have worried that Washington threatens nearly everything the CCP desires. It cannot escape the attention of Chinese policymakers that the United States has a distinguished record of destroying its most serious global challengers—Imperial Germany, Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union—as well as a host of lesser rivals. Nor can Chinese officials forget that the United States is poised to frustrate all of the CCP’s designs. From Mao Zedong to Xi, Chinese leaders have seen the United States as a menace to the CCP’s political primacy. When the United States and China were avowed enemies during the early Cold War, Washington sponsored Tibetan rebels who fought against that regime, while also supporting Taiwan’s Chiang Kai-shek and his claim to be China’s rightful ruler. In recent decades, American leaders have insisted they wish China well. But they have also proclaimed, as then-U.S. President Bill Clinton said in 1997, that the country’s authoritarian political model puts it “on the wrong side of history.” After the Tiananmen Square massacre, and in response to CCP atrocities against the Uyghur population more recently, the United States even led coalitions of countries that slapped economic sanctions on China. The CCP sees through the subterfuge, one Chinese politician explained: “The U.S. has never given up its intent to overthrow the socialist system.” Even when the United States has no conscious design to undermine dictators, it cannot help but threaten them. America’s very existence serves as a beacon of hope to dissidents. CCP members surely noticed that protesters in Hong Kong prominently displayed U.S. flags when resisting the imposition of authoritarian rule in 2019-2020, just as the protesters in Tiananmen Square erected a giant sculpture resembling the Statue of Liberty 30 years earlier. They howl in anger when U.S. news organizations publish detailed exposes of official crimes and corruption in Beijing. Things that Americans view as innocuous—for instance, the operation of nongovernmental organizations focused on human rights and government accountability—look like subversive menaces to a CCP that recognizes no limits on its own power. The United States simply cannot cease threatening the CCP unless America somehow ceases to be what it is: a liberal democracy concerned with the fate of freedom in the world. The United States stands athwart China’s road to greatness in other ways. The CCP cannot make China whole again without reclaiming Taiwan, but the United States shields that island—through arms sales, diplomatic support, and the implicit promise of military aid—from Beijing’s pressure. Similarly, the United States obstructs China’s drive for dominance in the South China Sea with its Navy and its calls for freedom of navigation; its military alliances and security partnerships in Asia give smaller countries the temerity to resist Chinese power. Washington maintains a globally capable military and bristles when China tries to develop something similar; it uses its heft to shape international views of how countries should behave and what sort of political systems are most legitimate. Beijing must “break the Western moral advantage,” noted one Chinese analyst, that comes from determining which governments are “good and bad.” To be clear, China doesn’t reject all aspects of the U.S.-led order: The CCP has brilliantly exploited access to an open global economy, and its military forces have participated in United Nations peacekeeping missions. But Chinese leaders nonetheless appreciate, better than many Americans do, that there is something fundamentally antagonistic about the relationship: The CCP cannot succeed in creating arrangements that reflect its own interests and values without weakening, fragmenting, and ultimately replacing the order that currently exists. Even at moments when Beijing and Washington have seemed friendly, then, Chinese leaders have harbored extremely jaded views of U.S. power. Former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, whose economic reforms relied on U.S. markets and technology, argued that Washington was waging a “world war without gunsmoke” to overthrow the CCP. Such perceptions, in turn, lead to a belief that realizing China’s dreams will ultimately require a test of strength with the United States. The CCP faces a “new long march” in its relations with the United States, Xi said in 2019—a dangerous struggle for supremacy and survival. Xi is right that the countries are on a collision course. The CCP’s grand strategy imperils America’s long-declared interest in preventing any hostile power from controlling East Asia and the western Pacific. That strategy is activating America’s equally long-standing fear that a rival that gains preeminence on the Eurasian landmass could challenge the United States worldwide. China’s drive for technological supremacy is no less ominous: A world in which techno-autocracy is ascendant may not be one in which democracy is secure. The basic reason why U.S.-China relations are so tense today is that the CCP is trying to shape the next century in ways that threaten to overturn what the United States has achieved over the last century. This raises a deeper question: Why is Beijing so set on fundamentally revising the system, even if doing so leads to dangerous rivalry with the United States? The answer involves geopolitics, history, and ideology. In some ways, China’s bid for primacy is a new chapter in the world’s oldest story. Rising states typically seek greater influence, respect, and power. Yet China isn’t simply moved by the cold logic of geopolitics. It is also reaching for glory as a matter of historical destiny. China’s leaders view themselves as heirs to a Chinese state that was a superpower for most of recorded history. A series of Chinese empires claimed “all under heaven” as their mandate; they commanded deference from smaller states along the imperial periphery. “This history,” writes veteran Asia-watcher Michael Schuman in his book Superpower Interrupted, “has fostered in the Chinese a firm belief in what role they and their country should play in the world today, and for that matter, into the distant forever.” In Beijing’s view, a U.S.-led world in which China is a second-tier power is not the historical norm but a profoundly galling exception. That order was created after World War II, at the tail end of a “century of humiliation” in which a divided China was plundered by rapacious foreign powers. The CCP’s mandate is to set history aright by returning China to the top of the heap. “Since the Opium War of the 1840s the Chinese people have long cherished a dream of realizing a great national rejuvenation,” Xi said in 2014. Under CCP rule, China “will never again tolerate being bullied by any nation.” When Xi invokes the idea of a CCP-led “community of common destiny,” he is channeling this deeply rooted belief that Chinese primacy is the natural order of things. Not least, there is the ideological imperative. A strong, proud China might still pose problems for Washington even if it were a liberal democracy. But the fact that the country is ruled by autocrats committed to the ruthless suppression of liberalism domestically turbocharges Chinese revisionism globally. A deeply authoritarian state can never feel secure in its own rule, because it does not enjoy the freely given consent of the governed; it can never feel safe in a world dominated by democracies, because liberal international norms challenge illiberal domestic practices. “Autocracies,” writes the China scholar Minxin Pei, “simply are incapable of practicing liberalism abroad while maintaining authoritarianism at home.” This is no exaggeration. The infamous Document No. 9, a political directive issued at the outset of Xi’s presidency, shows that the CCP perceives a liberal world order as inherently threatening: “Western anti-China forces and internal ‘dissidents’ are still actively trying to infiltrate China’s ideological sphere.” The perpetual, piercing insecurity of an autocratic regime has powerful implications for Chinese statecraft. Chinese leaders feel a compulsion to make international norms and institutions friendlier to illiberal rule. They seek to push dangerous liberal influences away from Chinese borders. They must wrest international authority from a democratic superpower with a long history of bringing autocracies to ruin. And as an authoritarian China becomes powerful, it inevitably looks to strengthen the forces of illiberalism overseas as a way of enhancing its influence and affirming its own model. There is nothing extraordinary about this. When the United States became a world power, it forged a world that was hospitable to democratic values. When the Soviet Union controlled Eastern Europe, it imposed communist regimes. In great-power rivalries since antiquity, ideological cleavages have exacerbated geopolitical cleavages: Differences in how governments see their citizens produce profound differences in how those governments see the world. China is thus a typical revisionist state, an empire trying to reclaim its cherished place in the world, and an autocracy whose assertiveness flows from its unending insecurity. That’s a powerful—and volatile—combination. This is the outrageously ambitious China that the United States, and the world, are now familiar with. And as China amasses the means of global power—from influence in international organizations to the world’s largest navy by number of ships—it often seems as though it has embarked on an unstoppable ascent. “The East is rising, and the West is declining,” Xi likes to say. But it’s sometimes hard not to wonder if Xi and his lieutenants are as buoyant as they seem. Careful analysts of Chinese politics detect subtle anxiety in government reports and statements. Themes of bounding optimism are mixed with “words of caution and deep insecurity,” one such analyst wrote last year. Xi acknowledges, even as he touts Beijing’s power, that there are many ways in which “the West is strong, and the East is weak.” He warned, even in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, of “looming risks and tests.” He declared that China must make itself “invincible” to ensure that “nobody can beat us or choke us to death.” And he advised his cadres to prepare for brutal struggle ahead. Xi’s not wrong to worry. On closer inspection, it turns out that there is another China, one beset by multiplying problems at home and multiplying enmities abroad. Economic growth has slowed to a crawl. Productivity has collapsed, while debt has ballooned. Xi’s government is careening into ruinous totalitarianism. Water, food, and energy resources are becoming scarce. The country faces the worst peacetime demographic collapse in history. Not least, China is losing access to the welcoming world that enabled its ascent. Whatever its propagandists may say, this China will struggle mightily to surpass the United States over the long term. For that very reason, it may actually be more dangerous in the near future. Peaking powers usually become aggressive when their fortunes fade and their enemies encircle them. China is blazing a trail that often ends in tragedy: a rapid rise followed by the threat of a hard fall.

 

Competition against China triggers nuclear war

Larsen, 8-12, 22, Daniel Larison is a contributing editor at Antiwar.com and former senior editor at The American Conservative magazine. He has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago, Hawks: Time to prepare the nation for war with China, https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/08/12/hawks-time-to-prepare-the-nation-for-war-with-china/

China hawks have been responding to Beijing’s more aggressive military exercises near Taiwan by calling for increased U.S. efforts to protect it from possible attack. Case in point: Elbridge Colby argued in Foreign Affairs this week that the United States is unprepared for a war over Taiwan and insisted that the Biden administration bring its policies into line with the president’s declarations of support. Colby writes, “Given its public statements and strategies, it would make sense for Washington to be behaving as though the United States might well be on the verge of major war with a nuclear-armed superpower rival.” If our government’s public statements and strategies have put the U.S. in such a dangerous position, that suggests that the U.S. should seriously reconsider and revise those statements and strategies before our country blunders into an avoidable disaster. Colby is right about one thing: there is a huge gap between the official rhetoric coming from Washington on Taiwan and the actions that the U.S. has been taking to back up these statements. President Biden has repeatedly made the mistake of claiming that the United States has a commitment to defend Taiwan from attack, and Speaker Pelosi’s ill-advised visit to Taipei included her statement that U.S. support for Taiwan was “ironclad.” As this gap has opened up between public statements and U.S. capabilities, there is a temptation to increase the latter significantly, but ramping up military spending and deployments is the wrong answer. The better solution is to scale back the expansive rhetoric and to stop chipping away at the status quo that has helped to preserve the peace in East Asia for more than forty years. While the call for a military buildup is framed as a deterrent to prevent a future conflict, it seems practically guaranteed to intensify an arms race with China and to feed the Chinese government’s fear of permanently losing Taiwan. If the U.S. encourages Beijing to conclude that time is not on their side and that the possibility of reunification will soon be foreclosed forever, that might very well hasten the onset of war instead of postponing it. In other words, the more that the U.S. builds up its military and focuses it on defeating China, the greater the incentive the Chinese government will have to respond in kind to match what our government does. Looming over all of this is the reality that the U.S. and China are nuclear powers with more than enough weapons to devastate both countries. If deterrence should fail for whatever reason, the costs of such a conflict would dwarf anything we have ever seen. The U.S. has pledged to take that risk for its treaty allies, but it should not take the same risk in this case. The demand to prepare for war with China takes for granted that the U.S. must go to war for Taiwan if it is attacked, but our government is not obligated to do this and our country does not have any vital interests at stake that would justify doing it. The U.S. can and should continue to assist Taiwan in building up its own defenses, but it should do this quietly without the frequent rhetorical jabs in the Chinese government’s eyes that serve only to increase tensions to no one’s benefit. Actively preparing for a war that the U.S. does not have to fight and does not need to fight will make such a war more rather than less likely. Assuming that there will be a war sooner than later and that the U.S. must be ready to fight it when it has no compelling reason to do so needlessly puts two of the world’s major powers on a collision course. George Kennan remarked on a similar dynamic in The Fateful Alliance, his excellent history of the formation of the alliance between France and Russia prior to WWI: “So powerful are such compulsions, at all times and in all places, that the absence of any rational motives for a war, or of any constructive purpose that could be served by one, is quite lost sight of behind them. The assumption of the inevitability of a war is allowed to rest exclusively on the fact that “we” and “they” are both preparing so intensively for it. No other reason is needed for the acceptance of its necessity.” The U.S. must avoid falling into this trap in the case of Taiwan. Colby also calls for the U.S. to encourage “far greater military contributions” from allies for the purposes of countering China and to free up U.S. resources in other parts of the world. It is doubtful that many allied states will want to do this, especially when the Washington continues to increase its own military spending to record high levels. As the U.S. takes on larger burdens and costs voluntarily, that signals to allies that they do not have to increase their own contributions. Our government has had the bad habit of promising more than it can realistically deliver, and in practically every case the mistake has been to create false expectations of full U.S. support that was never going to be forthcoming. Loose talk about coming to Taiwan’s defense may encourage the Taiwanese government to take more risks in their dealings with Beijing, but the bigger danger is that it leads the Chinese government to conclude that the U.S. is reneging on its past commitments to them. The initial Chinese response to Pelosi’s Taiwan visit indicates that this is exactly how their government perceives the direction of U.S. policy, so it would be reckless for the U.S. to give the Chinese government additional reasons to think this. The official line from the Biden administration is that U.S. policy has not changed with respect to China and Taiwan. If that’s true, the administration needs to do a better job of managing the relationship with Beijing than it has done so far. The immediate fallout from Speaker Pelosi’s visit has made that harder, but that is all the more reason for the administration to make the effort. The U.S. absolutely should not indulge advocates of so-called “strategic clarity” by making an explicit security commitment to Taiwan, since this would only cause further deterioration in the relationship and put Taiwan in greater danger. At the end of The Fateful Alliance, Kennan issued a warning of the dangers of great power rivalry in the nuclear age: “If, today, governments are still unable to recognize that modern nationalism and modern militarism are, in combination, self-destructive forces, and totally so; if they are incapable of looking clearly at those forces, discerning their true nature, and bringing them under some sort of control; if they continue, whether for reasons of fear or ambition, to cultivate those forces and to try to use them as instrument for self-serving competitive purposes—if they do these things, they will be preparing, this time, a catastrophe from which they can be no recovery and no return.” A policy that puts the United States and China on a path to increasing tensions and direct conflict risks embarking on a march to folly that would be even more destructive than the one that wrecked Europe more than a century ago.

Domestic dysfunction undermines the international order

George Beebe,Director of Grand Strategy, Quincy Institute, 8-11, 22, NATO’s Tunnel Vision,  https://quincyinst.org/report/natos-tunnel-vision/

Increased political polarization at home could contribute to the devolution of the broader international order, resulting in a situation in which it is the West’s standing — in contrast to that of Russia, China, and other authoritarians — that erodes. The attractiveness of the American model for foreign audiences will diminish as domestic dysfunction within the United States increases. Already, Western efforts to align the Global South against Russia and China have made little progress. Putin’s recent high-profile meeting in Tehran with Turkish leader Erdogan and Iranian leader Raisi showed that important international doors remain open to Putin despite his transgressions in Ukraine. Key parts of the Global South, including most notably India, Africa, and the Middle East, have resisted U.S. demands for isolating and sanctioning Russia and bristled at American pressure for democracies to unite against authoritarians.21 For many nations already inclined to worry much more about reckless or coercive American actions than about threats from Russia, the implications of severe Western sanctions are prompting them to hedge against U.S. power rather than to bandwagon with it.22

Reduced relations with China mean China supports Russia in the Ukraine

George Beebe,Director of Grand Strategy, Quincy Institute, 8-11, 22, NATO’s Tunnel Vision,  https://quincyinst.org/report/natos-tunnel-vision/

Moreover, dealing with China’s rise will only be more difficult for the United States if Beijing and Moscow are working actively together against it. International cooperation to combat climate change — described in NATO’s Strategic Concept as “a defining challenge” for the alliance — will be all but impossible. Despite this, the United States seems to be inadvertently encouraging Russian-Chinese partnership against the West.  NATO’s blunt assertion that China’s “stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security, and values” will only spur Eurasia’s two largest powers to partner against the United States and Europe.23 Russia’s dependence on China has grown significantly in the wake of its attack on Ukraine and corresponding rupture in relations with the West.24 Beijing has not backed away from Russia despite U.S. pressures and its own ambivalence over Russia’s violation of Ukrainian sovereignty — though it has so far avoided arming Moscow.25 The more tensions there are in the U.S.-China relationship, the more likely China will be to help Russia’s efforts in Ukraine.

Only US engagement can resolve the Ukraine war

George Beebe,Director of Grand Strategy, Quincy Institute, 8-11, 22, NATO’s Tunnel Vision,  https://quincyinst.org/report/natos-tunnel-vision/

No settlement will be possible, however, absent active U.S. leadership. Without strong American backing, Ukraine could neither defend itself against Russian attacks nor build a base of domestic support for a negotiated end to the war. Without U.S. involvement in a settlement, Russia would doubt that any compromise with Ukraine would prompt the West to relent in its efforts to punish and weaken Russia. Only the United States has the requisite mix of carrots and sticks required to convince Putin that continuing the war will be worse for Russia than settling it. Only the United States can instill confidence in Ukraine that its future can be prosperous and secure outside the NATO alliance.

China’s aggression in Asia will increase

Panda, 8-11, 22, Dr. Jagannath Panda is a Contributing Editor at the National Interest. Dr. Panda is the Head of Stockholm Centre for South Asian and Indo-Pacific Affairs (SCSA-IPA) at the ISDP; and a Senior Fellow at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. He is also the Director for Europe-Asia Research Cooperation at the YCAPS, Japan. Did Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan Trip Close the Thucydides Trap?, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/did-nancy-pelosi%E2%80%99s-taiwan-trip-close-thucydides-trap-204114

The Chinese standpoint is clear: The status quo that gave cross-Strait relations a semblance of stability has been ruptured. Chinese state media has declared the U.S. House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan a “salvo of war.” This, they say will precipitate a change in China’s United States policy—“strategic and comprehensive countermeasures” is the buzzword. Even before her arrival, China was categorical about the serious ramifications of this trip as it constituted “gross interference in its internal affairs.” Even U.S. president Joe Biden publicly acknowledged it as “not a good idea.” That Pelosi’s stopover would invite trouble was written on the wall. How can a politically symbolic action be without grave consequences? But perhaps the more important question is, how much worse will things get? The Chinese standpoint is clear: The status quo that gave cross-Strait relations a semblance of stability has been ruptured. The downward slope that the Thucydides Trap dynamic entails is certainly getting steeper. Will this then force the United States to finally review its Taiwan policy or initiate conciliatory actions? Has Taiwan become a victim of token symbolism or was the Nancy Pelosi-Tsai Ing-wen image an evocative democratic totem? And what consequences will Pelosi’s visit engender in the long term for Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific security architecture? Toward an Inescapable Trap? Times have certainly changed since 1997 when the then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich made a trip to Taiwan. Today, the balance of power between the United States and China has shifted towards the latter. While China was forced to tolerate Gingrich’s visit in 1997 to preserve its valuable economic relationship with the United States, the fact that he was not a member of President Bill Clinton’s party or administration made it more palatable. This was not the case with Pelosi’s trip. Between 2018 and 2022, the U.S.-China trade war has metamorphosed into a new Cold War exacerbated by China’s support of Russia in the Ukraine war and U.S. efforts to coalesce like-minded partners in the Indo-Pacific with groupings like AUKUS and the China-focused Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, composed of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. In Europe, the United States’ confrontational policy against China has influenced the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to label China a “systemic challenge.” It also pushed for a greater focus on the Indo-Pacific during the NATO summit by bringing in Japan and South Korea as observers. Hence, Beijing is feeling contained from multiple directions. As a retaliatory measure, Beijing has stepped up its diplomatic maneuvers and is gearing to revitalize its own multilateral forums like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) by leading emerging and developing states as a counter-weight to the U.S. coalition. Apart from that, China is an economic and military rival to the United States that is willing to flex its might. Since Pelosi’s arrival in Taipei, there have already been immediate consequences: Beijing has (temporarily) banned the import of about 100 Taiwanese food items including citrus fruits and fish; suspended the export of natural sand to Taiwan; and carried out its vow to respond by surrounding the island with live-fire air-and-sea military exercises and “Taiwan lockdown drills” which are reminiscent of the third Taiwan Crisis on a larger scale. Apart from that, Taiwanese government agencies were targets of an unprecedented number of presumably Chinese-initiated cyberattacks, with some of the screens showing messages asking Pelosi to leave. The United States upped the ante with a G7 statement criticizing China for using Pelosi’s visit as a “pretext” to cause military escalation. Beijing obviously viewed this statement as a way to shame it on the world stage, linking it to the historical subjugation of China by the “Eight-Power Allied Forces.” China has not only canceled its bilateral meeting with Japan and announced eight “countermeasures” (canceled or suspended dialogue) against the United States but also sanctioned Pelosi and her family. China has consistently accused the United States of violating the One China Principle which stipulates that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. China has also criticized the United States for undermining the spirit of the 1972, 1979, and 1982 U.S.-China joint communiques that form the foundation of their bilateral relationship. On the other hand, the United States pursues the One China Policy, yet it has maintained a policy of strategic ambiguity over whether it would intervene directly if Taiwan was attacked. Pelosi’s visit has weaponized Chinese claims that the United States is gradually chipping away at China’s sovereignty by providing tacit support to the so-called “secessionist forces” (referring mainly to the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, which is seen in Beijing as “ultra-nationalist”). In fact, for China, Taiwan’s attempts to promote “incremental independence” by seeking the United States’ support and its refusal to abide by the 1992 Consensus, which is another contested term, are an erosion of the foundational tenets to ensuring cross-Strait stability. The Consensus, a debatable and controversial political understanding between the CCP and the Kuomintang Party (Chinese Nationalist Party, KMT), was promulgated by the KMT as “One China, respective interpretations” although China steadfastly remarks time and again that “no room” for misinterpretation exists. The current Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, while acknowledging the meeting as a historical fact, does not recognize the Consensus as such. The United States has been somewhat non-committal about it, yet there is a contention that the securitization of the term has amounted to a “discursive practice,” eventually inflecting Chinese animosity toward Taiwan. So, although the United States and China were not aligned in their approach to the Consensus, both accorded it a security status for maintaining peace and stability in the Strait. Yet, it is argued that although the promotion of pro-independence values is directly linked to instability, the rejection of the Consensus per se does not challenge the status quo. The Chinese narrative, which links the two, seems to indicate otherwise. Nevertheless, today Washington finds itself caught in a challenging position between wanting to support the Taiwanese pro-democratic government without sparking a flare-up in tensions with China. White House National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby said that nothing about the visit “would change the status quo” and has tried to de-escalate tensions by reiterating that the United States does not support Taiwanese independence. For Pelosi, the visit was essential to promote solidarity with Taiwan in the battle between autocracy and democracy—a move that has earned her support from many China hawks in the U.S. Congress. The meeting between Pelosi and Tsai—the first woman House speaker and first Taiwanese woman president—was also an impressive reminder of the stakes beyond blinkered foreign policy, as well as a contrast to the “entrenched patriarchy” in the upper echelons of the CCP. Higher goals notwithstanding, it is not only the central understanding between the United States and China that is being eroded. The 1992 Consensus has been politicized by both sides of the Taiwan Strait. The Consensus was originally made between the KMT and the CCP to recognize only “one China”, with the implicit mutual understanding that they both had different interpretations—in 2006 the KMT admitted to inventing the term to alleviate tensions. Taiwan now largely denies the Consensus and rejects the “One Country, Two Systems” model. Beijing’s increasingly enraged responses to interferences in Taiwan have revealed its changing perspective on the 1992 Consensus as the CCP now aims to de-legitimize the elected government in Taipei altogether. Furthermore, under the assertive leadership of President Xi Jinping, achieving reunification is more essential than ever and the CCP has vowed to use force if necessary. Long-Term Damage Pelosi’s visit took place during an already highly sensitive time for China with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) anniversary on August 1 and Xi Jinping’s bid for a norm-breaking third term only months away at the 20th National Congress in November. Xi’s tough stance on Taiwan has become a keystone of his presidency and the need to strongly respond to Pelosi’s “provocation,” so as to maintain credibility, becomes both an incentive and a compulsion. Therefore, a more belligerent China should be expected in the Indo-Pacific. The CCP will feel China has to react firmly to Pelosi’s visit so that it does not appear weak or humiliated by the fact it could not force the United States to comply with its warnings over Taiwan. Like in Taiwan, Beijing is likely to ramp up military intimidation over other contested hotspots in the Indo-Pacific to induce a level of respect in regional powers for its core national interests and territorial claims. The new bipolar order will be increasingly fragile, with the risk of a war breaking out increasing as Xi inches toward achieving his “Chinese Dream” of restoring China’s great power status by 2049. India and the South and East China seas could also be impacted by the domino effect of this burgeoning crisis when small flare-ups are likely to be conflated. It will also push China to further collaborate with authoritarian and relatively weak states (e.g., Russia, North Korea, and Pakistan) but also developing states across regions that have no stake in the U.S.-led Western normative fight between democracies and autocracies but are concerned with their immediate national interests. Xi’s speech at the recent BRICS summit is a reminder of the new reality that the United States has more to lose. In Northeast Asia, China’s growing camaraderie with an isolated North Korea coupled with enhanced American alliances with Japan and South Korea portends an even trickier situation given Kim Jong Un’s impending seventh nuclear test. The absence of President Yoon Suk-yeol and his foreign minister during Pelosi’s visit to South Korea, which was noted by China, is a signal to avoid any unnecessary diplomatic controversy with Beijing. Japan’s defiant trajectory, of course, has already been set as an Indo-Pacific anchor state that has indicated military support for Taiwan’s defense though, considering the potential for volatility, it has largely refused to comment on Pelosi’s stopover in Taiwan. China’s calculation with India, the United States Indo-Pacific partner, despite the ongoing Himalayan conflict, has become more predictable because of Beijing’s need to expand its outreach in China-led multilateral forums like the SCO and India’s centrality as a buffer with the West and formally non-aligned power. However, a simple misstep would be enough to derail this fragile détente—the border talks have just reached a political “four-point consensus” though without any further disengagement. Hence, India will have to deftly manage Chinese advances for cross-regional cooperation.

War over Taiwan goes nuclear

Allison, 8-5, 22, Graham T. Allison is the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is the former director of Harvard’s Belfer Center and the author of Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/taiwan-thucydides-and-us-china-war-204060

Third, while most American politicians have yet to recognize it, the military balance in the Taiwan Strait has been transformed in the quarter century since the last Taiwan crisis. The local balance of power has shifted decisively in China’s favor. As I explained in an article published here last year, the United States could lose a war over Taiwan. Indeed, as former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work has stated publicly, in the Pentagon’s most realistic simulations and sensitive war games, in conflicts limited to Taiwan, the score is eighteen to zero, and the eighteen is not Team USA.

Were the United States to fight a local war over Taiwan, the president would likely face a fateful choice between losing and escalating to a wider war in which the United States would have the upper hand. Despite its huge leap forward in military capabilities, the United States continues to dominate the blue water seas on which China is dependent both for the import of energy and for exporting its products. Of course, that wider war could escalate further. And the upper rungs of this escalation ladder include the use of nuclear weapons.

In the nuclear domain, there is no question about the fact that the United States could erase China from the map. There is also no question about the fact that it could not do so without China retaliating with nuclear strikes that would kill most Americans. China now has a robust nuclear arsenal that creates a condition Cold Warriors called MAD: mutually assured destruction. In a nuclear war, neither the United States nor China could destroy the other without being destroyed itself. In that world, as President Ronald Reagan taught us, “a nuclear war cannot be won and must therefore never be fought.” But while no rational leader would choose to fight a nuclear war, the history of the Cold War includes a number of confrontations in which leaders chose to take increased risks of war rather than to accept the Soviet seizure of Berlin or the emplacement of nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba.

No major countries support the international order; US doesn’t support it in multiple ways that even the plan can’t solve for

Menon, 8-3, 22, SHIVSHANKAR MENON is a former diplomat who served as National Security Adviser to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from 2010 to 2014. He is currently Visiting Professor of International Relations at Ashoka University, Foreign Affairs, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/world/nobody-wants-current-world-order, Nobody Wants the Current World Order How All the Major Powers—Even the United States—Became Revisionists

The world is between orders; it is adrift. The last coherent response by the international system to a transnational challenge came at the London summit of the G-20 in April 2009, when in the wake of the 2008 financial crash, leaders took steps to avert another Great Depression and stabilize the global banking system. The subsequent international response to climate change, the metastasizing debt crisis in developing countries, and the COVID-19 pandemic can only be described as pathetic. That failure stems from the fact that fewer and fewer countries, including the ones that built the previous international order, seem committed to maintaining it. The United States led two orders after World War II: a Keynesian one that was not inordinately interested in how states ran their internal affairs in a bipolar Cold War world (a socialist India, therefore, could be the largest recipient of World Bank aid in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s), and, after the Cold War, a neoliberal one in a unipolar world that ignored national sovereignty and boundaries where it needed to. Both orders professed to be “open, rules-based, and liberal,” upholding the values of democracy, so-called free markets, human rights, and the rule of law. In reality, they rested on the dominance and imperatives of U.S. military, political, and economic power. For much of the era that followed the demise of the Soviet Union, most powers, including a rising China, generally went along with the U.S.-led order. Recent years, however, suggest that this arrangement is a thing of the past. Major powers exhibit what may be called “revisionist” behavior, pursuing their own ends to the detriment of the international order and seeking to change the order itself. Often, revisionism takes the shape of territorial disputes, particularly in the Indo-Pacific: China’s friction with its neighbors India, Japan, Vietnam, and others in maritime Asia comes to mind. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was a violation of international norms and a further rebuke to the notion that Russia could find a comfortable role within a U.S.-led order in Europe. Revisionism also manifests in the actions of a plethora of other powers, including the growing skepticism about free trade in the United States, the military build-up in once-pacifist Japan, and the rearmament of Germany. Many countries are unhappy with the world as they see it and seek to change it to their own advantage. This tendency could lead to a meaner, more contentious geopolitics and poorer global economic prospects. Coping with a world of revisionist powers could be the defining challenge of the years ahead. REVISIONISTS HERE, THERE, EVERYWHERE Few of the world’s major powers are content with the international order as it exists. As the sole global superpower, the United States is committed to extending President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda under the rubric of “Build Back Better World.” The program’s name itself indicates that the order the United States has presided over so successfully for more than half a century needs improvement. The foreign policy establishment within the United States seems riven by fault lines separating those who preach a modern form of isolationism and restraint and those who have embarked on an ideological quest to divide the world between democracies and autocracies. The United States has turned away from international institutions it built, such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. It has stepped back from its commitments to free trade by withdrawing from agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The view from Washington has grown darker, with great power threats looming on the horizon: not only China but also Russia, which has in many ways been expelled from the international order that sought to remake it in the image of the West. China was the greatest beneficiary of the globalized order led by the United States. It now wants, in President Xi Jinping’s words, to “take center stage.” Beijing explicitly seeks a rearrangement of the balance of power in Asia and a greater voice for China in international affairs. But Chinese leaders have yet to present an alternative ideology that attracts others or confers legitimacy to their quest for dominance. Even in its immediate neighborhood, China’s influence is contested. Major flashpoints and security dilemmas, including the future of Taiwan and territorial disputes with India and Japan, surround China. These disputes are a consequence of the real ways that China has disrupted the balance of regional and global power. Taken together, China’s assertive actions since 2008 make clear that Beijing seeks to change the global order. A world of revisionist powers will be meaner, more contentious, and poorer. For its part, Russia never really fit in the global order that Western powers tried to squeeze it into in the years immediately following the end of the Cold War. Instead, Moscow resents its decline and reduced influence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The invasion of Ukraine is only the latest expression of this sense of grievance, which leads Russia to work with China to undermine U.S. global leadership and to try to shake up Europe, where Russian power still matters both economically and militarily. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to announce that the world had reached a Zeitenwende, or turning point. For decades an economic powerhouse with limited political ambitions, Germany is now taking a more assertive regional and international role by seeking to build up its military, arm Ukraine, and reassess its significant relationships with China and Russia. The fear of abandonment that the Donald Trump presidency induced in U.S. allies, such as Germany and Japan, has encouraged many of them to beef up their security capabilities. Japan has reassessed its role in the region and the global order thanks to China’s rise. Japan is in transition from an economy-focused, pacifist, noninterventionist power burdened by the legacy of World War II to a much more normal country, looking after its own security interests and taking a leading role in the Indo-Pacific. Shinzo Abe, the recently assassinated former prime minister, both embodied and made possible this shift, which now enjoys broadening public support. Japan’s vocal commitment to the principle of a free and open Indo-Pacific, the Quad (the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a partnership with Australia, India, and the United States), and other initiatives arises from its fear of both China’s rise and the United States’ possible retrenchment. India, which embraced and benefited from the U.S.-led liberal international order after the Cold War, remains a dissatisfied member. Its quest for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council is the most visible example of India’s desire to have a bigger say in the international system, commensurate with its economic and geopolitical weight.

….

A kind of anarchy is creeping into international relations—not anarchy in the strict sense of the term, but rather the absence of a central organizing principle or hegemon. No single power can dictate the terms of the current order, and the major powers do not subscribe to a clear set of principles and norms; it’s hard to establish the rules of the road when so many countries are on their own paths. In both word and deed, China and Russia today question major aspects of the Western liberal order, particularly its norms relating to universal human rights and the obligations of states. They invoke the principle of state sovereignty as a shield to operate as they wish while seeking to set new rules in domains such as cyberspace and new technologies. But they do not yet offer an alternative, or one that is sufficiently attractive to others. Indeed, their treatment of their neighbors—in Ukraine, the South China Sea, and the East China Sea and on the India-China border—suggests an overwhelming reliance on hard military and economic power to the detriment of norms and institutions.

China doesn’t offer an alternative model for global leadership

Menon, 8-3, 22, SHIVSHANKAR MENON is a former diplomat who served as National Security Adviser to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from 2010 to 2014. He is currently Visiting Professor of International Relations at Ashoka University, Foreign Affairs, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/world/nobody-wants-current-world-order, Nobody Wants the Current World Order How All the Major Powers—Even the United States—Became Revisionists

Equally, it is misguided to see today another Cold War defined by the sharp bipolarity of two blocs: a “free world” and a realm of “autocracies.” The transatlantic alliance has consolidated, and China and Russia appear united in an alliance of animus against the West, but this is far from another Cold War. Several democracies increasingly display the characteristics of autocratic states. The world’s reactions to the Ukraine war and Western sanctions on Russia show that there is no unified bloc outside the transatlantic alliance. The economic interdependence of China and the United States has no precedent in the Cold War, when the chief adversaries were poles apart. Besides, there is no equivalent to the ideological alternatives posed by the Cold War rivals, the United States and the Soviet Union; nothing like the appeal of communism and socialism to developing countries in the 1950s and 1960s is apparent today. The prime authoritarian, China, does not offer an ideological or systemic alternative but attracts other countries with financial, technological, and infrastructure promises and projects, not principles.

China will continue to escalate because it does not think diplomacy works

Lin & Blancette, 8-1, 22,nBONNY LIN is Director of the China Power Project and Senior Fellow for Asian Security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. JUDE BLANCHETTE is Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Foreign Affairs, China on the Offensive: How the Ukraine War Has Changed Beijing’s Strategy, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/china/china-offensive

A final component of China’s foreign policy rethink concerns military force. Beijing believes that the West is incapable of understanding or sympathizing with what it views as legitimate Russian security concerns. There is no reason for China to assume that the United States and its allies will treat China’s concerns any differently. Because diplomacy is not effective, China may need to use force to demonstrate its resolve. This is particularly true when it comes to Taiwan, and Beijing is now more anxious than ever about U.S. intentions toward the island and what it perceives to be increasing provocations. This has led to discussion among some Chinese foreign policy analysts about whether another Taiwan Strait crisis is imminent and, if so, how China should prepare. Yang Jiechi, a diplomat who serves on China’s Politburo, has stated that China will take “firm actions”—including using the military—to safeguard its interests. At the same time, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has engaged in more exercises near Taiwan in an effort to deter potential third-party intervention. These dynamics likely explain why Beijing is issuing unusually sharp warnings over the visit to Taiwan that Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is planning, saying that such a trip would “have a severe negative impact on the political foundations of China-U.S. relations.” It would be a mistake to brush aside China’s warnings—and its threats of military action—simply because prior warnings have failed to materialize. Although the prospect of an invasion of Taiwan remains remote, Beijing has numerous paths to escalate short of outright conflict, including sending jets to fly over Taiwanese territory. And if Beijing did take more drastic action out of frustration with recent U.S. behavior, this could easily provoke a full-blown crisis. IT’S UP TO XI Will China’s recent efforts to shift the balance of momentum and power in its direction work? It remains to be seen if the GSI will fundamentally alter the international order, or even become a key pillar of China’s approach to global governance. China has tried and failed before to drive the discussion on global security, as was the case with its New Security Concept, a security framework that sought greater economic and diplomatic interactions, which was first articulated in 1996. Back then, of course, China had far less economic and diplomatic leverage. And regardless of its ultimate success, the GSI is an important window into how Beijing will seek to steer the conversation on regional and global security after the upcoming 20th Party Congress, which is expected to be held in the fall. Beijing’s efforts to revitalize and expand existing organizations such as the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization also face obstacles. India, for instance, is a member of both blocs and may constrain any openly anti-American efforts. But even marginal improvements in the capabilities and cohesion of these groupings would help Beijing blunt any coercive or punitive moves that the United States and its allies may make against China in the years ahead.

China will try to retake Taiwan; competition needed to deter

Chellaney, 8-1, 22, Brahma Chellaney is a geostrategist and the author of nine books, including the award-winning “Water: Asia’s New Battleground” (Georgetown University Press). Follow him on Twitter @Chellaney, The Hill, Will Taiwan be the next Ukraine on Biden’s watch?, https://thehill.com/opinion/3581442-will-taiwan-be-the-next-ukraine-on-bidens-watch/

President Biden has still to grasp that Taiwan is far more important than Ukraine to the future of American power in the world. Yet the likelihood is growing that, on Biden’s watch, Chinese President Xi Jinping will move on Taiwan, just as Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. In a forewarning of that, China has recently started claiming that it owns the critical international waterway, the Taiwan Strait. Just as it did earlier in the South China Sea – the strategic corridor between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, through which one-third of global maritime trade passes – Xi’s regime is seeking to advance its expansionism by laying an expansive claim to the Taiwan Strait, which, by connecting the South and East China Seas, serves as an important passage for commercial shipping as well as foreign naval vessels. The new claim signals that Xi is preparing to move on Taiwan at an opportune time — an action that would involve exercising maritime domain control. By forcibly absorbing Taiwan, China would drive the final nail in the coffin of America’s global preeminence. A takeover of Taiwan would also give China a prized strategic and economic asset. The defense of Taiwan has assumed greater significance for international security because three successive U.S. administrations have failed to credibly push back against China’s expansionism in the South China Sea, relying instead on rhetoric or symbolic actions. Biden, rather than working to deter and thwart a possible Chinese attack on Taiwan, is seeking to shield his tentative rapprochement with China, which has been forged through a series of virtual meetings with Xi and by offering Beijing important concessions. This explains why Biden publicly pushed back against a Taiwan visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). It is important to remember that, much before Russia invaded Ukraine, Biden had begun to ease pressure on China. He effectively let Xi’s regime off the hook for both covering up COVID-19’s origins and failing to meet its commitments under the 2020 “phase one” trade deal with Washington. Biden also dropped fraud charges against the daughter of the founder of the military-linked Chinese tech giant Huawei. U.S. sanctions over China’s Muslim gulag remain essentially symbolic. And now Biden is planning to roll back tariffs on Chinese goods, which will further fuel China’s spiraling trade surplus with America. After swelling by more than 25 percent last year to $396.6 billion, the trade surplus with the U.S. now makes up almost three-quarters of China’s total global surplus. The mammoth surplus is helping to keep the Chinese economy afloat at a time when growth has slowed almost to a halt, triggering rising unemployment and mortgage and debt crises. The situation has been made worse by Xi’s lockdown-centered, zero-tolerance approach to COVID-19, which is breeding anger and resistance amid a property implosion. Xi’s growing domestic troubles at a critical time when he is seeking a norm-breaking third term as Communist Party chairman heighten the risk of the Chinese leader resorting to nationalist brinkmanship as a distraction. After all, initiating a foreign intervention or crisis to divert attention from domestic challenges is a tried-and-true technique of leaders of major powers. In his latest virtual meeting with Biden on July 28, Xi sharply warned against U.S. interference in the Taiwan issue, saying that those who “play with fire will perish by it.” Biden, by contrast, struck a defensive tone, reaffirming the U.S. commitment to a one-China policy and reassuring Xi that American “policy has not changed and that the United States strongly opposes anyone who will change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Having swallowed Hong Kong, the Chinese Communist Party seems itching to move on Taiwan, a technological powerhouse that plays a central role in the international semiconductor business. Annexing Taiwan will make China a more formidable rival to America and advance its goal of achieving global preeminence by the 100th anniversary of communist rule in 2049. Against this background, Biden’s conciliatory approach toward China threatens to embolden Xi’s designs against Taiwan. Taiwan’s imperative is to expand its global footprint to help safeguard its autonomous status. Instead of aiding that effort, Biden inexplicably excluded that island democracy from his recently unveiled Indo-Pacific Economic Framework — an economic platform that seeks to promote cooperation among its member-states. Biden’s pursuit of a rapprochement with China also explains his administration’s proposal to roll back tariffs on Chinese products, an action that would break his promise not to unilaterally lift tariffs unless Beijing’s behavior improved. Not once, not twice, but at least three times Biden has said in recent months that he is willing to get militarily involved to defend Taiwan, only to have his senior officials walk back his comments on every occasion. The last time when he sowed international confusion afresh, Biden himself walked back his Taiwan comments, telling reporters a day later, “My policy has not changed at all.” In seeking to placate China, Biden is sending out contradictory signals, leaving Taiwan vexed and confused. Instead of privately advising Pelosi against visiting Taiwan, Biden gratuitously told a reporter that “the military” thinks a Pelosi visit to Taiwan is “not a good idea right now.” Pelosi then told the media, “I think what the president is saying is that maybe the military was afraid our plane would get shot down or something like that by the Chinese.” The president’s unusual remark conveyed American weakness by implying that the U.S. military was not capable of securing the flight path of the Pelosi-carrying military aircraft to Taiwan or effectively responding to any Chinese provocation. The comment also encouraged Xi’s regime to escalate its bullying threats to stymie a Taiwan visit by the person second in line to the U.S. presidency. More fundamentally, if Biden fears a Pelosi visit to Taipei would set back his nascent rapprochement with China and ignite new tensions, it raises serious doubts whether he will have the political will to help defeat a Chinese attack on Taiwan. Xi is also likely encouraged by Biden’s failure to force Russian forces to retreat from Ukraine, despite Washington spearheading unprecedented Western actions against Russia, including weaponizing finance, slapping wide-ranging sanctions and arming Ukraine with a plethora of sophisticated weapons. With Biden’s poll numbers already in the tank, the president is likely to emerge further weakened from the approaching midterm elections. By contrast, a strengthened Xi securing a precedent-defying third term is likely to be bolder and more assertive in pursuing his geopolitical ambitions.

International law fails to deter aggression; military power is needed

Meilander, July 28, 2022, Jonathan Meilaender is a graduate student at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and an incoming law student at Georgetown Law., Tell Olaf Scholz: Military Strength Matters, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/tell-olaf-scholz-military-strength-matters-203817

Vladimir Putin, Scholz said, is a neo-imperialist and the “autocrats of the world are watching very carefully whether he is successful. In the 21st century, is it the law of the stronger or the strength of law that counts?”

Scholz, of course, wants to say that the strength of law is what counts, and thinks that the European Union can be a global actor that operates by following international law, issuing regulations, and setting a good example. But Russia’s invasion demonstrates a very different truth: sometimes, the law of the stronger matters. Russia failed to take Kyiv not because of international law or even European solidarity, but because Ukraine, with the support of the United States, United Kingdom, Poland, and much of Eastern Europe, blunted the Russian advance. In Ukraine, the stronger will win, and the rule of law does not matter very much.

Offshore balancing triggers regional aggression, undermines alliances and destroys US leadership

Kaplan, July 29, 2022, Robert D. Kaplan holds the Robert Strausz-Hupé Chair in Geopolitics at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is the author of twenty-one books, including The Tragic Mind: Fear, Fate, and the Burden of Power, forthcoming in January with Yale University Press, Realism Is More Than Restraint

Indeed, the world may be as divided as ever, but the relentless power of technology is rendering the world more and more a single system, in which crises can migrate from one part of the earth to another as never before, and affect each other as never before. The Hungarian-American mathematician John von Neumann explained that whereas in the past a sparsely populated geography had acted as a safety mechanism against military and technological advances, as the years and decades advance geography itself has been losing the battle against population growth, urbanization, and weapons development. The very “finite size of the earth” has become a force for instability, in other words. In this singular and highly unstable world system, becoming more unstable by the day, a school of policy belief has emerged counseling restraint and off-shore balancing, as the attributes of a new post-Cold War realism. There is nothing wrong with this belief on its face. Restraint is a good in and of itself, and is synonymous with prudence. Offshore balancing boasts the good of establishing priorities and a hierarchy of needs. The problem they have is not an intellectual flaw, especially considering that the lack of restraint and the failure to establish priorities were strong features of America’s recent debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the issue lies not in their logic, but in their limitations. The fact is that realism means more than those things. In a world more interconnected than ever before, placing restraint on a pedestal may mean you’ll sacrifice any principle for the sake of it, and consequently run the risk of signaling inaction and weakness. Never tell your enemy what you’re not going to do, is a dictum of realism that an obsession with restraint violates. A foreign policy should not be that doctrinaire and predictable. Offshore balancing, by essentially stating publicly that the United States shall defend some parts of the world (Europe, Northeast Asia, the Persian Gulf) but not necessarily others may set off a mad scramble for influence in those other parts, such as the South China Sea and the Bab al-Mandab Strait, as well as limiting our options in ambiguous crises that simultaneously involve multiple parts of the world in this hyper-global age. Restraint and offshore balancing are faithful to realism in theory but not necessarily in practice. The theory of realism, harking back to Thucydides and progressing forward to the likes of Hans Morgenthau, essentially emphasizes national interest in a debased world, with its dim accounting of human nature and historical precedent, as opposed to abstract principles of justice. But restrainers and offshore balancers take this too far. They indicate that the United States is generally about looking out for itself and relatively little more. That is no way to exercise leadership for the world’s greatest diplomatic, military, and economic power. And leadership matters because alliances—so helpful in a nervous, chaotic world—are not self-organizing. Like all large groups, alliances depend on their strongest member for coherence.

Xi will become more aggressive after his third term starts

Yun Sun, July 28, 2022, YUN SUN is Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the East Asia Program and Director of the China Program at the Stimson Center., https://www.foreignaffairs.com/china/what-expect-bolder-xi-jinping, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/china/what-expect-bolder-xi-jinping

As China prepares for this fall’s 20th Party Congress, the odds grow stronger by the day that Chinese President Xi Jinping will emerge from the meeting having secured a third term in office. This will mark a break with Chinese precedent since Deng Xiaoping wrote a two-term limit into the country’s constitution in 1982—a limit that was removed in 2018. Xi, who took office in 2013 and is now 69, could foreseeably extend his tenure well into the 2030s. The consolidation of Xi’s rule comes as his administration faces significant headwinds both at home and abroad. China’s zero-COVID policy has provoked an economic slowdown and popular discontent. Its rivalry with the United States is intensifying, and Xi’s alignment with Russian President Vladimir Putin has created more problems than Beijing bargained for. Under these circumstances, it might be reasonable to think the Chinese leader will recalibrate once his political future is assured. But those who expect Xi to moderate his policies after the 20th Party Congress are likely to be disappointed. Xi’s personality and political beliefs leave little room for a reconsideration, let alone a reversal, of his vision for the country. What he has described as the “China Dream”—or the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”—sees the Chinese Communist Party leading China’s reemergence as a great power. Xi has shown signs of restraint since Beijing hosted the Winter Olympics in February, prioritizing stability over bold action that would risk undermining his agenda at the Party Congress, but his frustration with China’s strategic position and domestic troubles has been mounting. When the political pressure is lifted after the Party Congress, Xi seems poised to revamp his assertive foreign policy, intervening more directly in disputes on China’s periphery and pushing more forcefully against the United States’ presence in the Pacific. Xi will be back with a vengeance—and he will have uncontested authority and the full power of the Chinese state behind him. So far, 2022 has not gone well for China. Beijing had hoped that the competition with the United States would slow down under President Joe Biden, but instead it has accelerated as Washington reinforces its network of alliances and partnerships to more effectively counter China. In an attempt to reduce its isolation, Beijing strengthened its strategic alignment with Moscow. Xi and Putin declared “no limit” to the two countries’ cooperation during Putin’s visit to China for the Winter Olympics—and Putin tested this proposition with his invasion of Ukraine, evidently aware that he was exploiting Chinese naiveté while counting on Chinese support. The Russian war triggered international outrage and sanctions, complicating China’s foreign relations and casting doubt on the wisdom of Xi’s decision to align closely with Russia. Skeptical views of China’s Russia policy have circulated on Chinese social media platforms. In widely read posts, Hu Wei, a senior scholar affiliated with the Counselors’ Office of the State Council, a government advisory body, questioned China “binding itself with Russia,” and Gao Yusheng, a former Chinese ambassador to Ukraine, predicted that “Putin is bound to fail” in his war effort. Beijing’s zero-COVID policy and the prolonged lockdowns in Shanghai and other cities this spring have been another source of domestic discontent. Some Chinese observers speculated that the zero-COVID policy was deployed to undermine the power base of the “Shanghai gang”—a group of party officials who gained influence under former President Jiang Zemin—after Shanghai city leadership took a more liberal approach to pandemic management and economic development than Xi preferred. The toll of COVID restrictions has been tremendous in both human misery and economic cost. Shanghai’s GDP contracted by 5.7 percent in the first half of 2022. China’s overall GDP growth in the second quarter of 2022 was 0.4 percent, its lowest rate in decades. Controversy over Russia and COVID policy may not be enough to challenge Xi’s reign, but the timing is particularly inconvenient for him. By embarking on an unprecedented third term, Xi will be ushering in a new governance and political model for China. Even for a leader as powerful as Xi, breaking away from established tradition requires significant political capital. He needs to rally broad support among party elites. In China’s meritocratic system, any change must be justified. Xi has to prove his superior wisdom and decision-making abilities—and he needs concrete successes to highlight in support of his claims. FOREIGN POLICY IN MODERATION Xi has avoided major foreign policy initiatives that could escalate tensions with neighbors or adversaries this year. Most important, he does not want China to become embroiled in a conflict that would distract him from or undercut his position in the domestic political battles that are now his top priority. This does not mean that China will not react if its interests are under threat—although Chinese reactions to perceived provocations, such as the United States fortifying its support of Taiwan, have been relatively mild so far this year. U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s reported visit to Taiwan, if it happens, could trigger a Chinese military response, but it is highly unlikely that China will use the opportunity to attack Taiwan. China is prioritizing stability, at least until the Party Congress is over. This restraint has been apparent in China’s handling of contentious issues on its periphery. For instance, since 2020, China and India have held 16 rounds of talks regarding their border dispute. Although the talks have yielded little substantive progress so far, China has eagerly pursued improved diplomatic ties with India in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And as the new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol reorients Seoul’s foreign policy to emphasize security cooperation with the United States—a significant departure from former President Moon Jae-in’s balancing between the United States and China—Beijing has so far refrained from speaking out forcefully against the change or taking retaliatory measures. Xi’s frustration with China’s strategic position and domestic troubles has been mounting. Despite its putative alliance with Moscow, China has declined to take a clear stand on Russia’s war in Ukraine, too. Its economic and military support of Russia has been surprisingly thin, given the expectation that pressure from the United States to condemn Moscow’s behavior would trigger more Chinese defiance. In diplomatic statements, China has defended Russia’s actions and accused NATO of aggression, but Beijing’s fear of U.S. sanctions and the further disruption of U.S.-Chinese relations has moderated its policies in this delicate year of political transition. As a result, Russia has complained loudly to Chinese officials that China has not held up its end of the two countries’ partnership. Even on Taiwan, Beijing’s most sensitive issue, the Chinese government’s policies have been largely reactive to what it perceives as a U.S. and Taiwanese “salami-slicing” strategy—an effort to inch forward bilateral ties. Rather than escalating, Beijing, for the most part, has kept the intensity of its actions below the threshold set in previous years. So far in 2022, the number of Chinese warplane intrusions into the Taiwanese Air Defense Identification Zone on a single day has not exceeded the record of 56 set on October 5, 2021. Beijing has continued its diplomatic, economic, and legal coercion of Taiwan, but it has not advanced further in luring away Taipei’s remaining diplomatic allies since Nicaragua severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in December 2021. Nor did Beijing react strongly when Taiwanese Vice President William Lai visited Tokyo to attend former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s funeral in July—a notable example of restraint given the seniority of Lai’s position and his past advocacy of Taiwanese independence. THE LOOSENING OF CONSTRAINTS Election season in democratic countries is often marked by lofty campaign rhetoric and political posturing, with candidates making promises they may or may not keep once in office. In China, however, political power struggles are fought and won within the Chinese Communist Party. For Xi, as the incumbent hoping to extend his rule, stability is useful while this competition plays out. But the same logic does not hold after he secures a third term. Some observers have assumed that, after the Party Congress, Xi will moderate his foreign policy because he no longer needs to prove his strength to the party elite. This is a grave misunderstanding. Domestic politics may no longer require Xi to look tough, but his desire to maintain that image and his ambitions for China will not have changed. The world, therefore, should not expect China to be any less assertive or confrontational after the 20th Party Congress than it has been for most of Xi’s tenure. Beijing’s actions will follow Xi’s convictions, and Xi believes in China’s growing power and in securing the country’s rightful place in the international system. His mission will remain “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” If anything, Xi, having grown increasingly frustrated this year with China’s foreign and domestic challenges, will be prepared to project Chinese power even more forcefully and vehemently after his political drama concludes. Free of his current constraints, Xi will ratchet up China’s activities abroad to put the embarrassment of 2022 firmly behind him. Once his third term is confirmed, Xi’s status as China’s undisputed leader will enable him to take such action with little to no opposition within the Chinese government. Dissenting views, though faint, have persisted inside the system, but Xi’s success in claiming apparently indefinite rule and his appointment of loyalists to key positions will eliminate them. The echo chamber in which China crafts its foreign policy will be sealed even tighter, amplifying the voices of security services and propaganda departments. With no expiration date for Xi’s reign, his critics will have few channels, official or unofficial, through which they can express their opinions or hope for a change in leadership. Bureaucrats will not only follow Xi’s policies but also augment the tough approach they believe is Xi’s preference. Even if some officials in China wish to tone down Beijing’s assertive foreign strategy, regional developments may not give Xi the option. Intensifying competition with the United States has set in motion a vicious cycle. Washington is consolidating its alliances and partnerships to counter an assertive China, fortifying bilateral security arrangements with Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, as well as the security agreement between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom known as AUKUS; the Quad, with Australia, Japan, and India; and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, announced in Tokyo in May. In China, meanwhile, an anti–United States propaganda machine has been fully mobilized, creating a hypersensitive environment in which any move by Washington whips the “Wolf Warrior” diplomats—Beijing’s new generation of aggressive and coercive representatives abroad—into a frenzy of fanatic overreaction. This approach has a strong domestic incentive: although China’s authoritarian government has enough control over public opinion to lower the temperature if it chooses, so far Beijing has more often found it useful to fan the flames of nationalism as it tries to coerce foreign governments and advance its policy goals. XI UNLEASHED Once the Party Congress is behind him, Xi will seek to reassert Chinese power in areas of strategic priority. Disputes in the western Pacific will be at the top of his list. Tensions are already building around the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea’s next provocation only a matter of time and Washington and Seoul intent on enhancing their deterrence against Pyongyang. In Beijing’s view, these developments undermine China’s military security and its regional influence. In addition to tying South Korea more closely to the United States, a focus on deterrence reduces the incentive for diplomatic engagement with North Korea—an endeavor that boosts Beijing’s leverage. As Washington and Seoul strengthen their military capabilities on the Korean Peninsula, Beijing will engage in tit-for-tat deployment of its own forces within Chinese territory and step up its support for and coordination with Pyongyang. Many Chinese experts on Korea have condemned the Yoon administration’s efforts to align with the United States to counterbalance China as a grave strategic misjudgment. Some even anticipate maritime military skirmishes between China and South Korea in the coming months. A similar dynamic is at play between China and Japan as Tokyo strengthens its capacity to counter Chinese military and paramilitary tactics, such as intrusions by warplanes, naval vessels, and fishing vessels into the airspace and waters surrounding the disputed Diaoyu Islands (known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands). Even more concerning are Beijing’s plans for Taiwan. Chinese leaders are increasingly enraged over U.S. actions that they see as hollowing out Washington’s “one China” policy and Taiwanese actions—both domestic legislation and international outreach—that they interpret as moves toward independence. China has taken a series of legal steps over the past few years, too, inching forward Beijing’s claims in the Taiwan Strait. Since 2020, the Chinese government has formally denied the existence of the median line, long tacitly acknowledged as a maritime border between mainland China and Taiwan. This past June, Beijing went further by claiming that the strait cannot be considered international waters. Next, China may take concrete steps to put this claim into practice—administering the strait as an exclusive economic zone, for instance—in a bid to eventually oust the U.S. military from the waterway, making it more difficult for the United States to intervene in a potential conflict over Taiwan. And as Taiwan’s local election in late 2022 and presidential election in 2024 approach, China will intensify its military coercion and intimidation in the hope of tipping the scales in favor of the Taiwanese political party that is accommodating to Beijing. The brief hiatus in China’s diplomatic pressure campaign will be over, too, as Beijing moves forward with its standing plan to push additional countries, such as the Vatican, to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Once the Party Congress is behind him, Xi will seek to reassert Chinese power. The region as a whole will likely become more tense—and less safe—after the 20th Party Congress. China has dragged its feet in negotiations with Southeast Asian countries over a code of conduct for the South China Sea, which would establish rules for maritime activities and a dispute-resolution process to enforce them. And in the meantime, Beijing has been equipping at least three artificial islands with military planes, antiship and antiaircraft missile systems, and laser and jamming technology. The Chinese military’s pushback against U.S. freedom of navigation operations will likely grow bolder during Xi’s third term. This year China has already made several aerial and naval intercepts of U.S. warplanes and vessels that raised alarms among U.S. military officials. Beijing may see the risk of these incidents escalating into full-blown conflict as acceptably low, which means it will continue to employ these tactics in an effort to drive the U.S. military away from China’s periphery. It is wishful thinking to expect China’s economic slowdown to curb Xi’s ambition or soften his tactics. Xi’s past behavior shows that he does not consider economic performance to be his primary source of legitimacy—just look at his stubborn adherence to the zero-COVID policy despite its tremendous economic costs. Instead, his actions are predicated on the belief that China has accumulated enough wealth to make displays of strength worth the economic price. China has weathered more than two years of self-imposed, COVID-induced isolation. In 2022, China’s foreign policy has been relatively mild compared with what it could have been. After the 20th Party Congress, however, China will gradually reopen to the world. The return to normal exchanges, trade, and travel will no doubt be eagerly welcomed. But the darker side of the same coin is the resumption—and potential escalation—of China’s assertive foreign policy. When the Chinese Communist Party meets, Xi will be coronated as the “People’s Leader”—a title held only by Mao Zedong and his successor, Hua Guofeng. A strengthened Xi is not going to be more moderate. He will have less to prove to his domestic audience. But he will have all the power and the opportunity he needs to pursue his “China Dream.”

 

China attack on Taiwan imminent, the US must deter

Gregory Moore, July 26, 2022, Gregory J. Moore (PhD University of Denver) is Professor of Global Studies and Politics at Colorado Christian University. In addition to many articles on politics, international relations, and Chinese and American foreign policy, he is the author of Human Rights and US Policy Toward China from a Christian Perspective (Crossroads/CPJ, 1999), author/editor of North Korean Nuclear Operationality: Regional Security and Non-Proliferation (Johns Hopkins, 2014), and author of Niebuhrian International Relations: The Ethics of Foreign Policymaking (Oxford, 2020), Biden Is Right: The United States Must Defend Taiwan, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/biden-right-united-states-must-defend-taiwan-203809

While not walking away from its traditional positions, it appears that the United States is being less ambiguous about its commitment to Taiwan. I believe this is warranted for several reasons. First, under Xi Jinping, China has moved to a more authoritarian (even totalitarian) politics at home and a more aggressive and robust foreign policy orientation abroad. All of this indicates a military move against Taiwan is more conceivable than was the case previously. Second, China has continued to increase its year-on-year defense spending, has moved from a minimalist nuclear deterrent to a first-strike nuclear capability, strengthened its ability to neutralize U.S. military bases and aircraft carriers in the region with long-range missiles, greatly increased its air, sea, and land capabilities in the region adjacent to Taiwan, and exponentially increased its air incursions into Taiwan’s air space. All of this lowers the potential cost of a Chinese attack against Taiwan. The air incursions in particular are aimed at achieving a desensitization effect in preparation for an invasion. Third, Chinese leaders have a “sacred commitment” that will not ever go away, and Xi Jinping has made it clear that he will not back away from China’s commitment to see Taiwan return to the mainland, whether by suasion or force. Fourth, given the changes he has made to the constitution, Xi is now an extraordinarily powerful leader without term limits and very little accountability, making potentially reckless behavior more conceivable than it was previously. Fifth, the upcoming Chinese Communist Party’s 20th Party Congress in the fall may impact Xi’s thinking toward Taiwan. The meeting is vital for Xi to gain approval for a rare third term, which most observers believe he is planning to do. Some believe Xi sees the return of Taiwan as an important part of his legacy, made perhaps more pressing given his changes to the constitution, the centralization of power, and an economy negatively affected by his policies on the Covid-19 pandemic and U.S. trade relations, among other things, make it more likely that he is seeking to buttress support for his rule. The return of Taiwan to mainland China might be just the ticket. Finally, the war in Ukraine may have impacted Xi’s thinking about the timing of a move against Taiwan. Some observers have argued that the robust response from the United States and NATO to Putin’s aggression, coupled with the unity of the West, might give Beijing pause as it considers any move against Taiwan. That may be true but, on the other hand, Beijing might also conclude that China and its economy are more important to the world than ever, given the economic disruption wrought by the Russo-Ukrainian War. Therefore, economic concerns, as well as war weariness, might see a less unified Western response to Chinese aggression against Taiwan. If true, China might have an incentive to move against Taiwan. What does all of this mean for the United States? China will make a move against Taiwan sooner rather than later, even though Xi was undoubtedly taken aback by the robust Western response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, I believe Chinese analysts would conclude that the PLA is better equipped and prepared to take Taiwan than the Russian military was to take Ukraine. While that may be true, as Stephen Biddle and others have noted, China’s command and control system is similar to the same top-heavy, centralized Russian military command structure. Unless China achieves a quick victory, it could suffer the same problems Moscow has faced with command and control. One big difference between the Chinese and Russian militaries, however, would be morale. Chinese troops will be highly motivated and nationalistic during an operation to take Taiwan. By contrast, Russian troops do not appear to have been told why they were invading Ukraine and troop morale has been poor as a result. This will likely not be a problem for Beijing. While I believe the Taiwanese will fight as hard for their territory as the Ukrainian people have, it would be harder for the international community to keep them supplied given the island’s unfavorable geography. Thus, deterring a Chinese attack on Taiwan is more important to American interests than ever. There are two important historical failures to deter military adventurism in the past that cost the United States dearly. The first is the January 1950 National Press Club speech by U.S. secretary of state Dean Acheson. During his speech, Acheson excluded South Korea and Taiwan from the U.S. defense perimeter in East Asia. Most analysts have concluded that this was seen by North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung as a green light to invade his southern neighbor and that the United States would not intervene. A similarly tragic American diplomatic miscue occurred in 1990 when April Glaspie, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, passed a message from her superiors to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein that the United States did not take a position on Iraq and Kuwait’s border dispute. Saddam seems to have read this note as a policy of nonintervention and it may have encouraged him to invade Kuwait in 1990. In both cases, however, the United States and its allies were drawn into the conflicts. A lack of clarity on what the United States’ position was in these two instances invited aggression by adversarial powers. Today, it is concerning that a lack of clarity on the U.S. position toward Taiwan may have the same effect on leaders in Beijing and lower the bar for a potential decision to invade Taiwan. If Washington’s position is that it would defend Taiwan militarily it should communicate this to Beijing clearly, regardless of the political fallout that might ensue. I conclude that this was Biden’s intention in saying “yes” to the reporter’s question in Tokyo. This is the right messaging if it is indeed Washington’s position. I believe it is, and it is good that this has been communicated to Beijing, for Washington cannot afford any miscalculations in its communications with China.

Russia and China are not responsible for the decline of democracy and challenging them won’t save it; reasons for the decline are internal

Feldstein, 7-26, 22, Foreign Affairs, Ukraine Won’t Save Democracy: The Causes of Democratic Decline Are Internal, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/world/ukraine-wont-save-democracy, STEVEN FELDSTEIN is a senior fellow in the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. From 2014 to 2017, Steven Feldstein he served as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

Witnessing Ukrainian fighters’ valiant efforts to resist Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of their fledgling democracy, a growing cohort of analysts and policymakers have begun to argue that a Russian defeat would not simply remove a major threat to Western democracies. What it would also do, they argue, is revive liberal internationalism itself, breathing new life into an ailing and increasingly dysfunctional post–Cold War global order. A win against the Kremlin would help upend the narrative that the West is too weak and divided to push back against authoritarianism, and it could prompt fence-sitting countries to reconsider their embrace of China or Russia. But the notion that defeating Putin could reverse 16 straight years of global democratic decline simply doesn’t hold up. Although a decisive Ukrainian victory might momentarily slow the downward cascade, the pathologies underlying democratic decay are largely disconnected from Russian or Chinese actions. Instead, the greater threat to the world’s democracies comes from within. A toxic combination of internal factors—including pernicious polarization, anti-elite attitudes, and the rise of unscrupulous politicians willing to exploit these sentiments—has led to a breakdown in shared values in the democratic world. Preventing further democratic decline, let alone reversing it, requires both a clear-eyed understanding of these factors and, more important, a renewed commitment to core democratic values. DEMOCRACY IN DECLINE One reason for democratic backsliding is that liberal democracies and electoral democracies are facing an ongoing crisis in governance. Heads of state such as former U.S. President Donald Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban have brazenly subverted democratic institutions in their pursuit of power. These trends, which researchers have described as a “third wave of autocratization,” are particularly pronounced in established democracies. The most recent report from the Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem) at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg found that roughly one in five European Union member states are growing more autocratic, as are long-standing democracies such as Brazil, India, and the United States. As a result, the number of liberal democracies worldwide stands at a 26-year low. Authoritarianism is also expanding rapidly in the weak democracies or competitive autocracies known as hybrid states. During Uganda’s 2021 presidential elections, for example, President Yoweri Museveni authorized forceful measures to assure that he remained in power. He imposed a complete Internet blackout leading up to the vote and used state security forces to intimidate and arrest journalists, civil society actors, and opposition figures such as presidential candidate Bobi Wine, who was detained by the police after casting his ballot. In this regard, Uganda is far from alone. Similar rights violations have occurred in countries as diverse as Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Philippines, illustrating the far-reaching nature of this trend. Research shows that while authoritarianism is surging, democratic movements and institutions have failed to respond with sufficient force, allowing many repressive measures to go unchallenged. While pockets of resistance have emerged in countries including El Salvador, Myanmar, and Slovenia (where the electorate recently voted out the country’s right-wing populist leader in favor of the liberal opposition), these examples are rare. In contrast, pro-autocracy protests have been on the rise in developing countries and in the postcommunist world. This development partly reflects the growth of “conservative civil society,” in which right-leaning civic actors join forces with illiberal politicians to reject liberal democratic norms. Across the world, autocratic leaders are mobilizing citizens to help advance their antidemocratic agendas. In Brazil, thousands rallied in September 2021 to Bolsonaro’s calls to remove all Supreme Court justices. In the United States, Trump encouraged an insurrection on January 6, 2021. In Thailand, royalists have assembled antidemocratic coalitions to deter opposition protesters. These popular mobilizations suggest that democracies are losing the normative argument about the desirability of liberal governance. AUTOCRACY NOW Indeed, autocrats have seized the initiative to erode the idea that all citizens possess inalienable rights and freedoms regardless of national origin. Illiberal leaders are arguing with increasing success that citizens’ rights and liberties should face limitations, particularly when these freedoms challenge the incumbent’s rule. Autocrats are using an array of justifications such as national security, public order, or cultural preservation to make a case for prioritizing sovereignty over universalism. Discarding universal principles isn’t a new phenomenon. But it is gaining momentum, partly because autocrats feel decreasing pressure to follow the liberal democratic model. The weakening of universal norms is happening in big and small ways worldwide. The “splintering” of the Internet is one such trend. Autocracies such as China, Iran, and Russia, may have led the way. Still, democracies such as Brazil, India, and Nigeria, have also devised rules governing what information their citizens can access and produce, in clear violation of freedom of expression. In India, for example, the government has decreed that social media platforms must take down content that threatens “the unity, integrity, defense, security or sovereignty of India.” In turn, this has precipitated broad suppression of legitimate speech, such as the Indian government’s order that Twitter ban hundreds of accounts linked to farmers’ protests in 2021. These leaders are calculating that if they can undermine universal democratic principles that dilute their power, they can more easily consolidate their rule and remain in office. The weakening of universal norms is happening in big and small ways worldwide. Similar deterioration has been witnessed across a range of democracy indicators: V-Dem researchers find that “six critical indicators of “liberal democracy,” from judicial independence to executive oversight, are declining worldwide. In scores of countries, states have instituted restrictive legal measures to constrain nongovernmental organizations, carried out “aggressive smear campaigns” to discredit independent organizations, and intentionally sowed discord among civil society actors. Leaders justify these crackdowns by claiming that civil society groups are damaging national interests or allowing shadowy foreign brokers to undermine political systems. In 2018, for example, Orban secured passage of what became known as the “Stop Soros” law, a reference to the philanthropist George Soros, a longstanding Orban target. The law made it illegal to assist undocumented migrants and provided a convenient pretext for the Orban government to crack down on its political opponents. Autocrats worldwide are increasingly using similar restrictions to justify repression in the name of national sovereignty. In some countries, Beijing and Moscow have played significant roles in reinforcing authoritarianism, mainly by providing military assistance and economic support. In the Central African Republic, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, and Sudan, Russia’s Wagner Group, a paramilitary organization with close ties to the Russian armed forces, has spearheaded disinformation campaigns to undermine regime opponents, secured payment for services through extractive industry concessions, and carried out joint military operations that have led to civilian killings. China has pursued similar policies to help Cambodia’s longtime strongman, Hun Sen, stay in power. In return, Hun Sen has granted China permission to build a clandestine naval facility for its exclusive use. China’s surveillance and censorship exports have helped it to pursue similarly advantageous relationships with Algeria, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Serbia, and Zambia. COUNTERING AUTHORITARIANISM As Western policymakers struggle to counter growing authoritarianism worldwide, they should take care not to overemphasize competition with Russia and China. Already, there is widespread suspicion about U.S. motives. A string of foreign policy blunders has damaged the United States’ reputation: prisoner abuse scandals in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo, Edward Snowden’s disclosures, and unaccountable civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes. U.S. efforts to box in Russia and curtail China’s influence have drawn tepid responses in many countries. When I conducted field research in Ethiopia in 2020, for instance, my sources repeatedly mentioned that the U.S. rivalry with China felt irrelevant and that they believed that the United States’ involvement in their country was motivated by its own security priorities rather than a genuine interest in advancing democracy or prosperity in the country. It comes as little surprise that, as the historian Peter Slezkine writes, “outside of the United States’ (mostly Western) formal allies, attitudes toward anti-Russian sanctions have been largely ambivalent.” This sentiment touches on a crucial point: few of the world’s citizens are fooled by U.S. President Joe Biden’s focus on the contest between authoritarianism and democracy. They see the U.S. agenda for what it is: lofty rhetoric about democracy undercut by geopolitical calculations. Biden’s recent trip to the Middle East—during which he greeted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (whom U.S. intelligence agencies hold responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi) with a fist bump, and had a warm tête-à-tête with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (whose government has detained tens of thousands of political prisoners)—offered a pointed reminder about U.S. policy priorities.

 

US and China soft power is not zero-sum

Repnikova, July/August 2022, Foreign Affairs, The Balance of Soft Power: The American and Chinese Quests to Win Hearts and Minds, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2022-06-21/soft-power-balance-america-china

As in the United States, soft power has been treated as a hopeful idea in China: an important additive to the country’s rise, especially its economic expansion. In fact, Chinese experts and officials now embrace soft power with more urgency than do their American counterparts. There is an inherent understanding that China’s status in the international system is limited and overshadowed by the West, and that to truly rival the United States, China needs more recognition from and more influence over global public opinion. External legitimation and respect, for the Chinese party-state, is also linked to its domestic legitimacy. The Chinese understanding of soft power is connected to ideas of “cultural confidence” and “cultural security” that President Xi Jinping has promoted, terms that signify social cohesion around and pride in Chinese culture, values, and history.

As the contest between the United States and China accelerates, it would be natural to see soft power as just another vector of competition, with Washington and Beijing vying to make themselves and their political and economic models more attractive to the rest of the world. Leaders and elites in both countries clearly see things that way, and some worry about their potential vulnerabilities. In the United States, the erosion of democratic norms could harm the country’s image as a bastion of liberal values. In China, a slowing economy and a sense of isolation created by the country’s “zero-COVID” approach to the pandemic could dim its reputation for pragmatic, results-oriented governance.

But the image of straightforward contest does not quite capture the way events are playing out. For one thing, the two countries interpret soft power quite differently and operationalize the concept in distinct ways. Whereas Washington places democratic values and ideals at the heart of its soft-power promotion, China focuses more on practical matters, seeking to fuse its cultural and commercial appeals. That approach has reaped limited rewards in the West but has resonated in the “global South.” Even there, however, people often see the two forms of soft power as complementary rather than competitive. Simply put, people in many parts of the world are perfectly happy to have both the Americans and the Chinese try to seduce them with their respective visions and values. What Washington and Beijing see as zero-sum, much of the world often sees as win-win.

China’s transactional approach to soft power fails

Repnikova, July/August 2022, Foreign Affairs, The Balance of Soft Power: The American and Chinese Quests to Win Hearts and Minds, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2022-06-21/soft-power-balance-america-china

For its part, by relying on practical inducements rather than ideological visions, China invites scrutiny over the quality of its offerings and risks a wholly transactional reciprocity on the ground. China’s COVID-19 vaccine exports, for instance, were met with suspicion in many parts of the global South and were sidelined in favor of Western options when they became available; concerns about the effectiveness of the Chinese vaccines were later borne out. Similarly, in conversations I have had with students from a number of African countries, many have worried aloud about the quality of student-teacher interactions and the pedagogic approaches at some education programs in China. Studies of the impact of Chinese state media in Latin America and in Africa have noted limited public consumption, partly because people saw the content as unappealing. To bridge the quality gap, the CCP would have to shift its evaluation metrics from quantity to quality and allow for more creative freedom, especially in the media—two adjustments that appear unlikely to happen under Xi.

More broadly, China’s pragmatic soft-power approach risks collapsing into mere transactionalism, with any benefit to China contingent on others’ receiving material benefits. When I asked Ethiopian university officials what would happen to Confucius Institutes in the country if studying at them no longer led to jobs at Chinese companies, their response was clear and terse: “We would close them down.” It remains to be seen how China’s years of pandemic isolation, which have hindered people-to-people exchanges, will affect its image in the global South. In the absence of a larger ideational vision, however, China will need to keep doling out ever larger gifts—a task that will become harder if the Chinese economy continues to slow.

Hegemony has not prevented genocide

Hooker, 7-20, 22, R.D. Hooker Jr. is a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council. He previously served as Dean of the NATO Defense College and as Special Assistant to the US President and Senior Director for Europe and Russia with the National Security Council, Ukraine Can Win, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/ukraine-can-win/

The US and its British and French allies have successfully relied on nuclear deterrence for many decades. That deterrent remains intact and operative. Here we must not give in to our fears. American and European leaders talk much about “preparing for a long war.” With skyrocketing energy prices and a looming global food crisis, the world does not need that. What it needs is a speedy end to the conflict.

Since 1945, the West’s record in preventing genocide and massive loss of innocent life has unfortunately been a poor one. For reasons that seemed both politic and sensible, we stood aside while hundreds of thousands perished in the killing fields of Cambodia, Somalia, Rwanda, the Sudan, the Balkans and Syria. It is now happening again as Russia attempts to snuff out Ukrainian democracy, independence, and culture. There will be consequences if the Atlantic community chooses once again to stand aside. This time, the conflict will not be in our backyard. It will be at our front door.

Great Power Competition with Russia triggered the Ukraine war

Greg Pence, Jinternational studies graduate of University of San Francisco, July 21, 2022, Eurasia Review, Ukraine War Has Two Initiators: Putin And NATO – OpEd, https://www.eurasiareview.com/21072022-ukraine-war-has-two-initiators-putin-and-nato-oped/

Ukraine’s war revealed the existence of the vestiges of the Cold War era in the minds of Biden and Johnson. In the first days of the war, Biden explicitly told that the sanctions are to punish Russia, and not to stop it from invading Ukraine. His quotes implicitly suggest that the United States was already prepared for the war, considered it an ideal option, and even pushed Russia into it. Britain, too, declared that the sanctions sought to topple Putin.

The root of the current tension between Moscow and Washington is pursuing a containment strategy and the discourse of the Cold War era. The united states, by intermittently bringing up the necessity of Ukraine joining NATO, incessantly tried to put Russia and Ukraine in confrontation with each other. What paved the way for the realization of this dream was the toppling of the then Ukrainian President, Yanukovych, with the support of the USA. In addition, a year after the occupation of Crimea, the CIA began to conduct secret and intensive training courses for elite Ukrainian special operations forces and intelligence personnel in America. Although the reason behind establishing such courses was not clear enough at that time, on January 13, a little more than a month before the start of the Russian offensive, it was reported that CIA-trained forces could soon play a major role in Ukraine’s eastern border, where Russian forces had been massing and preparing for a possible attack. In fact, the purpose of training them was to engage the Russian forces in different parts of Ukraine in order to ground them- not just to defend against military aggression. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine was clearly recognizable to America and NATO in advance, and even Biden had clearly announced its time a few months before the start of the war. When the flame of the war ignited, NATO started sending heavy and semi-heavy military equipment to Ukraine from its two active and up-to-date command centers in America and Germany at an unbelievable speed and trapped Putin and the Russian army in a deep quagmire. In less than two days, Putin’s unmotivated army turned the golden dreams of Peter the Great into a terrible nightmare

A competition strategy with China leads to global war

Courtney McBride, July 19, 2022, MSN, Kissinger Warns Biden Against Endless Confrontation With China, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/kissinger-warns-biden-against-endless-confrontation-with-china/ar-AAZL2VS

Bloomberg) — Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said geopolitics today requires “Nixonian flexibility” to help defuse conflicts between the US and China as well as between Russia and the rest of Europe.

Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state, speaks at the OPEC Oil Embargo +40 conference hosted by Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013.

While warning that China shouldn’t become a global hegemon, the man who helped reestablish US-China ties in the 1970s said that President Joe Biden should be wary of letting domestic politics interfere with “the importance of understanding the permanence of China.”

“Biden and previous administrations have been too much influenced by the domestic aspects of the view of China,” Kissinger, 99, said in an interview Tuesday in New York with Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait. “It is, of course, important to prevent Chinese or any other country’s hegemony.”

But “that is not something that can be achieved by endless confrontations,” he added in the interview produced by Intelligence Squared US and How To Academy. He’s previously said the increasingly adversarial relations between the US and China risk a global “catastrophe comparable to World War I.”

US hegemony drives China and Russia together and leads to counterbalancing

Pillar, 7-19, 22, Paul R. Pillar is Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Studies of Georgetown University. He is also an Associate Fellow of the Geneva Center for Security Policy. He retired in 2005 from a 28-year career in the U.S. intelligence community, after which he was visiting professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, Responsible Stratecraft, The United States is building a coalition of its adversaries, https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/07/19/the-united-states-is-building-a-coalition-of-its-adversaries/

Countries like China, Russia, and Iran have cause for frosty intra-relations but US foreign policy is bringing them together.

At last week’s summit meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, President Biden tried to reassure his audience about U.S. attention to the Middle East by declaring, “We will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia, or Iran.” The metaphor of a vacuum as applied to international relations always has had major problems, especially in ignoring how foreign interventions in any region are at least as likely to be an assertive reaction to someone else’s intervention, rather than the filling of a vacuum.

The United States ought to know, given how it has often been the reactor in such situations. For example, the United States Navy conducts “freedom of navigation” operations in the South China Sea not because a vacuum had been left there but instead because China had been conducting its own assertive military operations in the area.

The very trip during which Mr. Biden made his remark further illustrates the point. The trip was dripping with hostility toward Iran, including Biden talking about his willingness to use military force against Iran. The main theme of the trip was U.S. promotion of tighter relations between Israel and Gulf Arab states, a relationship that is an anti-Iran military alliance, one member of which already is waging clandestine war against Iran and regularly threatens to make that war overt. So threatened, Iran naturally seeks to respond.

One way it responds is to ally with outside powers that are themselves adversaries of the United States, or have acquired that label because Washington describes them as such. Over the last several years Iran has significantly enhanced its economic and security relationship with China, notwithstanding a paucity of ideological or cultural links or shared values. Iran is joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an Eurasian alignment in which China and Russia are the two dominant members. As if to punctuate the point as a matter of timing and not just of substance, Russian President Vladimir Putin chose this moment, on the heels of Biden’s Middle East trip, to travel to Tehran to nurture relations between Russia and Iran.

Biden’s own national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, introduced an additional data point by claiming that Iran will sell drones for military use to Russia. Sullivan might have been stretching the available intelligence a bit in order to enhance the administration’s anti-Iran message to Middle East audiences on the eve of Biden’s trip to the region. But subsequent reporting suggests the story may have validity, even though the postulated exports run in the opposite direction from most arms sales involving Russia.

Physical theories about nature abhorring a vacuum work fine in describing how physical phenomena such as gasses in enclosed spaces behave. But a better guide to how nations behave is international relations theory — especially of the realist variety, in which the concept of counter-balancing to respond to perceived threats is central. The balancing may bring together states that are half a globe away and have little in common beyond the animosity and sanctions of the United States — such as Russia and Venezuela, which have allied beyond matters of oil and have agreed to exchange visits of warships.

In some instances, the alliances, based on sharing hostility from the United States, overcome significant historical hostility between the allies themselves. This is true of the relationship between Russia and China, where longstanding economic, demographic, and ideological differences have caused frictions so severe that they have even erupted into open warfare. Despite that background, a perceived need to counter the United States led the presidents of China and Russia to declare earlier this year a friendship “with no limits.” The alliance has so far survived even the Russian war in Ukraine, a source of major discomfort to China in directly violating the Chinese mantra about noninterference in other nations’ internal affairs.

A similar situation prevails between Russia and Iran, with a historical background of competition for territory and influence between the Russian Empire and Persia. The Soviet Union occupied the northern third of Iran during World War II and caused a crisis when it refused to leave for another year. Russia and Iran compete today for influence in Central Asia, and alsos compete in seeking markets for oil. Despite all this, the fact that both are bêtes noires of the United States brings them together.

An all-too-common error is to perceive the behavior of one’s adversaries as somehow hard-wired into their nature and not to be a reaction to one’s own policies and conduct. By making this error, the United States, among other consequences, is encouraging adversaries to unite and thereby to oppose U.S. interests more effectively.

Great Power Competition leads to great power war and US decline

Larrison, 7-15, 22, Daniel Larison is a contributing editor at Antiwar.com and former senior editor at The American Conservative magazine. He has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @DanielLarison and at his blog, Eunomia, here, https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/07/15/how-the-great-power-competition-model-leads-costly-entanglements/

Defining U.S. foreign policy primarily in terms of “great power competition” is a trap that risks overextending the United States and allowing its foreign policy to be dictated by Moscow’s and Beijing’s actions. Washington needs to recognize the limits of U.S. power as it experiences relative decline in a world with two major rivals, and it must seek to cooperate with those rivals on issues of global importance for the sake of all concerned while managing tensions with them to avoid the disaster of another great power war.

Instead of being guided by a poorly defined framework of “great power competition,” the United States must chart out its own vision for its foreign policy that does not aspire to counter every move that Russia and China make in the world. These are some of the insights and recommendations that Ali Wyne offers in his valuable new book, “America’s Great power Opportunity: Revitalizing U.S. Foreign Policy to Meet the Challenges of Strategic Competition.”

Wyne has done policymakers and analysts a service by tracking and examining the overuse of the “great power competition” framing in recent years. While the phrase has since become ubiquitous, it was rarely used in government circles until the start of the Trump administration. Since then, it has taken off in popularity and become a regular part of official jargon both within and outside the government.

The chief problem with defining U.S. foreign policy in terms of “great power competition” is that recognizing the existence of competition does not provide any clear answers for what the United States ought to do in the world. As Wyne says, “interstate competition is a characteristic of world affairs — like the balance of power — not a blueprint for foreign policy.” Acknowledging competition is a necessary first step in crafting an appropriate strategy and in setting the limits of what is possible, but it doesn’t tell us what the content of the strategy should be. Wyne counsels us that “we should not conflate description with prescription,” and that is what the “great power competition” framing encourages us to do.

Because it has been employed so indiscriminately, “great power competition” has become an umbrella concept to cover any number of individual policies and its vague definition allows almost anything to be smuggled in under its label. As Wyne observes, there is no scholarly consensus on either of the constituent parts of “great power competition,” so it is not surprising that no one can agree on what their combination entails. The danger of such a vague and slippery concept is that there is no way to identify proper ends or means, and it becomes an all-purpose justification for whatever anyone in Washington wants to do. As Wyne puts it, “A framework that is at once widely accepted and highly elastic is vulnerable to misappropriation.”

Far from focusing or disciplining U.S. foreign policy, the embrace of this concept becomes an invitation to a smorgasbord where “great power competition” becomes the official excuse for anything and everything.

A comparison with containment doctrine is instructive. The containment doctrine envisaged by George Kennan was relatively limited, not heavily militarized, and intended mainly for Europe. But within a few years it had morphed into a militarized global doctrine that was later used to justify all sorts of interventions around the world from coups to wars. Most of the worst U.S. blunders and crimes of the Cold War were the result of pursuing that much more ambitious form of “containment” that treated every country as a potential battleground.

Wyne comments on this aspect of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War: “Washington proved to be incapable of distinguishing between the core and the periphery of the postwar order because it feared that its vital national interests were implicated wherever Moscow asserted itself.”

This is what the fixation on “great power competition” threatens to do to our foreign policy again.

Great power competition can trap the United States into taking on far too many commitments and overstretching itself by trying to counter every action by other major powers. Wyne recommends a more selective approach that is not based on reacting to what the other powers do.

He sees several pitfalls from centering U.S. foreign policy on opposing all Russian and Chinese bids to increase their influence: it risks committing the United States to an expansive strategy that it can ill afford, it could lead to U.S. overreaction that drives Russia and China more closely together, and it forecloses the possibility of cooperation and locks the United States into open-ended hostility with both states. A foreign policy that is reflexively anti-Russian and anti-Chinese at all times has the perverse effect of letting the Russian and Chinese governments drive U.S. decision-making. It also means sacrificing U.S. interests that might be served by cooperation on specific issues, such as arms control or climate change.

He also warns against treating every region in the world as a potential arena for competition, and he urges Washington to exercise greater discipline and restraint by setting priorities for which regions are most important to vital interests. There is a temptation to use “great power competition” as a justification for maintaining or increasing U.S. commitments everywhere regardless of the underlying interests at stake. He argues that the United States needs to resist that temptation and be willing to reduce its commitments where appropriate, and it should not view every Russian and Chinese initiative as a threat that demands a U.S. response.

Wyne argues that the United States should not expect Russia or China to implode suddenly as the USSR did. Since there is no realistic prospect of inflicting total defeat on another major power in the nuclear age, Washington will have to find some way to live with these other states in what he calls “strained cohabitation.” Therefore, the United States must learn how to manage that cohabitation through diplomacy, and its chief goal must be averting a new great power conflict. Wyne stresses this point several times throughout the book: “The most urgent priority, of course, is to avoid a great power war.” Insofar as the great power competition framing encourages and stokes that great power conflict, it is inimical to both U.S. and international security.

The book concludes with a set of principles to guide policymakers in the context of competition with Russia and China. Several of these focus on the need for America’s internal renewal, or what Wyne calls “becoming a more dynamic version of its best self.” This renewal is not only a necessary precondition for being able to compete effectively, but it is also an important goal that needs to be pursued for the benefit of the country regardless of what other states do.

Another principle calls for recognizing the limits of America’s unilateral influence in order to guard against the mistaken belief that Washington can control or decisively influence all outcomes around the world. One of the last recommendations is to pursue possibilities for cooperation in order to keep competition between major powers from spinning out of control.

A foreign policy of restraint is compatible with Wyne’s recommendations for taking advantage of America’s “great power opportunity.” It should also be much better suited for putting them into practice because advocates of restraint have already been arguing for many of the same things for years.

China threat inflated, triggering war

Michael D. Swaine, July 15, 2022, Michael D. Swaine is director of the Quincy Institute’s East Asia program, Inflating China’s Threat Risks Disaster for the United States, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/inflating-china%E2%80%99s-threat-risks-disaster-united-states-203570

Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently claimed that Chinese leadership has “announced its ambition to create a sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific and to become the world’s leading power.”

Blinken is wrong: no Chinese leader has ever made such a clear statement. But Blinken’s mischaracterization is only the latest notable signal of a dangerous trend in Washington, where U.S. government officials are significantly inflating the threat that China poses to the United States. This threat inflation actually hurts America’s interests at home and in the region, and it increases the chances of a disastrous U.S.-China conflict.

In May, I published a study examining the widespread presence of threat inflation in assessments of the Chinese military and Beijing’s general strategic intentions. Blinken’s speech is practically a case study in threat inflation, and his insistence on Beijing’s globe-bestriding ambitions is a sterling example. Blinken was likely referring to a speech made by Chinese leader Xi Jinping that has often been wrongly translated. At the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 2017, Xi stated that China will become “a global leader in terms of composite national strength and international influence.” Although many analysts translate the original Chinese phrase into English as “the” global leader, this is far from clear in the original Chinese, and the official Chinese translation of the term uses “a,” not “the.” It was hardly a clear announcement.

In Blinken’s defense, he’s not alone. Throughout history, individuals, governments, and leaders across disciplines have shown a strong tendency to exaggerate and distort threats, both in general and in relation to other countries.

Political experts and government advisers tend to overestimate the likelihood of threats because they can easily imagine the pathways to war, giving less attention to threats that have not led to war before. Policymakers appear inclined to believe hawkish advisers over dovish ones, as psychological impulses lead many leaders to exaggerate the evil intentions of adversaries. And the political culture and identity of some nations—like America—that rely on beliefs and values rather than ethnicity or race for their identity are inclined to create threat narratives that bolster domestic solidarity and legitimacy.

Many might think that inflating the threat posed by another country is better than underestimating or ignoring it. In reality, threat inflation can pose as much or more danger than underestimating a threat.

Threat inflation can create a dangerous, vicious circle in which each side reacts to inflated threat perceptions with excessive military buildups and overreactions to real and imagined challenges. Opportunistic politicians often inflate threats to create public alarm, justify domestic witch hunts, and impose restrictions on personal liberties. Threat inflation can also divert public attention and resources from more serious threats to the nation and undermine cooperation between states.

U.S. perceptions of China today bear all the hallmarks—and carry the attendant risks—of threat inflation. For many in Washington, China has now become ten feet tall. Depending on who you ask, Beijing threatens the very existence of the United States, its political system and society, the global economy, the security order in Asia, and the entire so-called rules-based international order—or all the above.

But in each of these areas, the level and nature of the threat China presents is routinely and almost invariably exaggerated. As a result, U.S. officials and policy analysts almost always argue for zero-sum, confrontational policies toward Beijing while ignoring or dismissing as “tried-and-failed” other possible approaches that could reduce the chance of crises or conflict with China and would better serve U.S. interests.

The U.S. must devote more attention and resources to right-sizing China’s threats–and it certainly does pose some. To do this, U.S. leaders and policy analysts first need to recognize the common tendency to inflate threats built into human psychology and political systems—which routinely influences their own perceptions—and the specific, inflation-creating biases and misperceptions that operate in the case of China.

America needs to develop policies and approaches toward Beijing that accurately reflect the more complex set of concerns, threats, and opportunities that China presents to the United States, other democracies, and the world. And, by the way, Beijing needs to do something similar, given its own tendency toward threat inflation. The objective for both nations should be to create a stable regional and global balance based on restraint and focused on limited deterrence, bounded, clearly defined competition (both zero-sum and positive-sum in nature), and a certain level of reassurance and mutual accommodation, all to facilitate a stress on the truly existential threats both countries face, beginning with climate change.

The United States has long inflated threats posed by non-democratic states and others—often with disastrous results. And yet few in Washington acknowledge U.S. threat inflation. Worse yet, many argue that we underestimate the threat China poses. Washington can’t seem to see things straight when it turns toward Beijing. Until we come to grips with this tendency, the likelihood of overreaction leading to conflict and even war will only grow.

Great power competition increases racism, diverts funding from needed social programs and encourages militaristic counterbalancing and repression

Bernes & Jackson, July 14, 2022, MICHAEL BRENES is Interim Director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy and Lecturer in History at Yale University; VAN JACKSON is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, a Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, and the Defence & Strategy Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies in New Zealand, Great-Power Competition Is Bad for Democracy, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2022-07-14/great-power-competition-bad-democracy

The Washington establishment’s view that great-power conflict is a net good for the United States derives from a tortured reading of Cold War history. In this view, Soviet rivalry provoked the passage of civil rights legislation, the space race led to innovations in technology and computerization, and the Cold War economy created affluence and enabled homeownership for many Americans. This historical interpretation of the Cold War lies behind recent legislation, including the 2021 Strategic Competition Act and the 2022 America COMPETES Act, both of which seek to marshal federal resources to spur economic development and job creation, all in an effort to compete with China.

But the Cold War’s influence is much more complicated—and grimmer—than policymakers’ standard telling of it. It is true that the Cold War created tremendous economic growth and prosperity, but it did so with deleterious effects on free speech, racial and economic equality, and democratic pluralism. Rivalry with the Soviet Union stoked the Red Scare in the 1950s, during which people merely accused of insufficient loyalty to the U.S. government lost their jobs and were blacklisted in Washington and in Hollywood. It inhibited the most ambitious parts of the civil rights agenda, sacrificing job creation and infrastructure investment for Black American communities in order to pay for the Vietnam War. It delayed needed reforms on gender by pressing women into domestic familial support roles and suppressing the feminist movement until it found a voice alongside other struggles for justice during the Vietnam War era. And by attacking programs for full employment, national health care, and labor unionism as “socialist” or “communist,” it embrittled the New Deal economic order established under U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.

Great-power rivalry with the Soviets exacerbated class inequalities that paved the way for the ascendance of austerity politics in the 1980s. Then, neoliberal prescriptions for managing the economy included a weak welfare state, corporate deregulation, and the privatization of public goods and services—all of which yielded growing disparities in wages, incomes, and job prospects between working-class and wealthy Americans. A political economy dependent upon military spending created jobs in the engineering and tech sectors, but that primarily benefited the highly educated and the upper middle class. The rise of the postindustrial economy in the 1970s and 1980s meant that Americans outside the fields of technology, academia, and engineering (fields subsidized by Cold War defense spending), and without advanced degrees, had to look for jobs in the service industry, which provides perpetually insecure, low-wage work without much opportunity for social mobility. The Cold War was not a struggle that benefited the working class.

Many of the most pressing threats to democracy cannot be solved through a competitive framework.

The Cold War also set a precedent regarding federal spending by which guns necessarily came at the expense of butter. Whereas Pentagon spending averaged 7.6 of GDP, education spending took up only three percent between 1946 and 1960. At their height in 1982, Social Security benefits comprised close to 5 percent of GDP. In the forty years prior, benefits averaged less than 3 percent of GDP. (Only healthcare expenditures rivaled national defense as a percentage of GDP during the Cold War). The balance of U.S. defense and social priorities have been mismatched since World War II.

Making matters worse, Cold War liberals conditioned domestic investments on great-power rivalry. This meant decoupling the rationale for public goods from a positive vision for society on its own terms and instead tying it to what would most hurt the Soviets. This made it possible to oppose domestic spending with the contorted logic that it was harmful to competition with the Soviets. Even Democrats started adopting this view of the welfare state by the 1970s, effectively abandoning the labor base of the Democratic party in favor of a white-collar, technologically literate constituency that it saw as more capable of outperforming the United States’ geopolitical foe. This bargain, which has left the Democratic party of the 2020s searching for its political soul, worked out far better for right-wing, nationalist politicians who consistently argued that money spent on poverty reduction—at home and abroad—would be better spent on intercontinental ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear warheads, missile defense programs, and a more muscular foreign policy overall. This tendency helped rationalize the shadow of nuclear terror the world is still forced to live under today, but it did little to, say, shore up American democracy or prepare the United States for a global pandemic—to say nothing of lifting up America’s poor.

Fighting a monolithic communist enemy abroad also boomeranged in the form of racism and xenophobia against immigrants at home. The 1950 Internal Security Act, which required Communist Party members to register with the federal government, allowed U.S. authorities to deport naturalized immigrants suspected of “disloyalty.” After the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943, Chinese immigrants during the Cold War were compelled to “confess” their illegal immigration status—even if they had broken no laws when they came to the United States—to earn their citizenship rights. Such policies reflected the anticommunist hysteria of McCarthyism that lasted well into the 1960s. Even when Democrats finally took up the cause of civil rights, as the historian Mary Dudziak has explained, it was in a stunted, narrow way that had been delayed decades by the earlier destruction of a previously unified Progressive movement that was the first organized champion for political and economic equality in America. That coalition was undone by anticommunist liberals—including Democrats and Republicans—whose visions for change were shortened by defining their politics against an enemy rather than for their own theory of democracy.

The failure to see the Cold War for what it was has left the United States unprepared to manage the risks that great-power competition poses to democratic society today. The Biden administration thinks this rivalry will benefit the American middle class and the world, yet it is already poisoning U.S. politics, aiding Chinese President Xi Jinping, and accumulating avoidable strategic risks along the way.

RIVALRY AND RACISM

Just as racism and ethnically motivated violence was part of the Cold War experience, so too has it become the most visible and immediate price of today’s showdown with China and Russia. In the past few months alone, xenophobic attacks against Russians and Chinese immigrants have escalated in the United States. Incidents of hate crimes toward Asian Americans have increased 339 percent since 2021, including a mass shooting in Atlanta in March 2021 that killed six Asian American women. Following the Ukraine invasion, Russian businesses in the United States have been boycotted, and Disney paused its new film releases in Russia. Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell even went so far as to recommend “kicking every Russian student out of the United States.” This is a disturbing echo of Cold War exclusionism.

U.S. President Joe Biden has rightly denounced acts of overt racism and xenophobia against Russian and Chinese immigrants. But an antiracist, antixenophobic policy is not one that merely denounces racial slurs or bigoted civilizational reasoning; it must also make it harder, not easier, to traffic in racialized sentiment. And on this count, the Biden administration is failing. Every gesture toward “outcompeting China” unintentionally buoys ethnonationalism at home and abroad. U.S. policymakers need to understand that Xi draws strength from rivalry, as do American far-right extremists, conspiracy theorists, and the demagogic Washington politicians who pander to them.

Republican senators such as Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley straddle the interests of Washington polite society and the far right. How? By invoking hateful rhetoric and promoting policies of racial exclusion that appeal to white supremacists and conspiracy theorists while maintaining a veneer of legitimacy by claiming that they target the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) or “China” writ large—a vague menacing “other” that ensnares the larger community of Asian Americans. Months into the 2020 pandemic, Cruz defended the use of racially coded epithets aimed at China, including “kung flu” and “Chinese virus.” Cotton personally trafficked in these yellow-peril dog whistles, and co-sponsored legislation that year to ban Chinese students from securing visas to study science, technology, engineering, or math in the United States. And Hawley earned a Vanity Fair headline that read “Josh Hawley Proudly Declares Himself Pro Hate Crimes” after casting the sole vote against the uncontroversial COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. Hawley also campaigned for reelection on ads that included depictions of Chinese businessmen taking over American farms, creating a racial stigma around who should be allowed to own the most important tangible asset in the U.S. economy.

Stoking this rivalry has also allowed conservatives to avoid political accountability, politicizing Chinese villainy rather than answering at the polls for their conduct in office. Shortly after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, for instance, the BBC asked outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo how the event affected America’s global image, to which he responded, “I actually think that question is basically Chinese propaganda.” The National Republican Senatorial Committee, similarly, instructed conservatives running for office in 2020 to tell voters, “Coronavirus was a Chinese hit-and-run followed by a cover-up that cost thousands of lives” and Democrats are “soft on China” and to “push for sanctions on China for its role in spreading the pandemic.” Their explicit aim was to avoid a referendum on Trump-era conservative policies and his mishandling of the U.S. pandemic response.

Expedient hate-mongering is not confined to the political right. Rather than condemn Republicans’ race-baiting and diversionary politics, many Democrats flirt with that same premise. Tim Ryan, a Democrat running for Senate in Ohio, has been unapologetic in his willingness to blame the economic plight of blue-collar workers on a China bogeyman—“China is winning and workers are losing” and “It’s us versus China,” he said in one ad. Democrats have been complicit in creating the economy that has put millions of Americans in a precarious financial position, so small wonder that they, too, would rather blame China for the state of things than reflect on their culpability.

Democrats have also bet that they can win support on infrastructure investment by framing it in terms of strengthening the United States for long-term competition with China. But perversely, Republicans and conservative Democrats have instead countered that competing with China may mean not investing in the United States’ long-term future. Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, for instance, rationalized voting against Build Back Better legislation last year on the grounds that the United States needed the money for military contingencies against China and Russia. Earlier this year, Manchin joined Cotton in diverting $4 billion from a climate fund to Pentagon research and development, citing concerns about China.

Whatever the merits of military spending, it is literally coming at the expense of funding for projects that would directly benefit the American people—just like it did during the Cold War. And that means Democrats using foreign competition as the key to domestic rejuvenation are making a bad bet that misapprehends the realities of American politics.

MAKING STRONGMEN STRONGER

In China, rivalrous geopolitics is having similar consequences. China’s political economy, and by extension Xi’s rule, depends on oligarchs who exploit a weak labor rights regime and extreme worker precariousness, then move their profits offshore into often risky state-directed investments. This process is how China funds the Belt and Road Initiative, which Washington sees as a sign of Beijing’s hegemonic ambitions. In other words, China’s economic influence abroad is built on inequality and repression at home.

Rivalry perpetuates this dynamic. Economic growth, the great legitimizer of authoritarian politics, cannot forever proceed in a straight upward line. When growth rates fall, which in relative terms they are now, the ruling regime needs an alternative source of legitimacy. For Xi, that alternative is ethnonationalism—the glue that holds together political order in a deeply exploitative economic system.

Like its American cousin, Chinese ethnonationalism is a problem because it begets belligerence. The CCP’s “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy—the aggressive style of diplomacy adopted under Xi’s administration—is less a sign of insecurity than it is a symptom of nationalism being stoked for deliberately political ends. And ethnonationalism rationalizes the expansive modernization projects of the People’s Liberation Army, just as the same jingoistic, racially tinged sentiments in the United States are used to justify massive Pentagon budgets. Reactionaries in Washington and Beijing are mirror-imaging each other, and benefiting politically from the negative synergy of rivalry.

The Cold War’s influence is much more complicated—and grimmer—than policymakers’ standard telling of it.

Recent history has also made it evident that great-power rivalry does not help efforts to weaken autocrats, and may end up doing the opposite. Great-power competition did not produce leaders such as Vladimir Putin of Russia, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, or Viktor Orban of Hungary, but neither can it manage the forces that propelled them to power: ethnonationalism, economic inequality, and democratic backsliding. Rivalry between countries is not a viable framework for democratic improvement within them. Instead, geopolitical competition compels the United States to make undemocratic moral compromises in the name of democracy. In a rush to convince everyone that “America is back” as leader of the “free world,” the Biden administration has drawn hypocrisy-riddled distinctions between dictatorship and democracy as an ideological basis for great-power rivalry. But it is self-defeating—and logically contradictory—to enlist foreign governments in an anti-China, anti-Russia foreign policy agenda when the same mindset justifies U.S. backing of despotic, demagogic leaders from Turkey to Saudi Arabia to the Philippines and beyond. The United States’ limited political influence could be much better spent.

If left as the sole basis for American grand strategy, great-power rivalry will become circular, validating Russia’s and China’s militarist paths and justifying a superpowered U.S. national security bureaucracy primed for perpetual conflict. It will fail to rectify the sources of democratic weakness, which are rooted in economic precariousness, political corruption, and racism. It will lead to the election of autocratic leaders, who decry the United States’ domestic failures and link them to a supposedly weak foreign policy.

Given the public’s lingering desire to see the United States invest more at home, the time is right to shift course. Americans are looking for U.S. foreign policy to align with democratic expectations and public opinion. A truly great power would do its utmost to tackle the unresolved issues heightened by the pandemic: racial and economic inequality, a public health crisis, and runaway environmental degradation. Geopolitical rivalry will do none of that.

China is not seeking global dominance, US policies trigger aggression
Engagement with China will succeed, it just hasn’t yet

Heer, July 14, 2022, Paul Heer is a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for the National Interest and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He served as National Intelligence Officer for East Asia from 2007 to 2015. He is the author of Mr. X and the Pacific: George F. Kennan and American Policy in East Asia (Cornell University Press, 2018), Engagement With China Has Not Failed,

But this analysis requires several caveats. Notwithstanding the breadth and depth of the Chinese challenge to the United States, there are limits to Beijing’s global ambitions. Indeed, Friedberg is somewhat equivocal or at least inconsistent in his characterization of China’s end game. He varyingly observes that Beijing seeks to “displace the US as the preponderant global power”; to develop “capabilities and influence equivalent, and eventually superior to, those of the US”; or to become “the predominant power globally, or at least with an extended sphere of influence [emphasis added].” So, which is it? The core question is whether Beijing seeks exclusive world domination, as is asserted in another new book by China scholar Ian Easton, The Final Struggle: Inside China’s Global Strategy. But neither Friedberg nor Easton offers persuasive evidence that Beijing’s goal is global hegemony. For his part, Easton relies heavily on Chinese military textbooks whose authoritativeness as evidence of CCP leadership thinking is at best debatable. Friedberg, in citing statements from Xi that indicate Beijing’s ambitions, quotes references to China becoming “a global leader in terms of national strength and international influence.” In none of these cases, however, did Xi clearly declare that China sought or needed to be “the” sole global leader.

It is certainly true, as Friedberg notes, that “whatever their Western counterparts may profess to believe, China’s rulers are convinced they are locked in a zero-sum struggle” with the United States. But many of their Western counterparts profess to believe in precisely the same kind of winner-take-all struggle, and Friedberg himself apparently agrees. What he overlooks is the extent to which Beijing’s perceptions of a zero-sum contest mirror rhetoric and behavior from the United States, in a classic security dilemma. The possible impact of U.S. actions is also relevant to Friedberg’s analysis of Xi’s centrality to China’s strategic behavior. As noted above, Friedberg correctly observes that Xi largely inherited Beijing’s objectives from his predecessors, even if he has “pursue[d] them more forcefully.” What he overlooks here is the extent to which China’s greater assertiveness over the past decade has been a product not just of Xi’s leadership but of policies and actions by the United States and other countries over the same time period, to which Beijing felt the need to respond firmly.

The central issue of whether Washington “got China wrong” is more complicated to parse. Friedberg no doubt is correct that many policymakers and scholars were buoyed after the collapse of the Soviet Union with the notion that communism would eventually collapse in China as well, and they either advocated policies aimed at advancing that goal or justified policies on the grounds that they could advance that goal. He is also correct that U.S. commercial interests played a central and often self-serving role in promoting those ideas. Moreover, Friedberg notes that academic studies at the time appeared to provide a “sound empirical footing” for the theory that economic engagement with China would lead in turn to market reforms and political liberalization there.

But that is not the same as asserting that U.S. policymakers pursued engagement solely for that purpose, or with that metric for success. In fact, post-Cold War U.S. presidents—no less than Richard Nixon a generation earlier—pursued engagement with China for a variety of geostrategic reasons that usually had more to do with influencing Beijing’s international behavior than with its domestic governance, and they often did so with success.

Perhaps more importantly, Friedberg overstates the extent to which U.S. policymakers failed to recognize the nature of the CCP regime and its internal and external ambitions. He criticizes Washington’s “inability or unwillingness to grasp … the CCP’s unwavering determination to maintain its unbreakable hold on power and its tireless creativity and brutal skill in doing so,” and he asserts that U.S. policymakers “systematically underestimated” the regime’s “mix of insecurity, ambition, and opportunism.” He adds that Washington was “reluctant to acknowledge the fact that China was working to displace the United States as the preponderant power in Asia,” and failed to realize that the CCP “never had any intention of proceeding down the path towards full economic liberalization.”

But having worked within the U.S. Intelligence Community on East Asian issues for virtually all of the relevant period Friedberg is addressing, I do not recall a time when these aspects of the CCP regime were not well understood by the U.S. Government. Indeed, Friedberg himself observes that the “Tiananmen [Square crackdown in 1989] made it impossible for American policymakers and the American people to ignore the CCP regime’s ugly, repressive face,” and that “it is difficult to escape the conclusion that any chance of China evolving gradually into a Western-style liberal democracy died at Tiananmen.” Accordingly, and in my experience, Washington subsequently was under no illusions about the character of the CCP.

Friedberg avers that after Tiananmen “portions of the US military and intelligence communities” started to pay more attention to troublesome aspects of the regime, but “at the highest political level … officials remained intensely focused on engagement” and regarded Beijing’s long-term intentions as “unformed and therefore susceptible to shaping, for better or worse, by the actions of others.” There is much to unpack here. But in Washington’s approach to China, engagement was never exclusive of greater attention to Beijing’s problematic behavior and ambitions both domestically and abroad, and indeed such attention expanded within the U.S. government in tandem with the persistence of engagement in pursuit of U.S. strategic objectives. Moreover, although Beijing’s long-term intentions were never judged to be wholly “unformed,” they have in fact always been “susceptible to shaping.” The bottom line is that the limits (to date) on the success of engagement were not primarily the result of ignorance or denial of the nature of the CCP and its strategic intentions. They were more likely the result of inherent limits on the United States’ ability to influence China, and perhaps of trends in the United States itself—especially in the wake of the global financial crisis—that further eroded relative U.S. influence, while giving Beijing the opportunity and the incentive to push back harder against Washington’s strategy and to score points against it.

Friedberg frequently overlooks the symmetry between his characterization of Beijing and Washington’s own approach to the bilateral relationship. For example, he observes that “rather than consider the possibility that Beijing’s own actions might have been at least partly responsible for triggering a spiral of escalating tensions, Chinese analysts and officials placed the blame squarely on the US.” U.S. officials, however, routinely deflect the possibility that American actions have played a role in fueling tensions. Similarly, Friedberg notes that the CCP “is quick to interpret every action of the United States and its allies as proof of hostile intent and justification for its own aggressive policies.” But Washington is similarly inclined to interpret Chinese actions as proof of hostile intent and as necessitating strong U.S. pushback. He observes that “Beijing believes that rivalry with the West is inescapable and the stakes are existential.” But Washington appears to have embraced the same view of U.S.-China “strategic competition.” Finally, Friedberg judges that Chinese leaders have “tied themselves into the dangerous knot of a self-fulfilling prophecy,” overlooking or denying the possibility that U.S. leaders risk doing the same thing. Indeed, he appears to deride scholar Joseph Nye’s famous remark that “if you treat China as an enemy, China will become an enemy.”

Inherent in all this is the probability that the United States has in fact shaped China but has done so counterproductively. Friedberg notes correctly that “over the last three decades, Western policymakers have been compelled repeatedly to upgrade their assessments of Beijing’s aims.” But he does not address the extent to which Beijing’s aims may have evolved in response to U.S. policies and actions that were perceived by Chinese leaders as intended to constrain or even contain China. Friedberg correctly notes that the Trump administration “reinforced Beijing’s long-held belief that the Americans were determined to hold China down.” But it also crystallized the belief in Washington that China is determined to keep America down, and thus fueled U.S. policies that Beijing was bound to view as hostile.

This symmetry and its consequences are amply but probably unintentionally reflected in Friedberg’s policy prescriptions for what Washington should be doing to rectify the errors he attributes to engagement. He starts by rebuking what he calls the “lexicon of strategic paralysis”—the use of pejorative slogans to preempt policy changes by presuming that they would fail. Specifically, he criticizes those who warn against a “new Cold War” with China, “containment,” “decoupling,” or “regime change.” Friedberg’s policy recommendations would essentially promote all four.

He contends that an “all-out Cold War style ‘neo-containment policy’ designed to isolate China, stifle its growth, and prevent its rise” was not the only alternative to engagement. The United States and its allies, he suggests, could instead have used their leverage “more forcefully to try to compel Beijing to modify its domestic politics” and could have taken steps to slow the growth of China’s power and to impose constraints on its external behavior.” The substantive difference between these two characterizations is not clear. Similarly, he suggests that “containment” is not feasible, but asserts that the United States and its allies “are going to have to find ways to offset and neutralize China’s growing ability to impose its will upon them, whether through coercive threats, direct attack, or by gaining control over key chokepoints or portions of the global commons.” How is that not “containment”? On “decoupling,” Friedberg observes that Beijing is trying to reduce China’s economic dependence on other countries and increase their dependence on China, because the CCP “has always regarded economic policy as a tool for enhancing China’s power relative to the United States.” But Washington’s approach—and his recommendations—reflect the same goals and regard economic policy much the same way. Finally, on “regime change,” Friedberg recommends that Washington “increase the pressure that the CCP regime feels from within to address its own domestic failings by heightening awareness of them among its citizens.” This echoes statements by Trump administration officials that appeared to encourage the Chinese people to overthrow their government.

Friedberg outlines four lines of effort for U.S. policy: (a) mobilizing for a protracted U.S.-China rivalry; (b) “partial disengagement” in the economic realm; (c) intensified military preparations and diplomacy to deter Chinese coercion and aggression; and (d) “waging discursive struggle” to challenge Beijing’s ideological narratives. He emphasizes that the United States cannot afford to adopt a purely defensive posture: it must exploit China’s critical weaknesses, impose costs on its actions, slow the growth of Chinese power and influence, and dissuade Beijing from calculating that military force could achieve its goals. But Beijing is pursuing precisely the same four lines of effort against the United States: girding for a long-term struggle, selectively decoupling, building up its diplomatic and military leverage, and trumpeting the benefits of socialism and the supposed frailties of democracy. And China will be similarly determined to exploit U.S. weaknesses, impose costs on U.S. behavior, and persuade Washington that U.S. military actions against China would be disastrous. Friedberg suggests that “the greatest risk of miscalculation is likely to arise from an underestimation by China’s leaders of the capabilities and resolve” of the West. But the risk is no less great that Washington will underestimate China’s capabilities and resolve—and overestimate its own.

In the end, Friedberg insists that “the nature of China’s CCP regime” leaves “little prospect of a stable and mutually satisfactory accommodation,” and thus makes peaceful coexistence unlikely for the foreseeable future. “There is little overlap,” he asserts, “between what China’s rulers really want and what Washington and its allies can, or should be willing to, give.” But this is based on specious or invalid assumptions about “what China’s rulers really want.” As noted above, Friedberg says the United States lacks a “clearly articulated and widely shared assessment of the nature and severity of the challenge” from China. But the assessment he offers, although clearly articulated, is neither widely shared nor accurate. China’s challenge to the United States (and the West) is not as absolute or existential as Friedberg suggests; Beijing’s international behavior is driven by structural, historical, and material factors beyond just the nature of the CCP regime; and there is in fact room for mutual accommodation and peaceful coexistence if Washington is prepared to recognize this and to adopt a more empirical assessment of the “nature and severity” of the challenge.

This is where engagement still provides opportunities and in fact the best vehicle for averting conflict and fixing the U.S.-China relationship. Friedberg correctly observes that “engagement was a gamble rather than a blunder,” and he acknowledges that “US and other Western policymakers cannot fairly be faulted for placing their original bet.” It is true that the gamble has not paid off, but that does not mean the original bet has been lost. Engagement in fact has not failed; it just hasn’t succeeded yet. And Friedberg himself implicitly endorses it when he recommends that “the United States and its allies should continue to articulate the hope that liberal reforms will someday be possible [in China] and try to create conditions that may make them more likely.” That was, and remains, an excellent reason for engagement with China.

Multipolarity means war

Reiff, July 12, 2022, David Rieff is the author of At the Point of a Gun: Democratic Dreams and Armed Intervention; The Reproach of Hunger: Food, Justice and Money in the Twenty-First Century; and, most recently, In Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and Its Ironies, Can America Overcome a Century of Challenge?, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/can-america-overcome-century-challenge-203491

It is all very well to talk in welcoming tones about the new age of multipolarity, but that age seems more likely to usher in a period of anarchy and war than stability, balancing, and peace. IT IS almost impossible to overstate the gift that Vladimir Putin’s decision to try to subjugate Ukraine represents for U.S. interests in Europe. For whatever happens on the battlefield—and one must be careful here: despite Kyiv’s heroic but also surprisingly successful resistance so far, the outcome of the war is still far from clear—the United States will emerge from the conflict having achieved strategic goals in Europe that appeared completely out of reach as recently as six months ago. NATO has regained its coherence and, assuming Turkey’s opposition can be overcome, with Finnish and Swedish accession will expand not in a way that adds to its responsibilities without strengthening its capacities—as was the case in the Baltics—but immensely increase its power and resources. Germany, for all the double game it is playing on importing Russian energy, has finally entered what might be called the “post-post-Hitler era” and will rearm. The EU’s economic withdrawal from Russia will remove a great deal of the leverage Moscow previously could exercise in Brussels. And, less measurably, the anti-Americanism of many Europeans will now have to at least coexist with the understanding that it is Russia that poses the existential threat. Not since the days of John Paul II has the balance shifted to such an extent, and in my more whimsical moments, I sometimes wonder why the conspiracy theorists on both the Right and the Left who believe Putin was pushed into war by NATO expansion and that the Maidan Revolution was, in reality, a Western coup don’t instead accuse the Russian leader of being a U.S. agent of influence.

But Europe is not the world (much as it sometimes still seems to manage to imagine that it is), and all the geo-economic and geostrategic reasons that have rightly led Washington to view Asia, above all (here, I am not sure wisely) Northeast Asia, as the central concern of U.S. foreign policy remain in place. Again, while we don’t yet know the fate of Ukraine, even if, in my view, Washington and its NATO allies must do everything short of sending its own forces into the battlespace to help Ukraine prevail, we do know that whatever happens Russia will emerge from the war weaker, poorer, and less globally consequential. In contrast, at worst, China will emerge unscathed from the conflict, but is more likely to come out strengthened by it insofar as Russia—and how Mao Zedong would have enjoyed that!—will almost certainly be forced to reconcile itself to being the junior partner in the relationship with China, forced to sell its energy in a market skewed in favor of the buyer of last resort: Beijing. At the same time, this is a moment of considerable domestic tension in China, above all in urban China, where Xi Jinping’s zero Covid policy is stressing both the citizenry and the economy. Overconfidence and anxiety are always a dangerous mix for totalitarian governments. In that context, the reconquest of Taiwan may finally seem irresistible to Beijing, which means that, now, as perhaps not since the Mao period, one of the principal challenges facing U.S. policymakers is now to decide what the U.S. response would be.

Whatever that decision is, it seems all but inevitable given the alarm in both South Korea and Japan over China’s rise, —and, for the first time since 1945, the willingness of Japan to consider significant remilitarization (the parallel with what is happening in Germany is, well, striking)—that the military element in U.S. foreign policy will develop even further post-Ukraine. This probably would have happened anyway given that even before the Russian invasion it was quite clear that the so-called Long Peace of the post-1945 world was ending, to the extent, that is, that it had ever existed at all. But post-Ukraine, the timeline for this clearly has been shortened. At the same time, the so-called pivot toward Northeast Asia in no way clarifies what U.S. foreign policymakers need to do, or, indeed, even how they need to think about South Asia. Above all, what to do about Narendra Modi’s India and the balancing act between the United States, China, and Russia, that so far at least New Delhi has been performing with considerable sophistication. And then there is a rising Africa, whose population by 2100 will either be equal to or have surpassed Asia’s, and with whose rapidly increasing importance U.S. policymakers have not even begun to engage seriously.

And all of this is taking place in the context of a global climate emergency that no nation, even one as rich and powerful as the United States, can hope to address consequentially on its own, even if there were—and there is most emphatically not—a domestic consensus to do so. At the same time, international institutions, above all the UN system, have rarely seemed more irrelevant, except perhaps in its humanitarian role, while the post-1945 international order more generally seems to be coming apart. It is all very well to talk in welcoming tones about the new age of multipolarity, but for now, at least, that age seems more likely to usher in a period of anarchy and war than stability, balancing, and peace. U.S. foreign policy will be forced to confront this post-Ukraine, and forced to do so at a time in U.S. history where the country is as profoundly divided about how to interpret its past, how to govern itself in the present, and how to imagine a decent future for itself, as it has been at any time since the 1930s. Unenviable does not even begin to describe it.

Russia and China are a threat to global democracy; [need to strengthen ANUKS to challenge]

Twining & Quirk, July 11, 2022, Daniel Twining is President of the International Republican Institute (IRI), where Patrick Quirk is Senior Director for Strategy, Research, and the Center for Global Impact. Both authors previously served as members of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State, Fighting Back: How Democracies Can Check Authoritarian Aggression, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/fighting-back-how-democracies-can-check-authoritarian-aggression-203467

Last week, President Joe Biden and his fellow G7 leaders pledged $600 billion in public and private funds over the next five years to assist developing countries and counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—a key tool of economic and political influence for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It’s a welcome step but could prove a mere drop in the ocean if it is not folded into a broader campaign to fight back against transnational authoritarianism. The fact is that Xi Jinping and his fellow autocrat Vladimir Putin are on the front foot. From the Solomon Islands to Ukraine, Xi and Putin are using force and varying methods of subversion to co-opt, supplant, or hollow out democratically elected governments to serve their own interests. By equipping repressive leaders with the technology, expertise, and funds to suppress dissent and extend their rule—in exchange for favorable UN votes, access to natural resources, or other concessions—the Kremlin and the CCP are underwriting authoritarian expansion. The challenge Russia and China pose to democracy is decades old. What is different today is that the threat to democracy is now existential. Xi and Putin have paired their standard suite of influence tactics—for example, economic coercion, election interference, and opaque dealmaking—with more expansive and aggressive moves to shape critical domains, from internet freedom to the basic tenets of sovereignty. This is creating an environment that is fundamentally hostile to vital American interests. This threat is not lost on the United States. In a recent speech outlining the new U.S. China policy, U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken said that America “must defend and reform the rules-based international order” in order to realize a future where “universal human rights are respected” and “countries are secure from coercion and aggression.” President Biden has stated the case more pointedly, saying that the United States is in a competition between democracy and autocracy. The administration deserves credit for its pro-democracy statements and initiatives, and for its continued support for foreign assistance programs that strengthen democratic resilience to authoritarian influence. Yet unfortunately, U.S. policy has often not lived up to the administration’s rhetoric. As China hollows out United Nations institutions and gobbles up Pacific Island outposts, and Russia decimates Ukraine, the White House has too often stood by as our adversaries shape the battlefield. And while this week’s pledge from the G7 is a good start, it falls short of what is needed to win this contest of systems: to aggressively underwrite and expand support for democratic institutions and movements, and ensure that emerging components of the international order are grounded in the ideals of freedom. The Biden team knows that it cannot singlehandedly check authoritarian aggression and has done well to rally American allies—from galvanizing NATO against Russia’s invasion to deepening the quadrilateral partnership uniting America, India, Japan, and Australia, and launching the Australia-United Kingdom-United States Partnership (AUKUS). The United States and core allies have affirmed support for a world that is safe for democracy; it’s time to underwrite those intentions with actions that take the strategic initiative to put autocracies on the back foot. Working with D-10 or G-7 allies, the United States should go beyond this week’s proposed assistance efforts and spearhead a campaign to empower democratic movements around the world. This should include moral, legal, and financial assistance to the people on the ground working to advance democracy and under the threat of retribution by authoritarian regimes or their local proxies. Xi and Putin have asserted their right to undermine open societies. The free world must promulgate the right of democratic movements to receive assistance, and fulfill its responsibility to help those seeking to protect or advance democracy in their societies. The free world must also unite within the UN and other multilateral organizations to arrest the ongoing erosion of those institutions by Beijing and Moscow. UN agencies play an important role in setting international standards and norms; yet Chinese representatives lead two of fifteen such bodies (the International Telecommunications Union and the Food and Agriculture Organization) and are principal deputies at UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization; the International Monetary Fund; and the World Bank. To compete, the United States and its allies must mount coordinated campaigns to prevent China from heading other agencies and reclaim those it currently holds, while also exploring alternative groupings that will more effectively serve the needs of a liberal democratic order. The existential threat to democracy from Russia and China is perhaps most severe in the digital domain. The CCP has invested heavily in exporting surveillance technology and backdoor access to networks via the state-owned tech giant Huawei; and both Beijing and Moscow have invested in offensive cyberwarfare capabilities with which to blackmail or assault free societies. The United States must take aggressive steps to ensure a free and open internet based on principles of transparency and openness. This could be accomplished by forging alliances and aligning our regulatory structures with like-minded countries to enable the free flow of information online; developing penalties for countries that build firewalls; and creating incentives for countries to remain open. The United States and its partners can also invest in technologies like satellite internet that deny authoritarians the ability to shut off internet access and preserve the basic right of citizens everywhere to circumvent authoritarian censorship. Big Tech can and should do more on this front, and the United States and other democracies should design incentives to this effect. At minimum, technology companies should provide tools to activists on the front lines pushing for freedom to keep themselves safe from surveillance as well as develop and distribute technologies to access the internet in countries where it is restricted. Powerful tech companies can also do more to keep their platforms operating in repressive societies rather than bowing to government pressure. Our leading geopolitical adversaries face no credible deterrent to undermining democratic movements and elected governments. Such political warfare can be just as harmful to stability and American interests as military incursions, but is yet another area in which America’s actions have not lived up to its rhetoric. How can we be serious about competing with China and Russia if we all but give them a pass in this critical domain? America must start imposing costs to deter and prevent Chinese and Russian interference in foreign political systems and constrain the authoritarian regimes they seek to enable. The United States and its allies should demonstrate their willingness to deploy calibrated, credible economic and military actions in response to verified reports of the Kremlin or CCP political warfare. The United States and its partners should make clear, both publicly and privately, that such incursions will have meaningful consequences. Washington could work with local partners inside Russia and China to expose leadership corruption, delegitimizing rulers who claim a nationalist mandate to conduct authoritarian aggression abroad even as they systematically steal from their own people. Economic sanctions should be introduced earlier and at a more consequential scale to communicate the costs of proceeding with political warfare. Additionally, China’s membership in the World Trade Organization could be reconsidered as punishment for its continued violation of economic norms. On the military side, so-called “gray zone” tactics—including targeted cyber-attacks—could be deployed to raise the costs for authoritarians who otherwise enjoy impunity in assaulting democratic institutions beyond their borders. Biden has said that “we are now finally awakened to the challenge” posed by transnational authoritarianism. Yet the question of whether we are prepared to do what it takes to push back remains unclear. Defending democracy is critical to building a free, secure, and prosperous world. We must now pursue policies that go beyond exalted rhetoric to strengthen and empower fledgling democratic institutions and deter our adversaries from their campaigns of malign foreign influence. It is past time the United States starts playing offense to shape a balance of power that continues to favor freedom.

US is still the global hegemon

Rachman, 7-11, 22, Gideon Rachman is the Chief Foreign Affairs Columnist at the Financial Times., Ukraine Is a Tragedy, But America’s Biggest Threat Lies at Home, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/ukraine-tragedy-america%E2%80%99s-biggest-threat-lies-home-203495

THE INVASION of Ukraine is tragic and dangerous. But it is also a huge geopolitical opportunity for the United States. The dominant geopolitical trend of the twenty-first century has been the steady decline of American hegemony and the erosion of the unipolar world that was briefly created by the end of the Cold War. But Russia’s failures on the battlefield—and the Biden administration’s forceful and effective diplomatic response—present America with a chance to halt and perhaps reverse this trend. Since 2000, a number of events have eaten away at U.S. power and prestige: 9/11, two failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Global Financial Crisis that began on Wall Street, the election of Donald Trump, the reassertion of Russian power, and the inexorable rise of China. The idea that the United States and the West as a whole are in irreversible decline has become a central feature of both Russian and Chinese official discourse. Vladimir Putin liked to proclaim that Western liberalism was obsolete. Xi Jinping regularly proclaims that the East is rising and the West is in decline. Putin’s strongman style of leadership gathered fans around the world in the years before the invasion of Ukraine. His fan club included Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Viktor Orban in Hungary, and Trump, who called Putin a strategic genius just days before his invasion of Ukraine. The fact that Putin’s war has gone so badly should weaken the prestige of Russia and its leader. By contrast, the United States and the EU have demonstrated that the supposedly decadent Western alliance can still be formidable—when it is roused. The continued dominance of the dollar has allowed the United States to effectively cut Russia out of the global financial system. Even Chinese tech companies will be wary of supplying Russia, in case they run into secondary American sanctions. The superiority of Western military technology, supplied to the Ukrainians, has also been demonstrated on the battlefield. All of this sends a useful message—not just to Russia, but also to China. Direct comparisons between the United States and China have in recent years looked encouraging for Beijing—China is now the world’s largest manufacturer and exporter and has the world’s largest navy and foreign reserves. But China, unlike the United States, does not have a network of allies. Measure China against the United States, the EU, Japan, and South Korea, and the contest looks a lot less even. The “West,” it turns out, includes the advanced democracies of Asia. This message has been usefully reinforced by the Ukraine crisis. Unlike the Trump administration, the Biden White House has understood the importance of allies—and has worked hard to keep them onside. America’s central goal over the next few years should be to build on the allied unity demonstrated by the Ukraine crisis. Joint approaches and policies should be created in key areas—such as technological standards, finance, and security in the Asia-Pacific.

Alternative to hegemony is global dominance by other powers such as Russia

Kagan, May/June 2022, ROBERT KAGAN is Stephen and Barbara Friedman Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of the forthcoming book The Ghost at the Feast: America and the Collapse of World Order, 1900–1941, Foreign Affairs, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/ukraine/2022-04-06/russia-ukraine-war-price-hegemony, The Price of Hegemony Can America Learn to Use Its Power?

For the 70-plus years since World War II, the United States has actively worked to keep revisionists at bay. But many Americans hoped that with the end of the Cold War, this task would be finished and that their country could become a “normal” nation with normal—which was to say, limited—global interests. But the global hegemon cannot tiptoe off the stage, as much as it might wish to. It especially cannot retreat when there are still major powers that, because of their history and sense of self, cannot give up old geopolitical ambitions—unless Americans are prepared to live in a world shaped and defined by those ambitions, as it was in the 1930s.

Americans are part of a never-ending power struggle, whether they wish to be or not.

The United States would be better served if it recognized both its position in the world and its true interest in preserving the liberal world order. In the case of Russia, this would have meant doing everything possible to integrate it into the liberal order politically and economically while deterring it from attempting to re-create its regional dominance by military means. The commitment to defend NATO allies was never meant to preclude helping others under attack in Europe, as the United States and its allies did in the case of the Balkans in the 1990s, and the United States and its allies could have resisted military efforts to control or seize land from Georgia and Ukraine. Imagine if the United States and the democratic world had responded in 2008 or 2014 as they have responded to Russia’s latest use of force, when Putin’s military was even weaker than it has proved to be now, even as they kept extending an outstretched hand in case Moscow wanted to grasp it. The United States ought to be following the same policy toward China: make clear that it is prepared to live with a China that seeks to fulfill its ambitions economically, politically, and culturally but that it will respond effectively to any Chinese military action against its neighbors.

It is true that acting firmly in 2008 or 2014 would have meant risking conflict. But Washington is risking conflict now; Russia’s ambitions have created an inherently dangerous situation. It is better for the United States to risk confrontation with belligerent powers when they are in the early stages of ambition and expansion, not after they have already consolidated substantial gains. Russia may possess a fearful nuclear arsenal, but the risk of Moscow using it is not higher now than it would have been in 2008 or 2014, if the West had intervened then. And it has always been extraordinarily small: Putin was never going to obtain his objectives by destroying himself and his country, along with much of the rest of the world. If the United States and its allies—with their combined economic, political, and military power—had collectively resisted Russian expansionism from the beginning, Putin would have found himself constantly unable to invade neighboring countries.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult for democracies to take action to prevent a future crisis. The risks of acting now are always clear and often exaggerated, whereas distant threats are just that: distant and so hard to calculate. It always seems better to hope for the best rather than try to forestall the worst. This common conundrum becomes even more debilitating when Americans and their leaders remain blissfully unconscious of the fact that they are part of a never-ending power struggle, whether they wish to be or not.

But Americans should not lament the role they play in the world. The reason the United States has often found itself entangled in Europe, after all, is because what it offers is genuinely attractive to much of the world—and certainly better when compared with any realistic alternative. If Americans learn anything from Russia’s brutalization of Ukraine, it should be that there really are worse things than U.S. hegemony.

China containment bad: fails; undermines domestic renewal; undermines cooperation on all large global issues; undermines resolution of the Ukraine war

Hussain, 7-11, 22, Senator Mushahid Hussain is Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan’s Defence Committee, a longtime visitor to China, he studied at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service; U.S. China Policy Is Heading Towards Disaster, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/us-china-policy-heading-towards-disaster-203510

In any case, U.S. policies have pushed China and Russia closer together, unlike the Cold War when China was an American ally. One important factor for the U.S. victory over the USSR in the twentieth-century Cold War was the solid support of China. After President Nixon’s historic opening to China fifty years ago, China became a de facto U.S. ally on most global issues where the United States was confronting the Soviet Union, be it Afghanistan or the Soviet-supported Vietnamese invasion and occupation of Cambodia or combating Soviet expansionism in Africa. Given this context, U.S. policymakers need to rethink before they sleepwalk into a new Cold War against an adversary they do not fully understand, in a complex global setting where the United States no longer can lay claim to be “the sole superpower.” Second, in the current global setting, America’s appeal and, indeed, its strength remain in the domain of “soft power,” where it excels and is unmatched. The allure of the United States, the razzle and dazzle of the American “way of life” and its innate dynamism and creativity, serve as a magnet which entices the best and brightest of the world to study, stay, and settle in the United States—seen as a land of opportunity where merit matters. This is still America’s strongest selling point globally, not in cobbling military alliances based on the “shock and awe” of military might, where it has been a constant loser on the battlefields of Asia. Embarking on a quest to contain China, when China still doesn’t threaten core American interests directly, would be a tried, tested, and failed formula, wasting resources as happened in the post-9/11 “War on Terror” when $6.5 trillion were squandered in two decades of futile conflict. Third, in 2022, both Xi and Biden, the leaders of China and the United States, are going through a critical transition in their respective countries. Xi is getting ready to preside over the most important CCP conclave this fall since 1978 when Deng Xiaoping did the massive “course correction” from Maoism to a market economy, politically labeled “Socialism with Chinese characteristics.” For Biden, the midterm elections in November are “make or break,” which will determine whether he will have a political future beyond 2024. Biden needs Xi for an economic bailout that will give the U.S. economy badly needed relief, while Xi is aware that the “great disorder under heaven” can be destabilizing for China, serving to detract China from its post-Covid transition to normalcy after nearly three years of lockdowns and quarantine. Therefore, both leaders need a semblance of cooperative partnership for political stability at home, economic growth, and a lowering of tensions in an otherwise volatile world. Confrontation, containment, or a new cold war would detract from these common objectives. Fourth, as a landmark Harvard study, authored by Prof. Graham Allison, “The Great Hi-Tech Rivalry: China and the United States” indicates: China is already overtaking the United States in high-tech manufacturing. For example, in 2020, China produced 1.5 billion cell phones, 250 million computers, and 25 million automobiles. Putting the Chinese genie of economic growth and technological excellence back into the bottle would be an uphill, if not impossible, task, for the United States. In key areas of innovation, science, and technology, which are going to be determinants of twenty-first-century advancement, China is almost at par or ahead of the United States, including in artificial intelligence, 5G, cloud computing, robotics, and studies in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Finally, and this is the key, on balance, there is greater convergence of Chinese and U.S. interests on key global issues, than divergence. North Korea and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a case in point. Stability and peace in Afghanistan are other areas of congruent interests. A stable Middle East, including close ties with Israel, are fundamental elements of this China-American confluence of interests. In fact, the only issue of discord in U.S.-Israel relations is China’s close economic and technological ties with Israel, including building of the Haifa Port, which the United States labels as a potential “security threat.” Other areas of convergence between the two countries include climate change, counterterrorism cooperation (especially combating religious extremism of groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda), a quest for regional connectivity, and the building up of free trade groupings. Even on that, China has an edge given the incentives offered by the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are not comparable to the U.S. initiative of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which neither provides for market access nor lowering of tariff barriers. RCEP countries provide 30 percent of global industrial output and 30 percent of global trade. China’s pragmatism is evident in delinking trade from politics, as the recent opening of direct shipping lines between the Chinese port of Qingdao and Japan’s Osaka port indicates. Or flexibility on Hong Kong, where Xi personally reassured the international community, during his speech on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Hong Kong handover, that the basic character of Hong Kong as an “open and free economy based on one country, two systems” and the “Common Law” of the island would remain unchanged. In the current context, a key area of potential convergence of Chinese and American interests could be Ukraine. China has not endorsed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because it goes against the grundnorm of Chinese foreign policy, namely, the inviolability of established borders and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. While China has not formally condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China does not condone it either. It is, therefore, no accident that two days after the June 15 Xi-Putin telephone conversation, President Vladimir Putin hinted at China-Russia differences during his revealing statement at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (Russia’s Davos) where he stated that “China has her own interests and these are not the same as Russian interests, but these interests are not against Russia.” In any peaceful settlement of the Ukraine conflict, China can be a key facilitator of the United States because of the relationship that Beijing enjoys with Moscow. More than any other country, it is China that has strategic leverage over Russia. China is naturally perturbed at the destabilization of the European status quo caused by the invasion of Ukraine, which, in turn, has militarized European foreign policy to the extent that a rejuvenated NATO is now taking on a China-focused direction, extending its tentacles to the Asia-Pacific, where China has core interests. In the last ten years, Xi has met Putin thirty-eight times, the maximum number of meetings of Xi with any foreign leader; both have a very close personal rapport and both are members of a “mutual admiration society.” If Putin takes any leader seriously, it is Xi, and Xi too has admired Putin as a “strong and decisive” leader, spearheading Russia’s resurgence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This relationship can be leveraged by the United States to seek an end to the Ukraine war, providing for a face-saving exit for Putin. A long-drawn-out conflict in Ukraine is neither in American or Chinese interests. While the United States has been helped by Putin’s misadventure in Ukraine, the Ukraine war, for the most part, is seen in much of the Global South as primarily a “European War,” driven by a desire to isolate and contain Russia, which itself feels encircled by NATO enlargement. For the first time in twenty-five years, China, India, and Pakistan took a similar position on a global issue, choosing to abstain from voting on Ukraine, like so many others, including Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Even solid American allies like the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been found “sitting on the fence” on Ukraine. Given this context, instead of rushing headlong into confronting and containing China, wisdom gleaned from past experience and contemporary geopolitical realities demand a review and reset in the U.S. approach to China. Some broad understanding on the “rules of the game” must be found so these two global giants can contest and compete without rocking the boat or resorting to a needless confrontation, that neither they nor the world needs or can afford, economically, politically, or militarily.

US not declining and can sustain its global security commitments

Roy, 7-9, 22, Denny Roy is a Senior Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu, U.S. Grand Strategy Should Reject Declinism, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/us-grand-strategy-should-reject-declinism-203433

There is at present no compelling reason for the United States to voluntarily abandon a strategic shaping role in Asia and retrench to Europe and North America.

Officially, China thinks the United States is a paper tiger. Some Americans agree. Michael Lind, professor at the University of Texas at Austin, argues in a July 2 article in The National Interest that “American Triumphalism is back,” revived by the failure of Russia to quickly achieve the apparently original objectives of its invasion of Ukraine. As a corrective, Lind makes a case for American declinism. Worldwide, he says, the United States is “in retreat or in defeat or in stalemate.” China, on the other hand, is winning. Thus, Washington’s grand strategy should settle for America being influential only in Western Europe and North America, Lind writes. The case Lind makes is deeply flawed, and if operationalized would serve U.S. and allied interests badly.

Whether the Russo-Ukrainian War has pushed the Biden administration into “triumphalism” is questionable. Washington has been cautious and worried about provoking Russian escalation. Biden and his senior officials have expressed what could be better described as a grim determination to rally and maintain support from the other NATO members to prevent an outright defeat of Ukraine.

Lind argues that “the United States is staggering from a series of humiliating strategic defeats” around the world. Naturally, this list of disasters relies heavily on the Middle East: the withdrawal from Afghanistan was “embarrassing,” the continued U.S. presence is unpopular in Iraq, Bashar al-Assad remains in power in Syria despite U.S. opposition, and U.S.-backed Arab Springs in Libya and Egypt failed.

These were the “defeats,” however, of a superpower driven by hubris to overstretches that few if any other countries would attempt. In Afghanistan, for example, the U.S. government spent twenty years and $2 trillion, and this without seriously disrupting life for most Americans back home. None of this suggests weakness. These were failures of judgment rather than of military or economic strength. The lesson is not that America is in decline, but rather that Washington should avoid nation-building in the Third World.

The other U.S. “defeats” Lind mentions are failure to dissuade China from pressing its claim to ownership of most of the South China Sea or to stop its persecution of Uyghurs in China. The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) construction of military bases on disputed reefs was a successful gray-zone tactic that the United States declined to go to war to stop. Instead, Washington has relied on military signaling and diplomacy to counter China’s claims. Consistent with the U.S. agenda, Beijing has not gained the assent of rival claimants or the international community to its claims. In another arena of PRC irredentism, the United States has up to now successfully deterred China from a military attack against Taiwan.

Regarding abusive practices by the Chinese government against its own citizens, no foreign country is able to compel Beijing to reverse a policy if this would threaten or shame the ruling Party. The persecution of Uyghurs is such a case; Beijing has committed itself to denying all accusations and doubling down on the policy.

Lind is unimpressed by the Quad, an informal counter-China coordination framework with core members Japan, India, Australia, and the United States. He gives two reasons. First, he says, the Quad failed to inflict “serious consequences” on China for the June 2020 Sino-Indian border skirmish in the Galwan Valley. In fact, India itself has duly retaliated against China. While India reported that twenty of its military personnel died in the clash, the Chinese side may have suffered as many as forty-five fatalities. Furthermore, India subsequently imposed economic punishments on China. In any case, it is unclear how the Galwan Valley incident and its aftermath provides evidence of U.S. decline.
Secondly, Lind says Quad cooperation to oppose China will be impossible given that Japan, Australia, and other U.S. allies are heavily economically dependent on China, and “At some point, China will jerk the leash.” China, however, has already jerked the economic leash, with only limited effect.

Starting in 2020, Australia suffered Chinese bans against several important Australian exports for calling upon the World Health Organization to investigate the origin of the coronavirus. Later that year, Chinese officials demanded that Australia act on fourteen PRC grievances. To date, however, Australia has not met China’s demands.

The Japanese business community sees a close economic relationship with China as crucial to Japan’s continued prosperity. Nevertheless, Japan has steadily moved in recent years toward increasing national defense spending, cooperating more closely with the United States on security issues, and committing to help defend Taiwan in the event of a cross-Strait war, despite repeated warnings from the Chinese government.

Unlike Lind, the Chinese government finds the Quad deeply worrisome.

In addition to “defeats,” Lind sees a lack of U.S. successes as evidence of decline. “Since the fall of Saigon,” he writes, “the only lasting military and geopolitical victories of America and its allies have been in Europe.” The change of government in South Vietnam, which moved the country out of the U.S. bloc, still left the United States as the strategically most influential country in Asia. When you’re already the hegemon, maintaining the status quo is not too bad.

Even so, Lind’s assertion is inaccurate. There have occurred lasting U.S. and allied victories since 1975. South Korea and Taiwan became liberal democracies and more robust supporters of the U.S.-led regional order. Furthermore, with U.S. assistance, South Korea made itself far less vulnerable to a forcible takeover by the North Korean government. Mongolia implemented a democratic system of government in 1990 and moved to permanently closer relations with the United States. Washington has stronger security cooperation with several Southeast Asian countries now than during the 1970s.

China will maintain leverage over the United States, Lind says, because “America’s business and banking elites” will prevent economic de-coupling from China. Total de-coupling is a straw man; both governments are moving toward targeted de-coupling in certain vital sectors, which will make it harder for either to use the economic relationship to effectively coerce the other. In the meantime, however, note that economic interdependence has not resulted in consistent U.S. kowtowing to Beijing. This year, for example, Washington diplomatically boycotted the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, banned the importation of cotton from Xinjiang, and sent a delegation of six senior members of Congress to visit Taiwan.

Lind’s argumunt that China’s economic supremacy will make American strategic pre-eminence untenable is based on a projection of recent trends. But this may be the end of an era rather than the beginning. China’s economy is slowing toward a long-term annual growth rate similar to that of the United States, and China’s people will likely never reach the per capita wealth and productivity of Americans. Xi Jinping’s drives to shrink civil society, make the Chinese Communist Party a stronger presence in Chinese life, and promote state-owned industries at the expense of the private sector undermine China’s ability to compete with the United States in creativity and innovation. An increasingly concerted U.S. effort to avoid helping China take the lead in crucial future technologies will handicap China further.

Ideally, Washington and Beijing can reach an understanding on peaceful coexistence that allows each side to preserve what it considers vital interests. But even if not, there is at present no compelling reason for the United States to voluntarily abandon a strategic shaping role in Asia and retrench to Europe and North America. U.S. friends and allies in the Asia-Pacific still value U.S. engagement, and these partnerships make the United States more secure and prosperous. The rise of a China that is both strong and revisionist raises the costs and risks of America playing this role. But just as the competition gets more intense, China’s ability to compete may be plateauing.

Structural problems prevent China’s hegemony

MICHAEL J. MAZARR is Senior Political Scientist at the RAND Corporation, July/August 2022, Foreign Affairs, What Makes a Power Great The Real Drivers of Rise and Fall, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2022-06-21/what-makes-a-power-great

Yet there are reasons to think China may falter. Opportunity there is widespread but still limited: inequality is growing, the World Economic Forum ranks China 106th out of 153 countries on gender equality, and young people are increasingly anxious about lack of social mobility. On the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators, which measure quality of governance, China continues to lag behind the United States. China has little diversity and shows even less interest in embracing it. Most critically, China is not achieving a healthy balance of these essential characteristics. Its ambition is becoming excessive and self-defeating; its proud national identity could curdle into a xenophobic and exclusionary one that limits learning from abroad. The Chinese state is also becoming hyperactive, seeking to dominate all areas of social and economic life, choking off policy innovation and adaption, and imposing rigid orthodoxies that stifle free inquiry and innovation. These trends, along with other well-known challenges—including a rapidly aging population and burgeoning debt—should be red flags for China.

Russia and China will not accept the rules-based global order

Daalder & Lindsay, July/August 2022, IVO H. DAALDER is President of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and served as U.S. Ambassador to NATO from 2009 to 2013; JAMES M. LINDSAY is Senior Vice President and Director of Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Affairs, Last Best Hope: The West’s Final Chance to Build a Better World Order, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2022-06-21/last-best-hope-better-world-order-west

Concern about deepening divisions glosses over a critical point: Western democracies are already locked in a struggle with authoritarian governments over whose values will guide the world order. Neither China nor Russia is looking to improve existing international arrangements. Both are revisionist powers contesting the norms and institutions of the postwar order. They wish to return to an era of great-power politics in which they would be free to dominate their neighbors. Western democracies have been reluctant to recognize the challenges both countries pose, hoping that engagement would persuade Beijing and Moscow to work with rather than against them. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with China’s all-but-formal endorsement, has made clear that the Chinese-Russian partnership is headed toward confrontation over everything the West—and the rules-based order—stands for.

Russia will never accept the liberal world order

Remchukov, 7-6, 22, What Vladimir Putin Is Really Thinking, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/what-vladimir-putin-really-thinking-203422?page=0%2C1

Putin does not recognize the familiar, but legally vague concept of the “rules-based order.” He says that Russia does not understand these rules, did not participate in the development of these rules and will not follow them. He is convinced that the Yalta-Potsdam peace is over thanks to perpetual violations of international law and the UN Charter by Western countries. He cites the bombing of Belgrade, Iraq, Libya, and Kosovo as examples.

Ukraine war has rebutted US global leadership and the US has re-established deterrent credibility

Kimmage, 7-5, 22, Michael C. Kimmage is a professor and Department Chair of History at Catholic University of America, A Post-War Stand-Off Between Russia and the West Is Inevitable, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/post-war-stand-between-russia-and-west-inevitable-203387

By responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as it has, the Biden administration has already shown its capacity for effective diplomacy. It may not rise to the level of the institution-building President Harry S. Truman pioneered in the late 1940s, often considered the gold standard of American diplomacy. But the coordination of countries within and outside of Europe, the construction of an ambitious sanctions regime against Russia, and the rapid provision of military assistance to Ukraine have been extraordinary—and it is obviously happening beneath the umbrella of American leadership. China has appeared lackluster and confused in relation to Russia’s war. It is a true partner neither to Russia nor Ukraine; it has no vision for the war or for the postwar world. By contrast, the United States is projecting a formidable degree of energy and purpose. Washington has shown that it can guarantee regional security in Europe, though not, of course, for all of Ukraine. This will leave the United States in its traditional post-1945 position in Europe as the focal point of European security. It will also make the United States a plausible contender for a similar position in Asia. “Credibility” is a mysterious property in international relations. It lies in the eye of the beholder. When the war in Ukraine is over, U.S. credibility will loom quite a bit larger in the eyes of many beholders.

World is now multipolar

Emma Ashford is a Resident Senior Fellow with the New American Engagement Initiative in the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, July 4, 2022, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/ukraine-and-return-multipolar-world-203276, Ukraine and the Return of the Multipolar World

But nothing could be more mistaken. A sphere of influence is not a normative concept, nor something a state cedes to another out of courtesy or pity. It is instead a simple fact: the place where one great power is unwilling or unable to commit the necessary resources to force another state to submit. In that regard, Ukraine is itself not a repudiation of the idea of spheres of influence, but rather a clear example of how they work in practice. Ukraine is both a clear indicator of the limits of America’s global sphere of influence in the post-Cold War period, and a demonstration of the extent to which Russia is able to defend what it sees as its own regional sphere. The war in Ukraine thus does not mark a continuation of the unipolar moment, but instead, a dividing line between the period when the United States saw the whole world as its sphere of influence, and a new, more multipolar world in which U.S. power is constrained and limited.

 

To put it another way: the war in Ukraine has demonstrated three things about the shifting balance of global power. First, while America may still claim a global sphere of influence, it is not willing in practice to risk a nuclear war with Russia to protect Ukraine. American arms, intelligence, and finance have undoubtedly served to tip the balance in the conflict, but it will not be fought by American troops. Second, spheres of influence are rarely uncontested, and Russia has thus far proven incapable of imposing its will on Ukraine, failing to achieve both its primary and secondary military goals in this war. As such, the boundaries of a potential Russian sphere of influence may in practice be far smaller than assumed prior to February 24. They may be limited to little more than Russia’s own borders.

 

Third, while much of the coverage of the war in Ukraine has been framed in this bipolar way—presenting the conflict as a struggle between Russia and the West—the response to the war has been far less clear-cut. Outside of Europe, most states have taken a more nuanced approach to the crisis.

 

joined UN votes condemning Russia but have not joined sanctions. India has refused to take sides, a decision rooted in its partial dependence on Russian military exports, and has benefitted from cut-rate Russian oil exports. The Gulf States have for the most part carefully cultivated their neutrality, refusing to increase oil production or even to call the conflict a war. Meanwhile, Beijing has pursued cautious support of Moscow but has resisted any deeper political or economic involvement.

 

None of this suggests either that we are headed back into the post-Cold War unipolar moment, or that we are headed for a new Cold War-style showdown with Russia, or even with both Russia and China. Instead, it suggests that the world is increasingly fracturing into a more complex and multipolar environment, one in which America’s long-running foreign policy adventurism and overreach are liable to leave it overextended. For all the triumphalism of the Washington foreign policy narrative on Ukraine, it would be foolish for U.S. policymakers to assume that this war presents either a vindication of the liberal order or a repudiation of power politics and spheres of influence. Instead, it suggests that they must learn to navigate a world that is not divided into black and white, but rather, into many shades of gray.

US global leadership and credibility have collapsed

Michael Lind, 7-2, 22, a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, a columnist for Tablet, and a fellow at New America. He is the author of The New Class War (2020) and The American Way of Strategy (2006), American Grand Strategy: Disguising Decline, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/american-grand-strategy-disguising-decline-203305

The United States is in retreat, defeat, or stalemate everywhere, whether in the military arena or in the realm of trade and industrial production.

AMERICAN TRIUMPHALISM is back. The difficulties encountered by Vladimir Putin’s regime in its invasion of Ukraine are being used to revive Cold War rhetoric about American leadership, the struggle for global democracy, and Western unity. America as the leader of the Free World is once more in the saddle!

Unfortunately, it is far from clear that Putin will actually lose the war. If, as a result of a negotiated compromise or prolonged stalemate, much of Ukraine remains indefinitely under Russian occupation, then in spite of the costs Putin will have succeeded in territorial revanchism in Ukraine—in addition to having annexed Crimea and successfully gone to war to keep Georgia out of NATO. The possible admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO would be a symbolic insult to Moscow, but Russia was not going to invade either country anyway.

On a global level, the U.S. campaign to get other nations to sanction Russia to punish it for invading Ukraine has been a flop. A map of the countries that have sanctioned Russia includes the United States and Canada, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. Most countries in the rest of the world, including India, Mexico, and Brazil, along with most nations in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa have refused to go along. In Cold War II, the nonaligned bloc is back.

While Congress votes to deliver arms to bleed Russia in a proxy war in Ukraine, everywhere else in the world the United States is staggering from a series of humiliating strategic defeats. After two decades of fighting in Afghanistan, Washington abruptly abandoned it to the Taliban in a bug-out even more chaotic and embarrassing than the fall of South Vietnam. In post-Saddam Iraq, the remaining U.S. presence is opposed by many Iraqis, and the Iraqi parliament recently passed a law punishing the normalization of ties with Israel with death or life imprisonment. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad has survived Washington’s war to depose him. The overthrow of Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya by the United States and NATO has produced chaos and disintegration. Remember Tahrir Square? The military is back in charge in Egypt. So much for George W. Bush’s global democratic revolution and Barack Obama’s Arab Spring.

America’s major great-power adversary is China. News that the United States is running short of Javelin and Stinger missiles to resupply Ukraine may confirm those in Beijing who think America is a paper tiger.

China’s territorial revanchism, like Russia’s, is succeeding. China will never give up the islands in the South China Sea it has successfully fortified, no matter how many freedom of navigation operations the U.S. Navy undertakes. Nor will it abandon the brutal, coercive Sinicization of the Uighurs.

We are supposed to believe that China can be contained by the Quad—the United States, Japan, Australia, and India. But China has suffered no serious consequences from beating and killing Indian soldiers along the Sino-Indian border. And China is the largest single trading partner of both Australia and Japan. These U.S. allies see no contradiction between deepening their integration with China and engaging in anti-Chinese military planning with Washington. At some point, China will jerk the leash.

For that matter, China is the top supplier of imports to the United States, and the U.S. trade imbalance with China has worsened in the last few years. During the first Cold War, the United States and its allies imposed across-the-board embargoes on the Soviet Union. But America’s business and banking elites, like those of its allies, oppose any decoupling of the economies of China and the West. The few measures of anti-Chinese economic warfare—Trump’s tariffs, the incentives in the CHIPS Act to build more chip foundries in the United States—are so feeble that they hardly affect the deepening economic dependence of the United States and its allies on Chinese manufacturing. And even these ineffectual attempts to rebuild U.S. manufacturing may be abandoned as a result of lobbying by Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Meanwhile, China is pushing the United States and its allies out of one global market after another. In 2010, China surpassed America as the world’s leading manufacturer. In 2021, China surpassed South Korea as the world’s leading shipbuilder. A single Chinese company, DJI, makes 70 percent of the world’s civilian drones. One-third of global industrial robots are made in China, which is also the world’s largest market for them. It is probably only a matter of time before China challenges the United States, Europe, and Japan in aerospace and automobiles as well.

Wherever we look, then, we see the United States in retreat or in defeat or in stalemate, whether in the military arena or in the realm of trade and industrial production. Since the fall of Saigon, with the exception of military victories in Iraq and Libya that led to chaos, the only lasting military and geopolitical victories of America and its allies have been in Europe. One was the bloodless liberation of Eastern Europe from the Red Army and the incorporation of much of it into NATO. Another was the defeat of Serbia in the war of the Yugoslav succession. Unable to resist Chinese salami tactics in the South China Sea, and unable to convert short-term military victories into lasting diplomatic victories in the Middle East and North Africa, U.S. foreign policy has only had successes in Europe.

I have been told that Germans have a proverb about working in an office hierarchy: “Bow in front, kick behind.” This is a good description of America’s actual global strategy for disguising its accelerating decline. While appeasing a powerful, rising China in practice, the United States picks fights with weak countries—Serbia, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and now a much-diminished Rump Russia. The United States is a declining force in global commerce and global diplomacy, but in its remaining North American and European spheres of influence, it can still play the hegemon and relive the glories of the past.

China threatens hegemonic dominance in Asia

Colby, 7-1, 22, Elbridge Colby is Co-founder and Principal of the Marathon Initiative. He led the development of the 2018 National Defense Strategy as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development from 2017–2018. He is the author of The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict, China, Not Russia, Still Poses the Greatest Challenge to U.S. Security, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/china-not-russia-still-poses-greatest-challenge-us-security-203228

Preventing China from establishing this hegemony over Asia must be the priority of U.S. foreign policy—even in the face of what is happening in Europe.

AMERICAN FOREIGN policy after—indeed, during—the Russo-Ukrainian War should promptly head to the world’s most decisive region: Asia. This will require that American foreign and defense policy genuinely put Asia first—in our military investments, in our allocation of political capital and resources, and in our leaders’ attention.

Nothing that has happened since Russia’s abominable invasion of Ukraine has changed a set of facts: Asia is the world’s largest market area, and it is growing in global share. Located in the middle of Asia is China which, alongside the United States, is one of the world’s two superpowers. China’s behavior has become increasingly aggressive and domineering and appears oriented toward establishing Beijing’s hegemony over Asia. If Beijing achieves this goal, the resulting consequences for American life will be dire.

Preventing China from establishing this hegemony over Asia must therefore be the priority of U.S. foreign policy—even in the face of what is happening in Europe. The simple fact is that Asia is more important than Europe, and China is a much greater threat than Russia. By way of comparison, Asia’s economy is roughly twice as large as Europe’s today—but within twenty years it will likely be multiple times greater. China, in the meantime, has a GDP roughly an order of magnitude larger than Russia’s.

If current trends continue, China appears on a trajectory to achieve its hegemonic ambitions. Beijing has been building a military distinctly not limited to territorial defense. Rather, it will be capable of enabling Beijing’s pursuit of much larger and ambitious goals—first by ingesting Taiwan, but not ending there. Indeed, amidst the furor over the war in Ukraine, Beijing announced yet again that it would increase its defense spending by 7 percent this year. Meanwhile, despite much talk, the United States has neglected its military position in Asia, while many of its allies—especially Japan and Taiwan—have been laggard in maintaining their defenses. As a result, the military balance in Asia has continued to shift markedly against the United States and our allies. In blunt terms, we are now rapidly approaching, if not already in, the window of opportunity where China might well decide to attack Taiwan—and we might lose.

Avoiding this outcome must be the top, overriding priority for U.S. policy. This does not mean Europe is unimportant or that we should neglect or abandon it. We should actively support Ukraine with weapons and other forms of support while remaining firmly committed to NATO, albeit with our contributions being more focused and narrow in scale. But it does mean Asia must be our priority, and genuinely so, not just rhetorically as has so often been the case in the past.

Because of these factors, shifting our focus to Asia would make sense regardless of how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fared. But, if anything, the war in Ukraine and the reaction to it has made it even more palatable for the United States to turn to Asia. Moscow, while still menacing and dangerous, has vividly demonstrated that its power is less formidable than many of us had feared. Russia is very likely to try to recover its strength, but the losses of war and the impact of sanctions are likely to make that process slow and difficult. At the same time, Europe has stood up, announcing major increases in defense spending, supporting Ukraine’s own self-defense, and demonstrating an unprecedented degree of cohesion in applying sanctions and other forms of pressure on Russia.

The result is that Moscow appears less of a threat than many of us had supposed, while Europeans are doing more to shoulder their own defense. If anything, this should make the United States more, not less, ready to focus on Asia. Indeed, in these circumstances, it is actually hard to understand the logic of increasing America’s focus on Europe. Why would we double down in Europe at the expense of Asia when there is less of a threat from Russia and more European self-help—all while the danger in the primary theater only increases?

Yet many in the foreign policy and political elite seem to view the Russo-Ukrainian War as an opportunity precisely to double down in Europe. Even more, for some, it is a chance to try to turn the foreign policy clock back to the globe-spanning liberal imperialism of two decades ago.

Washington must resist this temptation like the plague. The breathtakingly hubristic foreign policies of the 2000s were unwise even in the period of unipolarity, as we have found to our chagrin. As American leaders sermonized on an end to evil, China rose at our expense; our military expeditions in the Middle East ended in frustration, when not failure; and we lost our military edge and many of our economic advantages. But such policies would be even more extraordinarily ill-advised when we are now locked in a strategic rivalry with a superpower China that is far more powerful than the USSR, Germany, or Japan ever were. We simply do not have the preponderance of power to waste our resources anymore.

Time, then, to focus on the region and the contest that really matters: the effort to deny China’s dominance of Asia. We are already well behind in that struggle, and every day we neglect to increase our focus further increases the chances of crisis, war, and defeat—with grievous consequences for all Americans.

US global influence waning and it’s benefitting China

Heere, 6-30, 22, Paul Heer is a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for the National Interest and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He served as National Intelligence Officer for East Asia from 2007 to 2015. He is the author of Mr. X and the Pacific: George F. Kennan and American Policy in East Asia (2018), America Must Beware Its Foreign Policy Blind Spots, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/america-must-beware-its-foreign-policy-blind-spots-203229

Moreover, many countries are highly ambivalent about the Biden administration’s emphasis on a global struggle against authoritarianism, and its characterization of the war in Ukraine as a front line in that contest. Perhaps most importantly, many countries—including U.S. allies both inside and outside Europe—remain uncertain about the reliability and credibility of American leadership despite the transition from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. In short, the world is not necessarily ready or eager to bandwagon with Washington’s approach to dealing with Russia or with other global issues, or to embrace its preferred version of the “rules-based order.” China, meanwhile, is seizing every opportunity to capitalize on this international ambivalence about the United States and to score points against Washington in the competition for global influence—despite Beijing’s own discomfort with the nature and extent of Putin’s assault on Ukraine.

Roe overturn guts US foreign policy credibility

Jen Kirby, 6-30, 22, Why America’s allies are worried about the end of Roe, https://www.vox.com/23186751/roe-supreme-court-europe-world-reaction

The United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade just as President Joe Biden was preparing to leave for Europe for meetings with America’s closest allies, first at the Group of Seven and then at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit. A president’s foreign trip is sometimes a respite from domestic turmoil, but the news followed Biden abroad. World leaders talked about it. They tweeted about it. The European press wrote about it. Some people protested in solidarity, in places like Paris. But the Supreme Court’s overturning of a 50-year precedent establishing a constitutional right to an abortion would have been a jolt, globally, no matter the timing. It collided with a question that has percolated with particular ferocity since the Trump administration, which is something like: Who is America, now? People are waking up to the realization that our democracy is nowhere near as expansive, is nowhere near as nimble, as perhaps they thought [it] to be when it comes to accommodating these new challenges that we’re facing,” said Omar Guillermo Encarnación, professor of political studies at Bard University. Not all allies and partners likely have the same interpretation of the merits of the Supreme Court ruling; the news, for example, didn’t seem to resonate as strongly in South Korea, according to Politico’s Alex Ward. But at least across much of Western Europe, where majorities are pro-abortion rights, leaders have largely framed this as a step backward for women’s rights and human rights. That puts the US on an entirely different course from many of its closest allies, and may further weaken the US’s leadership on human rights. Beyond the substance of the opinion, the decision rattles because of what it means for America, and its political divisions, and how that might translate into how reliable and stable America and its institutions remain. The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overruling Roe is about to open up another huge chasm in American political life, said Sarah Croco, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. “I think this is just one more huge signal: The country’s not predictable anymore,” Croco said. Of course, the Supreme Court’s decision is a domestic matter, and it won’t have the same effect as, say, pulling out of a major multilateral treaty. Stephen Wertheim, a senior fellow at the American Statecraft program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. said it was unlikely to have a major effect on allies and partners, but coming after other examples, like President Donald Trump and January 6, “it may contribute to a sense that the United States seems like a less familiar place, particularly to Europeans. Less aspirational, and so more distant.” Biden promised allies at the start of his presidency that “America is back.” On the global stage, he has tried, from rejoining global institutions to the deep consultations with allies around the Ukraine war. But in Europe, especially, no one is quite sure how long that will last. The Supreme Court didn’t create that doubt. It’s just another reminder that such doubts aren’t going away. “Is that something which, in and of itself, makes people kind of question the relationship with the US?” said David O’Sullivan, who served as EU ambassador to the United States from 2014 to 2019. “No, but in terms of the direction of travel, I think it’s yet another worrying indication of the deep divisions in American society.” Roe may damage America’s soft power On the same day the Supreme Court overruled Roe, Germany repealed a Nazi-era law that banned abortion providers from advertising or providing information about their services. It is part of a larger pattern: In the past 25 years, nearly 60 countries have expanded access to reproductive rights, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. The United States is just one of four countries — Poland, Nicaragua, and El Salvador being the others — that has rolled back rights since 1994. That group isn’t exactly the cohort of democracies the United States often sees itself as the leader of. Though, to be clear, the US has always swung back and forth when it comes to promoting reproductive rights as part of its foreign policy; Republicans withdraw and Democrats restore funding for certain programs. The Roe decision is in some ways more visible than, say, the funding for a UN agency. As experts said, gender and women’s rights have long been a rallying point for US foreign policy. The Dobbs decision isn’t the first thing to expose the gaps between America’s ideals and its realities, but it could make it harder for the US to take that stand. “It’s taking this huge step back, and so the soft power of the US is damaged in several ways,” said Michaela Mattes, an associate professor in international relations at the University of California Berkeley. And Supreme Court rulings can matter internationally. Brown v. Board of Education — the landmark anti-segregation case — also helped the United States show the world it was trying to live up to post-World War II ideals of human rights, and it helped in the larger ideological battles of the Cold War between democracy and communism. As former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in 2004: “To sum up, Brown both reflected and propelled the development of human rights protection internationally. It was decided with the horrors of the Holocaust in full view, and with the repression of Communist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe a current reality.” Encarnación pointed out that, when it comes to civil liberties, “it’s been a long, long, long, long, long, long, long time since the Supreme Court led the world” in policy or laws. (Same-sex marriage, maybe the last big progressive ruling, was already legal in about 20 countries when that ruling came down in 2015.) The question is whether Dobbs will have influence, but in an entirely different direction — either further damaging the US’s ability to advocate for human rights, or being used to justify rollbacks to women and human rights in other places. “This is something that we saw with Brown v. Board of [Education] — how a domestic federal ruling had global dimensions,” said Joyce Mao, associate professor of history at Middlebury University. “The overturning of Roe may have a similar cultural, political, and diplomatic importance that is going to absolutely influence the way in which potential allies and existing allies view American democracy.” America, the unpredictable Allies and others have gotten pretty concerned and disillusioned with the United States before, as during the Iraq War. But then came Donald Trump, who did things like threaten to pull out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, actually pull out of the Iran deal negotiated with European partners, and start trade wars with allies. Also, Twitter wars. Things that seemed like bipartisan constants in American foreign policy were no longer. But the Trump era also exposed how deeply divided and polarized America was, culminating in January 6, 2021, and the election fraud lies, which have only hooked themselves deeper into American political life. Biden is president, and right now, relations with allies and partners are copacetic, even invigorated. But that no longer feels permanent. The Supreme Court’s decision fits into this larger pattern of unpredictability, which makes it hard to know where America will be in the next months, a few years, or a decade. As experts said, US institutions, including internationally, were often seen as creating this framework of stability — yes, different political parties won, there were tensions between branches, but pragmatism tended to prevail. “That pragmatism in terms of execution has been lost — and Roe and Dobbs illustrated that to the nth degree,” Mao said. As Mattes said, now, the Supreme Court decision reaffirmed that the institutions once seen as stabilizing factors are not necessarily so. Instead, who has control over the institutions matters; and they may no longer have the same constraints. And predictability is what you want when dealing with other countries, and it’s what you need when it comes to allies and close partners. Dobbs probably isn’t going to directly alter the US’s relationship with its allies in the immediate term, and it will land differently in different parts of the world. But among European partners, especially, it is likely to raise the ever-present worry that the Biden administration is less a restoration than a respite.

Western democracy and hegemony have collapsed

Feffer, June 29, 2022, John Feffer, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of the dystopian novel Splinterlands and the director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. Frostlands, a Dispatch Books original, is volume two of his Splinterlands series, and the final novel in the trilogy, Songlands, has only recently been published. He has also written Right Across the World: The Global Networking of the Far-Right and the Left Response, CHINA WILL DECIDE THE OUTCOME OF RUSSIA VERSUS THE WEST, https://fpif.org/china-will-decide-the-outcome-of-russia-v-the-west/

Admittedly, the continued military dominance of the United States and its NATO allies would seem to refute all rumors of the decline of the West. In reality, though, the West’s military record hasn’t been much better than Russia’s performance in Ukraine. In August 2021, the United States ignominiously withdrew its forces from its 20-year war in Afghanistan as the Taliban surged back to power. This year, France pulled its troops from Mali after a decade-long failure to defeat al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants. Western-backed forces failed to dislodge Bashar al-Assad in Syria or prevent a horrific civil war from enveloping Libya. All the trillions of dollars devoted to achieving “full-spectrum dominance” couldn’t produce enduring success in Iraq or Somalia, wipe out terrorist factions throughout Africa, or effect regime change in North Korea or Cuba. Despite its overwhelming military and economic power, the West no longer seems to be on the same upward trajectory as after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Back in the 1990s, Eastern Europe and even parts of the former Soviet Union signed up to join NATO and the European Union. Russia under Boris Yeltsin inked a partnership agreement with NATO, while both Japan and South Korea were interested in pursuing a proposed global version of that security alliance. Today, however, the West seems increasingly irrelevant outside its own borders. China, love it or hate it, has rebuilt its Sinocentric sphere in Asia, while becoming the most important economic player in the Global South. It’s even established alternative global financial institutions that, one day, might replace the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. Turkey has turned its back on the European Union (and vice versa) and Latin America is heading in a more independent direction. Consider it a sign of the times that, when the call went out to sanction Russia, most of the non-Western world ignored it. The foundations of the West are indeed increasingly unstable. Democracy is no longer, as scholar Francis Fukuyama imagined it in the late 1980s, the inevitable trajectory of world history. The global economy, while spawning inexcusable inequality and being upended by the recent pandemic, is exhausting the resource base of the planet. Both right-wing extremism and garden-variety nationalism are eroding the freedoms that safeguard liberal society. It’s no surprise, then, that Putin believes a divided West will ultimately accede to his aggression.

US unipolarity is over

Caldwell, 6-27, 22, Dan Caldwell is the vice president of foreign policy for Stand Together. He is a former congressional staffer and a Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq War, America in a World of Limits, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/america-world-limits-203217

In truth, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine does not change the fact that America’s global power position is constrained. The heady days of unipolarity are over. Policymakers who fail to acknowledge those realities when dealing with the fallout from the war in Ukraine will only make America less safe and threaten the conditions of our prosperity.

To be sure, the United States retains a powerful economy and military. But unlike in the early 1990s, the United States faces real global competitors—in particular China—along with domestic challenges that will require better prioritization and trade-offs.

While far from guaranteed, there is a reasonable chance that China’s total economic power will overtake the United States within the next few years. China’s economy now comprises 18 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (in terms of purchasing power parity) compared to 16 percent for the United States. Additionally, future American economic growth is threatened by record levels of inflation and a $30 trillion national debt.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military has spent the last two decades bogged down in a handful of endless wars across the Middle East and Africa. The price of these conflicts has been steep. Thousands of American lives were lost and more than $8 trillion squandered. These conflicts also wore down important strategic assets like our B-1 bomber fleet, incentivized investments in platforms like the Littoral Combat Ship that are not suited for combat against near-peer adversaries, and forced cuts to the U.S. Air Force and Navy to build an Army designed to fight counterinsurgency conflicts in strategic backwaters.

Moreover, these wars were unpopular—both at home and abroad—and their pernicious effects have eroded the power of American leadership. The challenges facing America have not gone unnoticed. Many countries have refused to join the American and European-led sanctions regime imposed on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. These nations are clearly hedging their bets in a world where American dominance is less certain. This even includes countries that have benefitted from the American security umbrella. Take the United Arab Emirates for example, which has enabled Russian oligarchs to escape targeted sanctions on their assets. The Emirati crown prince doubled down on this bad behavior when he refused a call from President Joe Biden to discuss energy market distress.

The United States should not tolerate a delusional foeign policymaking elite that ignores real constraints on American power. Instead, our leaders should adopt a sober and realistic approach to the current state of the world that recognizes our limits so that America can remain safe and prosperous.

Reducing hegemonic power increased aggression by China and Russia

McMaster & Scheinman, 6-17, 22, H. R. McMaster is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, a former U.S. national security advisor during the Trump administration, and the author of Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World; Gabriel Scheinmann is the executive director of the Alexander Hamilton Society, U.S. Restraint Has Created an Unstable and Dangerous World, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/06/17/us-miliitary-strategy-geopolitics-restraint-russia-china-ukraine-war/

However, restraint was not reciprocated. As the United States reduced its defense spending to the lowest share of GDP since 1940, Russia and China embarked on the largest military modernization and expansion programs their countries had seen in generations. They bullied their neighbors (or in Russia’s case, attacked and occupied them), corroded the institutions they joined, and sought to eliminate their citizens’ liberties. U.S. restraint was interpreted as weakness. Ignoring these menaces has now led the West to the most dangerous precipice since the depths of the Cold War.

Even before the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, Russian and Chinese militarism and belligerence were evident. In June of that year, Chinese tanks put down peaceful protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, killing thousands of people. In late 1995 and early 1996, Beijing tried to intimidate Taiwan in the run-up to its first democratic election, firing missiles into Taiwanese territorial waters. In April 2001, a Chinese fighter jet rammed a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace, forcing the naval airmen into an emergency landing in China, where they were detained for 10 days. Moscow engaged in two brutal wars against Chechnya and launched an assassination campaign against political opponents that continues to this day. In 2004, the Kremlin nearly killed then-Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko in an attempt to secure victory for its preferred candidate. In 2006, a Russian agent poisoned and killed Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy who had defected, and Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative journalist, was assassinated for opposing Putin’s wars. From the killing of Boris Nemtsov, a liberal critic of Putin, in 2015 to the poisoning and incarceration of dissident Alexey Navalny in 2020 to the most recent imprisonment of Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, Putin and his thugs have worked tirelessly to extinguish any criticism of, let alone challenge to, his iron rule.

Russia and China were emboldened, in part, because the United States undertook the greatest military drawdown since the collapse of the British empire.

Washington still did not waver from its predisposition toward restraint. Even after Putin made plain his goal of undermining the United States and the West at the 2007 Munich Security Conference, the U.S. military drawdown from Europe and Asia continued. The United States welcomed Russia into the G-7 in 1998, turning it into the G-8. China and Russia became part of the G-20 in 1999 and the World Trade Organization in 2001 and 2012, respectively. Putin’s 2008 invasion of Georgia was even rewarded with a positive “reset” of relations. The 2010 U.S. National Security Strategy called for a “stable, substantive, multidimensional relationship with Russia, based on mutual interests” and sought “Russia’s cooperation to act as a responsible partner in Europe and Asia.” Similarly, even as Chinese ships began clashing with those of their neighbors, even as China built and militarized 27 artificial islands and other outposts in the South China Sea, and even as Beijing claimed sovereignty over the sea and established air and sea superiority in an area where one-third of global trade passes, Washington remained withdrawn. The 2015 U.S. National Security Strategy “welcome[d] the rise of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous China” and sought “to develop a constructive relationship with China that delivers benefits for our two peoples and promotes security and prosperity in Asia and around the world.”

Instead, the two autocracies’ belligerence has only expanded. In 2014, Russia invaded, occupied, and annexed parts of Ukraine, initiating a long war it has now expanded. The following year, Russian troops propped up the murderous dictatorship of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, and soon thereafter, Putin sent his private mercenary army, the Wagner Group, into Libya. In 2016, Russia interfered in elections in Europe and the United States, exploiting domestic political divisions to sow discord and mistrust in the democratic process. Not to be outdone, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a genocide of its own citizens, imprisoned 1.8 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in concentration camps and forcing them to undergo compulsory sterilization, forced labor, medical experiments, mass rape, torture, renunciation of their religious beliefs in favor of the Communist Party, cutting and selling of their hair, and organ harvesting. In 2020, Beijing cracked down in Hong Kong in direct contravention of the “one country, two systems” policy it had committed to by international treaty. Chinese soldiers also attacked Indian troops across their disputed border, initiating skirmishes leading to several dozen deaths. As if that was not enough, Beijing’s deceit, dishonesty, and dissimulation about the nature and origin of COVID-19 helped transform a local and possibly containable outbreak into a horrific global pandemic that has cost more than 15 million lives so far.

Russia and China were emboldened, in part, because the United States undertook the greatest drawdown of military power since the collapse of the British empire. In 1990, the U.S. military had about 266,000 service members stationed in Europe; by the end of 2021, it was only about 65,000 service members. In 1989, the U.S. Army had 5,000 tanks permanently stationed in West Germany alone; by 2014, there were zero on the entire continent. In 1990, the United States had 5,000 nuclear bombs forward deployed in Western Europe; today, it has around 150 nuclear bombs. Until the 2014 start of Russia’s war in Ukraine and despite NATO enlargement, not a single U.S. service member was permanently stationed farther east than during the Cold War. In Asia, where the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has more than 2 million ground force personnel and the Chinese navy is now the largest in the world, the United States’ active-duty Army has been cut by one-third since 1990. The U.S. Navy has 40 percent fewer sailors in Asia and will soon have only half the number of active warships it had stationed there in 1990. In 2019, China conducted more ballistic missile tests than the rest of the world combined. Recent reports show that China is expected to quadruple the size of its nuclear arsenal by decade’s end.

The policy of restraint continues to limit the U.S. defense budget. At the close of the century, China and Russia together spent 13 percent of what the United States spends on defense. Today, that number is 67 percent. Whereas U.S. defense spending fluctuated between 4.5 percent and 11.3 percent of GDP during the Cold War, Biden’s budget request for 2022 would have put defense spending at less than 3 percent of GDP—the lowest level since 1940, when Washington was still trying its best to stay out of international affairs. And while the White House’s recently released 2023 budget request contains a small nominal increase, rampant inflation makes it another de facto cut. By comparison, the Chinese defense budget—which is chronically understated by the CCP and does not include, for example, what local authorities spend on military bases or investments in research and development—grew 7.1 percent in 2021. And lest you be impressed by the still-ample size of U.S. spending, keep in mind that Washington spreads its military thinly, whereas Russia and China have a laser-like focus on dominating their neighbors and regions. U.S. armed forces are not only too small to deter or respond effectively to aggression, but the services have also incurred significant deferred modernization due to inadequate and unpredictable defense budgets as well as the U.S. Defense Department’s dysfunctional acquisition and procurement system. The United States is weaker, less secure, and less prepared to fight and win than at any time since the beginning of the Korean War.

Consequently, Putin launching the largest war in Europe since World War II should not have come as a surprise. For over three decades, Moscow and Beijing have eroded, flouted, mocked, and assaulted the order the United States and its allies built. Restraint encouraged that agenda as the United States and its allies dismantled the ramparts that had been vital to preserving peace and protecting the sovereignty of nations on the peripheries of two revanchist powers. And the drawdown continues—even as Russia continues its brutal invasion and China lays claim to Taiwan and the South China Sea. In its new national defense strategy, the Biden administration uses the term “integrated deterrence” to create the illusion that better coordinated policies can be substitute for modernized, ready, forward-positioned forces capable of operating at a sufficient scale to deter conflict and, should that deterrence fail, fight and win.

The United States must end its unilateral restraint vis-à-vis Russia and China and be realistic about the nature of the adversaries it faces. First, the United States must rearm, and the defense budget must increase. It must pay for new capabilities that counter and exceed those China and Russia have invested in. The Joint Forces must be substantially bigger to deter Russian and Chinese aggression as well as be able to respond to multiple, simultaneous contingencies. In today’s dollars, achieving even the Cold War-era floor of spending 4.5 percent of GDP on defense would mean a $1.2 trillion budget. Second, the United States must end its diplomatic restraint. Where it can, it should counter Beijing’s and Moscow’s efforts to subvert and co-opt international institutions and turn them against their purpose. If some of those institutions are beyond rescue, the United States and likeminded partners should form new groupings to advance the originally intended values and principles. In these cases, new institutions should prove more resilient and effective than the current ones plagued by discord and corruption. The Biden administration must stop describing Russia and China as partners in arresting nuclear proliferation, combatting climate change, and curbing pandemics. Finally, the United States must end its economic restraint against the predatory practices and outright criminal behavior of the Chinese regime. U.S. policymakers should not tolerate violations of bilateral and international trade agreements, the use of forced labor and other inhumane labor practices, and supply chains that leave U.S. national security vulnerable. Free trade only works among free people.

Putin’s latest assault on the free world—and Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s threats to do so himself—have the capability of resuscitating Washington from its comatose policy of restraint. The longer the United States operates under the delusion that restraint will appease authoritarian regimes that have made their hostile intentions abundantly clear, Russia and China will become bolder and the risk of a catastrophic war—which Ukraine was the prelude for—will only grow. In a world created by U.S. restraint, democracy, prosperity, and peace are on the decline. As Putin’s brutal war has reminded the world, weakness is provocative. Strength is the best way to preserve peace and secure a better future for generations to come.

Biden conceded to the Russians before the invasion

McMaster & Scheinman, 6-17, 22, H. R. McMaster is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, a former U.S. national security advisor during the Trump administration, and the author of Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World; Gabriel Scheinmann is the executive director of the Alexander Hamilton Society, U.S. Restraint Has Created an Unstable and Dangerous World, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/06/17/us-miliitary-strategy-geopolitics-restraint-russia-china-ukraine-war/

The Biden administration failed to deter Russia from its second invasion of Ukraine. Like his predecessors in the White House, U.S. President Joe Biden went to great lengths to placate and reassure Russian President Vladimir Putin in return for stable relations. Biden defied Congress when he refused to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, unilaterally extended U.S. adherence to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty without reciprocation by Russia, and honored Putin with a bilateral summit during his first overseas trip. As Putin amassed his troops on Ukraine’s borders, Biden pulled U.S. naval forces out of the Black Sea, refused to send additional weapons to Ukraine, enumerated everything the United States would not do to help Ukraine defend itself, and evacuated U.S. Embassy staff and military advisors. More broadly, the administration proposed a real cut to the defense budget; sought to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. defense strategy; restricted U.S. production capacity for oil, gas, and refined products that might have displaced Russian supplies; and signaled its willingness to overlook Russian and Chinese aggression in exchange for hollow pledges of cooperation on global issues such as climate change. After surrendering Afghanistan to a terrorist organization and conducting a humiliating retreat from Kabul, the administration’s attempts to deter the Russian invasion with threats of punishment were simply not credible.

US has not abused its hegemonic power

McMaster & Scheinman, 6-17, 22, H. R. McMaster is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, a former U.S. national security advisor during the Trump administration, and the author of Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World; Gabriel Scheinmann is the executive director of the Alexander Hamilton Society, U.S. Restraint Has Created an Unstable and Dangerous World, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/06/17/us-miliitary-strategy-geopolitics-restraint-russia-china-ukraine-war/

Deterrence, however, does not disintegrate overnight. Contrary to the narrative of U.S. belligerence and imperialism that has been impressed on countless university students, the United States has, since the end of World War II, largely pursued a policy of restraint despite its considerable military power. Unlike other superpowers, it has not sought territories or treasure—on the contrary, it incurred considerable expense to foster a peaceful international order where other nations could thrive. Under the belief that a market economy, normal trading relations, and a democratic wave would foster liberal democracy everywhere, Washington even sought to elevate, embrace, and enrich its former Cold War enemies. From the World Bank to the International Space Station, the World Trade Organization to the Paris Agreement, Washington welcomed Moscow and Beijing into Western institutions—in other words, into the order Washington had previously tried to keep them from tearing down. Seeking to partner with Moscow and Beijing in the pursuit of global prosperity and a peaceful planet, Washington bridled its power by undertaking a generational drawdown of military forces and capabilities. Indeed, global prosperity grew and the number of democracies in the world steadily rose. As conviction rose in Washington that both China and Russia had transformed from adversaries to partners, U.S. restraint seemed a rational choice.

Realism is an accurate description of the world, not a normative claim; in fact, it is immoral to act out of moral principles that destroy the state

Maitra, Sumantra, 6-18, 22, Maitra is a national-security fellow at the Center for the National Interest and an elected associate fellow at the Royal Historical Society, Hatred for Realism Is an Elite Affliction, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/hatred-realism-elite-affliction-203056

Why do people hate realism so much? It’s a thoughtful question asked by Stephen Walt in Foreign Policy. Walt is a card-carrying foreign policy realist, his work on alliances and his theory of balance of threat influenced the theoretical framework of much such research with major explanatory power. Walt argues that at the time of realism’s triumph, as the theory predicted a conflict in Ukraine, we’re observing a withering attack on the worldview. “Much of this ire has been directed at my colleague and occasional co-author John J. Mearsheimer, based in part on the bizarre claim that his views on the West’s role in helping to cause the Russia-Ukraine crisis somehow make him ‘pro-Putin’ and in part on some serious misreadings of his theory of offensive realism,” Walt writes, adding that “another obvious target is former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, whose recent comments urging peace talks with Moscow, a territorial compromise in Ukraine, and the need to avoid a permanent rupture with Russia were seen as a revealing demonstration of realism’s moral bankruptcy.”

Conflict of Nations

Walt concludes that there are several reasons people dislike realism. Primary among them is the idea that realism is pessimistic. “It’s not hard to understand why many people are reluctant to embrace such a pessimistic view of the human condition, especially when it appears to offer no clear escape from it.” Second, realism is “indifferent or hostile” to ethical considerations, being an amoral framework where power is the chief determinant. “There is a grain of truth in this charge, insofar as realism’s theoretical framework does not incorporate values or ideals in any explicit way,” Walt writes, “for realists, noble aims and good intentions are not enough if the resulting choices lead to greater insecurity or human suffering.” Realists do not consider any country exceptional, as their worldview argues that every country, every power will usually act in a certain way, facing a certain set of variables. That also rubs most people the wrong way, as most people tend to think in group dynamic, and any criticism of their own country’s behavior or dissent and nonconformity to the “current thing” or conventional wisdom, are considered unpatriotic.

Finally, Walt writes that realism got major questions right, and naturally got major ideological opponents on the way. Walt writes, “realism tends to be unpopular because its proponents have an annoying tendency to be right … realists were right about NATO enlargement, dual containment in the Persian Gulf, the war in Iraq, Ukraine’s ill-fated decision to give up its nuclear arsenal, the implications of China’s rise, and the folly of nation-building in Afghanistan, to note just a few examples.”

There is a lot of sense in these arguments. Realism, a framework which privileges (to borrow a word used often by the academic Left) power and national interest, is by definition a “reactionary” theory, more at home within political conservatism and hierarchy. It is fundamentally opposed to mass democracy and subsequent volatility of public passions. And while it is sternly in favor of national interest, it also favors compromises and a balance of power based on relative gains. Furthermore, being a reactionary theory, it believes in a cyclical view of history, instead of a steady arc of progress. Therefore, realism falls squarely opposed to any worldview that affirms egalitarianism or progress, whether liberalism, socialism, feminism, or Marxism, all of which are theories stemming from the enlightenment, with an egalitarianism embedded. In turn, all progressive theories, from liberalism to Marxism, are normatively opposed to any political reaction. The opposition to realism (and realists) within the academy is therefore qualitatively similar to all the progressive fanaticism about statue toppling, hierarchy, and canceling classics, a deep aversion to anything vaguely reactionary from patrimony, to authority, to national borders, an opposition which isn’t just academic or theoretical, but ideological. To borrow Peter Hitchens’ famous words, a rage by “tiny figures scuttling through cavernous halls built for much greater men.”

Realism is, of course, amoral, but not cruel or unethical. In fact, the instinct for compromise and balance of power comes from a higher ethical consideration. As Hans Morgenthau wrote,

Realism maintains that universal moral principles cannot be applied to the actions of states in their abstract universal formulation, but that they must be filtered through the concrete circumstances of time and place. The individual may say for himself: “Fiat justitia, pereat mundus (Let justice be done, even if the world perish),” but the state has no right to say so in the name of those who are in its care. Both individual and state must judge political action by universal moral principles, such as that of liberty. Yet while the individual has a moral right to sacrifice himself in defense of such a moral principle, the state has no right to let its moral disapprobation of the infringement of liberty get in the way of successful political action, itself inspired by the moral principle of national survival. There can be no political morality without prudence; that is, without consideration of the political consequences of seemingly moral action.

While realism isn’t blameless, the record of realism isn’t comparable to the democracy crusades of the last thirty years.

But to return to the original question, one must add that the framing of the question itself is flawed. The people don’t hate realism. In fact, public opinion is usually fundamentally reactionary, if channeled rightly. The majority favors national borders and opposes foreign misadventures. What could be more reactionary than that in our time? Public opinion can be volatile and appeals to emotion succeed in the short term. But overall, the public understands their interests if clearly communicated with. Consider the recent drop in support for a No-Fly Zone (NFZ) over Ukraine, the moment it was explained what an NFZ would actually entail. The hatred for realism (and any political reaction) is an elite progressive affliction, aided by an ideological academy.  What realists sometimes refuse to accept is that they are at a structural disadvantage. This isn’t the time of Metternich, nor is it the time of Yalta, or even Kissinger’s secret China visit. Realism isn’t a worldview that can succeed automatically in the age of social media, NGOs, hyper-democracy, and an activist academy and internationalist news media. To succeed in that scenario, realism and realists will need to use the inherent reactionary public instinct to their advantage, and communicate in ways that might at times go against electoral propriety, and sound like an uncouth New York tycoon. Whether it is a compromise academic realists are willing to entertain, to regain a hand in policy setting, is a key question.

Retrenchment means war over Taiwan

Green & Talmadge, July/August, 22, BRENDAN RITTENHOUSE GREEN is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati; CAITLIN TALMADGE is Associate Professor of Security Studies at the Walsh School ofForeign Service at Georgetown University, The Consequences of Conquest: Why Indo-Pacific Power Hinges on Taiwan, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2022-06-16/consequences-conquest-taiwan-indo-pacific

Finally, the United States might pursue a strategy that ends its commitment to Taiwan and also reduces its military presence in Asia and other alliance commitments in the region. Such a policy might limit direct U.S. military support to the defense of Japan or even wind down all U.S. commitments in East Asia. But even in this case, Taiwan’s potential military value to China would still have the potential to create dangerous regional dynamics. Worried that some of its islands might be next, Japan might fight to defend Taiwan, even if the United States did not. The result might be a major-power war in Asia that could draw in the United States, willingly or not. Such a war would be devastating. Yet upsetting the current delicate equilibrium by ceding this militarily valuable island could make such a war more likely, reinforcing a core argument in favor of current U.S. grand strategy: that U.S. alliance commitments and forward military presence exert a deterring and constraining effect on conflict in the region.

Unipolarity decreasing, global democracy on the decline

Shankar, 6-15, 22, Can the United States Kick the Afghanistan Syndrome?, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/can-united-states-kick-afghanistan-syndrome-203013

Given how the United States escaped the Vietnam syndrome not just due to Soviet actions, but also because of a historically unprecedented alignment of several other international developments, it is difficult to see how the mobilization against Putin’s imperial conduct would help overcome fatigue from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A pivotal shift in Washington’s calculus would require a broader change in global circumstances, most of which are unfavorable to the United States compared to the state of the world in the 1990s. For over a decade, America has been on a path of relative decline, and the unipolar world order has gradually been fading. Freedom House reports a continual regression of democracy in every region of the world since 2006, in part due to the ascension of Chinese power. And far from having the wind at their backs as they did after the fall of the Berlin Wall, proponents of classical liberalism now find themselves on the defensive. Will a Ukrainian triumph be enough—as predicted by Francis Fukuyama—to revive the “spirit of 1989?”

Ukraine proves realism is true and international cooperation fails to prevent conflict 

Poast, 6-15, 22, PAUL POAST is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and a Nonresident Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs,

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/ukraine/2022-06-15/world-power-and-fear

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Among the collateral damage of the war in Ukraine is a school of thought: realism. This intellectual tradition insists that the pursuit of national interests trumps higher ideals, such as the commitment to open trade, the sanctity of international law, and the virtues of democracy. Realists focus on how states, particularly major powers, seek to survive and retain influence in world politics. As such, realism appeared well suited for explaining the imperatives and calculations behind the Russian invasion. Instead, it found itself caught in the crossfire. After realist arguments seemed to excuse the Kremlin’s actions, critics in Europe and North America have variously called prominent individuals associated with realism—and realism itself as a doctrine—irrelevant, callous, and even morally reprehensible.

The political scientist John Mearsheimer drew much of the opprobrium for his claims about the origins of the war in Ukraine. An unabashed advocate of realism, Mearsheimer has insisted that the United States and its allies are at fault for encouraging NATO and EU expansion into what the Kremlin sees as its sphere of influence, thereby threatening Russia and provoking Russian aggression. Criticism of Mearsheimer mounted after the Russian Foreign Ministry itself promoted his ideas in the wake of the invasion. The urgings of another realist, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, exhorting Ukraine to give up territory in order to appease Putin have also led to a barrage of attacks on the tenets of realism.

But realism’s critics should not throw out the baby with the bath water. The invective directed at realism misses an important distinction: realism is both an analytical school of thought and a policy position. The errors of the latter don’t obviate the utility of the former. In explaining the war in Ukraine, realism, like any theoretical framework, is neither good nor bad. But even when its prescriptions can seem unsound, it retains value as a prism through which analysts can understand the motivations and actions of states in an inevitably complex world.

From the 1960s to the 1990s, the field of international relations was riven by the so-called paradigm wars. Scholars feuded over the best way to think about—and how to study—international politics. These debates were nuanced, but they essentially boiled down to a clash between those who held a realist view of international politics and those who did not.

Realism comes in many hues. Some realist approaches emphasize the importance of individual leaders, others stress the role of domestic institutions, and still others focus squarely on the distribution of power among countries. There is classical realism (human nature compels states to pursue security), structural realism (the lack of a world government compels states to pursue security), and neoclassical realism (a combination of internal and external factors compels states to pursue security). These approaches have their own subvariants. For instance, structural realists are divided between a defensive camp (states seek security by preventing the hegemony of any single power) and an offensive camp (states must seek hegemony to achieve security). Some realists would disavow the label altogether: the work of the British historian E. H. Carr is clearly realist in its leanings, but he would never have identified himself as such.

Rather than being a strictly coherent theory, realism has always been defined not by what it prescribes but by what it deems impossible. It is the school of no hope, the curmudgeon of international relations thought. The first work of modern realist thought and the precursor to Mearsheimer’s own work was The European Anarchy, a short book written by the British political scientist G. Lowes Dickinson in 1916. It emphasized that states, out of fear, will seek to dominate and, indeed, gain supremacy over others. During the 1920s and 1930s, realists (although not yet referred to as such) pointed to the futility of arms control and disarmament treaties.

Realism is the school of no hope, the curmudgeon of international relations thought.

In 1942, the American scholar Merze Tate published The Disarmament Illusion, a book that argued that states will inevitably seek to retain their arms and whose ideas fit well with the claims made by the later realists Hans Morgenthau and Kenneth Waltz. In the late 1940s and 1950s, Kissinger and Morgenthau pointed to the impracticality of hoping for a single world government or even peaceful coexistence among countries. In the 1970s and 1980s, realists were primarily identified (either by others or by themselves) as those who derided the hope that international regimes, such as the United Nations, could solve global problems. By the 1990s, realists were criticizing the expectation that international institutions and the spread of democracy would usher in a golden age of global peace and prosperity troubled only by the occasional rogue state.

Realism fared quite well compared with an alternative theory that gained prominence in the 1990s and continues to receive attention in policy circles: the notion that geopolitics would become a “clash of civilizations,” as advanced by the American political scientist Samuel Huntington. Like Mearsheimer’s core realist work, Huntington’s thesis was written in the wake of the Cold War, as analysts and scholars sought to anticipate what the end of superpower bipolarity would mean for the world. While Mearsheimer focused on the return of great-power politics, Huntington claimed that it would be cultural, largely religious, differences that would drive the conflicts of the future. Huntington was, in effect, rebutting the work of Mearsheimer. In contrast to the statist emphasis of realism, Huntington’s culture-based theory predicted peaceful relations between Ukraine and Russia, countries that in his view belonged to the same overarching civilization. That prediction has not aged well.

What ultimately unifies the branches of realism is the view that states bristling with arms are an inescapable fact of life and that international cooperation is not just difficult but fundamentally futile. In essence, it is foolish to hope that cooperation will provide lasting solutions to the intractable reality of conflict and competition as countries pursue their own interests.

That is the framework that characterizes realist thought, including the work of Mearsheimer. Realism sees international politics as a tragic stage in which the persistence, if not the prevalence, of war means that governments must focus on guaranteeing national security, even at the expense of liberties and prosperity. Tate captured this sentiment well in The Disarmament Illusion: “Dissatisfied powers may not actually want war, may even dread it, and may be quite as unwilling to run the risk of an appeal to arms as the satisfied states; but in spite of this, they will not voluntarily shut off all possibility of obtaining a state of things which will be to them more acceptable than the present.”

Realism as a theory gains power by highlighting the mechanisms that constrain human agency, be they the innate nature of humans (as emphasized by Morgenthau) or the distribution of global power (the focus of Waltz). To draw an analogy, realism’s role is to continually point to the gravity that undercuts human attempts to fly. Realism can be used to explain the foreign policy choices of certain countries or why an event, such as a war, occurred. As a theory, realism can be very effective in explaining relations among states. But it becomes something different when it journeys from the realm of description to that of prescription. When brought into policy, realist theory becomes realpolitik: the position that states should balance against their adversaries and seek relative gains rather than accept supranational and institutional constraints on their freedom of action in international affairs.

The distinction between realism as theory and as policy appears in the historical debate over nuclear proliferation. In the early 1980s, Waltz argued that the spread of nuclear weapons would lead to greater peace. He cut against the conventional wisdom that insisted that only limiting the spread of these weapons would ensure a safer world (the logic behind the creation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1970). His claim was subsequently debated by those who, to put it simply, pointed out that the proliferation of nuclear weapons would make the world more dangerous.

In making his arguments, Waltz took a descriptive and theoretically informed observation (the likelihood of war decreases as deterrent and defensive capabilities increase), applied this to nuclear weapons (nuclear weapons dramatically improve a country’s deterrent and defensive capabilities), and then deduced a recommendation for how policymakers should view the spread of nuclear weapons: that more should be welcomed, not feared.

It is in this last step that Waltz goes from describing international politics (here is why states seek nuclear weapons) to prescribing international politics (here is why states should seek nuclear weapons). One is a description, the other is a justification. They are both valid intellectual enterprises, but they should not be confused. A particular understanding of world events does not inevitably lead to a particular policy response. In this case, the same factors that led Waltz to justify the spread of nuclear weapons could have led him to offer the opposite prescription, in that a state’s security goals could be achieved without them (for instance, by sheltering under the nuclear umbrella of a major power). Realist theory helps describe the world, but such prescriptions reflect the interpretations of individuals, not the overarching theory itself.

Realism as policy also manifests itself in debates over restraint in U.S. foreign policy. Proponents of U.S. restraint aim to counter liberal internationalism, the view that the United States must be involved, militarily if necessary, in foreign arenas for the sake of promoting and maintaining a rules-based international order. By contrast, restraint calls for the United States to reduce its global footprint and avoid getting involved in issues that are marginal to U.S. national interests. As with the debate over nuclear proliferation, realism’s role in debates on how the United States should behave in international affairs must not be confused with using realism to describe U.S. foreign policy. Realism can explain why the United States finds itself in a particular geopolitical situation, but it doesn’t offer an obvious answer about how the United States should behave in that situation.

REALISM AND UKRAINE

The debate regarding Ukraine has long featured realist voices. In 1993, Mearsheimer wrote in Foreign Affairs that Kyiv should retain the stockpile of nuclear weapons it inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union because Moscow might one day seek to reconquer Ukraine. Some 20 years later, Mearsheimer wrote of how NATO enlargement and the promise of bringing Ukraine into the alliance provoked Russian aggression, namely the seizing of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Both pieces were focused on policy prescription: rather than simply describing what Russia, Ukraine, the United States, the European Union, and NATO were doing, they focused on what they should do.

Although one can disagree with those arguments, it is worth pointing out that they reflect realism as policy, not realism as theory. Realism as theory would have limited itself to explaining why the crisis is happening, perhaps focusing on how the desire of major powers to dominate their region means that Russia would eventually seek to militarily coerce (or even invade) its neighbors, or that conditions were conducive to a former empire seeking to reestablish itself, or that in their search for security, states can act in ways that can be perceived incorrectly as being aggressive.

None of this is to say that realism or any one theory offers the best explanation for the war in Ukraine. Alternative explanations abound, including the power of nationalism, the differences in regime types, and the traits (one might say, quirks) of particular leaders. But realism offers a useful frame for understanding this war’s onset. Indeed, the enduring power of realism is its ability to offer a clear baseline for coming to grips with why the world is and will likely remain a world full of pain and despair.

China undermining its own potential for global dominance

Cogan & Scott, 6-4, 22, Mark S. Cogan is an associate professor of peace and conflict studies at Kansai Gaidai University based in Osaka, Japan and a former communications specialist with the United Nations.; Paul Scott is a Japan-China specialist and democracy activist who is currently teaching in the Graduate Program in Peace and Conflict Studies at the Universitat Jaume I, Castellón de la Plana, España and at the Catholic University of Lille, France; Imperial Overstretch: Has Xi Jinping’s China Gone Too Far?, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/imperial-overstretch-has-xi-jinping%E2%80%99s-china-gone-too-far-202803?page=0%2C1
If Deng Xiaoping were alive today, he would neither be pleased nor surprised. The pro-market reforms that launched China into a global power are being undone under Xi Jinping, curtailing growth for the sake of concentrating political power, spending far too much political capital on crushing dissent and punishing the last vestiges of democratic ambitions, and overextending China militarily in the Indo-Pacific. Deng’s critical reforms were based on two fundamental beliefs, first, that communism in China could be saved by creating a vibrant economy and improving people’s lives, and second, without the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in charge, China would descend into chaos. When Wei Jingsheng went on trial in 1979 on charges of being a counter-revolutionary, the first sign was visible that the gaps between economic and political reform and the need for a Fifth Modernization, democracy, would not and could not be resolved. Under Xi’s leadership, these gaps have turned into a chasm. His selection as president in 2013 was a transformative event. While Mao Zedong unified the nation and Deng made it rich, Xi has created an overbearing surveillance state marked by sharpened authoritarianism. So-called “wolf warrior diplomacy,” which is assertive, confrontational, and hypersensitive to criticism, has become the hallmark of Chinese diplomacy. China is projecting power through the most ambitious and expensive construction project in human history. Xi’s policies envision a new world order with Beijing at the center. This is oddly a bastardized return to traditional pre-modern hierarchies based on kowtow, which ritualized inequality among states and recognized the moral superiority of China. However, in autocracies like China’s, there is often a fatal flaw. Chinese leaders have painted themselves into a corner by not embracing diversity of opinion and by failing to admit when they make mistakes. An apt analogy is the recent Covid-19 lockdown in Shanghai. To control the spread of the virus, China locked down the city of 25 million but in so doing created lasting damage to its economy while harming the livelihoods and psychosocial well-being of its residents. China’s overreach led to a rare outpouring of dissent. Xi has stressed that CCP leadership and the “advantages of the socialist system” are the cure for all problems, but challenges keep piling up. China’s economy is slowing, local debts are increasing, and its corporations have borrowed with reckless abandon. Trumpeting that only the CCP can solve mounting social and economic problems is dangerous since it raises the risk of over-promising and under-delivering. During the 1980s, there were criticisms of Deng’s reforms. The absence of any dissenting voices riled not just university students but workers as well. The inability of a tone-deaf CCP leadership to listen to criticism directly led to the Tiananmen movement. China’s imperial overreach, a combination of inflexible leadership, a failure to admit mistakes, and intolerance of criticism is alive and well. China is experiencing pain in its economy that it hasn’t felt in decades. A zero-tolerance policy on Covid-19, as well as a regulatory crackdown on the tech sector and the real estate industry, have left China’s labor market in a precarious state. Beijing reported an urban employment figure of more than 5 percent, but the devil is in the details. Migrants from rural areas aren’t working in urban areas because of changes in the labor market, including having to be in quarantine. For example, the number of rural laborers working in major metropolitan areas declined by 5.2 million workers in 2020, or 1.8 percent due to Covid-19 restrictions. There’s scant evidence they are going to return and this will cause significant damage to the economy. Some of the jobs previously held by migrants aren’t coming back due to declines in manufacturing and increased automation. As China now struggles with a labor shortage, it looks to automation to solve some of its critical manufacturing challenges. But the Chinese Communist Party cannot get out of its own way. A regulatory crackdown on private enterprise has left tens of thousands of people out of work in the critically important tech sector. The move to better regulate private enterprise and disrupt monopolies comes with little explanation and is a departure from the past, where a hands-off approach led to a surge in growth evidenced by the success of e-commerce giant Alibaba, as well as Huawei and Tencent. China’s overreach has held back its economic engine to the tune of $1.5 trillion and has been personified by the silencing of billionaire Jack Ma. In 2020, when Ma in 2020 spoke at a conference against the actions of Chinese state-owned banks, regulators brought him in for questioning and halted the IPO of Alibaba subsidiary Ant Group. Since then, the private sector crackdown has spread across industries related to education, cryptocurrencies, and finance. The motivations behind Xi Jinping’s economic crackdown point to a desire to consolidate his political power ahead of the 20th Party Congress, which is scheduled for later this year. The “common prosperity” rhetoric designed to shift the narrative to closing income gaps between China’s richest and its most beleaguered masses feels like a secondary effort that will do little to address institutionalized inequalities and corruption. Hong Kong also personifies Xi’s overreach. The recent arrest of ninety-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen, a democracy and human rights activist, provides valuable insight. To outsiders, the arrest of an elderly man is a testament to how petty Chinese enforcement of its 2020 national security law has become, because after all, what national security threat does an elderly retired Catholic cleric pose to China? The arrest of pro-democracy activists, opposition lawmakers, and a crackdown on political expression has been brutal. Now, the potential of a crackdown on religious freedom makes Chinese overreach another step beyond the pale. Zen’s arrest exemplifies Xi’s intolerance of pluralism where other ideas, including democratic ones, might exist alongside his own. Hong Kong’s Western-influenced political and cultural norms and values have been all but dismantled since the national security law took effect. While Hong Kong’s “zero Covid” policy has contributed to the largest brain drain in the city’s history, some of the vast relocations of expats and residents are also linked to the draconian security law. Its passage also accelerated the growth of Hong Kong’s diaspora which numbers in the hundreds of thousands. Even now, while safe across oceans or international borders, Beijing holds potential leverage over those who speak out and have family or financial assets remaining in Hong Kong. China’s relentless pursuit of growth and a dogged insistence on reclaiming the hierarchies that existed prior to its Century of Humiliation at the hands of the West have harmed its international reputation. One does not need to look far to find examples. The Mekong River originates in China but flows down into lower basin countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. To satisfy its vast energy demands, China built the Manwan Dam in 1995 and has since built ten more. Eleven more dams are in different stages of construction in Laos and Cambodia. The Mekong River is host to 20 percent of the world’s freshwater fish and is a critical economic resource for people in the region. However, China has used upstream dams as leverage against downstream countries. Even though evidence, such as that provided by the Mekong Dam Monitor, shows that Chinese dams are damaging the environment around the Mekong, China is resistant to help. Rather than provide information to downstream countries about potential changes in the flow of the river, China has largely refused to share valuable data. Since its inception, the discourse surrounding the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been vociferous and wide-ranging. There are multiple dimensions, but aside from the trade and strategic ramifications, financing has always been a major concern. The BRI is not a Chinese-style Marshall Plan done largely through grants; Chinese investors expect to make a profit. According to AidData, policymakers in low and middle-income countries are mothballing high-profile projects because of overpricing, corruption, and debt sustainability concerns. Malaysia is a prime example. Instead of creating meaningful coalitions, the BRI has exposed China’s shortcomings, which ignore critical measures like monitoring and evaluation.

 

US needs to increase its military strength to prevent China from attacking Taiwan

PettyJohn & Wasser,  May 20, 2022, STACIE L. PETTYJOHN is a senior fellow and director of the defense program at the Center for a New American Security; BECCA WASSER is a fellow in the defense program and co-lead of The Gaming Lab at the Center for a New American Security, Wargaming Reveals How a U.S.-Chinese Conflict Might Escalate, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2022-05-20/fight-over-taiwan-could-go-nuclear

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised the specter of nuclear war, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has placed his nuclear forces at an elevated state of alert and has warned that any effort by outside parties to interfere in the war would result in “consequences you have never seen.” Such saber-rattling has understandably made headlines and drawn notice in Washington. But if China attempted to forcibly invade Taiwan and the United States came to Taipei’s aid, the threat of escalation could outstrip even the current nerve-wracking situation in Europe.

A recent war game, conducted by the Center for a New American Security in conjunction with the NBC program “Meet the Press,” demonstrated just how quickly such a conflict could escalate. The game posited a fictional crisis set in 2027, with the aim of examining how the United States and China might act under a certain set of conditions. The game demonstrated that China’s military modernization and expansion of its nuclear arsenal—not to mention the importance Beijing places on unification with Taiwan—mean that, in the real world, a fight between China and the United States could very well go nuclear.

Beijing views Taiwan as a breakaway republic. If the Chinese Communist Party decides to invade the island, its leaders may not be able to accept failure without seriously harming the regime’s legitimacy. Thus, the CCP might be willing to take significant risks to ensure that the conflict ends on terms that it finds acceptable. That would mean convincing the United States and its allies that the costs of defending Taiwan are so high that it is not worth contesting the invasion. While China has several ways to achieve that goal, from Beijing’s perspective, using nuclear weapons may be the most effective means to keep the United States out of the conflict.

China is several decades into transforming its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into what the Chinese President Xi Jinping has called a “world-class military” that could defeat any third party that comes to Taiwan’s defense. China’s warfighting strategy, known as “anti-access/area denial,” rests on being able to project conventional military power out several thousand miles in order to prevent the American military, in particular, from effectively countering a Chinese attack on Taiwan. Meanwhile, a growing nuclear arsenal provides Beijing with coercive leverage as well as potentially new warfighting capabilities, which could increase the risks of war and escalation.

China has historically possessed only a few hundred ground-based nuclear weapons. But last year, nuclear scholars at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and the Federation of American Scientists identified three missile silo fields under construction in the Xinjiang region. The Financial Times reported that China might have carried out tests of hypersonic gliders as a part of an orbital bombardment system that could evade missile defenses and deliver nuclear weapons to targets in the continental United States. The U.S. Department of Defense projects that by 2030, China will have around 1,000 deliverable warheads–more than triple the number it currently possesses. Based on these projections, Chinese leaders may believe that as early as five years from now the PLA will have made enough conventional and nuclear gains that it could fight and win a war to unify with Taiwan.

A fight between China and the United States could very well go nuclear.

Our recent war game—in which members of Congress, former government officials, and subject matter experts assumed the roles of senior national security decision makers in China and the United States—illustrated that a U.S.-China war could escalate quickly. For one thing, it showed that both countries would face operational incentives to strike military forces on the other’s territory. In the game, such strikes were intended to be calibrated to avoid escalation; both sides tried to walk a fine line by attacking only military targets. But such attacks crossed red lines for both countries, and produced a tit-for-tat cycle of attacks that broadened the scope and intensity of the conflict.

For instance, in the simulation, China launched a preemptive attack against key U.S. bases in the Indo-Pacific region. The attacks targeted Guam, in particular, because it is a forward operating base critical to U.S. military operations in Asia, and because since it is a territory, and not a U.S. state, the Chinese team viewed striking it as less escalatory than attacking other possible targets. In response, the United States targeted Chinese military ships in ports and surrounding facilities, but refrained from other attacks on the Chinese mainland. Nevertheless, both sides perceived these strikes as attacks on their home territory, crossing an important threshold. Instead of mirror-imaging their own concerns about attacks on their territory, each side justified the initial blows as military necessities that were limited in nature and would be seen by the other as such. Responses to the initial strikes only escalated things further as the U.S. team responded to China’s moves by hitting targets in mainland China, and the Chinese team responded to Washington’s strikes by attacking sites in Hawaii.

A NEW ERA

One particularly alarming finding from the war game is that China found it necessary to threaten to go nuclear from the start in order to ward off outside support for Taiwan. This threat was repeated throughout the game, particularly after mainland China had been attacked. At times, efforts to erode Washington’s will so that it would back down from the fight received greater attention by the China team than the invasion of Taiwan itself. But China had difficulty convincing the United States that its nuclear threats were credible. In real life, China’s significant and recent changes to its nuclear posture and readiness may impact other nations’ views, as its nuclear threats may not be viewed as credible given its stated doctrine of no first use, its smaller but burgeoning nuclear arsenal, and lack of experience making nuclear threats. This may push China to preemptively detonate a nuclear weapon to reinforce the credibility of its warning.

China might also resort to a demonstration of its nuclear might because of constraints on its long-range conventional strike capabilities. Five years from now, the PLA still will have a very limited ability to launch conventional attacks beyond locations in the “second island chain” in the Pacific; namely, Guam and Palau. Unable to strike the U.S. homeland with conventional weapons, China would struggle to impose costs on the American people. Up until a certain point in the game, the U.S. team felt its larger nuclear arsenal was sufficient to deter escalation and did not fully appreciate the seriousness of China’s threats. As a result, China felt it needed to escalate significantly to send a message that the U.S. homeland could be at risk if Washington did not back down. Despite China’s stated “no-first use” nuclear policy, the war game resulted in Beijing detonating a nuclear weapon off the coast of Hawaii as a demonstration. The attack caused relatively little destruction, as the electromagnetic pulse only damaged the electronics of ships in the immediate vicinity but did not directly impact the U.S. state. The war game ended before the U.S. team could respond, but it is likely that the first use of a nuclear weapon since World War II would have provoked a response.

The most likely paths to nuclear escalation in a fight between the United States and China are different from those that were most likely during the Cold War. The Soviet Union and the United States feared a massive, blot-from-the-blue nuclear attack, which would precipitate a full-scale strategic exchange. In a confrontation over Taiwan, however, Beijing could employ nuclear weapons in a more limited way to signal resolve or to improve its chances of winning on the battlefield. It is unclear how a war would proceed after that kind of limited nuclear use and whether the United States could de-escalate the situation while still achieving its objectives.

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION

The clear lesson from the war game is that the United States needs to strengthen its conventional capabilities in the Indo-Pacific to ensure that China never views an invasion of Taiwan as a prudent tactical move. To do so, the United States will need to commit to maintaining its conventional military superiority by expanding its stockpiles of long-range munitions and investing in undersea capabilities. Washington must also be able to conduct offensive operations inside the first and second island chains even while under attack. This will require access to new bases to distribute U.S. forces, enhance their survivability, and ensure that they can effectively defend Taiwan in the face of China’s attacks.

Moreover, the United States needs to develop an integrated network of partners willing to contribute to Taiwan’s defense. Allies are an asymmetric advantage: the United States has them, and China does not. The United States should deepen strategic and operational planning with key partners to send a strong signal of resolve to China. As part of these planning efforts, the United States and its allies will need to develop war-winning military strategies that do not cross Chinese red-lines. The game highlighted just how difficult this task may be; what it did not highlight is the complexity of developing military strategies that integrate the strategic objectives and military capacities of multiple nations.

Moving forward, military planners in the United States and in Washington’s allies and partners must grapple with the fact that, in a conflict over Taiwan, China would consider all conventional and nuclear options to be on the table. And the United States is running out of time to strengthen deterrence and keep China from believing an invasion of Taiwan could be successful. The biggest risk is that Washington and its friends choose not to seize the moment and act: a year or two from now, it might already be too late.

Multilateral cooperation critical to sustain the global order – disease, climate, tech control

Ian Bremmer, 5-5, 22, IAN BREMMER is President and Founder of Eurasia Group., Foreign Affairs, The New Cold War Could Soon Heat Up, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2022-05-05/new-cold-war-could-soon-heat

Biden, by contrast, doesn’t see much need for cooperation across ideological boundaries. Rather than portraying the conflict in Ukraine as a discrete attempt to combat a war of aggression, the U.S. president has framed it as a “battle between democracy and autocracy.” Xi Jinping can’t like the sound of that, and China will naturally reject efforts to push Russia out of the G-20. Come the group’s November summit, Biden and allied leaders must choose between sharing a table with autocrats such as Putin and Xi or rendering the G-20 dysfunctional at a time when global threats that demand collective action—climate change, pandemics, and the spread of disruptive technologies, to name just a few—are growing in importance. The prospect of a breakdown in multilateral cooperation is the single greatest danger to the global order since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Ukraine war caused by US hegemony, need to retrench to avoid global conflict and terminal US decline

Flynn, 4-20, 22, Brendan Flynn has been studying for his Ph.D. at Wayne State University since 2020, where he concentrates on international relations with a focus on China and Asian security. From 2015 – 2016, Brendan studied Chinese in Beijing, before researching Asian maritime disputes as an intern at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC. He currently lectures on international relations at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. This essay was a runner-up in the 2022 John Quincy Adams Society/The National Interest Student Foreign Policy Essay Contest, America’s Interest in Ukraine Is Not What You Think, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/america%E2%80%99s-interest-ukraine-not-what-you-think-201869

America’s Interest in Ukraine Is Not What You Think

If American foreign commitments continue to exceed American power, the inevitable result will be additional crises and accelerated decline. The United States’ primary security interest in Ukraine is a stable relationship with Russia, but you would not know it based on U.S. foreign policy. As John Mearsheimer has argued, the United States has pursued a revisionist policy “to make Ukraine a Western bulwark on Russia’s border.” This strategy, which included vague promises of eventual NATO membership, was pursued with naïve disregard for Russia’s security concerns and the likely effect on the U.S.-Russia relationship.

As early as 2000, power transition theorists argued that “Russia matters because of the potential power of a Russian-Chinese alliance.” Just as Russia ought to have been viewed in light of the anticipated security competition with China, Ukraine ought to have been viewed in terms of the realpolitik need to keep Russia onside. Instead, motivated by liberal ideology and mistaken assumptions tracing back to the end of the Cold War, the United States viewed Ukraine (and Georgia) as the logical next target for inclusion in its democratic alliance system. If history was over, then such a policy was logical. Ukraine’s inclusion in key Western institutions was simply part of a process whereby China, the Middle East, and Russia itself would eventually join the United States in a universal democratic peace.

This faulty vision, derived from learning the wrong lessons of U.S. victory in the Cold War, is responsible for errant U.S. policy in Ukraine. It is responsible for the idea that because democracy was on the march and because democracies tend not to fight one another, “support for democracy [was] to be our guide in the … world,” as David Lake summarized the widely held view in 1994. The successful expansion of NATO in 1999 and 2004, as well as waves of EU enlargement, reinforced this view. But Russia’s invasion of Georgia following NATO promises of future Georgian and Ukrainian membership at the alliance’s 2008 summit in Bucharest should have been a blinking red light that spheres of interest still mattered. Instead, the United States chose to ignore this warning. Its ideological blinders would not allow it to consider that great power politics remained alive and well.

This ideological misunderstanding of the U.S. national interest has influenced the U.S. pursuit of a revisionist and interventionist approach across the globe for three decades, with catastrophic consequences in Iraq and now Ukraine. At Stephen Walt points out, “the liberal ideologues who dismissed Russia’s repeated protests and warnings and continued to press a revisionist program in Europe with scant regard for the consequences” deserve a healthy share of blame. Had the United States understood its interests in Ukraine from the perspective of U.S-Russia (and, ultimately, U.S.-China) relations (a perspective Joe Biden himself shared regarding NATO expansion in 1997) rather than democracy expansion, this crisis and humanitarian tragedy could have been avoided.

Rather than bring about a more stable, secure, and prosperous world, U.S. revisionist policy inspired by liberal ideology has had the opposite effect. The Middle East is engulfed in perennial chaos, the Taliban once again rule Afghanistan, and a hostile Iran continues to wield great influence in Iraq. More significantly, every year China’s economy grows faster than the American economy is a year in which U.S. relative power further declines. As Graham Allison illustrates, on many key measures of power China has already surpassed the United States. This is why the 2021 U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence Annual Threat Assessment listed China as the United States’ number one threat, the second consecutive administration to hold such a view. This view of China as the biggest threat to U.S. interests is uniquely bipartisan.

Because economics and demographics are the primary sources of power, prescient analysts foresaw the threat from China as early as the 1990s, even as scholars like John Ikenberry were focused on “strengthen[ing], deepen[ing], and codify[ing] the liberal political order.” In 2000, power transition scholars argued that “plans for limited NATO expansion ignore the biggest future security problem for the West,” namely China. They accurately understood that the “need to prevent any … [Sino-Russian] alignment should be central to all thinking about the future of NATO.” It was “naive,” these scholars argued, to assume NATO expansion would not ultimately push Russia into China’s arms. Yet NATO did expand, and Sino-Russian alignment is precisely what has occurred.

This is a strategic error of massive consequence. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov is not wrong when he suggests the war in Ukraine poses a question to “the legal world order.” Indeed, Fareed Zakaria has officially declared that we are now living in a “post-American” global order. Given the so-called economic law of uneven growth articulated by scholars like Robert Gilpin, such a new reality may have been inevitable. But the United States has accelerated this shift by expanding rather than contracting its global commitments even as its relative power basis has declined. The United States has been talking loudly while carrying a shrinking stick.

The war in Ukraine gives the lie to liberal internationalists such as Robert Kagan who argue that “maintaining the liberal world order” is simply a matter of resolve. Quite the opposite. What Kagan calls “constant [order] tending” is actually clinging to a strategic lifestyle the United States can no longer afford. If American foreign commitments continue to exceed American power, the inevitable result will be additional crises and accelerated decline. Rather than expanding our commitments in places like Ukraine (and Taiwan, for that matter), the United States should begin strategically unwinding commitments it no longer has the capacity to uphold. As Paul MacDonald and Joseph Parent point out, “sagging capabilities and a sprawling defensive perimeter will court disaster.”

Unfortunately, the disaster has already arrived. The United States should, therefore, work to limit the scale of the catastrophe by supporting peace talks between Ukraine and Russia. The U.S. interest is in a sovereign, neutral Ukraine with clear red lines mutually understood and agreed to by Russia, Ukraine, and the United States. Such an agreement might involve an open door to eventual EU membership even as NATO is definitively taken off the table. If such a deal can be reached and the United States finally abandons its ideologically driven foreign policy and instead pursues a foreign policy of restraint, perhaps this tragedy will not have been completely in vain.

Need restraint, not primacy; Russia is not a significant threat and won’t take Europe

STEPHEN WERTHEIM is Senior Fellow in the American Statecraft Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Center for Global Legal Challenges at Yale Law School. He is the author of Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy, April 12, 2022, The Ukraine Temptation Biden Should Resist Calls to Fight a New Cold War https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2022-04-12/ukraine-temptation

For three decades, U.S. foreign policy has run on inertia and called it strategy. The Cold War had ended, but the United States nonetheless retained its Cold War alliances. The Soviet Union had disappeared, but the absence of a major threat produced much the same prescription as the presence of a major threat had: just as the U.S. military had defended “the free world,” now it would become the guardian of the whole world. When problems appeared, successive administrations generally took them as reasons to expand U.S. deployments. Even if its bid for primacy had created or exacerbated those problems, Washington had the solution: more and better primacy. Now the war in Ukraine is tempting policymakers to repeat that mistake in an exceedingly consequential way. Just when President Joe Biden had been trying to prioritize security in Asia and prosperity for the American middle class, advocates of U.S. primacy are seizing this emotionally charged moment to insist that post–Cold War path dependency prevail. Rather than pivot to Asia, they argue, the United States must now build up its military presence in Europe to contain an assertive Russia, even as it strengthens its Indo-Pacific defenses to contain a rising China. They admit their proposal would cost hundreds of billions of dollars more in defense spending and put U.S. forces on the front lines of two potential great-power wars, but they think the price is worth it. The Biden administration should decline this invitation to wage a risky global cold war. Although the invasion of Ukraine has revealed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s willingness to take risks in the pursuit of aggression, it has also exposed the weakness of the Russian military and economy. If anything, the war has strengthened the case for strategic discipline, by offering a chance to encourage Europe to balance against Russia while the United States concentrates on security in Asia and renewal at home. Such a division of labor is fair and sustainable. It would put the United States in the best position to limit the fallout from the war in Ukraine and achieve long-term peace and stability in Europe and beyond. Primacy’s lure is strong in Washington, but a more restrained approach is better. Since Russia’s invasion began, advocates of U.S. primacy have contended that the war demands not only an immediate response from the United States but also an enduring grand-strategic shift. Riding a wave of anti-Russian sentiment, they want the Biden administration to cast aside the new, Asia-centric posture that it had been expected to roll out. “We cannot pretend any longer that a national security focus primarily on China will protect our political, economic and security interests,” wrote former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. “As we have seen in Ukraine, a reckless, risk-taking dictator in Russia (or elsewhere) can be every bit as much a challenge to our interests and our security.” To keep the war from expanding, the Biden administration has boosted the number of U.S. troops in Europe to around 100,000—a level not seen in decades. But a bid to restore global military primacy is no more merited today than it was before the invasion. Putin’s gruesome attack has made the Russian threat visceral, but it has not actually increased the threat or produced other compelling evidence for taking on new commitments or missions. Gates appears to confuse a humanitarian calamity with a threat to the United States. As the Biden administration has maintained, vital U.S. security interests are not at stake in Ukraine, and so the United States will not intervene directly against Russian forces. Especially unclear is why Putin or just any “reckless, risk-taking dictator” should be presumed to challenge U.S. interests on a similar magnitude as China, the world’s number two economic and military power. Thinking that way could lead U.S. officials to give up on formulating strategy on the basis of discernable national interests. The United States would find itself policing the world, no matter the stakes. If Russia were to overrun the heartland of Europe, the United States’ security and prosperity would become endangered, since much of the wealthy and populous region would come under Moscow’s control. In the late 1940s, the United States waged the Cold War in part to prevent the Soviet Union from using its formidable resources to conquer noncommunist Europe. In a March article in Foreign Affairs, the scholars Michael Beckley and Hal Brands implicitly resurrected this strategic objective by invoking “the policies that won the Cold War” as a model for what to do today: contain Russia and China simultaneously through U.S. military buildups in both Europe and Asia. By their estimate, this course of action would require boosting defense spending over the next decade from 3.2 percent of GDP to five percent of GDP, making for a 56 percent increase. But it is difficult to discern how Russia could drive far into Europe, even if it tried. Before the invasion, the EU’s economy was roughly five times as large as Russia’s, by the conservative metric of purchasing power parity, and wartime sanctions are set to widen the gap. Taken together, the European members of NATO already outspend Russia on defense, and Europe’s geopolitical awakening will only push them to spend more. And the lackluster performance of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine does not augur well for their prospects against NATO in the near term. For three decades, U.S. foreign policy has run on inertia and called it strategy. Rather than explain how Russia could possibly come to dominate Europe, then, Beckley and Brands adopt an expansive conception of the United States’ interests and responsibilities that would have made George Kennan, the architect of Cold War containment, blush. They would seemingly have the United States go to war to stop any act of “autocratic aggression” in eastern Europe or East Asia, and perhaps wherever else “the international order” might appear to be imperiled. Indeed, as inspiration for their approach, they draw on NSC-68, the strategic document of 1950 that called for limitless anticommunist crusades and exorbitant military spending. As the historian John Lewis Gaddis has put it, NSC-68 “found in the simple presence of a Soviet threat sufficient cause to deem the interest threatened vital.” In other words, NSC-68 had the United States assume vast costs and risks without reference to the country’s safety and well-being; it severed the link between U.S. policy and U.S. interests. It should not be a template for our time. The call for a cold war against China and Russia would have Americans take on enormous burdens not because specific U.S. interests require it but because U.S. primacy does. No longer able to maintain global military dominance at the current level of exertion, the United States is now supposed to plow ever-greater resources into the endeavor. Perhaps the country could get away with strategic excesses in the 1950s, when it accounted for some 27 percent of world economic output, nearly double the combined Soviet and Chinese share of 14 percent. In 2020, by contrast, the United States accounted for 16 percent of global GDP. China and Russia together came to 22 percent. China alone topped the United States. It is doubtful that sheer will can overcome the chasm between the United States’ material superiority during the Cold War and its shortfall today. Coming out of World War II, the American public understood the implications of undertaking obligations to defend other countries. By contrast, most Americans alive today, having never seen a great-power war or paid tangible costs for smaller wars, are not used to enduring hardship for foreign policy choices. Their well-founded suspicion of far-flung military interventions creates uncertainty about how the United States would truly act if one of its dozens of defense commitments came due. It also raises doubts about whether high defense spending could be sustained indefinitely. Rather than lock a new cold war into place, Biden should remember what produced the United States’ greatest successes during the original affair: a willingness to adjust to changing circumstances and weigh creative options without clinging to outmoded habits. The Marshall Plan, for example, broke with precedent by extending government funds to rebuild European countries that might have turned communist. Decades later, U.S. policymakers saw an opportunity to stabilize superpower relations and achieved détente, devising mutually beneficial arms control measures and stabilizing Europe through the Helsinki Accords. These achievements deserve to be emulated—and that requires eschewing misplaced nostalgia. A EUROPE STRONG AND FREE The war in Ukraine has made strategic discipline not only more necessary but also more achievable. By turning Europe into a more unified and determined geopolitical actor, the war has generated international dynamics that are conducive to U.S. restraint. Biden should reject a cold war strategy of dividing the world and keeping one half dependent on the United States. He should not allow Putin’s aggression to define the United States’ concept of itself and its role in the world. Instead, he should seek to make the world resilient—more capable of effective and collective action and less reliant on U.S. military protection. The first step is to support Ukraine while avoiding escalation into a direct clash between U.S. and Russian forces. Having galvanized domestic and international action, the Biden administration should avoid the rhetorical inflation of its aims and stick to a clear goal: not to defend Ukraine but rather to help Ukraine defend itself and end the war. Accordingly, the administration should push for a peace settlement with as much vigor as it has displayed in imposing costs on Russia. A negotiated agreement will almost certainly require lifting at least some of the harshest sanctions on Russia, including the freeze of the Russian central bank’s assets. The administration should proactively communicate an offer of sanctions relief to Moscow, which might not otherwise believe that such relief is possible. In conjunction with a pledge by Ukraine to give up on trying to join NATO, Biden should also be prepared to state publicly that the United States opposes further consideration of Ukraine’s membership prospects, which were never high to begin with. After the war, the United States should continue to send weapons to Ukraine to help it defend itself. It would not be necessary or wise to pledge to go to war on Ukraine’s behalf, a commitment that would diminish American security and expand the U.S. military role in Europe. While avoiding the worst outcomes in Ukraine, Biden should take advantage of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put the European security order on the path to self-sufficiency. With immense economic and demographic superiority, Europe is more than capable of developing the military power to balance Russia. Now, it seems increasingly willing to do so. But if Washington does not get out of its own way, change will not happen. Biden should reject a cold war strategy of dividing the world and keeping one half dependent on the United States. Biden should back European strategic autonomy and make a six-year plan, to cover the rest of his term and the next one, to transition European defense to European leadership. The administration should press European countries to provide new manpower in the eastern countries of NATO and replace the additional U.S. troops sent there since January. And it should help European capitals coordinate their next steps: improving their forces’ readiness and sustainability, developing capabilities for high-end operations, and harmonizing EU defense capabilities with those of a European-led, U.S.-supported NATO. Limiting the United States’ burdens in Europe would enhance its strategy in Asia. Biden would spare himself and his successors from facing the devil’s choice that advocates of primacy would force on generations to come: weaken the United States’ Indo-Pacific defenses in the event of a European war with Russia, or prepare to fight two great-power wars by raising defense spending so high as to court a political backlash. U.S. policymakers must steer clear of these unacceptable options. Nor need they resign themselves to a strategic competition with China so intense and encompassing as to resemble the early Cold War. Military restraint is desirable on strategic grounds, but it is also essential to freeing U.S. statecraft to pursue what matters most. The priorities that Biden identified when he came into office—delivering prosperity for ordinary Americans and tackling climate change and pandemics—remain just as important today, and the war has made them even harder to address. Russia’s war and Western sanctions risk triggering a global recession or contributing to a period of stagflation. A downward economic spiral could even accompany a downward security spiral; countries could divide into economic blocs for fear that geopolitical contingencies may one day suddenly force them to join one grouping or another. The United States should act to arrest deglobalization, which would depress growth and innovation and inhibit climate cooperation. Rather than succumb to a cold war framework, it should remain economically engaged with China and respect the sovereign choices of countries in the developing world to abstain from sanctions on Russia and otherwise opt for nonalignment. As surging prices compound the effects of the pandemic, the United States should rally its European and Asian partners to provide funds and technology to build renewable energy capacity in developing countries. Climate change is perhaps the biggest threat to the American people. If it remains a sideshow in national security policy by the end of Biden’s tenure, then his foreign policy will have failed, no matter how well he handles the war in Ukraine. THE PRICE OF PRIMACY Among the priorities of the twenty-first-century United States should not be relations with Iran. Nevertheless, the country may soon vault to the top of the president’s agenda. Negotiators are currently trying to resurrect the agreement to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. If those talks break down, the Biden administration will have to decide whether to support a military strike on Iran, even though it will likely regard the country as a negligible concern and a distraction from Ukraine. But even Ukraine is a distraction from what the administration had hoped to focus on: competition with China, not to mention rescuing American democracy, mitigating a pandemic, and preserving a habitable planet. Such cacophony is the predictable result of the quest for global military primacy—not control over world events but the forfeiture of self-control. The problem will get ever worse as the unipolar moment continues to recede. A new cold war promises clarity of purpose. In reality, it would impose enormous costs and generate unnecessary risks. It would not, moreover, make other priorities go away; it would more likely exacerbate the United States’ domestic travails and stifle urgent international cooperation. After 9/11, the United States allowed itself to become consumed by fears of the enemy. After Ukraine, the Biden administration should let nothing keep it from advancing the best interests of Americans.

Despite drawbacks, the alternative to US hegemony is China and Russia dominance

Kagan, May/June 2022, ROBERT KAGAN is Stephen and Barbara Friedman Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of the forthcoming book The Ghost at the Feast: America and the Collapse of World Order, 1900–1941, Foreign Affairs, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/ukraine/2022-04-06/russia-ukraine-war-price-hegemony

For years, analysts have debated whether the United States incited Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interventions in Ukraine and other neighboring countries or whether Moscow’s actions were simply unprovoked aggressions. That conversation has been temporarily muted by the horrors of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. A wave of popular outrage has drowned out those who have long argued that the United States has no vital interests at stake in Ukraine, that it is in Russia’s sphere of interest, and that U.S. policies created the feelings of insecurity that have driven Putin to extreme measures. Just as the attack on Pearl Harbor silenced the anti-interventionists and shut down the debate over whether the United States should have entered World War II, Putin’s invasion has suspended the 2022 version of Americans’ endless argument over their purpose in the world. That is unfortunate. Although it is obscene to blame the United States for Putin’s inhumane attack on Ukraine, to insist that the invasion was entirely unprovoked is misleading. Just as Pearl Harbor was the consequence of U.S. efforts to blunt Japanese expansion on the Asian mainland, and just as the 9/11 attacks were partly a response to the United States’ dominant presence in the Middle East after the first Gulf War, so Russian decisions have been a response to the expanding post–Cold War hegemony of the United States and its allies in Europe. Putin alone is to blame for his actions, but the invasion of Ukraine is taking place in a historical and geopolitical context in which the United States has played and still plays the principal role, and Americans must grapple with this fact. For critics of American power, the best way for the United States to cope is for it to retrench its position in the world, divest itself of overseas obligations that others ought to handle, and serve, at most, as a distant offshore balancer. These critics would grant China and Russia their own regional spheres of interest in East Asia and Europe and focus the United States’ attention on defending its borders and improving the well-being of Americans. But there is a core of unrealism to this “realist” prescription: it doesn’t reflect the true nature of global power and influence that has characterized most of the post–Cold War era and that still governs the world today. The United States was already the only true global superpower during the Cold War, with its unparalleled wealth and might and its extensive international alliances. The collapse of the Soviet Union only enhanced U.S. global hegemony—and not because Washington eagerly stepped in to fill the vacuum left by Moscow’s weakness. Instead, the collapse expanded U.S. influence because the United States’ combination of power and democratic beliefs made the country attractive to those seeking security, prosperity, freedom, and autonomy. The United States is therefore an imposing obstacle to a Russia seeking to regain its lost influence. What has happened in eastern Europe over the past three decades is a testament to this reality. Washington did not actively aspire to be the region’s dominant power. But in the years after the Cold War, eastern Europe’s newly liberated countries, including Ukraine, turned to the United States and its European allies because they believed that joining the transatlantic community was the key to independence, democracy, and affluence. Eastern Europeans were looking to escape decades—or, in some cases, centuries—of Russian and Soviet imperialism, and allying with Washington at a moment of Russian weakness afforded them a precious chance to succeed. Even if the United States had rejected their pleas to join NATO and other Western institutions, as critics insist it should have, the former Soviet satellites would have continued to resist Moscow’s attempts to corral them back into its sphere of interest, seeking whatever help from the West they could get. And Putin would still have regarded the United States as the main cause of this anti-Russian behavior, simply because the country was strong enough to attract eastern Europeans. To insist that Putin’s invasion was entirely unprovoked is misleading. Throughout their history, Americans have tended to be unconscious of the daily impact that U.S. power has on the rest of the world, friends and foes alike. They are generally surprised to find themselves the target of resentment and of the kinds of challenges posed by Putin’s Russia and by President Xi Jinping’s China. Americans could reduce the severity of these challenges by wielding U.S. influence more consistently and effectively. They failed to do this in the 1920s and 1930s, allowing aggression by Germany, Italy, and Japan to go unchecked until it resulted in a massively destructive world war. They failed to do so in recent years, allowing Putin to seize more and more land until he invaded all of Ukraine. After Putin’s latest move, Americans may learn the right lesson. But they will still struggle to understand how Washington should act in the world if they don’t examine what happened with Russia, and that requires continuing the debate over the impact of U.S. power. BY POPULAR DEMAND So in what way might the United States have provoked Putin? One thing needs to be clear: it was not by threatening the security of Russia. Since the end of the Cold War, the Russians have objectively enjoyed greater security than at any time in recent memory. Russia was invaded three times over the past two centuries, once by France and twice by Germany. During the Cold War, Soviet forces were perpetually ready to battle U.S. and NATO forces in Europe. Yet since the end of the Cold War, Russia has enjoyed unprecedented security on its western flanks, even as NATO has taken in new members to its east. Moscow even welcomed what was in many ways the most significant addition to the alliance: a reunified Germany. When Germany was reunifying at the end of the Cold War, the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev favored anchoring it in NATO. As he told U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, he believed that the best guarantee of Soviet and Russian security was a Germany “contained within European structures.” Late Soviet and early Russian leaders certainly did not act as if they feared an attack from the West. Soviet and Russian defense spending declined sharply in the late 1980s and through the late 1990s, including by 90 percent between 1992 and 1996. The once formidable Red Army was cut nearly in half, leaving it weaker in relative terms than it had been for almost 400 years. Gorbachev even ordered the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Poland and other Warsaw Pact states, chiefly as a cost-saving measure. It was all part of a larger strategy to ease Cold War tensions so that Moscow might concentrate on economic reform at home. But even Gorbachev would not have sought this holiday from geopolitics had he believed that the United States and the West would take advantage of it. His judgment was sensible. The United States and its allies had no interest in the independence of the Soviet republics, as U.S. President George H. W. Bush made clear in his 1991 speech in Kyiv, in which he denounced the “suicidal nationalism” of independence-minded Ukrainians (who would declare independence three weeks later). Indeed, for several years after 1989, U.S. policies aimed first to rescue Gorbachev, then to rescue the Soviet Union, and then to rescue Russian President Boris Yeltsin. During the period of transition from Gorbachev’s Soviet Union to Yeltsin’s Russia—the time of greatest Russian weakness—the Bush administration and then the Clinton administration were reluctant to expand NATO, despite the increasingly urgent appeals of the former Warsaw Pact states. The Clinton administration created the Partnership for Peace, whose vague assurances of solidarity fell well short of a security guarantee for former Warsaw Pact members. It is easy to see why Washington felt no great compulsion to drive NATO eastward. Few Americans at that time saw the organization as a bulwark against Russian expansion, much less as a means of bringing Russia down. From the U.S. perspective, Russia was already a shell of its former self. The question was whether NATO had any mission at all now that the great adversary against which it was aimed had collapsed—and given just how hopeful the 1990s felt to most Americans and western Europeans. It was thought to be a time of convergence, when both China and Russia were moving ineluctably toward liberalism. Geoeconomics had replaced geopolitics, the nation-state was passing away, the world was “flat,” the twenty-first century would be run by the European Union, and Enlightenment ideals were spreading across the planet. For NATO, “out of area or out of business” was the mantra of the day. Many Americans equate hegemony with imperialism, but the two are different. But as the West enjoyed its fantasies and Russia struggled to adapt to a new world, the nervous populations lying to the east of Germany—the Balts, the Poles, the Romanians, and the Ukrainians—viewed the end of the Cold War as merely the latest phase in their centuries-old struggle. For them, NATO was not obsolete. They saw what the United States and western Europe took for granted—the Article 5 collective security guarantee—as the key to escaping a long, bloody, and oppressive past. Much like the French after World War I, who feared the day when a revived Germany would again threaten them, eastern Europeans believed that Russia would eventually resume its centuries-long habit of imperialism and seek to reclaim its traditional influence over their neighborhood. These states wanted to integrate into the free-market capitalism of their richer, Western neighbors, and membership in NATO and the European Union was to them the only path out of a dismal past and into a safer, more democratic, and more prosperous future. It was hardly surprising, then, that when Gorbachev and then Yeltsin loosened the reins in the early 1990s, practically every current, and soon former, Warsaw Pact member and Soviet republic seized the chance to break from the past and shift their allegiance from Moscow to the transatlantic West. But although this massive change had little to do with U.S. policies, it had much to do with the reality of the United States’ post–Cold War hegemony. Many Americans tend to equate hegemony with imperialism, but the two are different. Imperialism is an active effort by one state to force others into its sphere, whereas hegemony is more a condition than a purpose. A militarily, economically, and culturally powerful country exerts influence on other states by its mere presence, the way a larger body in space affects the behavior of smaller bodies through its gravitational pull. Even if the United States was not aggressively expanding its influence in Europe, and certainly not through its military, the collapse of Soviet power enhanced the attractive pull of the United States and its democratic allies. Their prosperity, their freedom, and, yes, their power to protect former Soviet satellites, when combined with the inability of Moscow to provide any of these, dramatically shifted the balance in Europe in favor of Western liberalism to the detriment of Russian autocracy. The growth of U.S. influence and the spread of liberalism were less a policy objective of the United States than the natural consequence of that shift. Russian leaders could have accommodated themselves to this new reality. Other great powers had adjusted to similar changes. The British had once been lords of the seas, the possessors of a vast global empire, and the center of the financial world. Then they lost it all. But although some were humiliated at being supplanted by the United States, Britons rather quickly adjusted to their new place in the firmament. The French, too, lost a great empire, and Germany and Japan, defeated in war, lost everything except their talent for producing wealth. But they all made the adjustment and were arguably better for it. There were certainly Russians in the 1990s—Yeltsin’s foreign minister, Andrei Kozyrev, for one—who thought that Russia should make a similar decision. They wished to integrate Russia into the liberal West even at the expense of traditional geopolitical ambitions. But that was not the view that ultimately prevailed in Russia. Unlike the United Kingdom, France, and to some extent Japan, Russia did not have a long history of friendly relations and strategic cooperation with the United States—quite the contrary. Unlike Germany and Japan, Russia was not militarily defeated, occupied, and reformed in the process. And unlike Germany, which always knew that its economic power was irrepressible and that in the post–World War II order it could at least grow prosperous, Russia never really believed it could become a successful economic powerhouse. Its elites thought that the likeliest consequence of integration would be Russia’s demotion to, at best, a second-rank power. Russia would be at peace, and it would still have a chance to prosper. But it would not determine the fate of Europe and the world. WAR OR PEACE In the fall of 1940, Japan’s foreign minister, Yosuke Matsuoka, posed his country’s predicament starkly in a meeting with other senior officials. Japan could seek a return to cooperative relations with the United States and the United Kingdom, he noted, but only on those countries’ terms. This meant returning to “little Japan,” as the minister of war (and future prime minister), General Hideki Tojo, put it. To Japanese leaders at the time, that seemed intolerable, so much so that they risked a war that most of them believed they were likely to lose. The coming years would prove not only that going to war was a mistake but also that the Japanese would indeed have served their interests better by simply integrating themselves into the liberal order from the beginning, as they did quite successfully after the war. Putin’s Russia has made much the same choice as did imperial Japan, Kaiser Wilhelm II’s Germany, and many other dissatisfied powers throughout history, and likely with the same end—eventual defeat. But Putin’s choice should hardly have come as a surprise. Washington’s protestations of goodwill, the billions of dollars it poured into the Russian economy, the care it took in the early post–Cold War years to avoid dancing on the Soviet Union’s grave—all this had no effect, because what Putin wanted could not be granted by the United States. He sought to reverse a defeat that could not be reversed without violent force, but he lacked the wherewithal to wage a successful war. He wanted to restore a Russian sphere of interest in central and eastern Europe that Moscow had lost the power to sustain. The problem for Putin—and for those in the West who want to cede to both China and Russia their traditional spheres of interest—is that such spheres are not granted to one great power by other great powers; they are not inherited, nor are they created by geography or history or “tradition.” They are acquired by economic, political, and military power. They come and go as the distribution of power in the international system fluctuates. The United Kingdom’s sphere of interest once covered much of the globe, and France once enjoyed spheres of interest in Southeast Asia and much of Africa and the Middle East. Both lost them, partly due to an unfavorable shift of power at the beginning of the twentieth century, partly because their imperial subjects rebelled, and partly because they willingly traded in their spheres of interest for a stable and prosperous U.S.-dominated peace. Germany’s sphere of interest once extended far to the east. Before World War I, some Germans envisioned a vast economic Mitteleuropa, where the people of central and eastern Europe would provide the labor, resources, and markets for German industry. But this German sphere of interest overlapped with Russia’s sphere of interest in southeastern Europe, where Slavic populations looked to Moscow for protection against Teutonic expansion. These contested spheres helped produce both world wars, just as the contested spheres in East Asia had helped bring Japan and Russia to blows in 1904. Russians may believe they have a natural, geographic, and historical claim to a sphere of interest in eastern Europe because they had it throughout much of the past four centuries. And many Chinese feel the same way about East Asia, which they once dominated. But even the Americans learned that claiming a sphere of interest is different from having one. For the first century of the United States’ existence, the Monroe Doctrine was a mere assertion—as hollow as it was brazen. It was only toward the end of the nineteenth century, when the country was able to enforce its claim, that the other great powers were grudgingly forced to accept it. After the Cold War, Putin and other Russians may have wanted the West to grant Moscow a sphere of interest in Europe, but such a sphere simply did not reflect the true balance of power after the Soviet Union fell. China may claim the “nine-dash line”—enclosing most of the South China Sea—as marking its sphere of interest, but until Beijing can enforce it, other powers are unlikely to acquiesce. Some Western analysts nonetheless argued when the Cold War ended, and continue to argue now, that Washington and western Europe should have given in to Russia’s demand. But if Moscow could not enforce a sphere, then on what grounds should the West have acceded? Fairness? Justice? Spheres of interest are not about justice, and even if they were, consigning the Poles and other eastern Europeans to subservience to Moscow would have been a dubious justice. They knew what it was like to be under Moscow’s sway—the loss of independence, the imposition of rulers willing to take direction from the Kremlin, the squelching of individual liberties. The only way they would have accepted a return to Russia’s sphere was if they were compelled to by a combination of Russian pressure and the studied indifference of the West. In fact, even if the United States had vetoed the accession of Poland and others to NATO, as some suggested at the time that it should have, the Balts, the Czechs, the Hungarians, and the Poles would have done everything they could to integrate themselves into the transatlantic community in every other possible way. They would have worked to join the global economy, to enter other Western-dominated international institutions, and to gain whatever commitment they could to their security—acts that almost certainly would have still antagonized Moscow. Once Putin began taking slices out of Ukraine (there would be no way for him to restore Russia to its previous great-power status without controlling Ukraine), the Poles and others would have come banging on NATO’s door. It seems unlikely that the United States and its allies would have continued to say no. Russia’s problem was ultimately not just about its military weakness. Its problem was, and remains, its weakness in all relevant forms of power, including the power of attraction. At least during the Cold War, a communist Soviet Union could claim to offer the path to paradise on earth. Yet afterward, Moscow could provide neither ideology, nor security, nor prosperity, nor independence to its neighbors. It could offer only Russian nationalism and ambition, and eastern Europeans understandably had no interest in sacrificing themselves on that altar. If there was any other choice, Russia’s neighbors were bound to take it. And there was: the United States and its strong alliance, merely by existing, merely by being rich and powerful and democratic, offered a very good choice indeed. Putin may want to see the United States as being behind all his troubles, and he is right that the country’s attractive power closed the door to some of his ambitions. But the real sources of his problems are the limitations of Russia itself and the choices that he has made not to accept the consequences of a power struggle that Moscow legitimately lost. Post–Cold War Russia, like Weimar Germany, never suffered an actual military defeat and occupation, an experience that might have produced a transformation of the sort that occurred in post–World War II Germany and Japan. Like the Weimar Republic, Russia was therefore susceptible to its own “stab-in-the-back myth” about how Russian leaders supposedly betrayed the country to the West. But although Russians can cast blame in any number of directions—at Gorbachev, at Yeltsin, and at Washington—the fact is that Russia enjoyed neither the wealth and power nor the geographic advantages of the United States, and it was therefore never suited to be a global superpower. Moscow’s efforts to sustain that position ultimately bankrupted its system financially and ideologically—as may well be happening again. SOONER OR LATER Observers used to say that Putin played a bad hand skillfully. It is true that he read the United States and its allies correctly for many years, pushing forward just enough to achieve limited goals without sparking a dangerous reaction from the West, up until this latest invasion. But even so, he had help from the United States and its allies, which played a strong hand poorly. Washington and Europe stood by as Putin increased Russian military capabilities, and they did little as he probed and tested Western resolve, first in Georgia in 2008 and then in Ukraine in 2014. They didn’t act when Putin consolidated Russia’s position in Belarus or when he established a robust Russian presence in Syria, from which his weapons could reach the southeastern flank of NATO. And if his “special military operation” in Ukraine had gone as planned, with the country subdued in a matter of days, it would have been a triumphant coup, the end of the first stage of Russia’s comeback and the beginning of the second. Rather than excoriating him for his inhumane folly, the world would again be talking about Putin’s “savvy” and his “genius.” Thankfully, that was not to be. But now that Putin has made his mistakes, the question is whether the United States will continue to make its own mistakes or whether Americans will learn, once again, that it is better to contain aggressive autocracies early, before they have built up a head of steam and the price of stopping them rises. The challenge posed by Russia is neither unusual nor irrational. The rise and fall of nations is the warp and woof of international relations. National trajectories are changed by wars and the resulting establishment of new power structures, by shifts in the global economy that enrich some and impoverish others, and by beliefs and ideologies that lead people to prefer one power over another. If there is any blame to be cast on the United States for what is happening in Ukraine, it is not that Washington deliberately extended its influence in eastern Europe. It is that Washington failed to see that its influence had already increased and to anticipate that actors dissatisfied with the liberal order would look to overturn it. For the 70-plus years since World War II, the United States has actively worked to keep revisionists at bay. But many Americans hoped that with the end of the Cold War, this task would be finished and that their country could become a “normal” nation with normal—which was to say, limited—global interests. But the global hegemon cannot tiptoe off the stage, as much as it might wish to. It especially cannot retreat when there are still major powers that, because of their history and sense of self, cannot give up old geopolitical ambitions—unless Americans are prepared to live in a world shaped and defined by those ambitions, as it was in the 1930s. Americans are part of a never-ending power struggle, whether they wish to be or not. The United States would be better served if it recognized both its position in the world and its true interest in preserving the liberal world order. In the case of Russia, this would have meant doing everything possible to integrate it into the liberal order politically and economically while deterring it from attempting to re-create its regional dominance by military means. The commitment to defend NATO allies was never meant to preclude helping others under attack in Europe, as the United States and its allies did in the case of the Balkans in the 1990s, and the United States and its allies could have resisted military efforts to control or seize land from Georgia and Ukraine. Imagine if the United States and the democratic world had responded in 2008 or 2014 as they have responded to Russia’s latest use of force, when Putin’s military was even weaker than it has proved to be now, even as they kept extending an outstretched hand in case Moscow wanted to grasp it. The United States ought to be following the same policy toward China: make clear that it is prepared to live with a China that seeks to fulfill its ambitions economically, politically, and culturally but that it will respond effectively to any Chinese military action against its neighbors. It is true that acting firmly in 2008 or 2014 would have meant risking conflict. But Washington is risking conflict now; Russia’s ambitions have created an inherently dangerous situation. It is better for the United States to risk confrontation with belligerent powers when they are in the early stages of ambition and expansion, not after they have already consolidated substantial gains. Russia may possess a fearful nuclear arsenal, but the risk of Moscow using it is not higher now than it would have been in 2008 or 2014, if the West had intervened then. And it has always been extraordinarily small: Putin was never going to obtain his objectives by destroying himself and his country, along with much of the rest of the world. If the United States and its allies—with their combined economic, political, and military power—had collectively resisted Russian expansionism from the beginning, Putin would have found himself constantly unable to invade neighboring countries. Unfortunately, it is very difficult for democracies to take action to prevent a future crisis. The risks of acting now are always clear and often exaggerated, whereas distant threats are just that: distant and so hard to calculate. It always seems better to hope for the best rather than try to forestall the worst. This common conundrum becomes even more debilitating when Americans and their leaders remain blissfully unconscious of the fact that they are part of a never-ending power struggle, whether they wish to be or not. But Americans should not lament the role they play in the world. The reason the United States has often found itself entangled in Europe, after all, is because what it offers is genuinely attractive to much of the world—and certainly better when compared with any realistic alternative. If Americans learn anything from Russia’s brutalization of Ukraine, it should be that there really are worse things than U.S. hegemony.

Russian dominance/aggression collapses the global norm against protecting territorial integrity, triggering massive war

TANISHA M. FAZAL,  is Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota and the author of State Death: The Politics and Geography of Conquest, Occupation, and Annexation, May/June 2022, Foreign Affairs, The Return of Conquest? Why the Future of Global Order Hinges on Ukraine, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/ukraine/2022-04-06/ukraine-russia-war-return-conquest

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is shining a light on the precariousness of the norm against territorial conquest. The good news is that the outrage has been swift and broad, with a variety of actors worried that Putin’s attack could undermine the stability of borders globally. Even those who did not participate in the drawing of today’s national borders have spoken out passionately. “We agreed that we would settle for the borders that we inherited,” Martin Kimani, Kenya’s ambassador to the UN, said at a February 22 Security Council meeting. “We chose to follow the rules of the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations Charter,” he went on, “not because our borders satisfied us, but because we wanted something greater, forged in peace.” Leaders of countries from Albania to Argentina have condemned the Russian invasion on similar grounds.

In part, the fate of the norm against territorial conquest depends on the extent to which Putin violates it in Ukraine. If Putin ends up replacing the administration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and installing a puppet regime in Ukraine, he would be engaging in blatant regime change and dealing a grave blow to the Ukrainian people. But he would not be challenging the norm against territorial conquest per se. The country would be under indirect, rather than direct, Russian control.

Likewise, if Putin attempts to absorb Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk—areas he has long claimed as Russian territory—and the rest of the world acquiesces, it would weaken but not completely overturn the norm guarding a state’s territorial integrity, because most of Ukraine would remain intact. Even so, the acceptance of a limited violation of the norm might do more damage in the long run than a rejection of a major violation of it. After all, it is likely that the West’s relatively weak response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea emboldened Putin.

There is reason to fear that Putin’s ambitions go well beyond these goals. As his remarks questioning the legitimacy of Ukraine as an independent country suggest, Putin seems interested in much more than merely putting a crony in charge of a former Soviet republic or carving out parts of the country; he may be contemplating redrawing the map of Europe to hark back to imperial Russia. If Russia were to take over the entirety of Ukraine, Putin would drive a stake into the heart of the norm against territorial conquest.

Norms are nourished by enforcement.

If Putin went that far, then the fate of the norm would depend largely on how the rest of the world reacted. Norms are nourished by enforcement. In 2013, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad clearly violated the norm against the use of chemical weapons (and international law) when he fired sarin-filled rockets at the Damascus suburbs. Even though U.S. President Barack Obama had declared the use of chemical weapons to be a redline, the response to this violation was so tepid that one can be forgiven for asking whether the taboo against chemical weapons still holds.

Fortunately, much of the world’s response to the Russian invasion indicates that countries are largely united in their determination to protect the norm. Unprecedented sanctions on Russia, combined with donations of humanitarian aid and weapons for Ukraine, are applying pressure on Putin while offering (admittedly limited) relief to Zelensky. If that international resolve were to ebb, however, countries that neighbor Ukraine, such as Moldova, Poland, and Romania, would rightly become nervous about their sovereignty. Indeed, they already are. It is notable that the international community has not banded together to repel Russia’s incursion the way a U.S.-led global alliance turned back Iraq’s attempted annexation of Kuwait. That move not only restored Kuwaiti independence but also reinforced the norm against conquest. (Russia, of course, is far more powerful than Iraq ever was and possesses nuclear weapons to boot.)

At the same time, enforcing the norm against territorial conquest comes with tradeoffs, about which everyone should be clear-eyed. Protecting Ukrainian sovereignty is likely not worth a third world war—especially one that could go nuclear. The world should not pay the ultimate price just to support the norm against territorial conquest. But the bloody costs that come with that choice cannot be ignored. The West is currently walking a difficult line, seeking to respond to Russia’s invasion with strength but without escalating the conflict.

To preserve the norm against territorial conquest, the global community should keep up the pressure on Russia, even if Putin’s goal is to annex only Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk. The Western alliance, for example, should not fully lift sanctions on Russia until and unless Putin recognizes Ukraine’s pre-2014 borders. International jurists should take Ukraine’s various suits against Russia seriously, not just in the context of this specific conflict but also with an eye to any precedents their decisions might set. Along these lines, it is worth paying attention to how the accusations that Russia has committed the crime of aggression play out. The fact that Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, can veto a referral for the crime of aggression to the International Criminal Court exposes a troubling vulnerability of the norm against territorial conquest. It is hard to maintain norms when great powers are determined to break them.

Norms don’t always last forever.

If the global community fails to enforce the norm against territorial conquest, the states bordering great powers will face the highest risk of extinction. Among the most concerning aspects of a return to a world of violent state death are the effects invasions have on civilians. Annexationists frequently engage in indiscriminate targeting, similar to what is happening today in the Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv and Mariupol, to quell and even depopulate areas. In other words, the demise of the norm against territorial conquest could see an increase in not only the incidence but also the brutality of war.

Even if the global community does not rally behind the norm in the face of a Russian attempt to reinstate imperial boundaries, hope for Ukraine will not be lost. About half of all the states that died violently since 1816 were later resurrected. An important predictor of resurrection is nationalist resistance to being swallowed up. The extent of the resistance can be difficult for invaders to predict. Putin’s expectations certainly seem to have been way off the mark: the widespread and sophisticated Ukrainian resistance strongly suggests that Russia will find it nearly impossible to control Ukraine. Few occupations in history have ended up achieving their long-term political aims.

If the Ukrainians are left to resurrect their own country, the end result will be good for Ukrainians but not particularly encouraging for the norm against territorial conquest. For norms to remain strong, violations must be punished. A resurrected Ukraine might deter future would-be conquerors from attacking the country. But globally, aspiring invaders would draw a clear lesson: it is possible to get away with territorial conquest.

RECOMMITTING TO BRIGHT LINES

It might be more comforting to believe that once established, a norm is permanent, but norms don’t always last forever. Think about how many have slipped away. People no longer settle fights via ritual dueling. Governments rarely issue formal declarations of war; the last time the United States did so was in 1942, even though the country has fought many wars since then. The public assassination of state leaders, which was a regular feature of international politics in Machiavelli’s time, was viewed as abhorrent by the seventeenth century (although covert assassinations continued). If the prohibition against territorial conquest ends up in the graveyard of norms, then history will turn backward, and the world will revisit the brutal era of violent state death. This is not to say that the norm ushered in world peace. There have been plenty of wars since 1945. But a certain kind of war—wars between states over unresolved territorial claims—did decline. Should that style of conflict return, civilians around the world will bear the consequences.

Consider the dozens of ongoing territorial disputes today. Armenia and Azerbaijan are engaged in a frozen conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Sudan has challenged its border with Ethiopia in the southeast and South Sudan in the south. In the East China and South China Seas, China and its neighbors, including Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam, disagree over the sovereignty of a series of islands. Taiwan’s fate is of particular concern. Putin’s arguments about the legitimacy of Ukraine’s statehood echo China’s claim that Taiwan and China are already one country. If it suddenly seems acceptable to take territory by force, leaders of states with long-unresolved territorial claims could attempt to subsume sovereign nations.

Existing norms and legal structures have helped stop recent territorial conflicts from escalating, offering nonviolent paths to their management and resolution. The International Court of Justice resolved a case between El Salvador and Honduras in 1986, for example. The United Nations and the Organization of American States resolved a brief conflict between Ecuador and Peru in 1998. Several years later, the ICJ resolved a long-standing militarized territorial dispute between Bahrain and Qatar; subsequently, the two states invested in what will be the world’s longest bridge. This mediation allowed states to settle their differences without significant bloodshed.

Russia’s war in Ukraine is about much more than Russia and Ukraine. Allowing the norm against territorial conquest to wither away would mean taking the lid off territorial disputes around the globe and making millions of civilians more vulnerable to indiscriminate targeting. Right now, the immediate effects of the war are largely contained to Ukraine, Russia, and the countries taking in Ukrainian refugees. But further down the road, if the norm against territorial conquest ends up as another casualty of this war, states would be wise to carefully tend to their borders.

Putin’s popular, has developed a strong sense of nationalism, will engage in mass destruction, and will threaten all of Europe

Andrew Sullivan, 3-25, 22, https://andrewsullivan.substack.com/p/the-strange-rebirth-of-imperial-russia-694?s=w, Weekly Dish, The Strange Rebirth Of Imperial Russia

“The huge iceberg Russia, frozen by the Putin regime, cracked after the events in Crimea; it has split from the European world, and sailed off into the unknown,” – Vladimir Sorokin, New York Review of Books, 2017. The greatest mistake liberals make when assessing reactionaryism is to underestimate it. There is a profound, mesmerizing allure — intensified by disillusion with the shallows of modernity — to the idea of recovering some great meaning from decades or centuries gone by, to resurrect and resuscitate it, to blast away all the incoherence and instability of post-modern life into a new collective, ancient meaning. Even when it’s based on bullshit. You’d be amazed how vacuous slogans about returning to a mythical past — “Make America Great Again!”, “Take Back Control!” — can move public opinion dramatically in even the most successful modern democracies. That’s one reason it’s self-defeating for liberals to press for maximal change in as many things as possible. National identity, fused often with ethnic heritage, has not disappeared in the human psyche — as so many hoped or predicted. It has been reborn in new and strange forms. Now is the time of monsters, so to speak. Best not to summon up too many. This, it seems to me, is what many of us have missed about the newly visible monster of post-Communist Russia. It would be hard to conjure up a period of post-modern bewilderment more vividly than Russia in the post-Soviet 1990s. A vast empire collapsed overnight; an entire totalitarian system, long since discredited but still acting as some kind of social glue and cultural meaning, unraveled in chaos and confusion. Take away a totalitarian ideology in an instant, and a huge vacuum of meaning will open up, to be filled by something else. We once understood this. When Nazi Germany collapsed in total military defeat, the West immediately arrived to reconstruct the society from the bottom up. We de-Nazified West Germany; we created a new constitution; we invested massively with the Marshall Plan, doing more for our previous foe than we did for a devastated ally like Britain. We filled the gap. Ditto post-1945 Japan. But we left post-1991 Russia flailing, offering it shock therapy for freer markets, insisting that a democratic nation-state could be built — tada! — on the ruins of the Evil Empire. We expected it to be reconstructed even as many of its Soviet functionaries remained in place, and without the searing experience of consciousness-changing national defeat. What followed in Russia was a grasping for coherence, in the midst of national humiliation. It was more like Germany after 1918 than 1945. It is no surprise that this was a near-perfect moment for reactionism to stake its claim. It came, like all reactionary movements, not from some continuous, existing tradition waiting to be tweaked or deepened, but from intellectuals, making shit up. They created a near-absurd mythology they rescued from the 19th and early 20th centuries — packed with pseudo-science and pseudo-history. Russia was not just a nation-state, they argued; it was a “civilization-state,” a whole way of being, straddling half the globe and wrapping countless other nations and cultures into Mother Russia’s spiritual bosom. Russians were genetically different — infused with what the reactionary theorist Lev Gumilev called “passionarity” — a kind of preternatural energy or will to power. They belonged to a new order — “Eurasia” — which would balance the Atlantic powers of the US and the UK, and help govern the rest of the world. In his riveting book, “Black Wind, White Snow: The Rise of Russia’s New Nationalism,” British journalist Charles Clover recounts how mystical and often fictional accounts of Russian history pre-1917 endured through suppression in much of the Soviet era only to burst into new life under Vladimir Putin. Clover’s summary: The [reactionaries] argued that their native Russia, rather than being a branch of the rationalistic West, was the descendant of the Mongol Horde — a legacy that the Bolshevik Revolution, with all its savagery, seemed to confirm. They saw in the Revolution some promise of a future — a shedding of Western conformity and the rebirth of authentic Russianness, a Biblical event, a cataclysm that brings earthly beatitude. Alrighty then. But a civilization that sees itself as the modern incarnation of the Steppe Mongol tribes who ransacked cities and towns wherever they went is not quite a regular, Westphalian nation-state, is it? Nothing in modernity’s political structures quite captures it — because it is a pre-modern concept: mystical, spiritual, with no border to the north but frozen darkness, and no firm border between its neighbors to the south and west either. And, of course, in the 1990s and 2000s, this fantastic vision of a new Russia appealed to youngsters, hipsters, gamers, and online freaks, in a similar fashion to alt-righters in the West at the time, and often with the same ironic lulz. A key figure here is Aleksandr Dugin, a guitar-strumming poet who resurrected Gumilev’s theories by writing “The Foundations of Geopolitics.” That book is perhaps the best guide to understanding where Putin is coming from, and what Russia now is. Dugin has the same post-modern worldview as the woke left and alt right in the US: nothing is true; everything is power; and power must be exercised. For Dugin, “all ideology is mere language games or camouflaged power relations; all politics is simulacrum and spectacle; all ‘discourses’ are equal, as is all truth,” Clover writes. So of course it doesn’t matter if history is invented, lies repeated, myths invoked as facts. For the Russian reactionaries, just as for the critical race theorists, history is a tool to be manipulated and wielded to gain power, not a truth to be discovered and debated. And when Dugin pontificates about the West’s desire to dismember Russia, or sees the Cold War not as a fight between liberalism and communism, but between “sea people” and “land people,” you’re never quite sure if he’s serious or not. Was the long standoff between the US and USSR really “a planetary conspiracy of two ‘occult’ forces, whose secret confrontations and unwitnessed battle has determined the course of history”? Or is he just out for attention? But for Putin, it didn’t seem to matter. Dugin’s and Gumilev’s ideas were perfectly attuned to a post-truth dictatorship, crafted by relentless TV propaganda and opinion polling, and gave him a rationale for a post-ideological regime. So from 2009 onwards, Putin started using words like “passionarity” and “civilization-state,” rejecting a Western-style Russian nation-state, in favor of a multi-ethnic empire, in line with “our thousand-year history.” Putin went on in 2011 to propose a “Eurasian Union” to counter the EU. It’s worth noting here that this is not Russian ethnic nationalism: the whole point is that there are many distinct ethnicities in the Russian Empire, all united in the protective motherland. When today, Putin insisted that cultural diversity is Russia’s strength, this is what he meant. In all this, the contours of Dugin’s thought is pretty obvious: “The Eurasian Empire will be constructed on the fundamental principle of the common enemy: the rejection of Atlanticism, the strategic control of the USA, and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us.” Putin’s seething resentment of the West, his inferiority complex, his paranoia are all echoed in Dugin’s sometimes hypnotic prose — as Putin’s latest diatribes show. And yes, this is a kind of international culture war, which is why illiberal rightists across the West warm to the thug in the Kremlin — and why Putin just invoked JK Rowling as a fellow victim of cancel culture. Dugin’s view of Ukraine? “Kill! Kill! Kill! There can be no other discussion. This is my opinion as a professor,” he told a magazine in 2014. A joke or not? As with many of Dugin’s provocations, hard to tell. Putin distanced himself a little afterwards. Religion is part of this new Russia, as it is in American reactionism. Like America’s religious right, Dugin’s version of Orthodoxy has replaced Christian faith with Christianism — a fusion of politics and religious tradition in defense of a single charismatic leader’s authority — and against cultural liberals and their “gender freedoms.” How earnest is this? About as earnest as Donald Trump’s “faith.” But negative polarization — the consuming hatred of Western liberalism — keeps the show on the road, even in a country where actual belief in God is hard to find. Support independent media There is a tendency to talk of Russia as if Putin has hijacked the country, wresting it away from the West, and from being a “normal country.” I wish that were true. Putin is closer to many Russians’ view of the world than we’d like to believe; his popularity soared after the seizure of Crimea; his mastery of modern media manipulation means his war propaganda can work at home — at least for a while. Most Russians see Ukraine as indelibly Russian, and they certainly don’t support a fully independent nation-state allied with the EU and NATO. This was the view of figures as disparate as Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, George Kennan, and Joseph Brodsky in their time. And if you want to grasp the power of nationalism in Russia, remember that Alexei Navalny, Putin’s greatest potential foe, has built his career on it. All of this, it seems to me, tells us something about this moment: the invasion of Ukraine is part of a now-established narrative of Russia defending its civilization against the liberal West. It is wrapped up in history and religion and a sense that Russia means nothing if it is just another nation-state, what Russophobe John McCain called a “gas station masquerading as a country,” wedged between Europe and China. For years now, Putin has built his legitimacy as a “gatherer of the lands” of his Russian ancestors, buttressed by a near-eugenic understanding of Russian identity: “We are a victorious people! It is in our genes, in our genetic code. It is transferred from generation to generation, and we will have victory!” That seems preposterous — at least right now, as Russian troops in Ukraine take massive casualties and remain stuck in a stalemate. It proves reactionaryism’s core weakness: its alienation from reality and the present. You can theorize endlessly about Eurasia, the glories of Empire and the legacy of the Mongols, but if your tanks keep getting blown up, your communications don’t work, and your troops are poorly trained, it will all look pretty ridiculous soon. More to the point, if your nostalgia for imperial nationalism confronts real actual living nationalism among those you’re invading, it will also lose. The crudeness of the invasion, its cruelty and incompetence have all conjured up a far stronger Ukrainian identity — among Russian and Ukrainian speakers — than ever before. And if your worldview is built on esoteric theory from hipster fascists, and you ignore how countries shift in real time in practice, you’ll misunderstand your enemy. What Ukraine has gone through in the past decade has changed it. What it has endured this past month has transformed it. In one terrible mistake, Putin has been more successful at nation-building than the US has been for two decades. He has built a new Ukraine even as he continues to carpet-bomb it. Which is, of course, the caveat. The invasion of Ukraine is integral to the entire edifice of the Putin era. It is what everything has been leading up to — from Chechnya to Syria. If it ends in manifest failure, Putin is finished. But if it becomes a grinding, hideous war of attrition; if the West loses interest (as we surely will); if exhaustion hits Ukraine itself and Russia is able to pulverize and terrorize it from a distance, I’m not so sure. At the very least, Putin may succeed in the permanent annexation of the Donbas and Crimea, claim he has disarmed the “Nazis” in Ukraine, milk the conflict for a jingoistic boost, and declare victory. Russia tends to win wars of attrition — whether against Hitler or Napoleon, or in Chechnya and Syria. Russian regimes have little compunction in the mass murder of civilians or brutal destruction of towns and cities where their enemies live. Putin has a narrative into which all of this fits, and the extraordinary sanctions — an economic nuclear bomb — imposed on Moscow will feed into his story of the persecution of Russia and the perfidy and hypocrisy of the West. Putin could become like Assad, his puppet, turning Mariupol into Aleppo, testing chemical weapons, but with a nuclear capacity to turn the planet to dust. Sanctions? Putin will use them, as Saddam did, to further demonize the West, and sing the praises of Russian stoicism and endurance. I pray he fails. But Putin is not without allies. China, Brazil, India, Israel — they’re all hedging their bets, alongside much of the global South. And the invasion of Iraq and the US abandonment of the Geneva Conventions have greatly undermined any moral authority the West once might have had in the eyes of many in the developing world. This story is not over. Nor is this war. Nor the project Putin has constructed. It may, in fact, just be beginning..

International cooperation needed to solve disease, climate change and nuclear proliferation

Goddard, May/June 22, STACIE E. GODDARD is Mildred Lane Kemper Professor of Political Science and Paula Phillips Bernstein ’58 Faculty Director of the Albright Institute at Wellesley College, Foreign Affairs, The Outsiders How the International System Can Still Check China and Russia, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/ukraine/2022-04-06/china-russia-ukraine-international-system-outsiders

The growing alarm about China’s and Russia’s revisionism has amplified calls for the United States to abandon its institutionalist strategy and instead embrace traditional realpolitik. The goal is no longer integration; it is deterrence: the United States must ensure that its military and alliances are strong enough to dissuade China and Russia from using force to achieve their aims. This was the stated approach of the Trump administration. Its 2017 National Security Strategy argued that while the United States would still “seek areas of cooperation with competitors,” its primary aim would be to “deter and if necessary, defeat aggression against U.S. interests and increase the likelihood of managing competitions without violent conflict.”

The United States needs to embrace a strategy of institutional realpolitik.
Instead of abandoning institutional integration in favor of saber rattling, Washington needs to make better use of institutions to exert its influence and limit that of its rivals. Even the most hardened proponents of realpolitik concede that institutional cooperation is necessary to deal with existential threats such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, and pandemic disease. Ensuring that all the great powers remain firmly integrated in institutions that address these collective dangers—such as the Paris climate accord and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty—should be the goal.

Beyond this, the United States needs to embrace a strategy of institutional realpolitik. To begin with, it should abandon the idea that the purpose of international institutions is to eliminate revisionism or expand liberal global governance. Rather, international institutions are a tool to manage power politics. The most straightforward and significant aim should be to channel revisionist ambitions toward institutional forums and away from more violent and destructive behavior. International institutions could be designed not to stop competition through power politics but to direct it and make it more predictable by providing channels of communication, forums for negotiation, and clear rules about what counts as appropriate behavior.

In Ukraine, this may seem like too little, too late. But at some point, the war will be over, and it is important to consider what will come next. This is not to advocate another “reset” or a substantive partnership with Russia, which must not be permitted to subjugate its neighbors. The goal, instead, should be to redirect a hostile relationship back into more predictable forums—of the kind that stabilized U.S.-Soviet relations during the Cold War. Some might decry this as tantamount to appeasement. To be clear, the United States and its allies should make such cooperation contingent on Russian acceptance of existing territorial boundaries, including those of Ukraine. The United States should support similar institutions to modify China’s actions in the South China Sea. At a minimum, Washington should ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to give it more legitimacy in pushing back against illegal Chinese behavior.

The United States should also try to outflank its rivals by thinking strategically about where revisionists could mobilize support for an alternative and more illiberal international order in the future. This is particularly important in the coming long contest with China, in which Washington, so far, seems to be largely on the defensive. AUKUS, the trilateral security pact with Australia and the United Kingdom; the G-7; and the Five Eyes partnership with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom are all designed to shore up the United States’ security relationships. But Washington remains strangely reluctant to engage in offensive institution building. Biden has yet to reverse his predecessor’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, whose successor institution, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, established a free-trade zone stretching from Vietnam to Australia and encompassing around 40 percent of global GDP. The United States is also excluded from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a regional free-trade pact that is likely to build stronger ties between China and Southeast Asian countries. Finding a way to interact with these new institutions is critical if Washington wishes to bind itself to its allies and partners in meaningful, credible, and durable ways.

Moreover, China has significantly expanded its footprint in areas that the United States has treated as peripheral. Although originally Chinese officials portrayed the infrastructure projects of the BRI as a complement to the liberal economic order, Beijing has since begun to frame them as steps in building an alternative order, or a “community of common destiny.” Reforming international economic institutions to make them more attentive to the needs of aid-recipient countries could help outflank the BRI, which has experienced its own difficulties. For example, the United States could use its own existing institutions—the Millennium Challenge Corporation or the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation—to invest in infrastructure that would buttress the efforts of the new African Continental Free Trade Area and stymie China’s influence.

KEEP THEM CLOSE

Such reforms would not represent a return to the order building of the 1990s. The United States has neither the power nor the will to go back to that approach. Indeed, institutional realpolitik should involve selective retrenchment. Washington should be willing to identify places where it overextended at the height of U.S. primacy. It may make sense to pull back from the globally oriented, hyper-legalized institutional structure of the WTO, which has benefited countries that are not playing by its rules, such as China. Washington should also be willing to let its regional allies and partners take the lead in institution building. Strong regional institutions, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the EU, are critical to halting revisionist projects, even if they sometimes act against the United States’ interests.

The next era of great-power competition is already here, but this is not the time to be ramping up military confrontations and shutting down or pulling away from international institutions. U.S. policymakers should reject the false dichotomy that suggests that Washington must choose between realpolitik and institution building. Seeking to reinvigorate international alliances and institutions is not evidence of a lack of imagination or a naive faith in multilateralism. Rather, it is a tried-and-true way to play the game of great-power politics.

China has the military capabilities to dominate Asia

Wallace Gregson, April 4, 2022, Wallace C. Gregson served as a former assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs (2009-11) and is currently a senior advisor at Avascent International as well as senior director for China and the Pacific at the Center for the National Interest. Gregson last served as the Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific; Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific; and Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Bases, Pacific, headquartered at Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii. He is a senior advisor to General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, Unipolarity Is Over: Great Power Rivalry Has Returned to Asia, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/unipolarity-over-great-power-rivalry-has-returned-asia-201628

Now our air and sea control are seriously challenged by China’s massive force development program; long-range precision munitions; and ubiquitous, pervasive surveillance. China took advantage of its massive geographic sanctuary, building a missile arsenal that looks to establish sea control from the land. But they are not limited to one option. Their naval building program, and that of all other armed elements of the People’s Liberation Army, including paramilitary organizations, continues unabated. China conducted an unchallenged dredging operation in the South China Sea to create large military outposts on seven previously submerged features. Some estimate that China achieved and demonstrated de facto control over the South China Sea through this action. Our allies and friends, and our forces on and within the First Island Chain, are within range and targeted. Intelligence estimates vary, of course, but there is no disagreement that China’s naval and air forces enjoy a great numerical advantage over U.S and allied forces. We’re outnumbered and outranged. And allies, notably Japan and the Philippines, are in the Chinese weapons engagement zone.

Strong deterrence prevents Chinese aggression

Wallace Gregson, April 4, 2022, Wallace C. Gregson served as a former assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs (2009-11) and is currently a senior advisor at Avascent International as well as senior director for China and the Pacific at the Center for the National Interest. Gregson last served as the Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific; Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific; and Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Bases, Pacific, headquartered at Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii. He is a senior advisor to General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, Unipolarity Is Over: Great Power Rivalry Has Returned to Asia, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/unipolarity-over-great-power-rivalry-has-returned-asia-201628

All elements of national power must be brought to bear. The current conflict in Ukraine demonstrates a remarkable ability of the United States, European allies, and many other nations to quickly agree on the employment of a wide range of national capabilities, including painful sanctions and seizure of ships. The same can work in Asia. With sea and air control over the South and East China Seas in conflict, we gain the ability to control access to the limited number of straits that enable China’s seaborne trade. This gives us the ability to control the conflict and contain it while working toward acceptable war termination conditions. Building and demonstrating this capability establishes the undoubted capability to prevail essential to deterrence.

Effective diplomacy relies on hard power

Gottlieb, 3-24, 22, Stuart Gottlieb teaches American foreign policy and international security at Columbia University, where he is a member of the Saltzman Institute of War & Peace Studies. He formerly served as a foreign policy adviser and speechwriter in the United States Senate (1999-2003), President Biden Is Leading From Weakness on Ukraine, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/president-biden-leading-weakness-ukraine-201383

Leading from strength means first recognizing that the Democratic Party’s approach to foreign policy over the past decade failed to prevent the first major land war in Europe since World War II. Following Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014, the Obama administration responded with weak sanctions and a refusal to provide Ukraine with lethal military aid, out of fear it would provoke a full-scale Russian invasion. Last year, the Biden administration exacerbated this blunder by first signing an agreement with Ukraine that supports its “aspirations to join NATO” (a blinking red line for Vladimir Putin), while simultaneously refusing defensive military equipment to Ukraine—such as anti-tank javelins and anti-air stingers—in case Russia invades. In other words, Democratic foreign policy left us with the riskiest of circumstances: bold proclamations mixed with weak actions. As Frederick the Great once said, “diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.” The way to deter an opponent is by credibly raising the stakes in advance, not simply relying on promises of bold responses in the future. CONTINUES] In the 1980s, Reagan broke from four years of foreign policy malaise under Democratic president Jimmy Carter—including the expansion of Russian (Soviet) power in Africa, Asia, and Latin America—with a simple message of “peace through strength.” Though many worried his approach, which combined increased military power and tough diplomacy, might provoke World War III, it instead inspired the end of the Cold War and a period of unprecedented peace. Every moment in history requires its own assessments and actions. And hard power must always be applied with prudence. But, as shown in the past, major global challenges are best met by an America focused more on what its power can accomplish, than fear of what it might provoke.

Global democracy at-risk, the US must defend

Gottlieb, 3-24, 22, Stuart Gottlieb teaches American foreign policy and international security at Columbia University, where he is a member of the Saltzman Institute of War & Peace Studies. He formerly served as a foreign policy adviser and speechwriter in the United States Senate (1999-2003), President Biden Is Leading From Weakness on Ukraine, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/president-biden-leading-weakness-ukraine-201383

Finally, leading from strength means bolstering U.S. leadership of Western alliances and security institutions like NATO. Democratic countries and the global liberal order itself are facing profound threats from anti-liberal, anti-democratic forces—from China, to Russia, to Islamist militancy. Democratic presidents like Barack Obama and Joe Biden fully understand this, and are most eloquent in their defenses of the West. But this moment requires a more assertive American leadership—one that more openly mixes power with principle.

Western response to Ukraine means China won’t attack Taiwan

Allison & Yaldin, 3-24, 22, Graham T. Allison is the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is the former director of Harvard’s Belfer Center and the author of Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? Amos Yadlin is former Chief of Israel’s Defense Intelligence and a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Piercing the Fog of War: What Is Really Happening in Ukraine?, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/piercing-fog-war-what-really-happening-ukraine-201440?page=0%2C1

Could Xi now be having second thoughts about the “no limits” partnership with Moscow that the 5,000-word communique that capped the Xi-Putin summit at the opening of the Beijing Olympics declared? Certainly, he and his colleagues have to be thinking about: the underperformance of Russian soldiers, weaponry, and logistics; the rapid and massive response of the “Global West,” including Japan and Australia, that is willing to upend decades of economic, financial, and trade relationships to punish aggression; the beginning of the end for Putin, who will become an isolated pariah regardless of the outcome of the war; the growing domestic disturbances across Russia; the promise of prolonged popular resistance or insurgency in Ukraine even if Russia sacks Kyiv and installs a puppet regime On the other hand, if the U.S.-led sanctions and other forms of economic warfare were to prove effective in crippling Russia, China has to fear that it could be the next target. If the West were to succeed in “canceling” Putin, his circle of oligarch supporters, and other Putinistas, China would have to be concerned about its own vulnerabilities to something similar. Thus, at this point, we have seen no concrete evidence to suggest that China is seeking to constrain Russia’s war. If Russia had achieved a quick victory at low costs, and the West’s response essentially mirrored the sanctions imposed after Crimea, the likelihood of a Chinese move against Taiwan would have increased. Watching the performance of what Putin had advertised as a new modern army with the capacity to “fight and win,” the repeated breakdowns and malfunctions of Russia’s most modern military equipment and logistics, and the ferocity of the U.S.-led Western response, we suspect Beijing is pausing to review its plans for military action against Taiwan.

Deterrence fails, nuclear escalation likely

Matthew Harries, a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. March 22, 2022, Putin’s Brutal War Shows the Dilemmas of Nuclear Deterren, Foreign Policy, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/22/ukraine-putin-russia-nuclear/

The first conclusion to draw from all this is that nuclear deterrence is an inherently risky way of managing relations between great powers. Because deterrence is neither automatic nor static, there is no way to reap its prime benefit—discouraging war between nuclear-armed states—without some real chance of nuclear weapons being used, even if the probability is low. Unusable weapons cannot deter, and the risk of nuclear use will be present during any crisis of the sort currently seen in Ukraine. What’s more, the strong normative taboo against nuclear weapons means that the most reckless party to a conflict can extract the most value from playing with nuclear risk. In this case, it is clearly Russia. Nuclear brinksmanship may become a feature of Europe’s security landscape in a way that its current generation of leaders have not experienced firsthand. These risks are compounded by the possibility of inadvertent escalation. With tensions high and Russia fighting in close proximity to NATO forces, a mistake or misjudgment could be the spark for a wider war. Yet despite its dangers, moving away from nuclear deterrence will be very difficult. Unless the war ends in Russian defeat and regime change, Russia’s leadership will probably reckon it has benefited greatly from possessing nuclear weapons and will be even less inclined to disarm. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is watching Russia’s brutal aggression, conducted under the cover of nuclear threats and inflicted on a non-nuclear country that, unlike NATO members, does not enjoy the United States’ nuclear backing. This has awakened a sense of existential threat in Europe and is likely to strengthen support for nuclear weapons where they already exist. It has already ensured, for example, an accelerated German decision to procure F-35 fighters to replace the aircraft currently equipped with NATO nuclear bombs. So, as things stand right now, Russia’s invasion may have killed off for a generation or more the idea of an orderly, multilateral process of nuclear disarmament. That process was imagined as a managed series of steps, starting with deep reductions to the nuclear stockpiles of Russia and the United States and then drawing in the other nuclear-armed states, including China. It depended on the belief that nuclear weapons could be gradually moved to the background of world affairs. None of that seems likely today. Two drastic war outcomes—the use of nuclear weapons or Putin’s removal from power—could change this picture and even perhaps open up more sudden and disorderly paths to disarmament. A large-scale nuclear exchange would be a global catastrophe and remains unlikely. Yet if nuclear weapons were used in a limited way, there would be plausible pathways to further escalation. Indeed, nuclear deterrence relies on at least some fear of uncontrolled escalation in order to work. No risk, no deterrence. Nuclear use that did stay limited would still be a historic turning point, its meaning defined by the consequences imposed on Russia. If Russia were to use a small number of nuclear weapons with impunity and achieve concrete benefits, then, in addition to immediate humanitarian consequences, we would enter a dreadful new nuclear era. As well as killing off hopes for disarmament, Russian success could entice nuclear possessors to develop a broader range of limited options and even make use more likely elsewhere.

Hard power is needed to deter conflict; international norms and institutions are not enough to prevent it

Stephen M. Walt, a columnist at Foreign Policy and professor of international relations at Harvard University, March 21, 2022, Foreign Policy, Hand European Security Over to Europeans, Hand European Security Over to the Europeans, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/21/us-geopolitics-security-strategy-war-russia-ukraine-china-indo-pacific-europe/

Properly understood, the war in Ukraine shows that Europe taking greater responsibility for its security is not only desirable but feasible. The war has been a wake-up call for Europeans who believed that large-scale war on their continent had been made impossible by norms against conquest, international institutions, economic interdependence, and U.S. security guarantees. Russia’s actions are a brutal reminder that hard power is still vitally important and that Europe’s self-ascribed role as a “civilian power” is not enough. Governments from London to Helsinki have responded vigorously, belying predictions that “strategic cacophony” within Europe would prevent the continent from responding effectively to a common threat. Even pacifist, postmodern Germany appears to have gotten the memo.

Ukraine war proves Russia is weak and Europe can defend itself

Stephen M. Walt, a columnist at Foreign Policy and professor of international relations at Harvard University, March 21, 2022, Foreign Policy, Hand European Security Over to Europeans, Hand European Security Over to the Europeans, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/21/us-geopolitics-security-strategy-war-russia-ukraine-china-indo-pacific-europe/

The war has also exposed Russia’s persistent military deficiencies. Despite months of planning and preparation, the Russian invasion of far weaker Ukraine has been an embarrassing debacle for Russian President Vladimir Putin. No matter what he may hope, it is now obvious that Russia is simply not strong enough to restore its former empire—and will be even less so as Europe rearms. Moreover, even if Russia’s brutal tactics and superior numbers eventually force Ukraine to capitulate, Moscow’s power will continue to decline. Neither Europe nor the United States will return to business as usual with Russia as long as Putin remains in power, and the sanctions now in place will hamstring the battered Russian economy for years to come. Propping up a puppet regime in Kyiv would force Russia to keep a lot of unhappy soldiers on Ukrainian soil, facing the same stubborn insurgency that occupying armies typically encounter. And every Russian soldier deployed to police a rebellious Ukraine cannot be used to attack anyone else. The bottom line is that Europe can handle a future Russian threat on its own. NATO’s European members have always had far greater latent power potential than the threat to their east: Together, they have nearly four times Russia’s population and more than 10 times its GDP. Even before the war, NATO’s European members were spending three to four times as much on defense each year than Russia. With Russia’s true capabilities now revealed, confidence in Europe’s ability to defend itself should increase considerably. For these reasons, the war in Ukraine is an ideal moment to move toward a new division of labor between the United States and its European allies—one where the United States devotes attention to Asia and its European partners take primary responsibility for their own defense. The United States should drop its long-standing opposition to European strategic autonomy and actively help its partners modernize their forces. NATO’s next supreme allied commander should be a European general, and U.S. leaders should view their role in NATO not as first responders but as defenders of last resort.

China is the biggest threat to US security, Europe can defend itself

Stephen M. Walt, a columnist at Foreign Policy and professor of international relations at Harvard University, March 21, 2022, Foreign Policy, Hand European Security Over to Europeans, Hand European Security Over to the Europeans, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/21/us-geopolitics-security-strategy-war-russia-ukraine-china-indo-pacific-europe/

The war has also exposed Russia’s persistent military deficiencies. Despite months of planning and preparation, the Russian invasion of far weaker Ukraine has been an embarrassing debacle for Russian President Vladimir Putin. No matter what he may hope, it is now obvious that Russia is simply not strong enough to restore its former empire—and will be even less so as Europe rearms. Moreover, even if Russia’s brutal tactics and superior numbers eventually force Ukraine to capitulate, Moscow’s power will continue to decline. Neither Europe nor the United States will return to business as usual with Russia as long as Putin remains in power, and the sanctions now in place will hamstring the battered Russian economy for years to come. Propping up a puppet regime in Kyiv would force Russia to keep a lot of unhappy soldiers on Ukrainian soil, facing the same stubborn insurgency that occupying armies typically encounter. And every Russian soldier deployed to police a rebellious Ukraine cannot be used to attack anyone else. The bottom line is that Europe can handle a future Russian threat on its own. NATO’s European members have always had far greater latent power potential than the threat to their east: Together, they have nearly four times Russia’s population and more than 10 times its GDP. Even before the war, NATO’s European members were spending three to four times as much on defense each year than Russia. With Russia’s true capabilities now revealed, confidence in Europe’s ability to defend itself should increase considerably. For these reasons, the war in Ukraine is an ideal moment to move toward a new division of labor between the United States and its European allies—one where the United States devotes attention to Asia and its European partners take primary responsibility for their own defense. The United States should drop its long-standing opposition to European strategic autonomy and actively help its partners modernize their forces. NATO’s next supreme allied commander should be a European general, and U.S. leaders should view their role in NATO not as first responders but as defenders of last resort. After 9/11, the United States got sidetracked into a costly so-called war on terrorism and a misguided effort to transform the greater Middle East. The Biden administration must not make a similar error today. Ukraine cannot be ignored, but it does not justify a deeper U.S. commitment to Europe once the present crisis is resolved. China remains the only peer competitor, and waging that competition successfully should remain the United States’ top strategic priority.

Toshihiro Nakayama, a professor of U.S. politics and foreign policy at Keio University, March 22, 2022, Maintain the Strategic Focus on China, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/21/us-geopolitics-security-strategy-war-russia-ukraine-china-indo-pacific-europe/,

Russia’s war in Ukraine will change geopolitical perceptions much more than geopolitical reality. While Russia under President Vladimir Putin looms large as a short-term challenge, China will remain the overriding threat in the medium to long term. How to balance the two will be critically important. Although attention tends to be drawn to the here and now, strategic focus must be maintained. We can expect major changes in Russia after Putin—if he does not take the world to hell before his demise. But the threat from China is structural, where a change in leadership will not bring major changes. The overwhelming reality is that China is narrowing the power gap with the United States. Nevertheless, Washington’s attention will have to be drawn toward the European front. In the face of Russia’s attempt to reestablish a sphere of influence through the use of force, the United States has no choice but to confront it with power. Even Europe, after it had noticeably distanced itself from the United States, has rediscovered that U.S. power is indispensable. Germany’s review of its defense posture, for example, is based on this premise. China will try to behave as a more responsible country even as it cozies up to Russia. Seeing the unity of the West and its partners in response to Russia’s war, Beijing may just now be learning how dangerous a game it is to attempt to change the status quo by force. It will become increasingly difficult for China to justify a Sino-Russian partnership with “no limits,” as Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly described it shortly before the invasion. China may emphasize that it is not an outlaw state like Russia while doubling down on establishing a sphere of influence through nonmilitary coercion, as it is already doing. In Washington, it appears as if the battle between advocates of strategic competition and those of engagement has been settled in favor of the former, but we may see pushback by those who favor engagement based on the argument that China is behaving more responsibly than Russia. The United States does not have the operational capability or sustained attention for a full long-term commitment to two spheres. But geopolitical reality demands that Washington commit to both. If this is the case, then U.S. allies and partners on both the European and Indo-Pacific fronts will have no choice but to commit themselves more actively. The good news is that there are signs this is already happening. The message is certainly coming through that the United States will not intervene in Ukraine directly. This is understandable, as there is a clear line between NATO and non-NATO members. While this logic cannot be applied directly to Asia, there is no doubt that how we perceive U.S. credibility will be greatly affected by how the United States acts in Ukraine.

Transatlantic security cooperation needed to deter China

Anne-Marie Slaughter, the CEO of New America, March 22, 2022, Build Out the Trans-Atlantic World, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/21/us-geopolitics-security-strategy-war-russia-ukraine-china-indo-pacific-europe/

The consensus opinion about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is that we are at an inflection point in global affairs, that the post-Cold War era is now over, and that if Putin wins, he will have rewritten the rules of the liberal international order. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is horrific, brutal, and a flagrant violation of international law, and the West should do everything—short of engaging Russia directly—to help the Ukrainians fight Russian forces to a standstill. But is this invasion a difference of degree so great that it is a difference of kind? Putin already broke international law in precisely the same way in 2014, when he invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. The United States violated the same pillar of the international order when it invaded Iraq without formal approval from the U.N. Security Council. Both the Soviet Union and the United States invaded countries they considered to be within their spheres of influence during the Cold War. The fundamental change today is not Putin’s war but China’s refusal to condemn it. As CNN’s Fareed Zakaria has written, pushing Moscow and Beijing closer together is a costly strategic byproduct of the Biden administration’s policy of challenging and containing China. A world in which China and Russia support each other in redrawing territorial maps and rewriting the rules of the international system—rather than working to gain influence within existing institutions—is a much more dangerous world. In this context, the folly of the Biden administration’s elevation of the U.S.-China rivalry as the focal point of its security policy is all the more evident. Washington should have focused on Europe first by building out a trans-Atlantic economic, political, security, and social agenda and expanding it as far as possible across the entire Atlantic hemisphere, both North and South. The best way to compete with China is to recognize that the continents that both Europe and the United States have treated as their backyards deserve front-yard treatment. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine underlines just how indispensable Europe is as a military ally but even more as an economic, moral, and legal partner. Europe, however, has a different perspective: Although the invasion appears to be convincing key European countries—above all, Germany—to increase their defense spending, they are not doing this to draw closer to the United States. Rather, they are preparing for a future in which Europe may no longer be able to count on U.S. support. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke of purchasing a new generation of fighter jets and tanks but insisted they would have to be built in Europe with European partners. Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s hostility to NATO and the continuing dysfunction of the U.S. political system have rattled European leaders even as they appreciate the Biden administration’s assiduous diplomacy and staunch support. The United States should encourage all European efforts to develop a stronger and more coherent pan-European defense—not least because European military power will make Washington less likely to take Europe for granted. At the same time, the Biden administration should press ahead with a new trans-Atlantic trade and investment treaty and digital common market. The United States should also encourage European relationships with countries in the global south while acknowledging they are often freighted with postcolonial baggage. And after Putin’s demise, Washington should support Europe in building a new security architecture from the Atlantic to the Urals, perhaps with intersecting and overlapping circles of defense cooperation among groups of countries. NATO will never be able to stretch to the Pacific, so other frameworks should be pursued.

Strong alliances needed to deter both Russia and China dominance

By C. Raja Mohan, a columnist at Foreign Policy and senior fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute, March 22, 2022, Empower Alliances and Share Burdens, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/21/us-geopolitics-security-strategy-war-russia-ukraine-china-indo-pacific-europe/

Unlike the Trump administration’s 2017 National Security Strategy, which viewed both Russia and China equally as threats, the Biden administration focused mainly on China in its 2021 interim guidance. U.S. President Joe Biden even reached out to Russian President Vladimir Putin in pursuit of a stable and predictable relationship that could let Washington focus on its priorities in the Indo-Pacific. Unsurprisingly, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised questions about the sustainability of Biden’s tilt toward the Indo-Pacific. Does the United States have enough political bandwidth and military resources to cope with simultaneous challenges in both Europe and Asia? Some in Asia now worry that the threat posed by Russia in Europe could compel Biden to ease the confrontation with China and return to a China-first strategy in the region. Notwithstanding Washington’s diplomatic attempts to enlist Beijing’s help in stopping Putin’s war, the Feb. 4 joint proclamation of a Sino-Russian partnership with “no limits” by Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping precludes Biden from choosing between the European and Asian theaters. Further, the geopolitical trajectories of Putin’s Russia and Xi’s China are founded in a shared deep distrust of the United States. The room for either leader to negotiate a separate peace with Washington seems quite small; if anything, the prospect of a weakened Russia could bring them closer together. If Washington now faces both Chinese and Russian challenges, it must necessarily empower its allies and modernize burden-sharing arrangements in Asia and Europe. Fortunately, the Biden administration’s grand strategy has the space to do both. Its special emphasis on building what U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan calls a “latticework of flexible partnerships, institutions, alliances, [and] groups of countries” has already gained considerable traction in Asia. As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi put it recently, the United States has developed a “five-four-three-two” formation in Asia—“from strengthening the Five Eyes to peddling the Quad, from piecing together AUKUS to tightening bilateral military alliances.” There could be no better endorsement of the Biden administration’s latticework in Asia. Thanks to Putin’s war in Ukraine, Europe’s prolonged sabbatical from geopolitics has come to an end. It is finally ready to do more for its own defense, including a historic German decision to rearm. If the United States’ European allies take greater responsibility for securing their homelands from the Russian threat, there is little reason for Washington to downgrade Asian concerns for the sake of European stability. Unlike the Europeans’ more recent epiphany, U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific—especially Australia, India, and Japan—have been ready to shoulder greater responsibilities for Asian security. Neither Asia nor Europe can balance China and Russia on its own for the foreseeable future. But by doing more for their own security, they help boost U.S. domestic political support for sustained military commitment to the two regions. By promoting a larger role and increased political say for its allies, Washington can build durable regional balances of power in Asia and Europe—backed by U.S. military power. That, in turn, might compel Beijing and Moscow to adopt more reasonable approaches to their neighbors and discard the belief that they can cut superpower deals with Washington over the heads of Asia and Europe. Shared security burdens and empowered alliances with the United States will make it easier for Asia and Europe to explore the balance of near-term containment of and long-term reconciliation with China and Russia. That outcome reinforces the enduring goal of U.S. grand strategy—to prevent the domination of either region by a single great power.

Ukraine proves multilateral organizations are useless for security

Kapitonenko, 3-4, 22, Mykola Kapitonenko is an Associate Professor at the Institute of International Relations in Kyiv, Ukraine, Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Has Changed the World, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/russia%E2%80%99s-invasion-ukraine-has-changed-world-200988

Sixth, international security organizations will become obsolete (they probably have been long before February 2022). The management of international disputes in multilateral fora has been profoundly poor, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has set a new low. The United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other international security institutions failed to impose any additional costs on Moscow’s behavior. International organizations’ weakness may play in Russia’s favor in the short run, but it will undermine Russia’s normative power in places such as the UN Security Council.

US naval power needed to deter growing Chinese aggression, secure supply chains, protect the economy, reduce global poverty and maintain the liberal order

Schake, 2-22, 22, KORI SCHAKE is a Senior Fellow and Director of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of Safe Passage: The Transition From British to American Hegemony. She was Deputy Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department in 2007–8., https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/review-essay/2022-02-22/lost-sea

In 1897, the British Parliament pressed George Goschen, first lord of the Admiralty, about the potential maritime threat posed by a deepening alliance of continental European powers. Asked what the United Kingdom would do if it were confronted by multiple European navies at sea, Goschen replied, “Trust in Providence and a good Admiral.” In other words, the United Kingdom had no good answer for a challenge of that magnitude. The same could be said of the United States when it comes to the threat of a rapidly rising China. For years, the United States clung to a near-religious belief that as China grew more prosperous, it would become more democratic and politically liberal. Now that the authoritarian regime in Beijing has disproved this theory, it seems the American public can trust only in the good admirals of the U.S. Navy to handle the looming threat of an increasingly belligerent China, even as the American economy grows more and more reliant on that same adversary. That is because to a degree many observers fail to appreciate, the contest between Beijing and Washington will increasingly become a struggle for naval power. Naval analysts joke that in a war with China, the U.S. military should first strike the port of Long Beach, in California, since disrupting China’s seaborne commerce to the United States would inflict more damage on Beijing than attacking the Chinese mainland. So interwoven are transnational supply chains that pandemic delays in China caused container ship traffic jams in Long Beach so costly that the Biden administration considered deploying the National Guard to help unsnarl them. The COVID-19 pandemic has raised awareness of those global linkages and spurred some governments to consider “reshoring” production in crucial areas, but the webs of investment, communication, and production that bind economies together continue to expand. Maritime trade and power are critical to these global networks: around 90 percent of the world’s traded goods are transported by sea. Discussions of power and strategy in the twenty-first century often revolve around the novel frontiers of cyberspace and outer space. But in the near term, the geopolitical future will play out mostly in an older, more familiar arena: the sea. Two new books assess the challenges and importance of contemporary maritime power relations. Bruce Jones’s To Rule the Waves and Gregg Easterbrook’s The Blue Age are primarily concerned with international security, building on the naval strategist and historian Alfred Thayer Mahan’s premise that “the history of sea power . . . is largely a military history.” Both make strong cases that U.S. security and prosperity depend on naval dominance, and both are laden with omens that commercial waters will once again turn violent. These books will exasperate experts but will offer most readers helpful insights into maritime aspects of the global economy, the rise of China, and climate change. Jones takes a journalistic approach, using accounts of his own encounters and conversations as a foundation for his ideas and explanations. To illuminate the centrality of the oceans in everyday commerce and communications, he charts the enormous web of undersea fuel pipelines and transmission cables, underscoring global economic reliance on seaborne delivery. And he makes powerfully clear that the oceans “play a surprisingly central role in the realities of energy, and in the global fight over climate change.” Jones sets out to show that “the world’s oceans are rapidly becoming the most important zone of confrontation between the world’s great military actors.” He argues that the cooperative patterns of the twentieth century are eroding, setting the stage for a large-scale conflict—and that geopolitical struggles are now playing out on the high seas. Given this grim forecast, Jones warns against the diminishment of U.S. maritime hegemony. His recommendations, however, are unrealistic and lack analytic rigor: he calls, for example, for an “alliance of alliances” in which the United States would orchestrate global cooperation among all energy-consuming economies. He would also have Washington “tackle the question of winners and losers from globalization” and “adopt the kinds of plans needed to abate carbon emissions.” But he offers few specifics to flesh out any of these proposals. Control of the sea will be the defining factor of the next century. Easterbrook likewise advocates maintaining U.S. maritime dominance, but he takes a different tack. He is clearly writing for people on the political left. “Many people do not like military organizations,” he declares. “The reasons to dislike them are self-evident, and we can dream of the day when no nation requires an army or navy.” Nonetheless, Easterbrook wants to make “a liberal case for the U.S. Navy” on the basis that its power has produced “an amazing reduction of poverty in the developing world . . . and higher material standards almost everywhere.” Easterbrook argues that beyond maintaining U.S. naval dominance, Washington could seek to enhance the U.S. Navy’s global reach by having its ships make more port calls, establishing more bases to defend allies, and enforcing freedom of navigation. But he undercuts his argument by concluding that the U.S. national debt is already too large to make such steps fiscally attainable. Easterbrook, like Jones, offers a number of policy prescriptions, but he makes little effort to evaluate alternatives. Easterbrook is even more utopian than Jones, proposing the establishment of a “World Oceans Organization” that would provide “a true global governance system” to protect worker rights, restrict weapons, regulate offshore energy projects, enforce free trade, and guarantee environmental standards throughout the world’s waters. Both authors make faulty assertions that dent the credibility of their analyses and prescriptive ideas. Contrary to Jones’s interpretation of the 1956 Suez crisis, it was not “one of the first moments when the Cold War might have escalated into actual conflict”: the 1948–49 crisis over the Soviet blockade of Berlin and the Korean War fit that description more closely. For his part, Easterbrook wrongly states that “the United States has nearly the same number of deployable modern naval vessels as do all other nations combined,” when China alone has a larger navy than the United States. He also blames friction between China and the United States on “threat inflation by the military-industrial complex and alarmism by journalists,” absolving China of any responsibility. Regarding the South China Sea, where China has routinely violated other countries’ territorial sovereignty and created artificial islands to establish military bases, Easterbrook concludes: “So far these waters are mostly peaceful—for which China receives no credit in the West.” Despite their flaws, both books are admirable attempts to lure general readers into specialized waters. For the United States to meet the challenges of globalization, the rise of China, and climate change, ordinary Americans will need to develop a better grasp of maritime issues and of their own country’s role as a naval power. To preserve the decaying international order that Jones and Easterbrook laud, the United States will need to restore the military and civilian maritime power that it has allowed to atrophy. The global interconnectedness that both authors praise has enabled the rise of enormous private logistics conglomerates that now dwarf the U.S. merchant marine fleet, which is essential for the United States’ capacity to mobilize for military purposes in times of war. In 1950, the U.S. merchant marine fleet accounted for 43 percent of global shipping; by 1994, that share had dropped to four percent, despite a 1920 law requiring ships passing between U.S. ports to be built and registered in the United States and operated by a crew of mostly U.S. citizens. The current U.S. merchant fleet of 393 vessels ranks just 27th in the world. By contrast, China has the world’s second-largest merchant marine fleet, and that doesn’t include the notorious paramilitary fishing fleet it uses to launch incursions into disputed waters.

China wants tech dominance in AI and biotechnology to enable global leadership

MICHAEL BECKLEY is is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower., March/April 2022,https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2021-02-14/china-new-world-order-enemies-my-enemy,  Enemies of My Enemy How Fear of China Is Forging a New World Order

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

The architecture of the new order remains a work in progress. Yet two key features are already discernible. The first is a loose economic bloc anchored by the G-7, the group of democratic allies that controls more than half of the world’s wealth. These leading powers, along with a rotating cast of like-minded states, are collaborating to prevent China from monopolizing the global economy. History has shown that whichever power dominates the strategic goods and services of an era dominates that era. In the nineteenth century, the United Kingdom was able to build an empire on which the sun never set in part because it mastered iron, steam, and the telegraph faster than its competitors. In the twentieth century, the United States surged ahead of other countries by harnessing steel, chemicals, electronics, aerospace, and information technologies. Now, China hopes to dominate modern strategic sectors—including artificial intelligence, biotechnology, semiconductors, and telecommunications—and relegate other economies to subservient status. In a 2017 meeting in Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told H. R. McMaster, then the U.S. national security adviser, how he envisioned the United States and other countries fitting into the global economy in the future: their role, McMaster recalled Li saying, “would merely be to provide China with raw materials, agricultural products, and energy to fuel its production of the world’s cutting-edge industrial and consumer products.”

China’s authoritarian dominances threatens the global order

MICHAEL BECKLEY is is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower., March/April 2022,https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2021-02-14/china-new-world-order-enemies-my-enemy,  Enemies of My Enemy How Fear of China Is Forging a New World Order

The international order is falling apart, and everyone seems to know how to fix it. According to some, the United States just needs to rededicate itself to leading the liberal order it helped found some 75 years ago. Others argue that the world’s great powers should form a concert to guide the international community into a new age of multipolar cooperation. Still others call for a grand bargain that divides the globe into stable spheres of influence. What these and other visions of international order have in common is an assumption that global governance can be designed and imposed from the top down. With wise statesmanship and ample summitry, the international jungle can be tamed and cultivated. Conflicts of interest and historical hatreds can be negotiated away and replaced with win-win cooperation. The history of international order, however, provides little reason for confidence in top-down, cooperative solutions. The strongest orders in modern history—from Westphalia in the seventeenth century to the liberal international order in the twentieth—were not inclusive organizations working for the greater good of humanity. Rather, they were alliances built by great powers to wage security competition against their main rivals. Fear and loathing of a shared enemy, not enlightened calls to make the world a better place, brought these orders together. Progress on transnational issues, when achieved, emerged largely as a byproduct of hardheaded security cooperation. That cooperation usually lasted only as long as a common threat remained both present and manageable. When that threat dissipated or grew too large, the orders collapsed. Today, the liberal order is fraying for many reasons, but the underlying cause is that the threat it was originally designed to defeat—Soviet communism—disappeared three decades ago. None of the proposed replacements to the current order have stuck because there hasn’t been a threat scary or vivid enough to compel sustained cooperation among the key players Until now. Through a surge of repression and aggression, China has frightened countries near and far. It is acting belligerently in East Asia, trying to carve out exclusive economic zones in the global economy, and exporting digital systems that make authoritarianism more effective than ever. For the first time since the Cold War, a critical mass of countries face serious threats to their security, welfare, and ways of life—all emanating from a single source. Stay informed. In-depth analysis delivered weekly. This moment of clarity has triggered a flurry of responses. China’s neighbors are arming themselves and aligning with outside powers to secure their territory and sea-lanes. Many of the world’s largest economies are collectively developing new trade, investment, and technology standards that implicitly discriminate against China. Democracies are gathering to devise strategies for combating authoritarianism at home and abroad, and new international organizations are popping up to coordinate the battle. Seen in real time, these efforts look scattershot. Step back from the day-to-day commotion, however, and a fuller picture emerges: for better or worse, competition with China is forging a new international order. ORDERS OF EXCLUSION The modern liberal mind associates international order with peace and harmony. Historically, however, international orders have been more about keeping rivals down than bringing everyone together. As the international relations theorist Kyle Lascurettes has argued, the major orders of the past four centuries were “orders of exclusion,” designed by dominant powers to ostracize and outcompete rivals. Order building wasn’t a restraint on geopolitical conflict; it was power politics by other means, a cost-effective way to contain adversaries short of war. Fear of an enemy, not faith in friends, formed the bedrock of each era’s order, and members developed a common set of norms by defining themselves in opposition to that enemy. In doing so, they tapped into humanity’s most primordial driver of collective action. Sociologists call it “the in-group/out-group dynamic.” Philosophers call it “Sallust’s theorem,” after the ancient historian who argued that fear of Carthage held the Roman Republic together. In political science, the analogous concept is negative partisanship, the tendency for voters to become intensely loyal to one political party mainly because they despise its rival. For the first time since the Cold War, a critical mass of countries face serious threats to their security, welfare, and ways of life. This negative dynamic pervades the history of order building. In 1648, the kingdoms that won the Thirty Years’ War enshrined rules of sovereign statehood in the Peace of Westphalia to undermine the authority of the Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire. Great Britain and its allies designed the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht to contain France by delegitimizing territorial expansion through royal marriages and the assertion of dynastic ties, Louis XIV’s preferred method of amassing power. The Concert of Europe, the post-Napoleonic peace established in Vienna in 1815, was used by conservative monarchies to forestall the rise of liberal revolutionary regimes. The victors of World War I built the interwar order to hold Germany and Bolshevik Russia in check. After World War II, the Allies initially designed a global order, centered on the United Nations, to prevent a return of Nazi-style fascism and mercantilism. When the onset of the Cold War quickly hamstrung that global order, however, the West created a separate order to exclude and outcompete Soviet communism. For the duration of the Cold War, the world was divided into two orders: the dominant one led by Washington, and a poorer one centered on Moscow. The main features of today’s liberal order are direct descendants of the United States’ Cold War alliance. After the Soviets decided not to join the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (gatt), these institutions were repurposed as agents of capitalist expansion—first, to rebuild capitalist economies and, later, to promote globalization. The Marshall Plan laid the foundation for the European Community by lavishing U.S. aid on governments that agreed to expel communists from their ranks and work toward an economic federation. NATO created a united front against the Red Army. The chain of U.S. alliances ringing East Asia was constructed to contain communist expansion there, especially from China and North Korea. U.S. engagement with China, which lasted from the 1970s to the 2010s, was a gambit to exploit the Sino-Soviet split. Each of these initiatives was an element of an order designed first and foremost to defeat the Soviet Union. In the absence of the Cold War threat, Japan and West Germany would not have tolerated prolonged U.S. military occupations on their soil. The British, the French, and the Germans would not have pooled their industrial resources. The United States—which had spent the previous two centuries ducking international commitments and shielding its economy with tariffs—would not have thrown its weight behind international institutions. Nor would it have provided security guarantees, massive aid, and easy market access to dozens of countries, including the former Axis powers. Only the threat of a nuclear-armed, communist superpower could compel so many countries to set aside their conflicting interests and long-standing rivalries and build the strongest security community and free-trade regime in history. BUCKLING UNDER THE PRESSURE For decades, the United States and its allies knew what they stood for and who the enemy was. But then the Soviet Union collapsed, and a single overarching threat gave way to a kaleidoscope of minor ones. In the new and uncertain post–Cold War environment, the Western allies sought refuge in past sources of success. Instead of building a new order, they doubled down on the existing one. Their enemy may have disintegrated, but their mission, they believed, remained the same: to enlarge the community of free-market democracies. For the next three decades, they worked to expand the Western liberal order into a global one. NATO membership nearly doubled. The European Community morphed into the EU, a full-blown economic union with more than twice as many member countries. The Gatt was transformed into the World Trade Organization (WTO) and welcomed dozens of new members, unleashing an unprecedented period of hyperglobalization. But it couldn’t last. The liberal order, like all international orders, is a form of organized hypocrisy that contains the seeds of its own demise. To forge a cohesive community, order builders have to exclude hostile nations, outlaw uncooperative behaviors, and squelch domestic opposition to international rule-making. These inherently repressive acts eventually trigger a backlash. In the mid-nineteenth century, it came in the form of a wave of liberal revolutions, which eroded the unity and ideological coherence of the monarchical Concert of Europe. During the 1930s, aggrieved fascist powers demolished the liberal interwar order that stood in the way of their imperial ambitions. By the late 1940s, the Soviet Union had spurned the global order it had helped negotiate just a few years prior, having gobbled up territory in Eastern Europe in contravention of the UN Charter. The Soviet representative at the UN derided the Bretton Woods institutions as “branches of Wall Street.” Exclusionary by nature, international orders inevitably incite opposition.

Many in the West had long assumed that the liberal order would be an exception to the historical pattern. The system’s commitment to openness and nondiscrimination supposedly made it “hard to overturn and easy to join,” as the political scientist G. John Ikenberry argued in these pages in 2008. Any country, large or small, could plug and play in the globalized economy. Liberal institutions could accommodate all manner of members—even illiberal ones, which would gradually be reformed by the system into responsible stakeholders. As more countries joined, a virtuous cycle would play out: free trade would generate prosperity, which would spread democracy, which would enhance international cooperation, which would lead to more trade. Most important, the order faced no major opposition, because it had already defeated its main enemy. The demise of Soviet communism had sent a clear message to all that there was no viable alternative to democratic capitalism. Through a surge of repression and aggression, China has frightened countries near and far. These assumptions turned out to be wrong. The liberal order is, in fact, deeply exclusionary. By promoting free markets, open borders, democracy, supranational institutions, and the use of reason to solve problems, the order challenges traditional beliefs and institutions that have united communities for centuries: state sovereignty, nationalism, religion, race, tribe, family. These enduring ties to blood and soil were bottled up during the Cold War, when the United States and its allies had to maintain a united front to contain the Soviet Union. But they have reemerged over the course of the post–Cold War era. “We are going to do a terrible thing to you,” the Soviet official Georgi Arbatov told a U.S. audience in 1988. “We are going to deprive you of an enemy.” The warning proved prescient. By slaying its main adversary, the liberal order unleashed all sorts of nationalist, populist, religious, and authoritarian opposition. Many of the order’s pillars are buckling under the pressure. NATO is riven by disputes over burden sharing. The EU nearly broke apart during the eurozone crisis, and in the years since, it has lost the United Kingdom and has been threatened by the rise of xenophobic right-wing parties across the continent. The WTO’s latest round of multilateral trade talks has dragged on for 20 years without an agreement, and the United States is crippling the institution’s core feature—the Appellate Court, where countries adjudicate their disputes—for failing to regulate Chinese nontariff barriers. On the whole, the liberal order looks ill equipped to handle pressing global problems such as climate change, financial crises, pandemics, digital disinformation, refugee influxes, and political extremism, many of which are arguably a direct consequence of an open system that promotes the unfettered flow of money, goods, information, and people across borders. Policymakers have long recognized these problems. Yet none of their ideas for revamping the system has gained traction because order building is costly. It requires leaders to divert time and political capital away from advancing their agendas to hash out international rules and sell them to skeptical publics, and it requires countries to subordinate their national interests to collective objectives and trust that other countries will do likewise. These actions do not come naturally, which is why order building usually needs a common enemy. For 30 years, that unifying force has been absent, and the liberal order has unraveled as a result. ENTER THE DRAGON There has never been any doubt about what China wants, because Chinese leaders have declared the same objectives for decades: to keep the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in power, reabsorb Taiwan, control the East China and South China Seas, and return China to its rightful place as the dominant power in Asia and the most powerful country in the world. For most of the past four decades, the country took a relatively patient and peaceful approach to achieving these aims. Focused on economic growth and fearful of being shunned by the international community, China adopted a “peaceful rise” strategy, relying primarily on economic clout to advance its interests and generally following a maxim of the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping: “Hide your strength, bide your time.” In recent years, however, China has expanded aggressively on multiple fronts. “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy has replaced friendship diplomacy. Perceived slights from foreigners, no matter how small, are met with North Korean–style condemnation. A combative attitude has seeped into every part of China’s foreign policy, and it is confronting many countries with their gravest threat in generations. This threat is most apparent in maritime East Asia, where China is moving aggressively to cement its vast territorial claims. Beijing is churning out warships faster than any country has since World War II, and it has flooded Asian sea-lanes with Chinese coast guard and fishing vessels. It has strung military outposts across the South China Sea and dramatically increased its use of ship ramming and aerial interceptions to shove neighbors out of disputed areas. In the Taiwan Strait, Chinese military patrols, some involving a dozen warships and more than 50 combat aircraft, prowl the sea almost daily and simulate attacks on Taiwanese and U.S. targets. Chinese officials have told Western analysts that calls for an invasion of Taiwan are proliferating within the CCP. Pentagon officials worry that such an assault could be imminent. China has gone on the economic offensive, too. Its latest five-year plan calls for dominating what Chinese officials call “chokepoints”—goods and services that other countries can’t live without—and then using that dominance, plus the lure of China’s domestic market, to browbeat countries into concessions. Toward that end, China has become the dominant dispenser of overseas loans, loading up more than 150 countries with over $1 trillion of debt. It has massively subsidized strategic industries to gain a monopoly on hundreds of vital products, and it has installed the hardware for digital networks in dozens of countries. Armed with economic leverage, it has used coercion against more than a dozen countries over the last few years. In many cases, the punishment has been disproportionate to the supposed crime—for example, slapping tariffs on many of Australia’s exports after that country requested an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19. China has also become a potent antidemocratic force, selling advanced tools of tyranny around the world. By combining surveillance cameras with social media monitoring, artificial intelligence, biometrics, and speech and facial recognition technologies, the Chinese government has pioneered a system that allows dictators to watch citizens constantly and punish them instantly by blocking their access to finance, education, employment, telecommunications, or travel. The apparatus is a despot’s dream, and Chinese companies are already selling and operating aspects of it in more than 80 countries.

Global backlash limits China’s power and threat

MICHAEL BECKLEY is is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower., March/April 2022,https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2021-02-14/china-new-world-order-enemies-my-enemy,  Enemies of My Enemy How Fear of China Is Forging a New World Order

As China burns down what remains of the liberal order, it is sparking an international backlash. Negative views of the country have soared around the world to highs not seen since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. A 2021 survey by the Pew Research Center found that roughly 75 percent of people in the United States, Europe, and Asia held unfavorable views of China and had no confidence that President Xi Jinping would behave responsibly in world affairs or respect human rights. Another survey, a 2020 poll by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, revealed that about 75 percent of foreign policy elites in those same places thought that the best way to deal with China was to form coalitions of like-minded countries against it. In the United States, both political parties now support a tough policy toward China. The EU has officially declared China to be a “systemic rival.” In Asia, Beijing faces openly hostile governments in every direction, from Japan to Australia to Vietnam to India. Even people in countries that trade heavily with China are souring on it. Surveys show that South Koreans, for example, now dislike China more than they dislike Japan, their former colonial overlord.  Anti-Chinese sentiment is starting to congeal into concrete pushback. The resistance remains embryonic and patchy, mainly because so many countries are still hooked on Chinese trade. But the overall trend is clear: disparate actors are starting to join forces to roll back Beijing’s power. In the process, they are reordering the world.

The Chinese threat could usher in the most consequential changes to global governance in a generation.

The emerging anti-Chinese order departs fundamentally from the liberal order, because it is directed at a different threat. In particular, the new order flips the relative emphasis placed on capitalism versus democracy. During the Cold War, the old liberal order promoted capitalism first and democracy a distant second. The United States and its allies pushed free markets as far as their power could reach, but when forced to choose, they almost always supported right-wing autocrats over left-wing democrats. The so-called free world was mainly an economic construct. Even after the Cold War, when democracy promotion became a cottage industry in Western capitals, the United States and its allies often shelved human rights concerns to gain market access, as they did most notably by ushering China into the WTO.

But now economic openness has become a liability for the United States and its allies, because China is ensconced in virtually every aspect of the liberal order. Far from being put out of business by globalization, China’s authoritarian capitalist system seems almost perfectly designed to milk free markets for mercantilist gain. Beijing uses subsidies and espionage to help its firms dominate global markets and protects its domestic market with nontariff barriers. It censors foreign ideas and companies on its own internet and freely accesses the global Internet to steal intellectual property and spread CCP propaganda. It assumes leadership positions in liberal international institutions, such as the UN Human Rights Council, and then bends them in an illiberal direction. It enjoys secure shipping around the globe for its export machine, courtesy of the U.S. Navy, and uses its own military to assert control over large swaths of the East China and South China Seas.

The United States and its allies have awoken to the danger: the liberal order and, in particular, the globalized economy at its heart are empowering a dangerous adversary. In response, they are trying to build a new order that excludes China by making democracy a requirement for full membership. When U.S. President Joe Biden gave his first press conference, in March 2021, and described the U.S.-Chinese rivalry as part of a broader competition between democracy and autocracy, it wasn’t a rhetorical flourish. He was drawing a battle line based on a widely shared belief that authoritarian capitalism poses a mortal threat to the democratic world, one that can’t be contained by the liberal order. Instead of reforming existing rules, rich democracies are starting to impose new ones by banding together, adopting progressive standards and practices, and threatening to exclude countries that don’t follow them. Democracies aren’t merely balancing against China—increasing their defense spending and forming military alliances—they are also reordering the world around it.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

The architecture of the new order remains a work in progress. Yet two key features are already discernible. The first is a loose economic bloc anchored by the G-7, the group of democratic allies that controls more than half of the world’s wealth. These leading powers, along with a rotating cast of like-minded states, are collaborating to prevent China from monopolizing the global economy. History has shown that whichever power dominates the strategic goods and services of an era dominates that era. In the nineteenth century, the United Kingdom was able to build an empire on which the sun never set in part because it mastered iron, steam, and the telegraph faster than its competitors. In the twentieth century, the United States surged ahead of other countries by harnessing steel, chemicals, electronics, aerospace, and information technologies. Now, China hopes to dominate modern strategic sectors—including artificial intelligence, biotechnology, semiconductors, and telecommunications—and relegate other economies to subservient status. In a 2017 meeting in Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told H. R. McMaster, then the U.S. national security adviser, how he envisioned the United States and other countries fitting into the global economy in the future: their role, McMaster recalled Li saying, “would merely be to provide China with raw materials, agricultural products, and energy to fuel its production of the world’s cutting-edge industrial and consumer products.”

To avoid becoming a cog in a Chinese economic empire, leading democracies have started forming exclusive trade and investment networks designed to speed up their progress in critical sectors and slow down China’s. Some of these collaborations, such as the U.S.-Japan Competitiveness and Resilience Partnership, announced in 2021, create joint R & D projects to help members outpace Chinese innovation. Other schemes focus on blunting China’s economic leverage by developing alternatives to Chinese products and funding. The G-7’s Build Back Better World initiative and the EU’s Global Gateway, for example, will provide poor countries with infrastructure financing as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Australia, India, and Japan joined forces to start the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, which offers incentives for their companies to move their operations out of China. And at the behest of the United States, countries composing more than 60 percent of the world’s cellular-equipment market have enacted or are considering restrictions against Huawei, China’s main 5G telecommunications provider.

The liberal order has unleashed all sorts of nationalist, populist, religious, and authoritarian opposition.

Meanwhile, democratic coalitions are constraining China’s access to advanced technologies. The Netherlands, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States, for example, have colluded to cut China off from advanced semiconductors and from the machines that make them. New institutions are laying the groundwork for a full-scale multilateral export control regime. The U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council creates common transatlantic standards for screening exports to China and investment there in artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies. The Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative, a joint project of Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States that was unveiled in late 2021, is intended to do the same for technologies that could support digital authoritarianism, such as speech and facial recognition tools. The United States and its democratic allies are also negotiating trade and investment deals to discriminate against China, putting in place labor, environmental, and governance standards that Beijing will never meet. In October 2021, for example, the United States and the EU agreed to create a new arrangement that will impose tariffs on aluminum and steel producers that engage in dumping or carbon-intensive production, a measure that will hit no country harder than China.

The second feature of the emerging order is a double military barrier to contain China. The inside layer consists of rivals bordering the East China and South China Seas. Many of them—including Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam—are loading up on mobile missile launchers and mines. The goal is to turn themselves into prickly porcupines capable of denying China sea and air control near their shores. Those efforts are now being bolstered by an outside layer of democratic powers—mainly Australia, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These democracies are providing aid, arms, and intelligence to China’s neighbors; training together so they can conduct long-range missile strikes on Chinese forces and blockade China’s oil imports; and organizing multinational freedom-of-navigation exercises throughout the region, especially near Chinese-held rocks, reefs, and islands in disputed areas.

This security cooperation is becoming stronger and more institutionalized. Witness the reemergence of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad—a coalition made up of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States that had gone dormant shortly after its founding in 2007. Or look at the creation of new pacts, most notably AUKUS, an alliance linking Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The overarching goal of all this activity is to maintain the territorial status quo in East Asia. But a more explicit aim is to save Taiwan, the frontline democracy most at risk of Chinese conquest. Japan and the United States have developed a joint battle plan for defending the island, and in November 2021, Peter Dutton, Australia’s defense minister, said it was “inconceivable” that his country would not also join the fight. The European Parliament, for its part, has adopted a comprehensive plan to boost Taiwan’s economic resilience and international recognition.

Viewed individually, these efforts look haphazard and reactive. Collectively, however, they betray a positive vision for a democratic order, one that differs fundamentally from China’s mercantilist model and also from the old international order, with neoliberal orthodoxy at its core. By infusing labor and human rights standards into economic agreements, the new vision prioritizes people over corporate profits and state power. It also elevates the global environment from a mere commodity to a shared and jointly protected commons. By linking democratic governments together in an exclusive network, the new order attempts to force countries to make a series of value judgments and imposes real penalties for illiberal behavior. Want to make carbon-intensive steel with slave labor? Prepare to be hit with tariffs by the world’s richest countries. Considering annexing international waters? Expect a visit from a multinational armada.

If China continues to scare democracies into collective action, then it could usher in the most consequential changes to global governance in a generation or more. By containing Chinese naval expansion, for example, the maritime security system in East Asia could become a powerful enforcement mechanism for the law of the sea. By inserting carbon tariffs into trade deals to discriminate against China, the United States and its allies could force producers to reduce their emissions, inadvertently creating the basis for a de facto international carbon tax. The Quad’s success in providing one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Southeast Asia, an effort to win hearts and minds away from Beijing, has provided a blueprint for combating future pandemics. Allied efforts to prevent the spread of digital authoritarianism could inspire new international regulations on digital flows and data privacy, and the imperative of competing with China could fuel an unprecedented surge in R & D and infrastructure spending around the world.

Zero-sum competition between the US and China for global order

MICHAEL BECKLEY is is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower., March/April 2022,https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2021-02-14/china-new-world-order-enemies-my-enemy,  Enemies of My Enemy How Fear of China Is Forging a New World Order

Today, a growing number of policymakers and pundits are calling for a new concert of powers to sort out the world’s problems and divide the globe into spheres of influence. But the idea of an inclusive order in which no one power’s vision prevails is a fantasy that can exist only in the imaginations of world-government idealists and academic theorists. There are only two orders under construction right now—a Chinese-led one and a U.S.-led one—and the contest between the two is rapidly becoming a clash between autocracy and democracy, as both countries define themselves against each other and try to infuse their respective coalitions with ideological purpose. China is positioning itself as the world’s defender of hierarchy and tradition against a decadent and disorderly West; the United States is belatedly summoning a new alliance to check Chinese power and make the world safe for democracy.

Splinternet inevitable

MICHAEL BECKLEY is is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower., March/April 2022,https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2021-02-14/china-new-world-order-enemies-my-enemy,  Enemies of My Enemy How Fear of China Is Forging a New World Order

In the coming years, the trade and technology wars between China and the United States that began during the Trump administration will rage on as both sides try to expand their respective spheres. Other countries will find it increasingly difficult to hedge their bets by maintaining links to both blocs. Instead, China and the United States will push their partners to pick sides, compelling them to reroute their supply chains and adopt wholesale the ecosystem of technologies and standards of one side’s order. The Internet will be split in two. When people journey from one order to the other—if they can even get a visa—they will enter a different digital realm. Their phones won’t work, nor will their favorite websites, their email accounts, or their precious social media apps. Political warfare between the two systems will intensify, as each tries to undermine the domestic legitimacy and international appeal of its competitor. East Asian sea-lanes will grow clogged with warships, and rival forces will experience frequent close encounters.

Xi cannot sustain China

MICHAEL BECKLEY is is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower., March/April 2022,https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2021-02-14/china-new-world-order-enemies-my-enemy,  Enemies of My Enemy How Fear of China Is Forging a New World Order

The clash of systems between China and the United States will define the twenty-first century and divide the world.

The standoff will end only when one side defeats or exhausts the other. As of now, the smart money is on the U.S. side, which has far more wealth and military assets than China does and better prospects for future growth. By the early 2030s, Xi, an obese smoker with a stressful job, will be in his 80s, if he is still alive. China’s demographic crisis will be kicking into high gear, with the country projected to lose roughly 70 million working-age adults and gain 130 million senior citizens between now and then. Hundreds of billions of dollars in overseas Chinese loans will be due, and many of China’s foreign partners won’t be able to pay them back. It is hard to see how a country facing so many challenges could long sustain its own international order, especially in the face of determined opposition from the world’s wealthiest countries.

Multipolarity results in massive wars

MICHAEL BECKLEY is is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower., March/April 2022,https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2021-02-14/china-new-world-order-enemies-my-enemy,  Enemies of My Enemy How Fear of China Is Forging a New World Order

History shows that eras of fluid multipolarity typically end in disaster, regardless of the bright ideas or advanced technologies circulating at the time. The late eighteenth century witnessed the pinnacle of the Enlightenment in Europe, before the continent descended into the hell of the Napoleonic Wars. At the start of the twentieth century, the world’s sharpest minds predicted an end to great-power conflict as railways, telegraph cables, and steamships linked countries closer together. The worst war in history up to that point quickly followed. The sad and paradoxical reality is that international orders are vital to avert chaos, yet they typically emerge only during periods of great-power rivalry. Competing with China will be fraught with risk for the United States and its allies, but it might be the only way to avoid even greater dangers.

International order depends on democracy

MICHAEL BECKLEY is is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower., March/April 2022,https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2021-02-14/china-new-world-order-enemies-my-enemy,  Enemies of My Enemy How Fear of China Is Forging a New World Order

To build a better future, the United States and its allies will need to take a more enlightened view of their interests than they did even during the Cold War. Back then, their economic interests dovetailed nicely with their geopolitical interests. Simple greed, if nothing else, could compel capitalist states to band together to protect private property against a communist onslaught. Now, however, the choice is not so simple, because standing up to China will entail significant economic costs, especially in the short term. Those costs might pale in comparison to the long-term costs of business as usual with Beijing—Chinese espionage has been estimated to deprive the United States alone of somewhere between $200 billion and $600 billion annually—to say nothing of the moral quandaries and geopolitical risks of cooperating with a brutal totalitarian regime with revanchist ambitions. Yet the ability to make such an enlightened calculation in favor of confronting China may be beyond the capacities of any nation, especially ones as polarized as the United States and many of its democratic allies.

If there is any hope, it lies in a renewed commitment to democratic values. The United States and its allies share a common aspiration for an international order based on democratic principles and enshrined in international agreements and laws. The core of such an order is being forged in the crucible of competition with China and could be built out into the most enlightened order the world has ever seen—a genuine free world. But to get there, the United States and its allies will have to embrace competition with China and march forward together through another long twilight struggle.

China-Russia ties threaten the global order

Marco Rubio, a Republican, represents Florida in the U.S. Senate, March 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/03/18/rubio-china-complicit-russia-ukraine/

The Chinese Communist Party has a long list of sins, including the systematic repression of basic human rights, industrial espionage, the use of slave labor and genocide. Now, the CCP’s complicity in the atrocities Russia is committing in Ukraine can be added to that list. Twenty-one years ago, China signed a “Treaty of Friendship” with Russia. It might have started as a marriage of convenience, but that relationship has grown only stronger over time, through cooperation at the United Nations, energy deals and military exercises. Earlier this year, the two nations pledged an unprecedented level of cooperation and coordination. And over the past few weeks, Beijing has enabled Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression. With China’s support for Putin’s bogus excuses for invading Ukraine (the Chinese foreign ministry blamed the United States and NATO for pushing Russia to the “breaking point”), CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping has once again made his strategic objective clear: dismantle democracies and replace them with authoritarian regimes to undermine, and eventually supplant, the U.S.-led world order. Of course, Beijing denies any foreknowledge of the invasion and plays semantic games to avoid openly endorsing Putin’s war. However, official documents speak for themselves. At the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Putin and Xi announced a “no limits” partnership to deepen their cooperation — likely a veiled reference to the impending attack on Ukraine. More damning, the New York Times reports, China told Russia to refrain from invading until after the Olympics, which is exactly what happened As war approached, China turned a blind eye to Moscow’s aggression, refusing to acknowledge it as an invasion. Even though Putin’s troops are now clearly committing war crimes in Ukraine, Beijing refuses to condemn them. This is yet another display of how little the CCP’s word is worth. China’s foreign minister paid lip service to Ukraine’s “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity” at the Munich Security Conference right before the invasion. For decades, Beijing has claimed it espouses “non-interference” in other countries’ “internal affairs.” And the CCP consistently denies the validity of what it considers “separatist” movements in Taiwan, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Hong Kong and Xinjiang. By supporting Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in “defense” of Russian-speaking separatists, Beijing has abandoned its supposed principles in favor of ruthless opportunism. The world now sees that the CCP’s claimed impartiality and commitment to sovereignty are a shameless, self-serving charade. That means every nation partnering with Beijing on infrastructure projects, technical investment and deployment, or advanced research should question the reliability and security of those relationships. It also means the United States and its European allies must resist perceiving China as a potential “tamer” of Putin, as the CCP might have us do. For many years, the free world has tried, in vain, to persuade Beijing to “tame” North Korea — this time will be no different. It is naive and dangerous to believe the United States has “shared interests” with a genocidal communist regime. The delusion that we could somehow identify such interests in the absence of shared values is responsible for decades of failed U.S. policy. Instead of cooperating with Beijing, the United States must act to prevent it from strengthening Putin and undermining freedom. Starved of funds from Europe and the United States, Russian banks are pinning their hopes on a lifeline from China’s financial system. If Beijing crafts a workaround to aid Putin, Americans’ money, in the form of trade and investment, will begin making its way to banks that help finance the Russian military’s campaign. We cannot let this happen — which is why I have introduced a bill that would impose sanctions on any Chinese bank that attempts to help Putin escape the penalties for waging war on Ukraine. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has laid bare to the world what some U.S. policymakers have been aware of for some time — that the Moscow-Beijing axis is real, and it is a growing threat to the United States and to freedom worldwide. So significant is the danger presented by this relationship that it demands a fundamental rethink of U.S. strategy. That begins with a willingness to punish Chinese support for Putin’s invasion. Xi hopes to reap the benefits of a “no limits” partnership with a dictator whose military bombs hospitals and slaughters civilians. To protect our national and economic security, we must ensure that Xi and the CCP pay a price for that partnership.

Ukraine invasion proves US hegemony has collapsed and it can no longer deter aggression

Marwa El- Shinawy  March 1, 2022 , https://dailynewsegypt.com/2022/03/01/opinion-putin-puts-an-end-to-us-hegemony/ Putin puts an end to US hegemony, Marwa El-Shinawy: Assistant Prof. at International American University for Specialized Studies (IAUS)

President Biden has managed the Ukraine crisis in the worst possible way, showing the whole world that he can deter Russia when the actual truth is certainly the opposite. The United States may have the ability to project its power anywhere in the world, but when dealing with another great power’s sphere of influence, its deterrence capacity is greatly diminished.

The Ukrainian crisis is showing day after day the weakness of the current US administration headed by Biden in a way that confirms that the era of American hegemony is about to end. President Biden may have made many heroic statements ahead of the military operation in Ukraine, but as soon as Putin decided to opt for a military solution to get to the negotiating table, Biden withdrew from the battle, shamelessly failing the Ukrainian president. The situation provoked the world’s ridicule and the astonishment of the Ukrainian president, who did not have sufficient ability or experience to properly assess the political situation.

President Biden has managed the Ukraine crisis in the worst possible way, showing the whole world that he can deter Russia when the actual truth is certainly the opposite. The United States may have the ability to project its power anywhere in the world, but when dealing with another great power’s sphere of influence, its deterrence capacity is greatly diminished.

This is not the first time that the weakness of the United States against Russia has been shown. The reluctance of the United States to take a hostile decision toward Russia appeared before in 2014 when Putin annexed Crimea during the Obama administration. At the time, many scathing criticisms of the Obama administration were directed, but he was able to sidestep the situation and show the United States as a powerful hegemon, but reluctant to interfere in matters of Russian national security.

But this time the matter is very different. The United States pushed Ukraine to provoke Russia, despite knowing that its ability to protect Ukraine is very limited for multiple reasons. First, Ukraine does little to benefit US interests. And secondly, the United States cannot deter Russia in its sphere of influence. Third, the long and costly wars of the twenty-first century in Afghanistan and Iraq have drained popular support for US-led military interventions abroad. More importantly, NATO forces and the European Union will not play an important role other than imposing sanctions and travel bans, as the European market is highly dependent on Russian natural gas. Add to all of the above internal American problems such as inflation, the immigrant crisis, and rising nationalism.

For all these reasons, politicians from both the Republican and Democratic parties leveled sharp criticism that amounted to mocking Biden’s contradictory actions that undermine the hegemony of the United States in the international arena. For example, JD Vance, a candidate for the US Senate, said in a statement on Twitter, “the foreign policy establishment that led Ukraine directly into the slaughterhouse deserves nothing but scorn.”

Also, in another statement, Kevin McCarthy and GOP leaders said: “Sadly, President Biden consistently chose appeasement and his tough talk on Russia was never followed by strong action. Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, speaking about Biden, also said in the same vein” You said a couple of years ago that Putin did not want you to win because you’re the only person that could go toe-to-toe with him. Well right now, Mr. President, you’re playing footsie with Putin. He’s walking all over you.”

All those involved in political action in the United States know very well that the threat to engage in war with great powers such as Russia will cost a heavy price that the United States cannot afford now despite its undeniable strength. Accordingly, after years of deep political divisions over foreign policy and the role of the United States in the world, no one in power has suggested the option of war. Instead, Putin’s military operation in Ukraine revealed a rare point of consensus between Democrats and Republicans as everyone criticized the Biden administration’s escalation of events, rejecting the idea that the United States would go to war to stop him. Some want tougher sanctions and say they should have been imposed before the invasion as a deterrent, others question why the US should be involved at all, and everyone agrees it’s Biden’s fault.

This apparent decline of US hegemony has profound repercussions as it urges many other great powers to move forward. Today, questions abound about how China will deal with Taiwan, Japan, etc., and issues related to its regional interests. Although the United States may still possess the hegemonic power, it no longer can unilaterally deter or enforce the actions of other great powers. Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war, the Iranian nuclear program, and aggression in the Arctic all clearly show that the Russians no longer believe that the United States is fully capable of containing or deterring their actions. Recent years have shown that other major powers are testing how far the United States will go to maintain its position in the system, and if the United States is perceived to be weak or unwilling, the great powers will assert their presence. Certainly, Ukraine is the latest example of Russia’s ability to limit American hegemony.

Russia-China Ties increasing

Scott Berrier, Lieutenant General, U.S. Army. Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, March 15, 2022, https://armedservices.house.gov/_cache/files/5/f/5fa65e01-08c0-4b83-9713-7516a0bc4d62/481DE0F0E64E412E4B1EA9EC9984A1B8.20220317-iso-witnessstatement-berrier.pdf, WORLDWIDE THREAT ASSESSMENT ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE INTELLIGENCE AND SPECIAL OPERATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Russia continues to deepen its ties to China in an effort to curtail U.S. power and influence. Relations between Moscow and Beijing are probably their deepest since any time before the Sino-Soviet split. Both countries coordinate on high-priority geopolitical issues to maximize their power and influence while bilateral military cooperation continues to evolve—punctuated by a growing number of combined military exercises. In 2018, Moscow included the Chinese military in its largest annual exercise, VOSTOK2018, for the first time. Since then, China has participated in two other Russian capstone exercises, conducted two combined bomber patrols over the Sea of Japan, and circumnavigated Japan together in October 2021, marking their first combined maritime patrol. 20 The January Xi-Putin meeting, which resulted in 15 bilateral agreements and a joint statement opposing Western international security initiatives, probably reflects Putin’s intent to blunt the force of Western sanctions and strengthen the voice both countries use to espouse anti-western narratives. Moscow probably views Beijing as its most capable geopolitical partner, an alternative financial clearinghouse, and a key ally at the United Nations to undercut Western messaging and offset the harshest impact of sanctions. The extent to which China will help Russia mitigate the effects of sanctions as Russia’s economy declines further is not clear. However, Putin probably views his relationship with Xi as critical to alleviating the departure of credit card companies, creating a viable alternative to SWIFT, signing further energy deals, and leveraging Chinese technology

Emboldened by perceptions of US decline, Russia seeking global dominance

Scott Berrier, Lieutenant General, U.S. Army. Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, March 15, 2022, https://armedservices.house.gov/_cache/files/5/f/5fa65e01-08c0-4b83-9713-7516a0bc4d62/481DE0F0E64E412E4B1EA9EC9984A1B8.20220317-iso-witnessstatement-berrier.pdf, WORLDWIDE THREAT ASSESSMENT ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE INTELLIGENCE AND SPECIAL OPERATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Russia continues to pursue its national security interests and geopolitical ambitions aggressively across the globe, acting from a position of increased confidence and emboldened by its perception that the United States is in a period of decline. Russia is steadily expanding its international profile, increasing its engagement with select countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America and is working to diminish U.S. influence around the globe. The Kremlin is seeking to establish military bases and air and naval access agreements with states in these regions to enhance its power projection capabilities and increase its regional influence. The Kremlin’s engagement with Pyongyang centers on the preservation of regional stability and promotion of Russia’s status on the peninsula. Russia has advocated for a comprehensive and negotiated settlement and opposes the use of force. Moscow agreed to UN sanctions against Pyongyang in 2017; however, Moscow sometimes skirts compliance issues because of business interests and a fear of destabilizing the North Korean regime. In addition, Russia coordinates its North Korea-related diplomacy with China, including a bilateral “Road Map” for peace, an initiative since 2017 that has aimed 21 to reduce tensions on the Peninsula through a dual-track approach to advance denuclearization and establish a peace mechanism. In the Middle East, Moscow continues to provide Syria with military, diplomatic, and economic support, while seeking to broker an end to the Asad regime’s international isolation and lobbying for economic aid to assist in Syria’s reconstruction. The Kremlin likely calculates this support along with its military presence in Syria will ensure its sway over the Asad regime, cement Moscow’s status as Syria’s preeminent foreign partner, and bolster Russian regional influence and power projection capability. Russia and Turkey continue to downplay their disagreements and compartmentalize their divergent foreign policy objectives in Syria and elsewhere in the region. Russia also continues to expand its involvement in Africa, highlighted by the activities of Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin and his Private Military Company Vagner. Vagner has conducted combat operations in the Central African Republic since 2017, Libya since 2019, and deployed to Mali in December 2021. More broadly, Russia uses arms sales, training, and bilateral defense agreements to establish lasting relationships on the continent. To enhance its power-projection capabilities and increase its regional advantage, Moscow continues to pursue military bases and air and naval access agreements in Africa, such as the planned naval logistics facility in Sudan. In Latin America, Moscow is focused largely on strengthening military ties with its traditional partners Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, offering training, arms sales, and weapons maintenance support. Russia has also threatened to increase its military presence in the region in response to U.S. support for Ukraine. Moscow continues to support disputed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro with military and economic assistance, largely to protect its economic investments and thwart perceived efforts to remove President Maduro from power. Russian engagement with other Latin American governments remains minimal, but the Kremlin is open to opportunities for more extensive engagement. 22 Russia views the Arctic as a security and economic priority, seeking to exploit Arctic natural resources and develop the Northern Sea Route as a major international shipping lane. Russia is refurbishing Sovietera airfields and radar installations, constructing new ports and search and rescue centers, and building up its fleet of conventionally- and nuclear-powered icebreakers. Russia is also expanding its network of air and coastal defense missile systems to strengthen its antiaccess/area-denial capabilities in the region. In May 2021, Russia assumed the two-year rotating Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, an association of the eight Arctic nations intended to preserve the Arctic as a zone of peace and constructive cooperation. Russia intends to use the platform to attract investment in its Arctic projects and defend its national interests. Looking ahead, Russia will continue to pose a multifaceted threat to U.S. national security and its ability to lead and shape international developments while Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will have immediate and long-term consequences for European security and stability. Protracted occupation of parts of Ukrainian territory threatens to sap Russian military manpower and reduce their modernized weapons arsenal, while consequent economic sanctions will probably throw Russia into prolonged economic depression and diplomatic isolation that will threaten their ability to produce modern precision-guided munitions. As this war and its consequences slowly weaken Russian conventional strength, Russia likely will increasingly rely on its nuclear deterrent to signal the West and project strength to its internal and external audiences. Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is reviving fears of a more imperial and militaristic Russia, prompting requests from NATO allies for assurances that U.S. security guarantees will be honored. U.S. partners in the former Soviet Union will also look to the United States for signs that they are not being abandoned while adjusting their policies to coexist with a stronger and more emboldened Russia. Russian military modernization efforts will progress even as initial timelines for some programs may have to adjust to 23 likely new economic realities, and Moscow will continue to blend traditional displays of military might with other coercive political, economic, cyber, and information confrontation measures to achieve its geopolitical interests, delineate its redlines, and compel the United States to take its concerns more seriously. Moreover, U.S. efforts to undermine Russia’s goals in Ukraine, combined with its perception that the United States is a nation in decline, could prompt Russia to engage in more aggressive actions not only in Ukraine itself, but also more broadly in its perceived confrontation with the West.

North Korea threats increasing

Scott Berrier, Lieutenant General, U.S. Army. Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, March 15, 2022, https://armedservices.house.gov/_cache/files/5/f/5fa65e01-08c0-4b83-9713-7516a0bc4d62/481DE0F0E64E412E4B1EA9EC9984A1B8.20220317-iso-witnessstatement-berrier.pdf, WORLDWIDE THREAT ASSESSMENT ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE INTELLIGENCE AND SPECIAL OPERATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

North Korea’s military force has long been plagued by resource constraints and aging equipment and probably reduced training during the past year to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Despite these limitations, North Korea maintains a capable military of ground, air, navy, special operations, and missile forces. These forces are almost certainly postured to maintain a credible defense of its territory and execute lethal, limited objective attacks, but they are not able to support a sustained conflict or reunify the Korean Peninsula. The Korean People’s Army (KPA) Ground Forces remain the core of North Korea’s military power and the primary means by which Pyongyang threatens Seoul. The KPA ground units comprise approximately 1,000,000 active-duty personnel and have thousands of long-range artillery and rocket systems arrayed along the demilitarized zone to be able to strike South Korea without warning. It is also developing more accurate multiple rocket launchers with ranges extending to South Korean and U.S. bases farther south on the peninsula. North Korea’s Air and Air Defense Forces consist of more than 900 combat aircraft and can fly strike missions against targets in South Korea with fighters, bombers, and possibly UAVs. It is developing or procuring a variety of UAVs, some of which have been used for reconnaissance missions over South Korea and could be equipped with rudimentary armaments. Its air defense forces maintain a dense network of integrated systems, providing overlapping, redundant territorial coverage. The North Korean Navy is primarily a coastal defense force and is capable of conducting limited shortterm offensive and defensive operations. It maintains one of the world’s largest submarine forces. While most of its submarines are of older design, it launched a new ballistic missile submarine with a single 30 launch tube in 2015, and tested a new SLBM in 2016 and another model in 2021, in an effort to build its naval deterrent. North Korea’s Strategic Force controls a wide selection of SRBMs, MRBMs, IRBMS, and ICBMs and has stated each represents a nuclear-capable class. North Korea’s Strategic Force is one of the most rapidly modernizing elements of its national military, and if training and development are sustained and pursued consistently forcewide, it could become one of North Korea’s most capable military arms. North Korea maintains robust chemical warfare (CW) and biological warfare (BW) capabilities. North Korea, which is not a member of the CWC, probably has a CW program with up to several thousand metric tons of CW agents and the capability to produce nerve, blister, blood, and choking agents. North Korea probably could employ CW agents by modifying a variety of conventional munitions, including artillery, rockets, and ballistic missiles as well as unconventional, targeted methods such as the use of a chemical agent in the 2017 assassination of Kim’s half-brother Kim Jong Nam. North Korea has a dedicated, national-level effort to develop BW capabilities and has developed, produced, and possibly weaponized BW agents. North Korea probably has the capability to produce sufficient quantities of biological agents for military purposes upon leadership demand. Though a signatory to the BWC, North Korea has failed to provide a BWC confidence building measure report since 1990. North Korea’s economy and logistics infrastructure support national defense considerations, but the systems are poorly constructed and deteriorating., While it has made recent progress on hydroelectric power and improving power generation, North Korea continues to experience chronic electricity shortages. As a country, it possesses extensive indigenous capability for defense industrial output but uses illicit foreign procurement for some components and technology. North Korea also continues to expand the world’s largest and most fortified underground facility (UGF) program, estimated to consist of thousands of UGFs and bunkers that are designed to conceal and protect leadership, C2 assets, WMDs, ballistic missiles, military forces and assets, and defense industries. 31 North Korea continues to violate international sanctions by procuring dual-use goods for its WMD and missile programs, illicitly importing refined petroleum and exporting proscribed commodities—such as coal and military equipment—despite its extreme border restrictions. Since 2018, North Korea has acquired refined petroleum in excess of the amount allowed under United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions through vessels using illicit ship-to-ship transfers and direct deliveries of petroleum using third-country tankers. Prior to the pandemic, evasion of sanctions stabilized North Korea’s fuel supplies and prices; however, widespread shortages caused by the pandemic-driven border closures continue to affect price volatility and depletion of its stockpiles. Evading sanctions has also allowed a continued revenue flow that has historically funded its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Pyongyang remains a willing supplier of conventional arms, military equipment, and almost certainly missile technology, flouting UNSC sanctions to generate revenue from arms exports. North Korea uses intermediaries and front companies to mask exports to the few arms buyers undeterred by international interdiction efforts, including Iran, Syria, and Uganda. North Korea may also resume arms sales to Burma, considering North Korea’s need for cash and Burma’s limited arms trade options after the February coup.

Terror threats have substantially decreased

Scott Berrier, Lieutenant General, U.S. Army. Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, March 15, 2022, https://armedservices.house.gov/_cache/files/5/f/5fa65e01-08c0-4b83-9713-7516a0bc4d62/481DE0F0E64E412E4B1EA9EC9984A1B8.20220317-iso-witnessstatement-berrier.pdf, WORLDWIDE THREAT ASSESSMENT ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE INTELLIGENCE AND SPECIAL OPERATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TERRORISM Status of the Salafi Jihadist Movement Twenty years after 9/11, the Salafi jihadist movement’s unifying leaders are mostly dead, the threat to the United States homeland is much diminished and the movement’s priorities are mainly local, probably preventing a return to its 2015 peak within the next 2 years. ISIS and al-Qa’ida, however, are able to inspire or enable opportunistic attacks against the United States and U.S. interests. Lone-actor attacks by Salafi jihadists, with little or no warning, are more likely to occur than directed attacks. Salafi jihadist group leaders who give high priority to directing attacks in the West, such as al-Qaida, probably will need at least 1 to 2 years to conceptualize, develop, and execute complex plots. ISIS-Khorasan could develop a capability to attack the United States within the next year, if the group prioritizes such an attack. Salafi jihadist groups probably can accelerate the timeline of directed attacks in the West to as little as 4 to 6 months by pursuing plots that are simple to execute. Leadership intent probably is a more critical driver for initiating directed plots against the West than a terrorist group’s control of territory or freedom of movement. Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham In 2021, ISIS maintained 17 publicly recognized branches worldwide and claimed responsibility for attacks in dozens of countries. Earlier this year, ISIS emir Hajji Abdallah died during a U.S. military operation in Syria. ISIS retains a C2 structure that allows the group to withstand his death and preserve its ability to oversee local operations and its expanding global presence. In Iraq and Syria, the ISIS insurgency progressed unevenly during the past 2 years, in part because of their senior leadership losses; however, the group remains a substantial threat to security in these countries. ISIS is also seeing 34 opportunities in Afghanistan, where the group has gained considerable personnel and resources since the Taliban takeover and been emboldened since its 26 August attack on Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. These gains include prisoners freed from Afghan prisons in mid-August, which increased the group’s manpower and capabilities. If ISIS-Khorasan leaders give priority to external attacks, the group probably can use this influx of resources and personnel to develop the capability to attack the U.S. homeland within the next year. The ISIS narrative continues to emphasize the group’s attacks and regional expansion—especially in Africa—where ISIS branches have conducted attacks against Western targets and have partial territorial control. The group’s continued growth in Africa will spread instability and increase the threat to U.S. interests on the continent. Al-Qa’ida Al-Qa’ida’s capabilities have been significantly weakened; further, the group probably is on a declining global trajectory after years of organizational resilience and lacks leaders who have global jihadist appeal. The deaths of senior leaders, unfavorable operating environments, and sustained counterterrorism pressure have hurt the group during the past 2 years. Al-Qa’ida’s Iran-based senior leaders oversee its global network and issue guidance to al-Qa’ida affiliates on media releases and strategy. In the newly Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, al-Qa’ida’s capabilities are weak, and the group probably is focused on recovery while considering its strategy for the future. Al-Qa’ida leaders have called for obedience to the Taliban, which has publicly declared that Afghanistan will not be used for transnational attacks. If al-Qa’ida decides to reverse course, the group likely will require at least 1–2 years to rebuild its external operations capabilities in Afghanistan to mount an attack against the West, should it choose to prioritize external operations. Al-Qa’ida’s regional affiliate in Afghanistan—al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS)—struggles to conduct local attacks and is experiencing leadership losses. The group’s future trajectory probably depends on the Taliban regime’s restrictions. In 2021, alQa’ida made gains in Sub-Saharan Africa, where it now controls large swaths of Burkina Faso, Mali, and 35 Somalia and is attempting to gain footing in littoral West Africa. Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula has lost personnel and territory during the past 2 years to counterterrorism pressure and internal actions aimed at ferreting out suspected spies. In 2022, the group’s global enterprise probably will continue to focus more on regional priorities in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia than on attacks in the West. Lebanese Hizballah Lebanese Hizballah’s Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO)—the group’s primary overseas attack unit— remains an integral element of Iran’s threat network. Hizballah probably will direct an IJO attack in the homeland or against U.S. interests abroad only if Hizballah or Iran perceives a threat to the group’s existence. Hizballah almost certainly will maintain the IJO to deter foreign aggression, particularly from Israel and the United States. In 2022, the IJO will probably continue its focus on recruiting and training new members, refining its capabilities, and improving its operational security in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

US leadership and deterrence have collapsed

Charlie Hellier, February 20, 2022, America’s hegemonic decline continues, https://www.palatinate.org.uk/americas-hegemonic-decline-continues/

“How the malice of the wicked was reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous” wrote Churchill in ‘The Gathering Storm’ during the interwar period. Churchill lamented the crumbling perception of national self-belief, as Britain felt the burden of imperial exploits spanning the globe. It was this, he felt, that led to the failure to prepare for the threats of vying world powers in the 1930s and caused the eventual escalation to the Second World War. The recent build-up of Russian troops on the Ukrainian boarder, has brought into sharp focus the overall trend of US diplomacy and world dominance. Much like its predecessor as an Anglophone global hegemon, America today feels the burden of its role as ‘leader of the free world’ and is failing to prepare for the threats imposed by its rivals. This could be all too costly for the United States and the West. ‘Shining City on a Hill’ has become a phrase which has embodied US greatness and exceptionalism. John F. Kennedy was the first president to use it, and then it was sloganized over Reagan’s presidency to describe the US as a beacon of hope across the world: standing above all other nations. At present, there is a perception of the US as a not-so-shiny City on a Hill, as a belief of degeneration has taken deep root both in domestic and international affairs. Over the course of the 2010s, the natural self-confidence in the American way, displayed in the era of Reagan and the initial years following the end of the Cold War is no longer apparent. Guided by a history of rights and freedoms, the United States had a belief in the moral force of its interventionism. At present, there is a perception of the US as a not-so-shiny City on a Hill Now the United States feels the weight of its past failures in interventionism and questions its own historical foundations of rights, creating a policy of hesitation in foreign affairs. Other countries now question the credibility of US threats, and actively consider America’s decline as inevitable. America truly feels its gradual weaking grip on power. As it critiques itself on intervention and its history, its adversaries strengthen their global positions and allies look elsewhere for protection and leadership. Following the 2003 Iraq invasion, which represented the peak of the US moral force interventionism, the US has repeatedly tended towards isolationism, retreating from its responsibilities across the globe. Barack Obama began the process by announcing in 2013 “America is not the world’s policeman.” Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ rattled the fundamentals of the NATO alliance and failed to prevent the introduction of China’s national security law in Hong Kong. Now Biden has only continued the US’s declining grip abroad through his humiliating ‘final withdrawal’ from Afghanistan, and now his muddled policy over Russia’s build-up on the Ukrainian border. The British Empire showed that easing global responsibilities is seldom a peaceful process, cumulating in the Second World War. America is discovering that its retreat is likely to be more costly than its maintenance. The withdrawal of Afghanistan was not just an embarrassment, but also a major concession that will embolden its rivals. It was hardly a coincidence that Russia chose to intervene in Syria and annex Crimea in 2014 immediately following Obama’s announcement that the US is not the world’s policeman. Now, Russia appears ready to, following the withdrawal of Afghanistan, invade Ukraine. Meanwhile, Chinese ‘Wolf-Warrior diplomacy’ continues to lambast the ideological underpinnings of America, drive towards reunification with Taiwan, and push for dominance in the South China Sea.

China will replac eUS leadership and collapse the liberal international order Alfred McCoyAlfred McCoy is the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A TomDispatch regular, he is the author of In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power and Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State, February 25, 2022, The Nation, Will the Fight for Hegemony Survive Climate Change?, https://www.thenation.com/article/environment/climate-china-usa-beijing/ Consider us at the edge of the sort of epochal change not seen for centuries, even millennia. By the middle of this century, we will be living under such radically altered circumstances that the present decade, the 2020s, will undoubtedly seem like another era entirely, akin perhaps to the Middle Ages. And I’m not talking about the future development of flying cars, cryogenics, or even as-yet-unimaginable versions of space travel. After leading the world for the past 75 years, the United States is ever so fitfully losing its grip on global hegemony. As Washington’s power begins to fade, the liberal international system it created by founding the United Nations in 1945 is facing potentially fatal challenges. After more than 180 years of Western global dominion, leadership is beginning to move from West to East, where Beijing is likely to become the epicenter of a new world order that could indeed rupture longstanding Western traditions of law and human rights. More crucially, however, after two centuries of propelling the world economy to unprecedented prosperity, the use of fossil fuels—especially coal and oil—will undoubtedly fade away within the next couple of decades. Meanwhile, for the first time since the last Ice Age ended 11,000 years ago, thanks to the greenhouse gases those fossil fuels are emitting into the atmosphere, the world’s climate is changing in ways that will, by the middle of this century, start to render significant parts of the planet uninhabitable for a quarter, even possibly half, of humanity. For the first time in 800,000 years, the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has blown past earlier highs of 280 parts per million to reach 410 parts. That, in turn, is unleashing climate feedback loops that, by century’s end, if not well before, will aridify the globe’s middle latitudes, partly melt the polar ice caps, and raise sea levels drastically. (Don’t even think about a future Miami or Shanghai!) In trying to imagine how such changes will affect an evolving world order, is it possible to chart the future with something better than mere guesswork? My own field, history, generally performs poorly when trying to track the past into the future, while social sciences like economics and political science are loath to project much beyond medium-term trends (say, the next recession or election). Uniquely among the disciplines, however, environmental science has developed diverse analytical tools for predicting the effects of climate change all the way to this century’s end. Those predictions have become so sophisticated that world leaders in finance, politics, and science are now beginning to think about how to reorganize whole societies and their economies to accommodate the projected disastrous upheavals to come. Yet surprisingly few of us have started to think about the likely impact of climate change upon global power. By combining political projections with already carefully plotted trajectories for climate change, it may, however, be possible to see something of the likely course of governance for the next half century or so. To begin with the most immediate changes, social-science analysis has long predicted the end of US global power. Using economic projections, the US National Intelligence Council, for instance, stated that, by 2030, “Asia will have surpassed North America and Europe combined in terms of global power,” while “China alone will probably have the largest economy, surpassing that of the United States a few years before 2030.” Using similar methods, the accounting firm PwC calculated that China’s economy would become 60 percent larger than that of the United States by 2030. If climate science proves accurate, however, the hegemony Beijing could achieve by perhaps 2030 will last, at best, only a couple of decades or less before unchecked global warming ensures that the very concept of world dominance, as we’ve known it historically since the sixteenth century, may be relegated to a past age like so much else in our world. Considering that likelihood as we peer dimly into the decades between 2030 and 2050 and beyond, the international community will surely have good reason to forge a new kind of world order—one made for a planet truly in danger and unlike any that has come before. THE RISE OF CHINESE GLOBAL HEGEMONY China’s rise to world power could be considered not just the result of its own initiative but also of American inattention. While Washington was mired in endless wars in the Greater Middle East in the decade following the September 2001 terrorist attacks, Beijing began using a trillion dollars of its swelling dollar reserves to build a tricontinental economic infrastructure it called the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that would shake the foundations of Washington’s world order. Not only has this scheme already gone a long way toward incorporating much of Africa and Asia into Beijing’s version of the world economy, but it has simultaneously lifted many millions out of poverty. During the early years of the Cold War, Washington funded the reconstruction of a ravaged Europe and the development of 100 new nations emerging from colonial rule. But as the Cold War ended in 1991, more than a third of humanity was still living in extreme poverty, abandoned by Washington’s then-reigning neoliberal ideology that consigned social change to the whims of the free market. By 2018, nearly half the world’s population, or about 3.4 billion people, were simply struggling to survive on the equivalent of five dollars a day, creating a vast global constituency for Beijing’s economic leadership. For China, social change began at home. Starting in the 1980s, the Communist Party presided over the transformation of an impoverished agricultural society into an urban industrial powerhouse. Propelled by the greatest mass migration in history, as millions moved from country to city, its economy grew nearly 10 percent annually for 40 years and lifted 800 million people out of poverty—the fastest sustained rate ever recorded by any country. Meanwhile, between 2006 and 2016 alone, its industrial output increased from $1.2 trillion to $3.2 trillion, leaving the United States in the dust at $2.2 trillion and making China the workshop of the world. By the time Washington awoke to China’s challenge and tried to respond with what President Barack Obama called a “strategic pivot” to Asia, it was too late. With foreign reserves already at $4 trillion in 2014, Beijing launched its Belt and Road Initiative, while establishing an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, with 56 member nations and an impressive $100 billion in capital. When a Belt and Road Forum of 29 world leaders convened in Beijing in May 2017, President Xi Jinping hailed the initiative as the “project of the century,” aimed both at promoting growth and improving “people’s well-being” through “poverty alleviation.” Indeed, two years later a World Bank study found that BRI transportation projects had already increased the gross domestic product in 55 recipient nations by a solid 3.4 percent. Amid this flurry of flying dirt and flowing concrete, Beijing seems to have an underlying design for transcending the vast distances that have historically separated Asia from Europe. Its goal: to forge a unitary market that will soon cover the vast Eurasian land mass. This scheme will consolidate China’s control over a continent that is home to 70 percent of the world’s population and productivity. In the end, it could also break the US geopolitical grip over a region that has long been the core of, and key to, its global power. The foundation for such an ambitious transnational scheme is a monumental construction effort that in just two decades has already covered China and much of Central Asia with a massive triad of energy pipelines, high-speed rail lines, and highways.

Climate change will collapse China’s global leadership

Charlie Hellier, February 20, 2022, America’s hegemonic decline continues, https://www.palatinate.org.uk/americas-hegemonic-decline-continues/

Even if China were to become the preeminent world power around 2030, the accelerating pace of climate change will likely curtail its hegemony within decades. As global warming batters the country by mid-century, Beijing will be forced to retreat from its projection of global power to address urgent domestic concerns. In 2017, scientists at the nonprofit group Climate Central calculated, for instance, that rising seas and storm surges could, by 2060 or 2070, flood areas inhabited by 275 million people worldwide, with Shanghai deemed “the most vulnerable major city in the world to serious flooding.” In that sprawling metropolis, 17.5 million people are likely to be displaced as most of the city “could eventually be submerged in water, including much of the downtown area.”

Advancing the date of this disaster by at least a decade, a 2019 report on rising sea levels in Nature Communications found that 150 million people worldwide are now living on land that will be submerged by 2050 and Shanghai was, once again, found to be facing serious risk. There, rising waters “threaten to consume the heart” of the metropolis and its surrounding cities, crippling one of China’s main economic engines. Dredged from sea and swamp since the fifteenth century, much of that city is likely to return to the waters from whence it came in the next three decades. Simultaneously, soaring temperatures are expected to devastate the North China Plain between Beijing and Shanghai, one of that country’s prime agricultural regions currently inhabited by 400 million people, nearly a third of that country’s population. It could, in fact, potentially become one of the most lethal places on the planet.

“This spot is going to be the hottest spot for deadly heat waves in the future,” said Elfatih Eltahir, a climate specialist at MIT who published his findings in the journal Nature Communications. Between 2070 and 2100, he estimates, the region could face hundreds of periods of “extreme danger” and perhaps five lethal periods of 35° Wet Bulb Temperature (where a combination of heat and high humidity prevents the evaporation of the sweat that cools the human body). After just six hours under such conditions, a healthy person at rest will die.

Rather than sudden and catastrophic, the impact of climate change in North China is likely to be incremental and cumulative, escalating relentlessly with each passing decade. If the “Chinese century” does indeed start around 2030, it’s unlikely to last long once its main financial center at Shanghai is flooded out and its agricultural heartland is baking in insufferable heat.

US hegemony produces terrorism and wars around the world, including in the Ukraine

ABNA News, March 7, 2022, Analysis: Why is crisis creation top US hegemony tool?http://abna.cc/bTHv Analysis: Why is crisis creation top US hegemony tool?

For over half a century, namely since the end of the Second World War that the US was recognized as a global power, Washington has had hands in a majority of crises around the world. This crisis-creating role showed itself in the form of devastating wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, military coups in Latin America, Asia, and Africa against popular and pro-independence governments, backing for crackdown on pro-democracy movements by pro-Western dictatorships in pre-revolution Iran, Egypt, Bahrain, and elsewhere, stirring political chaos in many countries in Eastern Europe, and even adopting inhumane policy like supporting ISIS terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, and the support for apartheid regimes in South Africa and Israel. Now the question is that why the US has role in relatively every international crisis? What is the relationship between the global economic and political position of the US and the emergence of international crises and White House policies at the international level? Regional crises and the US military presence worldwide Since the end of the WWII, the US adopted a constant policy of military presence across the world. Now in many countries, the US military bases are operating, with Washington legitimizing them under a set of excuses from protecting the freedom of navigation to defending the allies and fighting terrorism. On the other hand, the effort to strengthen the military presence is not limited to the establishment of military bases, and the country has practically strengthened its military expansion in the world by stirring various wars or moving NATO to the East. In the meantime, the issue that is always vital for the White House to gain domestic and international legitimacy for military presence is the need for crisis spots globally. It may be true that some regional crises look inevitable but a look at the US approach as an international interventionist power since the WWII shows that Washington’s role is mainly abusive for the good of the American military presence and control of geo-strategically important parts of the world in competition with other powers. In most of the cases, the American intervention only deteriorates the situation. Examples are many: Vietnam War, North Korea nuclear crisis, Taiwan tensions, Afghanistan occupation, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemenwars, and lately Ukraine crisis. In the Ukraine crisis, which has now led to a full-scale war in the Eastern European country, the US is, embarking on a policy of Russophobia to strengthen its toehold near the Russian borders and set up a security encirclement around the country. Over the past years, it deployed to Europe strategic and nuclear weapons. These measures not only made no peace but also led to frictions with Moscow. The start of Ukraine war must be seen as an outcome of the interventionist American policies. International crises the driving force for capitalism But in addition to geopolitical and geostrategic issues, a very important issue in understanding why the US political system is crisis-creating and crisis-driven is understanding the American economic infrastructure’s bonds to war, crisis, and insecurity worldwide. The US, as the leader of the capitalist world, owes much of its economic income to the sale of military weapons and equipment to other countries. As a result, to prevent the bankruptcy of arms companies, the US government’s domestic and foreign policies are based on focusing on global crises. Washington provides billions of dollars in weapons and military services to its allies around the world each year. According to official reports released by the US government, US military arms sales in 2020 touched $175 billion. In addition to economic revenues, these arms deals are also expanding US influence internationally. Military presence even serves the US energy policy. In Ukraine crisis for example, the Americans are playing a role to sell their weapons on the one hand and take the Russian place in the European energy markets on the other hand.

Perceptions of US decline trigger Russian aggression and risk nuclear war

Anthony Capaccio, March 17, 2022, Putin Likely to Make Nuclear Threats If War Drags, U.S. Says, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-03-17/putin-is-likely-to-make-nuclear-threats-if-war-drags-u-s-says?sref=fqqmZ8gi

President Vladimir Putin can be expected to brandish threats to use nuclear weapons against the West if stiff Ukrainian resistance to Russia’s invasion continues, draining conventional manpower and equipment, according to a new assessment by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency. “Protracted occupation of parts of Ukrainian territory threatens to sap Russian military manpower and reduce their modernized weapons arsenal, while consequent economic sanctions will probably throw Russia into prolonged economic depression and diplomatic isolation,” Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in its new 67-page summary of worldwide threats. The combination of Ukraine’s defiance and economic sanctions will threaten Russia’s “ability to produce modern precision-guided munitions,” Berrier said in testimony submitted to the House Armed Services Committee for a hearing on Thursday. “As this war and its consequences slowly weaken Russian conventional strength,” Berrier added, Russia likely will increasingly rely on its nuclear deterrent to signal the West and project strength to its internal and external audiences.” The Pentagon agency’s grim appraisal of the war’s broader stakes comes on the eve of a call between President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping. Even as U.S. officials struggle to discern China’s position on the war, Biden will seek Xi’s help ratcheting up pressure on Moscow to end it. Putin already has announced that he’s put Russia’s nuclear arsenal on a state of higher alert. The Russian Embassy in Washington didn’t immediately return a request for comment on the Defense Intelligence Agency report. Unlike a report on global threats issued by multiple intelligence agencies last week with findings that predated the Russian invasion, the new report reflects information as of Tuesday. A senior Pentagon official told reporters Thursday that the invasion is largely stalled, with Russia relying so far on more than 1,000 long-range missile strikes into Ukraine. “U.S. efforts to undermine Russia’s goals in Ukraine, combined with its perception that the United States is a nation in decline, could prompt Russia to engage in more aggressive actions not only in Ukraine itself, but also more broadly in its perceived confrontation with the West,” Berrier said. A key motivation for the invasion, he said, is Russia’s determination “to restore a sphere of influence over Ukraine and the other states of the former Soviet Union.” He added that “despite greater than anticipated resistance from Ukraine and relatively high losses in the initial phases of the conflict, Moscow appears determined to press forward by using more lethal capabilities until the Ukrainian government is willing to come to terms favorable to Moscow.”

Increased military readiness needed to protect the global liberal international order and save democracy

Beckley & Brands, March 14, 2022, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2022-03-14/return-pax-americana, MICHAEL BECKLEY is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2022-03-14/return-pax-american HAL BRANDS is Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us About Great-Power Rivalry Today.

The United States and its allies have failed to prevent Russia from brutalizing Ukraine, but they can still win the larger struggle to save the international order. Russia’s savage invasion has exposed the gap between Western countries’ soaring liberal aspirations and the paltry resources they have devoted to defend them. The United States has declared great-power competition on Moscow and Beijing but has so far failed to summon the money, the creativity, or the urgency necessary to prevail in those rivalries. Yet Russian President Vladimir Putin has now inadvertently done the United States and its allies a tremendous favor. In shocking them out of their complacency, he has given them a historic opportunity to regroup and reload for an era of intense competition—not just with Russia but also with China—and, ultimately, to rebuild an international order that just recently looked to be headed for collapse. This isn’t fantasy: it has happened before. In the late 1940s, the West was entering a previous period of great-power competition but had not made the investments or initiatives needed to win it. U.S. defense spending was pathetically inadequate, NATO existed only on paper, and neither Japan nor West Germany had been reintegrated into the free world. The Communist bloc seemed to have the momentum. Then, in June 1950, an instance of unprovoked authoritarian aggression—the Korean War—revolutionized Western politics and laid the foundation for a successful containment strategy. The policies that won the Cold War and thereby made the modern liberal international order were products of an unexpected hot war. The catastrophe in Ukraine could play a similar role today. Putin’s aggression has created a window of strategic opportunity for Washington and its allies. The democracies must now undertake a major multilateral rearmament program and erect firmer defenses—military and otherwise—against the coming wave of autocratic aggression. They must exploit the current crisis to weaken the autocrats’ capacity for coercion and subversion and deepen the economic and diplomatic cooperation among liberal states around the globe. The invasion of Ukraine signals a new phase in an intensifying struggle to shape the international order. The democratic world won’t have a better chance to position itself for success. The United States has been talking tough about great-power competition for years. But to counter authoritarian rivals, a country needs more than self-righteous rhetoric. It also requires massive investments in military forces geared for high-intensity combat, sustained diplomacy to enlist and retain allies, and a willingness to confront adversaries and even risk war. Such commitments do not come naturally, especially to democracies that believe that peace is the norm. That is why ambitious competitive strategies usually sit on the shelf until a shocking event compels collective sacrifice.

Globalization won’t prevent conflict

Beckley & Brands, March 14, 2022, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2022-03-14/return-pax-americana, MICHAEL BECKLEY is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2022-03-14/return-pax-american HAL BRANDS is Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us About Great-Power Rivalry Today.

Democratic populations believed that globalization had rendered old-fashioned conquest and imperialism obsolete. They assumed that Putin and Xi were savvy, cautious leaders pursuing limited objectives—staying in power, maximizing economic growth, and gaining a greater say within the existing order. Russian and Chinese paramilitary forces might engage in “gray zone” operations below the threshold of war. But if push came to shove, Moscow and Beijing would cut deals and de-escalate crises. And if they started acting more aggressively, there would be time for the West to pull itself together. Until then, the United States and its allies could focus on getting their own houses in order and squabbling among themselves.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shattered these comfortable myths. Suddenly, great-power war looks not only possible but perhaps probable. Western policymakers have rediscovered the value of hard power and have started taking Putin’s and Xi’s imperial aspirations literally. The idea that the United States can focus on China while pursuing “stable and predictable” ties with Russia has become laughable: the Chinese-Russian entente could violently challenge the balance of power at both ends of Eurasia simultaneously. As a result, moves previously thought impossible—accelerated German and Japanese rearmament, EU arms transfers to Ukraine, the near-total economic isolation of a major power—are well underway.

Global support for democracy needed to challenge Russian and China aggression

Beckley & Brands, March 14, 2022, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2022-03-14/return-pax-americana, MICHAEL BECKLEY is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2022-03-14/return-pax-american HAL BRANDS is Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us About Great-Power Rivalry Today.

First, think big. Truman didn’t limit his response to North Korean aggression to the Korean Peninsula or even to Asia. Rather, he sought to fortify the larger free world. Today, Russian aggression has created similar possibilities by sharpening divisions between democracies that support the liberal order and powerful authoritarians trying to destroy it. Nearly eight out of ten U.S. residents view the Ukraine crisis as part of a broader fight for global democracy. In the short term, the crisis in Europe may pull U.S. attention away from the Indo-Pacific. In the long-term, however, Washington and its allies can use an outrage hatched by Moscow to get tougher with Beijing. Indeed, the United States’ overarching goal should be to build a transregional coalition of democracies that can confront Russia and China with a basic proposition: local aggression will trigger a swift and devastating global response.

Allied rearmament needed to challenge China

Beckley & Brands, March 14, 2022, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2022-03-14/return-pax-americana, MICHAEL BECKLEY is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2022-03-14/return-pax-american HAL BRANDS is Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us About Great-Power Rivalry Today.

The United States should spend roughly five percent of GDP on defense over the coming decade.

Economic power goes only so far, however, so the democratic world also needs a rapid multilateral rearmament program to shore up a military balance that has been eroding in Europe and the Indo-Pacific. This will include enhanced forward deployments of well-armed forces—especially armor and airpower in eastern Europe and a thicket of shooters and sensors in the western Pacific—that can turn attempted land grabs into protracted, bloody quagmires. A rapid ramping up of detailed operational planning on how the United States and key allies, such as Australia and Japan, would respond to Chinese aggression is also necessary. The United States and its major allies should also allow for arms transfers to potential frontline states, such as Poland and Taiwan, conditional on them committing to major increases in defense spending and adopting military strategies suited to buying time for a larger multilateral response.

Global aggression against the US

Christ Strohm, 3-8, 22, US spies see grim global outlook with Russia, China top foes, https://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/international/us-spies-see-grim-global-outlook-with-russia-china-top-foes/

At the same time, North Korea is committed to expanding its nuclear arsenal and ballistic missile development, according to the assessment. Russia is now the world’s most-sanctioned nation Prosus expects R11.83bn writedown on its stake in Russia’s VK “In the coming year, the United States and its allies will face an increasingly complex and interconnected global security environment marked by the growing specter of great power competition and conflict, while collective, transnational threats to all nations and actors compete for our attention and finite resources,” according to the document. The nation’s top intelligence chiefs will present – and expand upon – the assessment when they testify before the House committee on Tuesday. Speakers will include Avril Haines, director of national intelligence; CIA chief William Burns; General Paul Nakasone, head of the National Security Agency; and FBI Director Christopher Wray. The annual assessment represents a consensus among the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies of major threats confronting the US, and is used by lawmakers and policy makers as a baseline to make critical decisions, advance legislation and craft budgets. The assessment is dated, however, as it was written before Russia invaded Ukraine last month and was based on information available as of January 21. Lawmakers are certain to press the intelligence chiefs for the most current assessments and implications of Russia’s invasion during Tuesday’s hearing. Still, the assessment warns that Russia is determined to “dominate Ukraine and other countries” in the near term, while not wanting a direct conflict with American forces. “We assess that Moscow will continue to employ an array of tools to advance its own interests or undermine the interests of the United States and its allies,” according to the assessment. “We expect Moscow to insert itself into crises when Russia’s interests are at stake, the anticipated costs of action are low, or it sees an opportunity to capitalise on a power vacuum.” The intelligence agencies assess that the Wagner Group and other private security companies managed by Russians close to the Kremlin “extend Moscow’s military reach at low cost in areas ranging from Syria to the Central African Republic and Mali, allowing Russia to disavow its involvement and distance itself from battlefield casualties.” The Chinese Communist Party, on the other hand, “will work to press Taiwan on unification, undercut U.S. influence, drive wedges between Washington and its partners, and foster some norms that favor its authoritarian system,” according to the document. China’s ‘nuclear force expansion’ China “will continue the largest ever nuclear force expansion and arsenal diversification in its history,” as Beijing isn’t “interested in agreements that restrict its plans and will not agree to negotiations that lock in US or Russian advantages,” according to US intelligence. China’s efforts to control Taiwan — a self-governing island which Beijing claims as its territory — will probably ensure more disruptions to the global supply chains for semiconductor chips. “China will remain the top threat to US technological competitiveness as Beijing targets key sectors and proprietary commercial and military technology from US and allied companies and institutions,” according to the document. And China “almost certainly is capable of launching cyber attacks that would disrupt critical infrastructure services within the United States, including against oil and gas pipelines and rail systems.” The statement disclosed that when it was launched by China last year, a hypersonic weapon designed to evade US defenses “flew completely around the world and impacted inside China.” The US originally labeled all details of the test highly classified. Other issues highlighted in the report include: While Iran is not currently undertaking key nuclear weapons-development activities that would be necessary to produce a nuclear device, if Tehran doesn’t receive sanctions relief, officials probably will consider further enriching uranium up to 90%. Negotiations to revive a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran are believed to be in their final stages at talks in Vienna. North Korea remains strongly committed to expanding its nuclear weapons arsenal and continuing ballistic missile research and development. “North Korea’s continued development of ICBMs, IRBMs, and SLBMs demonstrates its intention to bolster its nuclear delivery capability,” according to the assessment. The North Korean regime “is continuing to prioritize efforts to build an increasingly capable missile force designed to evade US and regional missile defenses.” North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un “probably will continue to order missile tests,” including of short-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and hypersonic glide vehicles “to validate technical objectives, reinforce deterrence, and normalize Pyongyang’s missile testing” North Korea’s “cyber program poses a sophisticated and agile espionage, cybercrime, and attack threat” and “is well positioned to conduct surprise cyber attacks given its stealth and history of bold action.” North Korea also “probably possesses the expertise to cause temporary, limited disruptions of some critical infrastructure networks and disrupt business networks in the United States.” The terrorist groups Islamic State and al-Qaeda “will take advantage of weak governance” in Afghanistan “to continue to plot terrorist attacks against US persons and interests, including to varying degrees in the United States, and exacerbate instability in regions such as Africa and the Middle East” the assessment states.

Russian aggression threatens the global order

William Wohlforth, a professor of international politics at Dartmouth, 3-5, 22, How the war in Ukraine could change history, https://www.vox.com/2022/3/5/22955197/russia-ukraine-war-europe-america-world-war-3

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a world-historical event and the effects of it will likely ripple out for years to come. Since 1945, the world has done a remarkably good job of preventing wars between great powers and making the costs of unprovoked aggression extremely high. In a matter of days, Russia has upended this system. A major war, if not probable, is at least plausible — and that’s a significant shift. Countries across the globe — especially in Europe — are already rethinking their entire foreign policy, and that’s just the beginning. Every government will be watching closely to see what unfolds in Ukraine and whether the global response to Russia is able to deter even greater escalation. It’s worth remembering that we’re only a week into this war and things are changing by the day. And that is perhaps the scariest thing about this conflict: No one really knows how it will play out. Is this the end of the global order? Are we entering a new era of great power conflict? Are we already looking at World War III? To get some answers, I reached out to William Wohlforth, a professor of international politics at Dartmouth. Wohlforth studies the post-Cold War world and he’s a close observer of Russian foreign policy. I wanted to know what he thinks is truly at stake in this conflict, and if one of humanity’s greatest achievements — a rules-based system that nearly abolished the idea that nations can use brute force to take whatever they want — has come to an end. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows. Sean Illing When people say that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is the end of the global order, what does that mean? William Wohlforth When the Soviet Union fell, we saw a revived and expanded order based on pretty liberal principles in most respects. And that was grounded on America’s unprecedented position of power in the international system. Vladimir Putin has never liked this order and the best way of interpreting what’s happening in Ukraine and Europe today is a struggle over that order. I hate to say it, but the fate of the global order hangs in the balance. That is what is being contested in Ukraine, because the post-Cold War order has been built on an architecture of security in Europe, based on NATO. And it was grounded on the principle that any state neighboring NATO could join it, except Russia. Russia never liked this, and it especially didn’t like the idea of extending this order to Ukraine. To be clear, I’m not justifying Russia’s behavior, I’m just explaining it. If they can succeed in at least forcing this order to stop, that will be, to some degree, a change from what existed after the end of the Cold War. Sean Illing Can they succeed? William Wohlforth It’s not clear. We’re seeing a fateful confrontation of different kinds of power with different actors, all concentrated on this struggle. There’s obviously the Ukrainians fighting way better than we thought, and the Russians are fighting worse than we thought. But there’s also this gigantic clash of economic statecraft happening between the United States and a huge array of allies. How that all pans out is still up in the air. What the terms of the settlement of this war will ultimately be are still up in the air. But underlying all of this is this question of whether Russia has the power to end the European order that it has faced essentially since 1991. Sean Illing Does Russia have that kind of power? William Wohlforth I don’t think they do. I don’t think they can achieve the grandiose aims they’ve laid out prior to this invasion. Their maximal aims are not just “No Ukraine in NATO,” but “No NATO in Ukraine,” meaning no military cooperation with Ukraine. And that NATO would essentially withdraw its military position back to what existed in 1997 before the first round of its session. Essentially, what they were asking for is a completely revised European security order. They’re not going to get that. Did they ever think they were going to get that? I doubt it, but I think this has always been about more than Ukraine. “THE WORLD HAS LIVED FOR 30 YEARS IN A HISTORICALLY PEACEFUL PERIOD AND THAT’S ABSOLUTELY AT STAKE” Sean Illing What would you say is truly at stake in this conflict? I’m asking for the average person watching it from a distance who doesn’t think much about the “global order,” who’s probably horrified by what they’re seeing, but just not sure how significant it is or why it matters beyond Ukraine. William Wohlforth Obviously the fate of Ukraine is at stake. The right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own cultural and geopolitical orientation is at stake — that’s the fundamental thing that’s being fought over in the streets and in the skies of Ukraine. But for the rest of the world, what’s at stake is a confrontation between two countries, the US and Russia, which together possess 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. Even though Russia seems insignificant economically, a festering contest between these two countries that continues to intensify would create the risk of serious escalation and that would be a threat to people everywhere. This is a very different kind of conflict than we’re used to. There will be major economic consequences, like inflation and rising energy prices and that sort of thing. But there is also potential insecurity if this develops into major cyber competition between the two sides. The freedom to travel, the sense of openness in the world, our sense of our collective economic prospects — that would all change. The world has lived for 30 years in a historically peaceful period and that’s absolutely at stake here. We’ve had devastating wars. We had them in the Global South. We had them even in the Balkans in the early 1990s. But we have not had a serious conflict between superpowers with vast arsenals of nuclear weapons looming in the background. Not even Al-Qaeda’s horrific attacks in the United States could produce the level of existential crisis we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the shadow of an extremely dangerous and unpredictable great power war hovering over the world, unless this thing finds some settlement that doesn’t leave the two sides completely and totally alienated and holding swords over each other’s heads. Sean Illing One of the great achievements of the modern age — maybe the greatest — is an international order that nearly abolished the idea that “might makes right,” that a strong country can take whatever it wants from a weaker country just because it has the power to do so. Is that over now? William Wohlforth Again, I hate to answer this way, but the best I can say is that it hangs in the balance. If Russia succeeds in Ukraine, if they accomplish their maximal objectives, then that’s a major dent in that order. For a long time, if a state was going to do something like this to a country, it had to come up with reasons that resonate with the rest of international society. There’s really good research on this by political scientists and historians showing how, even in the previous political age, most countries, when they went to war, they tried to find a reason that would somehow legitimate it in the eyes of other interlocutors. Sometimes they even put off military operations and waited for a time when it would look like they were really defending themselves. Russia has just blown this away completely. They’re trying to get the world to believe that Ukraine, having sat there for eight years, witnessing these breakaway republics, suddenly chose to invade them and commit genocide against ethnic Russians, and that they waited to do this until there were 170,000 Russian troops around their country. You have to be a complete idiot to believe that. So if they succeed here, if this use of force without any justification is allowed to stand, then yes, the global order we’ve lived under for 30 years will have taken a massive hit. Sean Illing Are you surprised by the unanimity of the response from the rest of the world? William Wohlforth I am not surprised given the failure of Russia’s original vision of the operation. If the operation had gone the way they thought, if Ukraine fell quickly, you would have seen a different reality. People would have said, “Well, what are we going to do? We still have to deal with Russia, it’s very important.” But the Ukrainians, to their everlasting historical credit, ruined that Russian plan, and the result is you’ve seen this huge coalition develop. I’ll add that several countries are still hedging their bets big time, and they include major players like China and India. They’re still trying to preserve their relationships with Russia and somehow trying to thread the needle between their valid commitment to the principle of sovereignty on the one hand, and their strategic relationship with Russia on the other. Sean Illing What do you make of Germany’s decision to bolster its military spending in response to Russia? William Wohlforth It’s a historic increase. There was always a debate, in Germany and elsewhere, over just how antagonistic Russia’s preferences really were, over how deep its resentment against the European order really was, over how willing it was to take major risks. Well, those questions have been answered. So Germany is making this great turnaround because they just learned a lot about Russia and they’re updating their foreign policy and their whole approach to defense and security. Before the war, Germany and France were discounting the American intelligence saying that this invasion was imminent. And I think it was a widely held belief in German circles that Russia could be managed. The war in Ukraine has upended that argument. “WE HAVE A TREMENDOUS NATIONAL INTEREST IN TRYING TO KEEP THIS THING FROM SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL” Sean Illing And now countries like Finland and Sweden are talking openly about joining NATO, and Sweden is even sending military aid to Ukraine — that seems like a big deal. William Wohlforth It’s a big deal. This debate has been going on in Sweden and Finland forever, but it really picked up back in 2014. The authorities in those countries always thought this was a card they could play if they had to. The question was always, why deploy it? And the thinking was, “Let’s wait until things are serious.” Now things are serious. So yeah, these are very significant events. Sweden is shipping military hardware and this is a country that maintained a neutral stand all throughout the Cold War, although they were always pretty pro-America. Despite that affiliation with the West, they always stayed away from things like this. And then there’s Switzerland’s decision to freeze Russian assets. This really is unprecedented, and it surprised the heck out of people who closely follow financial matters. It shatters the image of Switzerland as the ultimate neutral actor. So this is all a huge deal and speaks to what a bad strategic move this was by Putin.

Russia-US relations needed to avoid escalation

William Wohlforth, a professor of international politics at Dartmouth, 3-5, 22, How the war in Ukraine could change history, https://www.vox.com/2022/3/5/22955197/russia-ukraine-war-europe-america-world-war-3

Sean Illing How worried are you about what international relations scholars often call a “security dilemma,” where you have these European powers increasing their defensive capabilities in order to protect themselves, but instead of making everyone safer, it produces a chain of reactions that ultimately makes conflict more likely? William Wohlforth I’m very worried about a spiral. Again, every statement I make, in the back of my mind, I’m seeing these images from Ukraine and I’m remembering that this is what’s happening on the ground and anyone who doesn’t feel for what that country’s going through has got no heart. But I’m also remembering that we have to continually think about how to avoid a dramatic intensification of the Russia-West spiral We have a tremendous national interest in trying to keep this thing from spiraling out of control. We need to have enough of a relationship with Russia that we can begin to establish red lines and guardrails to this competition, to mirror some of those that developed during the course of the Cold War. A lot of those don’t exist and they’re hard to create because there’s a new strategic reality created by such things as cyber [warfare]. If we don’t maintain some kind of relationship with Russia, we can’t keep the rivalry within bounds that don’t escalate. I think this is within our capacity, but passions and emotions are hard to control. All of these things conspire against our effort to impose firewalls. Sean Illing If the international community continues to hold the line and punish Russia, is it possible that this war might actually affirm the rules-based system and in that sense strengthen it?

Russia’s military is a joke

William Arkin, 3-1, 22, Shocking Lessons U.S. Military Leaders Learned by Watching Putin’s Invasion,

https://www.newsweek.com/shocking-lessons-us-military-leaders-learned-watching-putins-invasion-1683625

After just one day of fighting, Russia’s ground force lost most of its initial momentum, undermined by shortages of fuel, ammunition and even food, but also because of a poorly trained and led force. Russia began to compensate for the weaknesses of its land army with more long-range air, missile and artillery strikes. And President Putin resorted to a nuclear threat—a reaction, U.S. military experts say, to the failure of Moscow’s conventional forces to make quick progress on the ground. Other military observers are flabbergasted that a Russian invasion force, fully prepared and operating from Russian soil, has been able to move just tens of miles into an adjoining country. One retired U.S. Army general told Newsweek in an email: “We know that Russia has a plodding army and that Russian military force has always been a blunt instrument, but why risk the antipathy of the entire planet if you have no prospect of achieving even minimal gains.” The Army general believes that the only explanation is that the Kremlin overestimated its own forces. “I believe that at the heart of Russian military thinking is how Marshall Zhukov marched across Eastern Europe to Berlin,” a former high-level CIA official told Newsweek in an interview. Zhukov’s orders were to “line up the artillery and … flatten everything ahead of you,” he says. “‘Then send in the peasant Army to kill or rape anyone left alive.’ Subtle the Russians are not.” In the short term, Russia’s military failures in Ukraine increase the threat of escalation, including the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons. But in the longer term, if escalation doesn’t worsen and the Ukrainian conflict can be contained, Russian conventional military weakness upends many assumptions that geopolitical strategists—even those inside the U.S. government—make about Russia as a military threat. For the United States and the West, the stumbling Ukraine invasion recalls the collapse of the Soviet Union, an eye-opening moment when it became clear that a supposedly unstoppable military shrouded a crumbling economy and a weak political and human base. It seems, three decades later, that few lessons have been learned. Moscow continues to invest in hardware at the cost of ignoring the human dimension of warfare (and the human dimensions of the strength of the nation state). Russian leaders have also ignored the reality that success in the information age—even military success—demands education, open initiative and even freedom. “No dictator or authoritarian who wants to maintain power ever wants to instill too much skill in subordinate military leaders,” the retired Army general wrote to Newsweek. Whether it be Saddam Hussein or Vladimir Putin, the officer says, too much skill on the part of military subordinates is seen as increasing the likelihood of a coup. Ukraine troops on Russian vehicle in Kharkiv An Ukrainian Territorial Defence fighter examines a destroyed Russian infantry mobility vehicle GAZ Tigr after fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine on February 27, 2022. U.S. military analysts and experts extracted several lessons as they watched Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unfold last week. On Thursday at about 4:00 a.m. local time, Russia invaded Ukraine along four main axes, attacking Ukraine’s capital Kyiv from Belarus in the north, just 70 miles away, and from Russian soil further east, moving westward towards the country’s largest city (some 2.5 million inhabitants). The second axis bore down on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city (population 1.4 million), less than 20 miles from the Russian border. The third attack entered Ukraine from Russian-occupied Crimea and the Black Sea in the south, to the east of Odessa, Ukraine’s third largest city (population 1 million). The fourth axis in the east pushed westward through Luhansk and attacked from Russian-dominated Donbas. At the same time as the ground invasion, 160 Russian missiles attacked targets from air, land, and sea. Some 80 Russia bombers and fighter planes accompanied those strikes, attacking in two primary waves. Altogether in about 400 attacks in the first 24 hours, the strike force hit, according to U.S. intelligence sources and reports on the ground, 15 command control nodes and military headquarters, 18 air defense installations, 11 airfields, and six military bases. It wasn’t an overwhelming attack. But most Western analysts assumed that Russia just needed to pave the way for its ground forces to seize the capital and topple the government. And follow-on attacks would to be coming, especially given that only a small fraction of Russian air and missile forces were employed in the Day One attack. By the end of the day on Thursday, Russian ground forces moved into Ukraine, backed up by their own shorter-range artillery and missile strikes. Russian special forces and saboteurs, both in uniform and in civilian clothes, showed up in Kyiv city center. Paratroopers were airlifted ahead of the main ground force into Hostomel airfield on the northwestern edge of Kyiv’s suburbs. The greatest progress was made in the northeast corner of Ukraine, on a straight line from Russian Belgorod to Kyiv. It was a second axis pointing at the capital city, the Russian force starting about 200 miles away. But then the weaknesses of Russia conscript army, its military equipment, and its over-optimistic strategy began to show. Perhaps most significant was the battle at Hostomel, the airfield north of Kyiv, and key to Russia’s effort to quickly overthrow the democratic government of Ukraine and achieve “regime change.” Russian airborne troops carried by helicopters landed at the airfield in the early morning hours on Thursday to create a stepping stone into the city. But by the end of the day, Ukrainian defenders had regained control. Meanwhile, the forward edge of the main force of Russian troops got bogged down 20 miles north of Kyiv. Heading south along the west bank of the Dnieper river, which extends from the Belarus border and splits the Ukrainian capital, tanks and armored vehicles slowed the advance. Russian logistical resupplies faltered. Ukrainian ground defenders, as well as Ukrainian fighter jets, attacked the advancing force and scored unexpected victories. Russia’s land army proved not up to the task, as numerous stories of confused and unmotivated soldiers emerged. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian people’s defense exceeded all expectations. Babushkas armed with broomsticks were defeating the Russian Army: that became the dominant narrative. With the exception of long-range strikes, almost everything about the initial salvos of the Russian invasion failed. Ukrainian air defenses were not disabled. Ukrainian airfields were not put out of action. Ukrainian defenders were able to hold their ground and move largely unfettered around the country. Ukrainian reserves and civilian defenders rapidly mobilized. Russian airborne and special forces inserted deep inside Ukraine were isolated from the main Russian force on the ground, cut off from the basics, especially ammunition resupply. Exclusive: Ukraine Crisis Could Lead to Nuclear War Under New StrategyREAD MOREExclusive: Ukraine Crisis Could Lead to Nuclear War Under New Strategy Importantly, Russia was not able to integrate any of the modern instruments of warfare—electronic warfare, cyber, space—into the military attack. In Ukraine, the electricity was also still flowing, and the telecommunications infrastructure (including the internet) was in full swing. U.S. intelligence sources pointed out to Newsweek that while the Russian ground forces have been surprisingly sluggish and uncoordinated, they were also severely constrained in their initial attack by the Kremlin’s strategy and objectives. “There’s only so much civil infrastructure one can destroy if the intention is occupation of the country,” says one U.S. Air Force officer who was involved in the planning for the 2003 Iraq war. Also, in arguing that Ukraine is an integral part of Russia, Moscow could not overtly and directly attack the Ukrainian people, military observers say. Russia may have also been seeking to maintain some semblance of goodwill with the international community (and even with the Ukrainian population) in not intentionally attacking civilians or civilian objects. The Ukrainian government claimed that only 32 civilian objects were hit on the first day of attacks, almost all of them by accident. By the end of the weekend, that number was still low, and Ukrainian health officials said that some 300 civilians had died and another 1,000 were wounded. Though there have been numerous incidents where civilian objects were hit, none so far appear to be intentional; the proportion of civilian casualties and harm is on par with that of the United States in its high-intensity air wars. A total of 150,000 Russian invaders may sound impressive, another analyst says, but that force pushed into Ukraine from about 15 different locations, dividing up the power of each individual attack. The analyst says that such a multipronged approach demonstrates another overestimation on the part of Moscow, that the country could be quickly occupied. russian invasion ukraine military Smoke rises from a Russian tank destroyed by the Ukrainian forces on the side of a road in Lugansk region on February 26, 2022. ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES On Days Two and Three of the Russian invasion, the eastern attacks from Russia—where the strongest supply lines exited—continued to advance. Some 12 battalion tactical groups (about 11,000 troops) made it to Okhtyrka, about 100 miles from Kyiv. Tanks also entered the city of Kharkiv after extensive shelling, and then escalated attacks inside the city, hoping to take Ukraine’s second city. The bulk of the Russian main force north of Kyiv, some 17 battalion tactical groups and supporting units (24,000 troops) operating on the west bank of the Dnieper, made limited progress. Forward elements made it into the northern suburbs by Saturday. By Monday, there was heavy fighting near the capital city center. By the end of the first 72 hours, the bulk of Russian attacks shifted to long-range artillery and missile strikes, most from Russian and Belarussian territory, where the launchers are immune from retaliation. Ukraine’s Heroic Zelensky Unites Divided Americans Against PutinREAD MOREUkraine’s Heroic Zelensky Unites Divided Americans Against Putin The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claims in three days of fighting that some 700 Russian vehicles were destroyed, disabled or had been abandoned, including 150 tanks. Some 40 Russian aircraft and helicopters were shot down (and some crashed). In one incident, a Ukrainian Su-27 “Flanker” fighter jet shot down a Russian transport plane carrying occupation troops into the country. By the end of Day Three, Russia claimed that the number of Ukrainian “aimpoints” at targets attacked had doubled to 820, including 14 airfields and 48 air defense installations. Russia also claimed that 87 Ukrainian tanks “and other targets” were destroyed on the battlefield. In a message on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s invasion into Kyiv had been repelled and that Moscow’s plan to quickly seize the capital and install a puppet government had been thwarted. “The real fighting for Kyiv is ongoing,” Zelensky said. “We will win.” While the equipment numbers can be stultifying, casualties amongst Russian and Ukrainian military units are more sobering and revealing. According to U.S. intelligence sources, about 1,000 Russian troops have been killed or severely wounded each day of fighting. Ukrainian military deaths are estimated to be the same (about 3,000 total), demonstrating the intensity of the ground fighting at the forward edge. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed on Sunday that 4,300 Russian soldiers overall had been killed, and over 200 had been taken prisoner. U.S. intelligence is beginning to observe desertions on the part of Russian soldiers and increasing reports of soldiers refusing to fight. “In three days, Russia couldn’t achieve what we did in three hours in Iraq in 2003,” a senior retired Air Force officer says, somewhat hyperbolically. In three days, the officer says, the number of aimpoints Russia attacked is only one-quarter of what the U.S. hit in the opening airstrikes in Iraq (more than 3,200 aimpoints). Preliminary analysis from U.S. intelligence indicates that Russia delivered 11,000 bombs and missiles to precisely hit some 820 separate “aimpoints,” or about a seven percent success rate (the U.S. equivalent in Iraq in 2003 was well over 80 percent). Russia, forces, Crimea, conflict, Ukraine Servicemen ride atop a Russian armored vehicle on February 25 in Armyansk, Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine after an internationally disputed election held in 2014 as unrest first gripped the country. AFP/GETTY IMAGES “The synergy of coordinated attacks, and the effects,” the senior officer says, “have not been achieved.” As an example, the officer says, the point of attacking air defenses is to hit the central nodes and connections between launchers and the early warning systems, so that the whole system collapses. “The Russians seem to be focusing on piecemeal attacks because the choreography of a coordinated attack seems too complex for them to pull off.” Another retired officer jokingly dismissed the Russian effort as “shock and awful,” riffing off the “shock and awe” of Iraq, an attack mainly on Baghdad that sent the Iraq regime and command structure into disarray from which they never recovered. On Sunday, Russian President Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear forces to a “special regime of combat duty,” a status that Western observers have taken to mean a higher state of nuclear alert. Putin said that the shift in nuclear forces’ readiness was in response to NATO’s “aggressive statements” and sanctions. A more accurate interpretation is that with Moscow’s military failure, the nuclear threat was necessary to forestall any possible NATO intervention. Putin’s caution about potential failure can also be seen in the surprise meeting of Ukrainian and Russia officials at the Belarussian border, and their agreement to meet again in the coming days. Military observers say that the best that Putin might be able to salvage is holding on to three wedges of Ukrainian territory, citing Kyiv, Kharkiv and north of Crimea. These wedges could serve as bargaining chips in exchange for “security guarantees” regarding Ukraine, such as a pledge not to join the Western alliance or officially becoming a “neutral” country, eschewing NATO military links. Putin Has Never Lost a War. Here Is How He’ll Win In UkraineREAD MOREPutin Has Never Lost a War. Here Is How He’ll Win In Ukraine President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday night was dominated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Russia’s unprovoked invasion, the valiant defense being mounted by the Ukrainian people, and the good news of alliance solidarity and tough sanctions. The President made no mention of Russia’s nuclear threat. And the overall message was muddled. “Let me be clear,” the president said, “our forces are not engaged and will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine.” That downer, despite the grave situation and the upbeat words of global solidarity and Ukraine’s defenses, was accompanied by a sobering timeframe for the war: “days, weeks, months” of fighting lie ahead, Biden said, a foreign policy crisis that will surely sap the administration’s domestic agenda. Meanwhile Russia is escalating its attacks as Ukraine, and civilian casualties and damage are on the rise. Fear of further escalation might in the short term focus Washington and NATO on crisis decision-making, and provoke a reopening of the Cold War playbook, to react. In the longer term, the recognition of Russian military weakness represents a fundamental challenge to U.S. strategy, spending priorities and even its firm hold on the world. It questions Washington’s obsession with a supposed “peer” adversary and the U.S. emphasis on a larger military and ever-increasing defense spending to deal with Russia. Changing the narrative on the Russian military also fundamentally challenges NATO and its European members. Though there might be heightened awareness and even fear of Moscow’s willingness to resort to extreme and even reckless behavior, the reality is that there doesn’t need to be increased defense spending or a renewal of European ground forces. FE Putin’s Endgame 06 President Joe Biden takes questions after delivering remarks in the East Room of the White House, giving an update on the situation of Russias Invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. Though many will argue that the new focus needs to be the old focus—containment, economic warfare to weaken the state, and nuclear disarmament talks—the new reality from Moscow’s point of view will likely solidify around their belief that their only true strength lies in Russia’s nuclear forces: that they are more important than ever to preserve the State, or at least the current political system that rules the state. For Washington, this display of Russian military weakness should be comforting in terms of Moscow’s true military threat to Europe. At the same time though, it exposes the need for a different national security strategy, one that doesn’t imagine Russia as a military equal, and one that doesn’t push Vladimir Putin’s back against a wall.

Deterrence critical to stop further aggression, nuclear escalation, the collapse of democracy. US leadership is key

Charai, 3-1, 22, Ahmed Charai is a Publisher of The Jerusalem Strategic Tribune. He is on the board of directors of many Think-Tanks including the Atlantic Council, International Crisis Group, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Foreign Policy Research Institute, and Center for the National Interest, Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Is a Western Tragedy, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/russia%E2%80%99s-invasion-ukraine-western-tragedy-200901

This tragedy is perhaps only a prospect of more catastrophe to come, as the conflict between Vladimir Putin’s autocratic regime and Western democracies is only beginning. Often Russia was seen as a power in decline that could not credibly challenge Western goals, but this has repeatedly been proven false. The invasion of Ukraine is simply the latest example. Putin’s project will not stop at Ukraine; he aims to reconstitute the USSR and the Warsaw Pact. The Russian heartland—where most Russian-speakers live—is part of the vast European plain, a flat land that is very hard to defend. Since the time of the czars and the Soviets, Russia has sought to close the geographic entry points to its endless plain by expanding its borders west and south. Putin is simply doing what every Russian leader has sought to do since the reconstruction of modern Russia in the seventeenth century. Today, Putin continues to speak the language of war, putting his nuclear forces on high alert, while the West speaks the language of economic sanctions, including shutting Russia out of the SWIFT international banking settlement service. Removing selective Russian banks from the SWIFT system will compromise their ability to act on a global scale. Sanctions that bar the Central Bank of Russia from deploying its reserves, in a way that could undermine the impact of sanctions, could also weaken Russia’s economy. The crackdown on “golden passports,” that gave wealthy Russians access to Western financial systems, has already angered Russia’s oligarchs Certainly major and unprecedented sanctions that could paralyze the Russian commercial banking system—and with internal Russian interest rates climbing from 9 percent to almost 20 percent over the past week, Russia’s economy may be uniquely weak in the face of sanctions. Will these sanctions be enough? No one can know how long Putin will resist. Until Putin relents, the Kremlin will set the agenda. There is a real risk that this crisis will spread and envelop the United States and Europe in a larger war. Putin’s not-so-subtle threat of nuclear escalation in response to Western interference is a stark reminder of the dangers. Containing Russia’s territorial ambitions and preventing it from invading other neighbors or launching nuclear strikes requires the U.S., the indispensable nation, to make certain geostrategic changes that only it can make. European history reminds us that failure to confront a tyrant can have horrific and generational consequences. Whether this is one of those moments remains to be seen, but as itbecomes clearer that the valiant and vigorous attempts at diplomacy are falling on deaf ears in Moscow, the military dimensions of a response must be defined now. President Joe Biden, by standing tall in the face of this Russian escalation, is sending a valuable signal to democracies around the world. That message is vital to ensure the security of small democracies that have larger and threatening neighbors, such as Poland, the Baltic states, and Taiwan. To be sure, diplomats must continue to negotiate for peace to rescue Ukraine from the deaths and dispersion of its people and to prevent a potentially destabilizing refugee crisis from rocking NATO. But more must be done. The West must act. First, the West must further tighten sanctions against Putin’s entourage as well as Russian companies, not only those operating in Europe but those operating in Asia. Sanctions must also affect Putin’s ally, Belarus. Second, it must strengthen NATO’s military capabilities in coordination with allied countries, such as France and the United Kingdom, and put in place a military strategy that protects European countries vulnerable to any Russian invasion such as Poland, the Baltic states, or Romania. The United States must fully play its role as world leader and protector of democracy. This is not a time for half-measures. U.S. leadership will not only be appreciated by allies but by people around the world.

China is an aggressive power

Michael Beckley, March/April 2022, How Fear of China Is Forging a New World Order

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2021-02-14/china-new-world-order-enemies-my-enemy, MICHAEL BECKLEY is is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower.

Until now. Through a surge of repression and aggression, China has frightened countries near and far. It is acting belligerently in East Asia, trying to carve out exclusive economic zones in the global economy, and exporting digital systems that make authoritarianism more effective than ever. For the first time since the Cold War, a critical mass of countries face serious threats to their security, welfare, and ways of life—all emanating from a single source.

This moment of clarity has triggered a flurry of responses. China’s neighbors are arming themselves and aligning with outside powers to secure their territory and sea-lanes. Many of the world’s largest economies are collectively developing new trade, investment, and technology standards that implicitly discriminate against China. Democracies are gathering to devise strategies for combating authoritarianism at home and abroad, and new international organizations are popping up to coordinate the battle. Seen in real time, these efforts look scattershot. Step back from the day-to-day commotion, however, and a fuller picture emerges: for better or worse, competition with China is forging a new international order.

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ENTER THE DRAGON

There has never been any doubt about what China wants, because Chinese leaders have declared the same objectives for decades: to keep the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in power, reabsorb Taiwan, control the East China and South China Seas, and return China to its rightful place as the dominant power in Asia and the most powerful country in the world. For most of the past four decades, the country took a relatively patient and peaceful approach to achieving these aims. Focused on economic growth and fearful of being shunned by the international community, China adopted a “peaceful rise” strategy, relying primarily on economic clout to advance its interests and generally following a maxim of the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping: “Hide your strength, bide your time.”

In recent years, however, China has expanded aggressively on multiple fronts. “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy has replaced friendship diplomacy. Perceived slights from foreigners, no matter how small, are met with North Korean–style condemnation. A combative attitude has seeped into every part of China’s foreign policy, and it is confronting many countries with their gravest threat in generations.

 

This threat is most apparent in maritime East Asia, where China is moving aggressively to cement its vast territorial claims. Beijing is churning out warships faster than any country has since World War II, and it has flooded Asian sea-lanes with Chinese coast guard and fishing vessels. It has strung military outposts across the South China Sea and dramatically increased its use of ship ramming and aerial interceptions to shove neighbors out of disputed areas. In the Taiwan Strait, Chinese military patrols, some involving a dozen warships and more than 50 combat aircraft, prowl the sea almost daily and simulate attacks on Taiwanese and U.S. targets. Chinese officials have told Western analysts that calls for an invasion of Taiwan are proliferating within the CCP. Pentagon officials worry that such an assault could be imminent.

China has gone on the economic offensive, too. Its latest five-year plan calls for dominating what Chinese officials call “chokepoints”—goods and services that other countries can’t live without—and then using that dominance, plus the lure of China’s domestic market, to browbeat countries into concessions. Toward that end, China has become the dominant dispenser of overseas loans, loading up more than 150 countries with over $1 trillion of debt. It has massively subsidized strategic industries to gain a monopoly on hundreds of vital products, and it has installed the hardware for digital networks in dozens of countries. Armed with economic leverage, it has used coercion against more than a dozen countries over the last few years. In many cases, the punishment has been disproportionate to the supposed crime—for example, slapping tariffs on many of Australia’s exports after that country requested an international investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

China has also become a potent antidemocratic force, selling advanced tools of tyranny around the world. By combining surveillance cameras with social media monitoring, artificial intelligence, biometrics, and speech and facial recognition technologies, the Chinese government has pioneered a system that allows dictators to watch citizens constantly and punish them instantly by blocking their access to finance, education, employment, telecommunications, or travel. The apparatus is a despot’s dream, and Chinese companies are already selling and operating aspects of it in more than 80 countries.

Anti-China liberal order emerging that will protect democracy

Michael Beckley, March/April 2022, How Fear of China Is Forging a New World Order

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2021-02-14/china-new-world-order-enemies-my-enemy, MICHAEL BECKLEY is is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower.

ACTION AND REACTION

As China burns down what remains of the liberal order, it is sparking an international backlash. Negative views of the country have soared around the world to highs not seen since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. A 2021 survey by the Pew Research Center found that roughly 75 percent of people in the United States, Europe, and Asia held unfavorable views of China and had no confidence that President Xi Jinping would behave responsibly in world affairs or respect human rights. Another survey, a 2020 poll by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, revealed that about 75 percent of foreign policy elites in those same places thought that the best way to deal with China was to form coalitions of like-minded countries against it. In the United States, both political parties now support a tough policy toward China. The EU has officially declared China to be a “systemic rival.” In Asia, Beijing faces openly hostile governments in every direction, from Japan to Australia to Vietnam to India. Even people in countries that trade heavily with China are souring on it. Surveys show that South Koreans, for example, now dislike China more than they dislike Japan, their former colonial overlord.

Anti-Chinese sentiment is starting to congeal into concrete pushback. The resistance remains embryonic and patchy, mainly because so many countries are still hooked on Chinese trade. But the overall trend is clear: disparate actors are starting to join forces to roll back Beijing’s power. In the process, they are reordering the world.

The Chinese threat could usher in the most consequential changes to global governance in a generation.

The emerging anti-Chinese order departs fundamentally from the liberal order, because it is directed at a different threat. In particular, the new order flips the relative emphasis placed on capitalism versus democracy. During the Cold War, the old liberal order promoted capitalism first and democracy a distant second. The United States and its allies pushed free markets as far as their power could reach, but when forced to choose, they almost always supported right-wing autocrats over left-wing democrats. The so-called free world was mainly an economic construct. Even after the Cold War, when democracy promotion became a cottage industry in Western capitals, the United States and its allies often shelved human rights concerns to gain market access, as they did most notably by ushering China into the WTO.

But now economic openness has become a liability for the United States and its allies, because China is ensconced in virtually every aspect of the liberal order. Far from being put out of business by globalization, China’s authoritarian capitalist system seems almost perfectly designed to milk free markets for mercantilist gain. Beijing uses subsidies and espionage to help its firms dominate global markets and protects its domestic market with nontariff barriers. It censors foreign ideas and companies on its own internet and freely accesses the global Internet to steal intellectual property and spread CCP propaganda. It assumes leadership positions in liberal international institutions, such as the UN Human Rights Council, and then bends them in an illiberal direction. It enjoys secure shipping around the globe for its export machine, courtesy of the U.S. Navy, and uses its own military to assert control over large swaths of the East China and South China Seas.

The United States and its allies have awoken to the danger: the liberal order and, in particular, the globalized economy at its heart are empowering a dangerous adversary. In response, they are trying to build a new order that excludes China by making democracy a requirement for full membership. When U.S. President Joe Biden gave his first press conference, in March 2021, and described the U.S.-Chinese rivalry as part of a broader competition between democracy and autocracy, it wasn’t a rhetorical flourish. He was drawing a battle line based on a widely shared belief that authoritarian capitalism poses a mortal threat to the democratic world, one that can’t be contained by the liberal order. Instead of reforming existing rules, rich democracies are starting to impose new ones by banding together, adopting progressive standards and practices, and threatening to exclude countries that don’t follow them. Democracies aren’t merely balancing against China—increasing their defense spending and forming military alliances—they are also reordering the world around it.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

The architecture of the new order remains a work in progress. Yet two key features are already discernible. The first is a loose economic bloc anchored by the G-7, the group of democratic allies that controls more than half of the world’s wealth. These leading powers, along with a rotating cast of like-minded states, are collaborating to prevent China from monopolizing the global economy. History has shown that whichever power dominates the strategic goods and services of an era dominates that era. In the nineteenth century, the United Kingdom was able to build an empire on which the sun never set in part because it mastered iron, steam, and the telegraph faster than its competitors. In the twentieth century, the United States surged ahead of other countries by harnessing steel, chemicals, electronics, aerospace, and information technologies. Now, China hopes to dominate modern strategic sectors—including artificial intelligence, biotechnology, semiconductors, and telecommunications—and relegate other economies to subservient status. In a 2017 meeting in Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told H. R. McMaster, then the U.S. national security adviser, how he envisioned the United States and other countries fitting into the global economy in the future: their role, McMaster recalled Li saying, “would merely be to provide China with raw materials, agricultural products, and energy to fuel its production of the world’s cutting-edge industrial and consumer products.”

To avoid becoming a cog in a Chinese economic empire, leading democracies have started forming exclusive trade and investment networks designed to speed up their progress in critical sectors and slow down China’s. Some of these collaborations, such as the U.S.-Japan Competitiveness and Resilience Partnership, announced in 2021, create joint R & D projects to help members outpace Chinese innovation. Other schemes focus on blunting China’s economic leverage by developing alternatives to Chinese products and funding. The G-7’s Build Back Better World initiative and the EU’s Global Gateway, for example, will provide poor countries with infrastructure financing as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Australia, India, and Japan joined forces to start the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, which offers incentives for their companies to move their operations out of China. And at the behest of the United States, countries composing more than 60 percent of the world’s cellular-equipment market have enacted or are considering restrictions against Huawei, China’s main 5G telecommunications provider.

The liberal order has unleashed all sorts of nationalist, populist, religious, and authoritarian opposition.

Meanwhile, democratic coalitions are constraining China’s access to advanced technologies. The Netherlands, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States, for example, have colluded to cut China off from advanced semiconductors and from the machines that make them. New institutions are laying the groundwork for a full-scale multilateral export control regime. The U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council creates common transatlantic standards for screening exports to China and investment there in artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies. The Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative, a joint project of Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States that was unveiled in late 2021, is intended to do the same for technologies that could support digital authoritarianism, such as speech and facial recognition tools. The United States and its democratic allies are also negotiating trade and investment deals to discriminate against China, putting in place labor, environmental, and governance standards that Beijing will never meet. In October 2021, for example, the United States and the EU agreed to create a new arrangement that will impose tariffs on aluminum and steel producers that engage in dumping or carbon-intensive production, a measure that will hit no country harder than China.

Global military cooperation to deter China

Michael Beckley, March/April 2022, How Fear of China Is Forging a New World Order

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2021-02-14/china-new-world-order-enemies-my-enemy, MICHAEL BECKLEY is is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower.

The second feature of the emerging order is a double military barrier to contain China. The inside layer consists of rivals bordering the East China and South China Seas. Many of them—including Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam—are loading up on mobile missile launchers and mines. The goal is to turn themselves into prickly porcupines capable of denying China sea and air control near their shores. Those efforts are now being bolstered by an outside layer of democratic powers—mainly Australia, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These democracies are providing aid, arms, and intelligence to China’s neighbors; training together so they can conduct long-range missile strikes on Chinese forces and blockade China’s oil imports; and organizing multinational freedom-of-navigation exercises throughout the region, especially near Chinese-held rocks, reefs, and islands in disputed areas.

This security cooperation is becoming stronger and more institutionalized. Witness the reemergence of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad—a coalition made up of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States that had gone dormant shortly after its founding in 2007. Or look at the creation of new pacts, most notably AUKUS, an alliance linking Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The overarching goal of all this activity is to maintain the territorial status quo in East Asia. But a more explicit aim is to save Taiwan, the frontline democracy most at risk of Chinese conquest. Japan and the United States have developed a joint battle plan for defending the island, and in November 2021, Peter Dutton, Australia’s defense minister, said it was “inconceivable” that his country would not also join the fight. The European Parliament, for its part, has adopted a comprehensive plan to boost Taiwan’s economic resilience and international recognition.

Viewed individually, these efforts look haphazard and reactive. Collectively, however, they betray a positive vision for a democratic order, one that differs fundamentally from China’s mercantilist model and also from the old international order, with neoliberal orthodoxy at its core. By infusing labor and human rights standards into economic agreements, the new vision prioritizes people over corporate profits and state power. It also elevates the global environment from a mere commodity to a shared and jointly protected commons. By linking democratic governments together in an exclusive network, the new order attempts to force countries to make a series of value judgments and imposes real penalties for illiberal behavior. Want to make carbon-intensive steel with slave labor? Prepare to be hit with tariffs by the world’s richest countries. Considering annexing international waters? Expect a visit from a multinational armada.

If China continues to scare democracies into collective action, then it could usher in the most consequential changes to global governance in a generation or more. By containing Chinese naval expansion, for example, the maritime security system in East Asia could become a powerful enforcement mechanism for the law of the sea. By inserting carbon tariffs into trade deals to discriminate against China, the United States and its allies could force producers to reduce their emissions, inadvertently creating the basis for a de facto international carbon tax. The Quad’s success in providing one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Southeast Asia, an effort to win hearts and minds away from Beijing, has provided a blueprint for combating future pandemics. Allied efforts to prevent the spread of digital authoritarianism could inspire new international regulations on digital flows and data privacy, and the imperative of competing with China could fuel an unprecedented surge in R & D and infrastructure spending around the world.

Like the orders of the past, the emerging one is an order of exclusion, sustained by fear and enforced through coercion. Unlike most past orders, however, it is directed toward progressive ends.

No multipolar alternative – either the US wins or China wins

Michael Beckley, March/April 2022, How Fear of China Is Forging a New World Order

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2021-02-14/china-new-world-order-enemies-my-enemy, MICHAEL BECKLEY is is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower.

The history of international order building is one of savage competition between clashing systems, not of harmonious cooperation. In the best of times, that competition took the form of a cold war, with each side jockeying for advantage and probing each other with every measure short of military force. In many cases, however, the competition eventually boiled over into a shooting war and ended with one side crushing the other. The victorious order then ruled until it was destroyed by a new competitor—or until it simply crumbled without an external threat to hold it together.

Today, a growing number of policymakers and pundits are calling for a new concert of powers to sort out the world’s problems and divide the globe into spheres of influence. But the idea of an inclusive order in which no one power’s vision prevails is a fantasy that can exist only in the imaginations of world-government idealists and academic theorists. There are only two orders under construction right now—a Chinese-led one and a U.S.-led one—and the contest between the two is rapidly becoming a clash between autocracy and democracy, as both countries define themselves against each other and try to infuse their respective coalitions with ideological purpose. China is positioning itself as the world’s defender of hierarchy and tradition against a decadent and disorderly West; the United States is belatedly summoning a new alliance to check Chinese power and make the world safe for democracy.

Disparate actors are starting to join forces to roll back Beijing’s power. In the process, they are reordering the world.

This clash of systems will define the twenty-first century and divide the world. China will view the emerging democratic order as a containment strategy designed to strangle its economy and topple its regime. In response, it will seek to protect itself by asserting greater military control over its vital sea-lanes, carving out exclusive economic zones for its firms, and propping up autocratic allies as it sows chaos in democracies. The upsurge of Chinese repression and aggression, in turn, will further impel the United States and its allies to shun Beijing and build a democratic order. For a tiny glimpse of what this vicious cycle might look like, consider what happened in March 2021, when Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the EU sanctioned four Chinese officials for human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The sanctions amounted to a slap on the wrist, but Beijing interpreted them as an assault on its sovereignty and unleashed a diplomatic tirade and a slew of economic sanctions. The EU returned fire by freezing its proposed EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment.

In the coming years, the trade and technology wars between China and the United States that began during the Trump administration will rage on as both sides try to expand their respective spheres. Other countries will find it increasingly difficult to hedge their bets by maintaining links to both blocs. Instead, China and the United States will push their partners to pick sides, compelling them to reroute their supply chains and adopt wholesale the ecosystem of technologies and standards of one side’s order. The Internet will be split in two. When people journey from one order to the other—if they can even get a visa—they will enter a different digital realm. Their phones won’t work, nor will their favorite websites, their email accounts, or their precious social media apps. Political warfare between the two systems will intensify, as each tries to undermine the domestic legitimacy and international appeal of its competitor. East Asian sea-lanes will grow clogged with warships, and rival forces will experience frequent close encounters.

The clash of systems between China and the United States will define the twenty-first century and divide the world.

The standoff will end only when one side defeats or exhausts the other. As of now, the smart money is on the U.S. side, which has far more wealth and military assets than China does and better prospects for future growth. By the early 2030s, Xi, an obese smoker with a stressful job, will be in his 80s, if he is still alive. China’s demographic crisis will be kicking into high gear, with the country projected to lose roughly 70 million working-age adults and gain 130 million senior citizens between now and then. Hundreds of billions of dollars in overseas Chinese loans will be due, and many of China’s foreign partners won’t be able to pay them back. It is hard to see how a country facing so many challenges could long sustain its own international order, especially in the face of determined opposition from the world’s wealthiest countries.

Yet it is also far from guaranteed that the U.S.-led democratic order will hold together. The United States could suffer a constitutional crisis in the 2024 presidential election and collapse into civil strife. Even if that doesn’t happen, the United States and its allies might be rent by their own divides. The democratic world is suffering its greatest crisis of confidence and unity since the 1930s. Nationalism, populism, and opposition to globalism are rising, making collective action difficult. The East Asian democracies have ongoing territorial disputes with one another. Many Europeans view China as more of an economic opportunity than a strategic threat and seriously doubt the United States’ reliability as an ally, having endured four years of tariffs and scorn from President Donald Trump, who could soon be back in power. Europeans also hold different views from Americans on data security and privacy, and European governments fear U.S. technology dominance almost as much as they do Chinese digital hegemony. India may not be ready to abandon its traditional policy of nonalignment and back a democratic order, especially when it is becoming more repressive at home, and an order built around democracy will struggle to form productive partnerships with autocracies that would be important partners in any alliance against China, such as Singapore and Vietnam. Fear of China is a powerful force, but it might not be potent enough to paper over the many cracks that exist within the emerging anti-Chinese coalition.

If that coalition fails to solidify its international order, then the world will steadily slide back into anarchy, a struggle among rogue powers and regional blocs in which the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. Some scholars assume—or hope—that an unordered world will sort itself out on its own, that great powers will carve out stable spheres of influence and avoid conflict or that the spread of international commerce and enlightened ideas will naturally maintain global peace and prosperity. But peace and prosperity are unnatural. When achieved, they are the result of sustained cooperation among great powers—that is, of an international order.

DOUBLING DOWN ON DEMOCRACY

History shows that eras of fluid multipolarity typically end in disaster, regardless of the bright ideas or advanced technologies circulating at the time. The late eighteenth century witnessed the pinnacle of the Enlightenment in Europe, before the continent descended into the hell of the Napoleonic Wars. At the start of the twentieth century, the world’s sharpest minds predicted an end to great-power conflict as railways, telegraph cables, and steamships linked countries closer together. The worst war in history up to that point quickly followed. The sad and paradoxical reality is that international orders are vital to avert chaos, yet they typically emerge only during periods of great-power rivalry. Competing with China will be fraught with risk for the United States and its allies, but it might be the only way to avoid even greater dangers.

Democracy the only way to challenge China

 

Michael Beckley, March/April 2022, How Fear of China Is Forging a New World Order

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2021-02-14/china-new-world-order-enemies-my-enemy, MICHAEL BECKLEY is is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower.

To build a better future, the United States and its allies will need to take a more enlightened view of their interests than they did even during the Cold War. Back then, their economic interests dovetailed nicely with their geopolitical interests. Simple greed, if nothing else, could compel capitalist states to band together to protect private property against a communist onslaught. Now, however, the choice is not so simple, because standing up to China will entail significant economic costs, especially in the short term. Those costs might pale in comparison to the long-term costs of business as usual with Beijing—Chinese espionage has been estimated to deprive the United States alone of somewhere between $200 billion and $600 billion annually—to say nothing of the moral quandaries and geopolitical risks of cooperating with a brutal totalitarian regime with revanchist ambitions. Yet the ability to make such an enlightened calculation in favor of confronting China may be beyond the capacities of any nation, especially ones as polarized as the United States and many of its democratic allies.

If there is any hope, it lies in a renewed commitment to democratic values. The United States and its allies share a common aspiration for an international order based on democratic principles and enshrined in international agreements and laws. The core of such an order is being forged in the crucible of competition with China and could be built out into the most enlightened order the world has ever seen—a genuine free world. But to get there, the United States and its allies will have to embrace competition with China and march forward together through another long twilight struggle.

Multilateral cooperation historically fails

Michael Beckley, March/April 2022, How Fear of China Is Forging a New World Order

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2021-02-14/china-new-world-order-enemies-my-enemy, MICHAEL BECKLEY is is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower.

The international order is falling apart, and everyone seems to know how to fix it. According to some, the United States just needs to rededicate itself to leading the liberal order it helped found some 75 years ago. Others argue that the world’s great powers should form a concert to guide the international community into a new age of multipolar cooperation. Still others call for a grand bargain that divides the globe into stable spheres of influence. What these and other visions of international order have in common is an assumption that global governance can be designed and imposed from the top down. With wise statesmanship and ample summitry, the international jungle can be tamed and cultivated. Conflicts of interest and historical hatreds can be negotiated away and replaced with win-win cooperation.

The history of international order, however, provides little reason for confidence in top-down, cooperative solutions. The strongest orders in modern history—from Westphalia in the seventeenth century to the liberal international order in the twentieth—were not inclusive organizations working for the greater good of humanity. Rather, they were alliances built by great powers to wage security competition against their main rivals. Fear and loathing of a shared enemy, not enlightened calls to make the world a better place, brought these orders together. Progress on transnational issues, when achieved, emerged largely as a byproduct of hardheaded security cooperation. That cooperation usually lasted only as long as a common threat remained both present and manageable. When that threat dissipated or grew too large, the orders collapsed. Today, the liberal order is fraying for many reasons, but the underlying cause is that the threat it was originally designed to defeat—Soviet communism—disappeared three decades ago. None of the proposed replacements to the current order have stuck because there hasn’t been a threat scary or vivid enough to compel sustained cooperation among the key players.

Until now. Through a surge of repression and aggression, China has frightened countries near and far. It is acting belligerently in East Asia, trying to carve out exclusive economic zones in the global economy, and exporting digital systems that make authoritarianism more effective than ever. For the first time since the Cold War, a critical mass of countries face serious threats to their security, welfare, and ways of life—all emanating from a single source.

This moment of clarity has triggered a flurry of responses. China’s neighbors are arming themselves and aligning with outside powers to secure their territory and sea-lanes. Many of the world’s largest economies are collectively developing new trade, investment, and technology standards that implicitly discriminate against China. Democracies are gathering to devise strategies for combating authoritarianism at home and abroad, and new international organizations are popping up to coordinate the battle. Seen in real time, these efforts look scattershot. Step back from the day-to-day commotion, however, and a fuller picture emerges: for better or worse, competition with China is forging a new international order.

ORDERS OF EXCLUSION

The modern liberal mind associates international order with peace and harmony. Historically, however, international orders have been more about keeping rivals down than bringing everyone together. As the international relations theorist Kyle Lascurettes has argued, the major orders of the past four centuries were “orders of exclusion,” designed by dominant powers to ostracize and outcompete rivals. Order building wasn’t a restraint on geopolitical conflict; it was power politics by other means, a cost-effective way to contain adversaries short of war.

Fear of an enemy, not faith in friends, formed the bedrock of each era’s order, and members developed a common set of norms by defining themselves in opposition to that enemy. In doing so, they tapped into humanity’s most primordial driver of collective action. Sociologists call it “the in-group/out-group dynamic.” Philosophers call it “Sallust’s theorem,” after the ancient historian who argued that fear of Carthage held the Roman Republic together. In political science, the analogous concept is negative partisanship, the tendency for voters to become

For decades, the United States and its allies knew what they stood for and who the enemy was. But then the Soviet Union collapsed, and a single overarching threat gave way to a kaleidoscope of minor ones. In the new and uncertain post–Cold War environment, the Western allies sought refuge in past sources of success. Instead of building a new order, they doubled down on the existing one. Their enemy may have disintegrated, but their mission, they believed, remained the same: to enlarge the community of free-market democracies. For the next three decades, they worked to expand the Western liberal order into a global one. NATO membership nearly doubled. The European Community morphed into the EU, a full-blown economic union with more than twice as many member countries. The Gatt was transformed into the World Trade Organization (WTO) and welcomed dozens of new members, unleashing an unprecedented period of hyperglobalization…

But it couldn’t last. mise. To forge a cohesive community, order builders have to exclude hostile nations, outlaw uncooperative behaviors, and squelch domestic opposition to international rule-making. These inherently repressive acts eventually trigger a backlash. In the mid-nineteenth century, it came in the form of a wave of liberal revolutions, which eroded the unity and ideological coherence of the monarchical Concert of Europe. During the 1930s, aggrieved fascist powers demolished the liberal interwar order that stood in the way of their imperial ambitions. By the late 1940s, the Soviet Union had spurned the global order it had helped negotiate just a few years prior, having gobbled up territory in Eastern Europe in contravention of the UN Charter. The Soviet representative at the UN derided the Bretton Woods institutions as “branches of Wall Street.” Exclusionary by nature, international orders inevitably incite opposition.

Many in the West had long assumed that the liberal order would be an exception to the historical pattern. The system’s commitment to openness and nondiscrimination supposedly made it “hard to overturn and easy to join,” as the political scientist G. John Ikenberry argued in these pages in 2008. Any country, large or small, could plug and play in the globalized economy. Liberal institutions could accommodate all manner of members—even illiberal ones, which would gradually be reformed by the system into responsible stakeholders. As more countries joined, a virtuous cycle would play out: free trade would generate prosperity, which would spread democracy, which would enhance international cooperation, which would lead to more trade. Most important, the order faced no major opposition, because it had already defeated its main enemy. The demise of Soviet communism had sent a clear message to all that there was no viable alternative to democratic capitalism.

These assumptions turned out to be wrong. The liberal order is, in fact, deeply exclusionary. By promoting free markets, open borders, democracy, supranational institutions, and the use of reason to solve problems, the order challenges traditional beliefs and institutions that have united communities for centuries: state sovereignty, nationalism, religion, race, tribe, family. These enduring ties to blood and soil were bottled up during the Cold War, when the United States and its allies had to maintain a united front to contain the Soviet Union. But they have reemerged over the course of the post–Cold War era. “We are going to do a terrible thing to you,” the Soviet official Georgi Arbatov told a U.S. audience in 1988. “We are going to deprive you of an enemy.” The warning proved prescient. By slaying its main adversary, the liberal order unleashed all sorts of nationalist, populist, religious, and authoritarian opposition.

 

Many of the order’s pillars are buckling under the pressure. NATO is riven by disputes over burden sharing. The EU nearly broke apart during the eurozone crisis, and in the years since, it has lost the United Kingdom and has been threatened by the rise of xenophobic right-wing parties across the continent. The WTO’s latest round of multilateral trade talks has dragged on for 20 years without an agreement, and the United States is crippling the institution’s core feature—the Appellate Court, where countries adjudicate their disputes—for failing to regulate Chinese nontariff barriers. On the whole, the liberal order looks ill equipped to handle pressing global problems such as climate change, financial crises, pandemics, digital disinformation, refugee influxes, and political extremism, many of which are arguably a direct consequence of an open system that promotes the unfettered flow of money, goods, information, and people across borders.

Policymakers have long recognized these problems. Yet none of their ideas for revamping the system has gained traction because order building is costly. It requires leaders to divert time and political capital away from advancing their agendas to hash out international rules and sell them to skeptical publics, and it requires countries to subordinate their national interests to collective objectives and trust that other countries will do likewise. These actions do not come naturally, which is why order building usually needs a common enemy. For 30 years, that unifying force has been absent, and the liberal order has unraveled as a result.

US Middle East retrenchment

Indyk, 2-14, 22, MARTIN INDYK is a Distinguished Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. His most recent book is Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy, The Price of Retrenchment What the Ukraine Crisis Reveals About the Post-American Middle East, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2022-02-14/price-retrenchment

As Russian troop maneuvers on Ukraine’s borders suggest an imminent invasion, U.S. President Joe Biden is doing his best to rally the international community in opposition. His administration has done a creditable job of lining up European countries; after some foot-dragging, Germany is now clearly committed to a unified approach. On the other side of the globe, Australia, Japan, and South Korea are also on board. Russian President Vladimir Putin demonstrated at the opening of the Olympics in Beijing that he has China on his side—at least when it comes to opposing NATO expansion. And Brazil and India are sitting on the fence. But for most part, Washington’s traditional partners have lined up with Biden. In the Middle East, however, the administration has had a rude awakening. Its allies and partners are sympathetic to Ukraine and obliged to the United States but unwilling to take a stand against Moscow. That reflects how much has changed in the Middle East because of the decision—made by President Barack Obama, adopted by President Donald Trump, and now enforced by Joe Biden—to place the Middle East lower down on Washington’s list of foreign-policy priorities. The United States has reduced its Middle Eastern partners’ expectations of their patron; now Washington will have to adjust to the consequences. ET TU, BENNETT? To see just how much has changed, look no further than Washington’s closest ally in the Middle East: Israel. In mid-January, the United States and Israel held a round of strategic consultations. The focus was understandably on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, as Washington and its European allies are furiously trying to salvage the 2015 deal with the Islamic Republic that Trump scrapped. Nevertheless, at a time when the Biden administration is making a full court press to oppose Moscow’s pressure tactics against Kyiv, the readout of the meeting made no mention of Ukraine. Indeed, since the buildup of Russian troops began last fall, Israel has maintained a studious silence, except for an offer by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to mediate between Ukraine and Russia—an idea that was peremptorily dismissed by Moscow. More recently, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid openly dissented from the Biden administration’s assessment that a Russian invasion was imminent. Biden and Bennett discussed Ukraine, among other issues, in a phone call in early February. The readout released by the White House included a strong reiteration of the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security, but no mention of Ukraine’s security. Israel maintains close ties to Ukraine, especially with its Jewish community of around 300,000 people–one of the largest in the world. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish. That affinity should have been reinforced by Israel’s commitment to its close alliance with the United States, its dependence on the maintenance of the liberal international order with which Israel has identified since its founding, its pride in being the only democracy in the Middle East, and its preoccupation with securing its narrow borders from invasion by hostile forces. And yet the same Israeli pundits who argue that there must be no daylight between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel’s security needs now contend that in the Ukraine crisis, Israel should remain neutral. PIQUE OIL Kuwait is less a close ally of the United States than a dependency. Ever since the United States liberated Kuwait from the avaricious clutches of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War of 1990-91, the Kuwaitis have supported U.S. priorities in the Middle East and elsewhere. Of all the region’s states, Kuwait should be particularly sensitive to the dangers of the international community acquiescing to a large neighbor invading a smaller one. Yet when Kuwait’s foreign minister, Sheikh Ahmed Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah, came to Washington in mid-January for a strategic dialogue with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Kuwaiti diplomat studiously avoided the subject. Like the readout of the U.S.-Israeli meeting, the U.S.-Kuwaiti joint communique made no mention of the Ukraine crisis. During a press conference, Blinken reminded the foreign minister that at stake in Ukraine is the principle “that one nation can’t simply change the borders of another by force.” But the Kuwaiti foreign minister avoided acknowledging the point in his reply. Washington’s other allies and strategic partners in the Middle East have also been notably quiet. Egypt is a long-time strategic U.S. ally and beneficiary of American largesse, but it also buys arms from Russia and needs Moscow’s cooperation to maintain stability in neighboring Libya. Egypt is not interested in taking a stand against Putin over Ukraine, especially at a moment when the Biden administration just decided to continue a suspension of $130 million in U.S. aid to Egypt owing to the Egyptian regime’s unwillingness to allow its people greater freedoms. (In that sense, the authoritarian tactics of Egyptian President Abdel Fateh al-Sisi are closer to those of Putin than the democratic values the Biden administration is forlornly trying to persuade Egypt to embrace.) Saudi Arabia has deep ties to the United States and in the past was a steadfast ally in the effort to contain Soviet communism in the greater Middle East. It has often used its capacity to ramp up oil production to drive down the price whenever the United States needed it to do so. In the Ukraine crisis, however, the Saudis are not cooperating—at least not yet. A tight oil market—the product of a faster than expected rebound of the global economy from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic—and the expectation of supply disruptions generated by the Ukraine crisis have driven prices to above $90 per barrel. If Russia invades Ukraine, the price is expected to spike to $120. That would be bad news for Biden’s efforts to stem inflation in the U.S. economy ahead of the midterm elections at the end of this year. Yet Saudi Arabia seems impervious to appeals from its American ally. One reason for this is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s pique at the way the Biden administration has treated him. During the 2020 U.S. presidential election campaign, Biden referred to Saudi Arabia as “a pariah,” and following his election, he shunned MBS as punishment for the prince’s ordering of the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who was a columnist for The Washington Post. Although Biden avoided sanctioning MBS, he refused to deal with him, assigning that task to Lloyd Austin, the U.S. secretary of defense. After a year of this treatment, MBS seems to have had enough. Last September, he canceled Austin’s visit to Saudi Arabia on one day’s notice and, according to a number of senior administration officials, is holding out for a phone call from the president before responding to the administration’s entreaties. Middle Eastern leaders believe the United States is no longer a reliable partner. Biden may yet pick up the phone and absorb the blowback from progressives in his party and The Washington Post editorial board. But it’s by no means certain that MBS would respond positively even then. Russia looms large in his calculus in a way that was not true for Saudi Arabia in earlier decades. Russia now exports almost as much oil as Saudi Arabia and has recently assumed a leadership role in OPEC+, the organization of oil producers that controls prices by setting production quotas for all its members. Saudi Arabia used to dominate OPEC, but at the outset of the pandemic in 2020, when demand dropped dramatically, MBS engaged in a price-cutting war with Moscow that drove the price of oil down to almost zero. Trump stepped in and brokered an agreement between Russia and Saudi Arabia that drastically cut OPEC oil production and made Moscow a partner to Riyadh in the fixing of oil prices. Responding to Biden’s appeal now would require MBS to break his agreement with Putin, as well as give up the windfall profits from the rise in price that he needs to fuel his ambitious modernization projects. In the past, Saudi Arabia would not have hesitated, calculating that responding to its American ally at its moment of need was like paying an insurance premium to help guarantee that the United States would be there to defend Saudi Arabia when necessary. But that pact fell apart in September 2019, when Saudi oil facilities at Abqaiq were attacked by Iranian drones and missiles that knocked out 50 percent of its oil production. Instead of rushing to Saudi Arabia’s defense, Trump equivocated and then noted that it was an attack on Saudi Arabia and not on the United States. If he decided to respond, Trump vowed the Saudis would have to pay for it. Trump’s disregard for traditional U.S. security commitments compounded the doubts already raised by Obama’s decision in 2013 not to enforce his own stated redline against the Assad regime in Syria, when it used chemical weapons against its own people. Biden continued this trend, deemphasizing the Middle East as he made combatting China his first priority. When he ended the “forever war” in Afghanistan and brought the remaining U.S. troops and American citizens home in a shambolic evacuation, Middle Eastern leaders reached a common conclusion: the United States was no longer a reliable partner in the security of the region. Because this trend of U.S. retrenchment from the Middle East had been developing over the last decade, and because the region’s leaders are always sensitive to shifts in the balance of power, they have been looking around for alternative guarantors of their security for some time. Russia was quick to put up its hand, intervening militarily in Syria’s civil war in 2015 to save the regime of Bashar al-Assad. At the time, the United States was pursuing regime change in Egypt, Libya, and Syria. The contrast was not lost on the region’s Arab leaders: Russia had become a status quo power in the Middle East; the United States was the one that seemed to be promoting instability. This did not precipitate a headlong rush into Moscow’s embrace, however. Memories of Soviet destabilizing behavior and the hope that a new president in Washington might turn things around, led to more cautious explorations. But over time, Arab leaders have become comfortable with a hedging strategy that involves warmer relations with Russia.

Only hard power can deter aggressive tyrants (Russia/China)

Applebaum, 2-12, 22, Anne Applebaum is a staff writer at The Atlantic, a fellow at the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University, and the author of Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism, Why the West’s Diplomacy With Russia Keeps Failing, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/02/lavrov-russia-diplomacy-ukraine/622075/

Oh, how I envy Liz Truss her opportunity! Oh, how I regret her utter failure to make use of it! For those who have never heard of her, Truss is the lightweight British foreign secretary who went to Moscow this week to tell her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, that his country should not invade Ukraine. This trip was not a success. At a glacial press conference he likened their conversation to “the mute” speaking with “the deaf”; later, he leaked the fact that she had confused some Russian regions with Ukrainian regions, to add a little insult to the general injury. Lavrov has done this many times before. He was vile to the European Union’s foreign-policy chief, Josep Borrell, last year. He has been unpleasant at international conferences and rude to journalists. His behavior is not an accident. Lavrov, like Russian President Vladimir Putin, uses aggression and sarcasm as tools to demonstrate his scorn for his interlocutor, to frame negotiations as useless even before they begin, to create dread and apathy. The point is to put other diplomats on the defensive, or else to cause them to give up in disgust. But the fact that Lavrov is disrespectful and disagreeable is old news. So is the fact that Putin lectures foreign leaders for hours and hours on his personal and political grievances. He did that the first time he met President Barack Obama, more than a decade ago; he did exactly the same thing last week to French President Emmanuel Macron. Truss should have known all of this. Instead of offering empty language about rules and values, she could have started the press conference like this: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen of the press. I am delighted to join you after meeting my Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. This time, we have not bothered to discuss treaties he won’t respect and promises he won’t keep. We have told him, instead, that an invasion of Ukraine will carry very, very high costs—higher than he has ever imagined. We are now planning to cut off Russian gas exports completely—Europe will find its energy supplies somewhere else. We are now preparing to assist the Ukrainian resistance, for a decade if need be. We are quadrupling our support for the Russian opposition, and for Russian media too. We want to make sure that Russians will start hearing the truth about this invasion, and as loudly as possible. And if you want to do regime change in Ukraine, we’ll get to work on regime change in Russia. Truss, or Borrell before her, could have added just a touch of personal insult, in the style of Lavrov himself, and wondered out loud just how it is that Lavrov’s official salary pays for the lavish properties that his family makes use of in London. She could have listed the names of the many other Russian public servants who send their children to schools in Paris or Lugano. She could have announced that these children are now, all of them, on their way home, along with their parents: No more American School in Switzerland! No more pied-à-terres in Knightsbridge! No more Mediterranean yachts! Of course Truss—like Borrell, like Macron, like the German chancellor who is headed for Moscow this week—would never say anything like this, not even in private. Tragically, the Western leaders and diplomats who are right now trying to stave off a Russian invasion of Ukraine still think they live in a world where rules matter, where diplomatic protocol is useful, where polite speech is valued. All of them think that when they go to Russia, they are talking to people whose minds can be changed by argument or debate. They think the Russian elite cares about things like its “reputation.” It does not. In fact, when talking to the new breed of autocrats, whether in Russia, China, Venezuela, or Iran, we are now dealing with something very different: people who aren’t interested in treaties and documents, people who only respect hard power. Russia is in violation of the Budapest Memorandum, signed in 1994, guaranteeing Ukrainian security. Do you ever hear Putin talk about that? Of course not. He isn’t concerned about his untrustworthy reputation either: Lying keeps opponents on their toes. Nor does Lavrov mind if he is hated, because hatred gives him an aura of power. Their intentions are different from ours too. Putin’s goal is not a flourishing, peaceful, prosperous Russia, but a Russia where he remains in charge. Lavrov’s goal is to maintain his position in the murky world of the Russian elite and, of course, to keep his money. What we mean by “interests” and what they mean by “interests” are not the same. When they listen to our diplomats, they don’t hear anything that really threatens their position, their power, their personal fortunes. Despite all of our talk, no one has ever seriously tried to end, rather than simply limit, Russian money laundering in the West, or Russian political or financial influence in the West. No one has taken seriously the idea that Germans should now make themselves independent of Russian gas, or that France should ban political parties that accept Russian money, or that the U.K. and the U.S. should stop Russian oligarchs from buying property in London or Miami. No one has suggested that the proper response to Putin’s information war on our political system would be an information war on his.

Russia and China have formed an anti-Democratic alliance

David Leonhardt, 2-9, 22, New York Times, A New Axis China and Russia have formed an “alliance of autocracies.”, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/09/briefing/china-russia-alliance.html

The last time Xi Jinping left China was more than two years ago, for a diplomatic trip to Myanmar. Days later, he ordered the lockdown of Wuhan, which began China’s aggressive “zero Covid” policy. By staying home, Xi has reduced his chances of contracting the virus and has sent a message that he is playing by at least some of the same pandemic rules as other Chinese citizens. Until last week, Xi had also not met with a single other world leader since 2020. He had conducted his diplomacy by phone and videoconference. When he finally broke that streak and met in Beijing on Friday with another head of state, who was it? Vladimir Putin. Their meeting led to a joint statement, running more than 5,000 words, that announced a new closeness between China and Russia. It proclaimed a “redistribution of power in the world” and mentioned the U.S. six times, all critically. The Washington Post called the meeting “a bid to make the world safe for dictatorship.” Kevin Rudd, a former prime minister of Australia, told The Wall Street Journal, “The world should get ready for a further significant deepening of the China-Russia security and economic relationship.” Ukraine and Taiwan The current phase of the relationship has its roots in Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine. The European Union and the U.S. responded with economic sanctions on Russia that forced it to trade more with Asia, Anton Troianovski, The Times’s Moscow bureau chief, notes. China stepped in, buying Russian oil, investing in Russian companies and more. “The conventional wisdom used to be that Putin didn’t want to get too close to China,” Anton said. That’s no longer the case. Russia returned the favor in recent years, buying equipment from Huawei, a Chinese tech giant, after the Trump administration tried to isolate the company. In the grandest sense, China and Russia are creating a kind of “alliance of autocracies,” as Steven Lee Myers, The Times’s Beijing bureau chief, puts it. They don’t use that phrase and even claim to be democracies. “Democracy is a universal human value, rather than a privilege of a limited number of states,” their joint statement read. “It is only up to the people of the country to decide whether their state is a democratic one.” But the message that China and Russia have sent to other countries is clear — and undemocratic. They will not pressure other governments to respect human rights or hold elections. In Xi’s and Putin’s model, an autocratic government can provide enough economic security and nationalistic pride to minimize public opposition — and crush any that arises. “There are probably more countries than Washington would like to think that are happy to have China and Russia as an alternative model,” Steven told us. “Look how many countries showed up at the opening ceremony of Beijing 2022, despite Biden’s ‘diplomatic boycott.’ They included some — Egypt, Saudi Arabia — that had long been in the American camp.” Russia’s threat to invade Ukraine has added a layer to the relationship between Moscow and Beijing. The threat reflects Putin’s view — which Xi shares — that a powerful country should be able to impose its will within its declared sphere of influence. The country should even be able to topple a weaker nearby government without the world interfering. Beside Ukraine, of course, another potential example is Taiwan. For all these common interests, China and Russia do still have major points of tension. For decades, they have competed for influence in Asia. That competition continues today, with China now in the more powerful role, and many Russians, across political ideologies, fear a future of Chinese hegemony. Even their joint statement — which stopped short of being a formal alliance — had to elide some tensions. It did not mention Ukraine by name, partly because China has economic interests that an invasion would threaten. The two countries are also competing for influence in the melting waters of the Arctic. And China is nervous about Russia’s moves to control Kazakhstan, where many people are descended from modern-day China. “China and Russia are competing for influence around much of the world — Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America,” Lara Jakes, who covers the State Department from Washington, said. “The two powers have less than more in common, and a deep or enduring relationship that goes beyond transactional strategies seems unlikely.” As part of its larger effort to check China’s rise — and keep Russia from undermining global stability — the Biden administration is likely to look for ways to exacerbate any tensions between China and Russia, in Kazakhstan and elsewhere. The “alliance of autocracies” remains informal for now. But it is real, and it extends beyond China and Russia to include other countries — like Hungary, Turkey and Venezuela — that work together to minimize the effect of economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure. The world’s democracies face a growing and interconnected challenge from a very different political model.

US global security architecture collapsing

Jensen, 2-11, 22, Benjamin Jensen, Ph.D., is a professor of strategic studies at the School of Advanced Warfighting, Marine Corps University, and senior fellow for future war, gaming and strategy in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He previously served as the senior research director and lead author for the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission, Confronting strategic failure in the 21st century, https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/593616-confronting-strategic-failure-in-the-21st-century

The recent announcement of deeper ties between Russia and China aligned against the United States and a major gas deal settled in euros signal the depths of strategic failure in Washington. Every American political party is to blame. Successive administrations have not managed the changing balance of power portended by a revisionist Russia and rising China, leading to increased defense expenditures absent a strategic rationale. A new cold war between authoritarian and democratic regimes is not inevitable, and calls to the contrary lack imagination while showing disregard for the inherent risks involved. Using the solarium model, Congress should form a bipartisan strategy commission and start a dialogue about American strategy for the 21st century. This commission could serve as a forum that helps the nation answer key questions before stumbling into hasty policy decisions and congressional votes that increase the probability of an epoch defining global war. First, what is the international system and what role should the United States play, or any country for that matter, in shaping its future trajectory? Is maintaining an international system largely designed in the wake of World War II worth the cost, and what are viable alternatives? The United States is still the hub of a global network of regional security alliances that produce commitments in Europe and Asia. Our monetary policy and debt are critical for global finance. Our innovative capacity and free market are engines of growth and renewal. Too often, these strengths are conflated with ideas such as “liberal hegemony” and “unipolarity” that tend to miss the fact that a rising tide lifts all boats. Worst still, there is a tendency to assume that all power flows from military might. This assumption results in turning every problem and possible solution into a military matter and limits opportunities for finding compromise with competitors on key issues. The net result is a security architecture that sees American military forces globally engaged but subject to diminishing marginal returns, and little space for strategic dialogue with states such as Russia, China, Iran or key partners and allies. The United States is at risk of defending an outdated international system because we haven’t taken the time to imagine a viable alternative. A strategy commission could engage in a dialogue not just with the D.C. think tank crowd but multi-track diplomatic exchanges with citizens and experts alike in Russia, China, Iran, and with strategic partners in Asia and Europe. The commission could use survey experiments to analyze how different countries and communities think about the international system and where they see opportunities for cooperation, as well as low-cost/high-payoff competitions. The United States cannot assume the international system we inherited, and deploy military forces globally to protect, is necessarily the optimal solution for peace and prosperity in the 21st century. No idea should be so sacred that it should resist hypothesis testing and alternative analysis. Second, what threat is the priority? Is it adversary driven (i.e., China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, extremists), ideological (i.e., authoritarianism vs. democracy), or human-centric and linked to climate change, migration, economic inequality and/or public health? Strategy requires prioritization and assessing the inherent tradeoffs involved with pursuing competing interests. To use an old adage, “If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.” Along the same lines, issue salience and geography still matter. Russia cannot be more of a priority for the U.S. than it is Europe. China — to include issues such as Taiwan’s independence — cannot be more of an issue for the U.S. than it is for our partners in Asia. Arguably, there hasn’t been a sufficient national dialogue about strategic prioritization. To be fair, policymakers face an almost Sisyphean task of creating and communicating strategic clarity. Contemporary security debates tend to function more like diatribes with a flood of hot takes and angry reactions. Social media and the democratization of expertise create a chaotic marketplace of ideas that makes it difficult to prioritize strategic interests. Worst still, polarization limits genuine bipartisan discussion. The net result is a lack of priorities and tendency toward never-ending crisis management in lieu of competitive strategy. A truly diverse commission based on rigorous research and engagement could help the country escape this trap. Third, given a set of assumptions about the international system and a clear-eyed ranking of national security priorities, what is the optimal domain for competition? Even if one takes a human-centric approach and prioritizes climate change, migration (whether from a political right or left perspective) and inequality as the focal points for strategy, there still will be competition between nation-states. The art of statecraft is to find points of cooperation and coercion that shape the long-term competition in a manner that avoids inadvertent escalation, major war and

The West has destroyed the Middle East, hegemony collapsing now

Ibrahim Karagul, 2-8, 22, The crisis in Ukraine will only be exacerbated. The West will settle into the Black Sea. Breaking out a Turkey-Russia war is the West’s primary goal. Erdoğan and Putin must put a stop to this!, https://www.yenisafak.com/en/columns/ibrahim-karagul/the-crisis-in-ukraine-will-only-be-exacerbated-the-west-will-settle-into-the-black-sea-breaking-out-a-turkey-russia-war-is-the-wests-primary-goal-erdogan-and-putin-must-put-a-stop-to-this-3589077

For exactly three decades now, war has been raging on in Turkey’s south. Invasions, civil wars, and ethnic and sectarian conflicts are rife from the Red Sea to Afghanistan. Millions perished, as cities turned into ruins and countries collapsed. All of these wars were broken out by the U.S. and Europe. All of these massacres were committed to further U.S. and European interests. Countries collapsed because of American and European greed. The biggest price we paid in the 21st century Nobody should even deign to suggest that these countries had problems of their own to deal with. This was the biggest lie they fooled us with. These were never the reasons behind the wars in question. But we believed in the majority of the excuses they concocted. We submitted mentally to the U.S. and Europe’s dirty plans, bloody attacks, and enormities. We convinced ourselves with their justifications. This was the heaviest price we paid in the 21st century. These wars, invasions, internal conflicts, and terrorist organizations were launched for the U.S. and the West’s plans. They caused great state destruction in the name of protecting the West, and its interests. Is it the Black Sea’s turn to experience the comfort of New York, Paris, and London? They committed genocides, destroyed nations, sacrificed countries for the welfare of New York and Paris, for London’s comfort. They fought Islam, against millions of Muslims. The West is continuing to wage wars across the world for its own interests and security. They are now plotting a new war in our north, in the Black Sea. This time the victim is Ukraine. They are promoting Russian expansionism. They are promoting European security. A massive front is being built from the north to the south, from Poland to Ukraine, from Romania to Bulgaria and Greece. All of these countries are being driven to the front, against Russia, to ensure Europe’s security. They do not take this risk themselves; they are using front countries and weaponizing nations. Provoking Russia The West, the driving force behind all this, never stands against Russia directly. It is instead trying to provoke Russia to attack these countries. Its plan is to occupy Russia with endless wars and collapse it at the cost of the destruction of the countries on its borders. This is a game, and every one of these countries is a victim sacrificed for the West. If Russia invades Ukraine any time soon, no European country will openly oppose. None of them will stand against Russia. They will only establish organizations in Ukraine. They will stall Russia, but destroy Ukraine in the process. This is the West’s unwavering tactic. They attempted this in every country. They have been doing the same against Turkey for the last half-century. This is a complete scam. There can not be a war on the Black Sea! A Black Sea war specific to Ukraine is unacceptable from Turkey’s perspective. We cannot agree to this, whether it be for the U.S. and Europe, or Russia. This will destabilize Turkey’s north for decades, and turn it into pandemonium. Yes, Turkey is a NATO country. Yes, Turkey is a U.S. and European ally. Yes, it is a very important state for the Atlantic alliance. But do not forget that those very same allies are the source of the terror threat in northern Iraq, northern Syria, the East Mediterranean, the Aegean, and the internal attacks such as the 2016 coup. The source of all threats presently identified by Turkey is the U.S. and Europe. Every event should be specifically identified. The U.S. and Europe are behind them all. But must we play the fool as Turkey? The Western plan to settle in the Black Sea The Russia-Ukraine crisis must be prevented. Both Russia and Ukraine need to remain tranquil. They should not fall for the West’s “Grand Game.” All they want to do is provoke Russia, encourage Ukraine, and settle in the Black Sea. This is the final plan. The U.S. and Europe’s Ukraine plan is to settle in the Black Sea! Turkey is a close ally and friend of Kyiv. The two have extraordinary partnerships in military technology, as well as numerous other fields. Crimea is a national issue for Turkey, and is a sensitive matter. Our partnership with Ukraine must be preserved and strengthened. They’re setting a game for war between Turkey, Russia Turkey and Russia are allies. This alliance is in the interest of both Turkey and Russia. Both countries need this. This friendship thrived despite all of the West’s provocations aimed at breaking out war between the two countries. Our primary objective should be to alleviate the natural crisis, prevent a likely invasion, calm Russia, and try to persuade both countries to realize the West’s game against them. Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey must stand adamantly against the U.S. and Europe’s takeover of the Black Sea, and block all paths that lead to this end. If we fail to do this, the second leg of the crisis will be to pit Turkey and Russia against each other. This is the West’s end-goal. After Ukraine, they will strive to drive Turkey against Russia. Turkey is aware of the threat. President Erdoğan is striving to prevent this If the U.S. and Europe settle in the Black Sea, a war between Turkey and Russia will be inevitable. If this transpires, both Russia and Turkey will be unable to prevent conflict. The West now identifies Turkey as a threat like it does Russia. They are planning to exhaust the two countries with a single plot, using one against the other, to eliminate both. Turkey is aware of this. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Kyiv signified great support for Ukraine. He may have also warned Ukraine regarding certain matters. His statement upon returning from this visit, “Unfortunately the West had no contribution to solve this issue. They are virtually creating obstacles,” reveals the naked truth. Scholz, Macron trying to steal the show Erdoğan inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to Ankara after his Kyiv visit, Putin’s warm reception of this invitation, which will be confirmed after his visit to China, the Turkish leader additionally inviting Ukraine’s Zelensky, and his efforts to bring together the two presidents in Turkey are critical steps in the Ukraine crisis. If such a meeting can be ensured, it might be possible to prevent war, and Turkey will have achieved what the U.S., Europe, and NATO failed to do. Immediately after Erdoğan’s initiative, French President Emanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz decided this week to visit Kiev and Moscow, in an attempt to steal the show. It is an attempt to vitiate the Erdoğan effect. Yet, it will bear no results. There is nothing these countries can do about Ukraine in the face of U.S. plans. Saving the Black Sea Turkey must see through the initiative it started. This is the world’s only chance. We have to save the Black Sea. We have to prevent a U.S. and European takeover. If this initiative provides even the slightest success, Turkey will become a diplomatic giant. States putting their trust in the West are doomed to lose Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to China, the support he received, Moscow and Beijing presenting a joint front against the West, are all indicators that the global scale of the crisis transcends Ukraine. This is a war between the East and the West, and it should not be taken lightly. After U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, after people crashed to the ground from aircraft wings, this reality is now global: No country or nation can remain standing by putting its faith in the U.S. and Europe. The more countries move away from the U.S., the stronger they become. The West is not the world’s center A new future is being built outside the U.S. and the West. The West is no longer the world’s center, and it will never be again. The West is simply a bloc among other blocs on the new global power map. The regression period is about to begin as the stagnation period comes to a close.

 

Strong US hard power projection in Asia needed to create an equilibream that prevents a China-US transition war

Colin Dueck, 1-28, 2022, Colin Dueck is a professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. His most recent book is Age of Iron: On Conservative Nationalism (Oxford, 2019), How Does Great Power Competition End?, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/how-does-great-power-competition-end-199932?page=0%2C1  ,

If the endgame is a decent equilibrium whereby free nations in the Indo-Pacific can continue to prosper, that would be an historic achievement for the United States. There is broad agreement today that the United States has entered a period of strategic competition with China. Great power rivalry is back, after a supposed post-Cold War hiatus. But how does great power competition end? Some clues may be found in a rich literature on the subject in political science, drawing on historical case studies. In his book, Great Strategic Rivalries, U.S. Marine Corps University professor James Lacey usefully surveyed a wide range of great power rivalries going back to the ancient world. At the risk of oversimplification, Lacey finds that great power competition typically ends in one of four ways: First, one side wins, peacefully. Second, one side wins, violently. Third, both sides agree to unite against some third great power. Fourth, both sides lose as some third great power rises. The first outcome, a peaceful ending where one side clearly wins, is surprisingly rare. The Cold War competition between the United States and the Soviet Union is the outstanding example here. While liberals sometimes suggest that “both sides lost” in that conflict, of course, this is mistaken. The Soviet Union lost, and the West—thankfully—won. This successful and unusually peaceful outcome, defined as the absence of great power warfare, was achieved partly due to the mutual fear of a nuclear exchange. It was achieved partly due to the efforts of a number of capable Western leaders over a period of forty-some years. And it was achieved partly due to the fact that Mikhail Gorbachev refused in the end to block the collapse of the USSR. As Vladislav Zubok reminds us in his latest book, Collapse, one-party dictators who unintentionally kick off the self-destruction of a major power—and then accept that defeat peacefully—are not inevitable. The second outcome, a violent ending where one side wins, is, according to Lacey, by far the most common. To be specific, great power competition usually ends when one side triumphs over the other in system-wide warfare. Sometimes this takes more than one such war. This is also consistent with the work of leading political scientists such as the late Robert Gilpin. It is a disturbing finding, to say the least. The third outcome, where both sides eventually unite against a threatening new force, is less common. For example, the United States and the British Empire were great power rivals during the late nineteenth century. Eventually, they came together against a rising German threat in two world wars. But this process was far more torturous than sometimes imagined, and a profound sense of rivalry between the two English-speaking powers lasted well into the twentieth century. The fourth outcome, where both sides lose to some other rising force, does occur from time to time. For instance, Venice and Genoa were something like great power competitors within the context of the Renaissance Italian city-state system. During the early sixteenth century, the rise of larger Western European states, including France and Spain, supplanted intra-Italian rivalries and established those bigger Atlantic powers as predominant. In the case of the current Sino-American competition, either the third or the fourth outcome listed above seems unlikely. Liberals might want to think that climate change represents a kind of threatening power capable of either unifying or superseding great power rivalry between Washington and Beijing. But in all probability, such a political outcome due to environmental concerns is a Western fantasy. Nor is there any other great power in the traditional sense about to rival both China and the United States in terms of overall material capabilities. The Moguldom Nation This means the most likely outcome of Sino-American competition over the long run is also the most common endgame of great power rivalries historically. Namely: one side wins. We should certainly hope this occurs peacefully. But American officials also have a special responsibility, on behalf of their fellow citizens, to see that the United States does not lose this competition. In facing the coming challenge, it will be useful to understand patterns of previous great power rivalries, even though no two such cases are exactly alike. During the unipolar heyday of the 1990s, liberal internationalists had the luxury of imagining that great power competition was a thing of the past. In reality, that relatively peaceful era rested on the predominance of American capabilities. Now we are told by Beijing, Moscow, and Western liberals that we must avoid “Cold War thinking.” What Russian and Chinese leaders mean by this is that the United States should not compete with them, but instead accommodate their preferences. What Western progressives mean is that a geopolitical sensibility is outdated and immoral. But Western progressives are wrong. Even the Cold War was just one example of a broader and recurring phenomenon in world politics, namely great power competition. To refuse to play that game, is to lose it. In February 1946, near the outset of the Cold War, American diplomat George Kennan famously wrote to his superiors urging them to recognize that further concessions to the USSR were pointless. This, he indicated, was because of the nature of the Soviet regime. At the same time, he suggested that preventive warfare against Moscow was unnecessary. The United States, Kennan added in a follow-up Foreign Affairs article the following year under the pseudonym “Mr. X,” needed to contain Soviet expansion by patrolling and enforcing a carefully selected defensive perimeter encircling the USSR. Turning Marxist analysis upside down, he suggested that the Soviet system would eventually mellow or wither away due to its own internal contradictions. That was Kennan’s endgame, and however vague or incredible it seemed at the time, over forty years later it came to fruition. This was Kennan’s realism. The current Sino-American competition will not repeat the exact contours of the Soviet-American struggle, but there are lessons to be learned from it along with cautionary notes. What is the United States’ endgame with regard to this coming competition? At the moment, it isn’t clear. The Biden administration suggests that competition and cooperation between Beijing and Washington can be carefully placed in different silos according to Western liberal preferences. But Chinese leaders appear to disagree. If President Joe Biden has a coherent backup plan, given the reality of Chinese pushback, he has yet to reveal it. We can hope that the Chinese Communist system mellows, as the Soviet system eventually withered away, but at the moment this expectation seems to be a weak reed. Western governments spent a quarter-century during the post-Cold War era gambling that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would mellow and liberalize. Unfortunately, that very gamble helped to empower and enrich CCP rule, and under Xi Jinping, the party has become more authoritarian instead of less so. It is with these concerns in mind that Elbridge Colby argues in his new book, The Strategy of Denial, for a relentless American focus on China, based upon that country’s singular challenge to the international balance of power. As the lead author of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, Colby witnessed the many demands on existing U.S. military resources and argued for an explicit prioritization of the Indo-Pacific theater. His book walks through the various contingency scenarios and urges bolstered U.S. defenses within that theater, precisely with the aim of deterring Chinese aggression. Colby also does something rather unusual in this book: he offers a sense of the desired endgame. For Colby, the purpose of a sensible American strategy toward China is the preservation of what he calls a “decent equilibrium.” Under this result, other countries in the Indo-Pacific would be free to prosper without living under any coercive Chinese hegemony. At the same time, with this outcome, China would remain a powerful, respected player in the region and beyond. As Colby says: “It would not be able to dominate, but neither would the United States or anyone else be able to dominate it.” Interestingly, Colby’s strategy neither calls for nor requires regime change inside China. Rather, he recommends a hardline U.S. policy toward Beijing, in concert with allies and partners overseas, in order to eventually arrive at a decent equilibrium. Regime type is of great importance to a nation’s foreign policy. Kennan realized that. But regime type is also very hard to change from the outside. This has been one hard lesson of the post-Cold War era. Ever since the 1990s, we have been told repeatedly to look for the next Gorbachev to unintentionally bring down his own dictatorial regime. We have heard excited hints of a possible Cuban Gorbachev, an Iranian Gorbachev, a North Korean Gorbachev, another Russian Gorbachev, and yes, even a Chinese Gorbachev. But Chinese Communist leaders are well aware of Gorbachev’s example, and they are determined to avoid it. We need to stop looking for the next Gorbachev. We need to settle in for what is likely to be a lengthy and hopefully peaceful U.S. competition with China. Perhaps one day the citizens of that country will rearrange their own domestic political affairs. Americans can and should continue to speak out on the issue of human rights inside China. More broadly, we should not hesitate to publicly recognize and describe the highly authoritarian nature of the Chinese Communist regime. But while that understanding is indispensable, it is not a strategy. The immediate need is for the United States and its allies to push back and develop far more focused and coordinated countermeasures against Chinese power to deter armed conflict….

If the endgame is a decent equilibrium whereby free nations in the Indo-Pacific can continue to prosper, that would be an historic achievement for the United States.

US overstretched now

Brands, 1-18, 22, HAL BRANDS is Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author of The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us About Great-Power Rivalry Today, The Overstretched Superpower: Does America Have More Rivals Than It Can Handle? https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2022-01-18/overstretched-superpower

The first year of Joe Biden’s presidency ended as it began, with the United States facing crises on multiple fronts. In the spring of 2021, there were simultaneous war scares in eastern Europe and the western Pacific, thanks to a Chinese intimidation campaign against Taiwan and a Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border. At the start of 2022, the world was no calmer. China’s menacing maneuvers near Taiwan continued. Russian President Vladimir Putin, having mobilized an even bigger force near Ukraine, was threatening to start Europe’s largest war in decades. Meanwhile, Tehran and Washington looked to be headed for a renewed crisis over Iran’s nuclear program and its drive for regional primacy. Being a global superpower means never having the luxury of concentrating on just one thing. That is a rude lesson for Biden, who took office hoping to reduce tensions in areas of secondary importance so that the United States could focus squarely on the problem that matters most: China. It also indicates a larger weakness in Washington’s global posture, one that Biden now owns but did not create. The United States is an overstretched hegemon, with a defense strategy that has come out of balance with the foreign policy it supports. Biden’s first year has already shown how hard it is to manage an unruly world when Washington has more responsibilities—and more enemies—than it has coercive means. Over the longer term, a superpower that fails to keep its commitments in line with its capabilities may pay an even heavier price. ASIA FIRST Biden’s initial theory of foreign policy was straightforward: don’t let smaller challenges distract from the big one. Of all the threats Washington faces, Biden’s interim national security strategy argued, China “is the only competitor” able to “mount a sustained challenge to a stable and open international system.” That challenge has become greater as China has accelerated its efforts to overturn the balance of power in Asia. When Biden took office, U.S. military leaders publicly warned that Beijing could invade Taiwan by 2027. Biden was not naive enough to think that other problems would simply vanish. With trouble brewing on this central front, however, he did seek a measure of calm on others. Biden avoided another doomed “reset” with Russia, but held an early summit with Putin in a bid to establish a “stable and predictable” relationship. He also sought to find a path back to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, thereby reducing the growing risk of confrontation in the Middle East. Finally, Biden ended the U.S. war in Afghanistan, a decision he justified by arguing that it was time to refocus attention and resources on the Indo-Pacific. Relations with U.S. allies followed the same pattern: the administration dropped U.S. opposition to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline linking Russia and western Europe, wagering that ending a contentious dispute with Germany would make it easier to win Berlin’s cooperation vis-à-vis Beijing. Biden’s emerging defense strategy has a similar thrust. The Trump administration made a major shift in U.S. defense planning, arguing that the Pentagon must relentlessly prepare for a conflict against a great-power challenge—particularly from China—even though that meant accepting greater risk in other regions. Biden’s Pentagon likewise spent 2021 focusing on how to deter or defeat Chinese aggression, withdrawing scarce assets such as missile defense batteries from the Middle East, and making longer-term budgetary investments meant to “prioritize China and its military modernization as our pacing challenge.” TROUBLE EVERYWHERE Biden is undoubtedly right that the Chinese challenge overshadows all others, despite unresolved debates in Washington over exactly when that challenge will become most severe. His administration has made major moves in the Sino-American competition during its first year—expanding multilateral military planning and exercises in the western Pacific, focusing bodies such as NATO and the G-7 on Beijing’s belligerence, and launching the AUKUS partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom. Yet Biden hasn’t enjoyed anything resembling a respite on other fronts. The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan precipitated the collapse of the government there, generating a near-term crisis that consumed Washington’s attention and leaving longer-term legacies—strategic and humanitarian—that are likely to do the same. Meanwhile, a brutal internal conflict in Ethiopia destabilized one of Africa’s most important countries. Most problematic of all, U.S. relations with Iran and Russia became worse, not better. The United States is an overstretched hegemon, with a defense strategy out of balance with the foreign policy it supports. Iran has taken a hard-line stance in negotiations on a revived nuclear deal while steadily decreasing the amount of time it would need to produce a potential weapon. Tehran’s proxies have also conducted periodic attacks against U.S. personnel and partners in the Middle East as part of an ongoing effort to force an American withdrawal from the region. Putin, for his part, has authorized or at least permitted significant cyberattacks against critical infrastructure in the United States. He threatened war against Ukraine in the spring and has now mobilized forces for what U.S. officials fear could be a major invasion and prolonged occupation of that country. To preserve the peace, Moscow has demanded an acknowledged Russian sphere of influence and the rollback of NATO’s military presence in eastern Europe. What exactly Putin has in mind for Ukraine is uncertain, but “stable and predictable” is clearly not how he envisions his relationship with the United States. These are ominous signs for 2022. The United States could find itself facing grave security crises in Europe and the Middle East in addition to persistent and elevated tensions in the Pacific. And these possibilities hint at a deeper problem in U.S. statecraft, one that has been accumulating for years: strategic overstretch. MORE WITH LESS Facing trouble on many fronts is business as usual for a global power. U.S. foreign policy—and the defense strategy that buttresses it—has long been designed with that problem in mind. After the Cold War, the United States adopted a “two major regional contingencies” approach to defense planning. In essence, it committed to maintaining a military large and capable enough to fight two serious wars in separate regions at roughly the same time. U.S. planners were under no illusion that Washington could fully indemnify itself against all the threats it faced if they happened to manifest simultaneously. Their aim was to limit the risk inherent in a global foreign policy by ensuring that an enemy in one theater could not wage a successful war of aggression while the Pentagon was busy with a crisis in another. Just as the United Kingdom, the superpower of its day, had a two-power naval standard in the nineteenth century, a unipolar United States had a two-war standard for a generation after 1991. Over time, however, the two-war standard became impossible to sustain. The defense spending cuts associated with the Budget Control Act of 2011 (later compounded by the sequestration cuts of 2013) forced the Pentagon to adopt a somewhat stingier “one-plus” war standard aimed at defeating one capable aggressor and stalemating or “imposing unacceptable costs” on another. Meanwhile, the number of threats was increasing. During the post-Cold War era, the Pentagon worried mostly about potential conflicts in the Persian Gulf and the Korean Peninsula. But the events of 2014 and 2015—the Islamic State’s rampage through Iraq and Syria, Russian aggression in Ukraine, and China’s drive for dominance in the South China Sea, along with ongoing operations in Afghanistan—showed that U.S. allies and interests were now imperiled in several regions at once. Leaders in Moscow and Tehran see that the United States is stretched thin and eager to pay more attention to China. Washington’s enemies were also growing more formidable. The two-war standard was primarily focused on rogue states with second-class militaries. Now, the United States had to contend with two near-peer competitors, China and Russia, that boasted world-class conventional capabilities alongside the advantages that would come from fighting on their own geopolitical doorsteps. By the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, it was an open question whether the United States could defeat China if Beijing assaulted Taiwan, or Russia if Moscow invaded the Baltic region. What was clear was that any such war would require the overwhelming majority of the Pentagon’s combat power, along with virtually all of its airlift and sealift capabilities. This realization prompted a major change in U.S. defense planning. The Trump administration’s defense strategy declared that the two-war standard was history. The U.S. military would henceforth be sized and shaped to win one major war against a great-power competitor. The United States would still be capable of “deterring” aggression in other theaters, but, as a bipartisan commission that included several current Biden administration officials pointed out, how exactly the Pentagon would do so without the capability to defeat such aggression remained ambiguous. Shifting to a one-war standard was a sensible way to motivate the lethargic Pentagon bureaucracy to find creative solutions to the urgent, daunting challenge of war with a near-peer rival. It involved a sober recognition that losing a great-power war could inflict a death blow on the U.S.-led international order. Yet the 2018 defense strategy was also an acknowledgment of overstretch: the United States could focus on its primary challenge only by reducing its ability to focus on others. This limitation is the root of the problem Biden has inherited, and it has some dangerous implications. THE CREDIBILITY GAP The most glaring danger, highlighted by the concurrent crises in eastern Europe and East Asia, is that the United States could have to fight wars against China and Russia simultaneously. This would indeed be a nightmare scenario for a one-war military. But it wouldn’t take a global security meltdown to reveal the problems caused by Washington’s predicament. First, overstretch limits U.S. options in a crisis. Where the United States should draw the line against Russian aggression in eastern Europe, how hard it should push back against Tehran’s provocations in the Middle East, and whether it should use force to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state are matters that reasonable people can debate. But the fact that the United States increasingly has a China centric defense strategy has a constraining effect in other theaters. If a U.S. president knows that the Pentagon will need everything it has for an all-too-plausible war with China, he or she will be less inclined to use force against Iran or Russia, lest Washington be caught short if violence erupts in the Pacific. This issue leads to a second problem: the loss of diplomatic influence in situations short of war. Since the Taiwan and Ukraine crises of early 2021, some observers have speculated that Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are coordinating their coercion as a way of threatening Washington with a two-front war. The reality is that explicit coordination is hardly necessary to profit from U.S. overextension. Historically, overstretched superpowers have eventually faced hard choices. Leaders in Moscow and Tehran can see that the United States is stretched thin militarily and eager to pay more attention to China. This gives them an incentive to push Washington harder in hopes of achieving gains at the expense of a distracted superpower. As the Russia expert Michael Kofman has written, Putin’s strategy of using military coercion to revise the post-Cold War order in Europe is premised on his belief that the “greater threat from China” will eventually “force Washington to compromise and renegotiate.” The more intense its focus on China, the higher the price the United States may be willing to pay for restraint in other places. The perils of overstretch, however, are not confined to secondary theaters. Weakness at the periphery can ultimately cause weakness at the center. A decade ago, the United States withdrew its forces from Iraq to economize in the Middle East and pivot toward the Pacific. Iraq’s subsequent collapse forced Washington to reengage there, fighting a multi-year conflict that devoured resources and attention. Similarly, if the United States finds itself in a showdown with Iran or if Russia attempts to revise the status quo in eastern Europe, Washington may once again find itself pivoting away from the Pacific to reinforce under-resourced regions that still matter to U.S. security. America’s defense strategy is increasingly focused on the Indo-Pacific, but its foreign policy remains stubbornly global. That’s a recipe for trouble all around. TOUGH CHOICES To be clear, military power is hardly the only thing that matters in global affairs. But it is a necessary component of an effective foreign policy, if only because force remains the ultimate arbiter of international disputes. Xi, Putin, and other U.S. adversaries are unlikely to be swayed by Biden’s “relentless diplomacy” unless they are also awed by the military power that backs it up. Historically, overstretched superpowers have eventually faced hard choices about how to address mismatches between commitments and capabilities. When the United Kingdom found itself with more rivals than it could handle in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it began appeasing those that were less dangerous and proximate—including the United States—to concentrate on containing Germany. When the Korean War revealed that Washington’s containment policy outstripped its military resources, the United States was forced to undertake a significant defense buildup to close the gap. The Biden administration may try to skirt this dilemma by managing tensions with Iran, Russia, and other challengers while encouraging allies in Europe and partners in the Middle East to take greater responsibility for their own defense. That’s an understandable instinct. In the near term, both the geopolitical costs of true retrenchment and the financial costs of rearmament may seem to exceed the difficulties of muddling along. Yet Biden’s first year has already shown that overstretch inflicts damage on the installment plan. Eventually, the world will punish a superpower that allows its strategic deficit to grow too big for too long.

Loss of credibility on multiple issues makes a US-lead liberal international order impossible

Bhurtannean Durbin, 1-1-22 What awaits foreign policy in the new year?, https://www.dailysabah.com/opinion/columns/what-awaits-foreign-policy-in-the-new-year,

The debate over how the pandemic will change the world started back in March 2020. What needs to be said today, however, is that the international system has not undergone the radical change that some observers had anticipated. We do not live under circumstances similar to the post-World War I period yet. As great power competition intensifies, however, all states strive to increase their strategic capacity vis-à-vis security, healthcare, climate change, the environment, natural resources and technology. At the same time, the United States-China rivalry inches toward a type of Cold War. U.S. President Joe Biden, who came to power in early 2021, took fresh steps to contain China in the Indo-Pacific region. However, the United States, which claimed to be back, caused concern among members of the trans-Atlantic alliance by withdrawing from Afghanistan and signing a defense pact with the United Kingdom and Australia, known as AUKUS. Finally, Washington, which experienced a major embarrassment due to the Capitol Hill attack last year, hosted a notably unremarkable “Summit for Democracy” in December. In other words, neither a “restoration of the liberal order” nor “American global leadership” is on the horizon at this time. For example, India had no problem purchasing the S-400 air defense system from Russia amid its ongoing rapprochement with the United States against China. Moreover, even America’s European allies, which have diverse interests, do not provide adequate support to Washington against Beijing. The Russians, who demanded certain assurances regarding NATO’s expansion over the Donbass crisis, will hold talks with the Americans later this month. Needless to say, the United States, which alienated China and Russia simultaneously, faces many contradictions. It needs to cooperate with China in the areas of climate change and trade, but it cannot seem to decide how to contain its strategic rival. Indeed, the U.S. does not even share a common point of view with France and Germany regarding ongoing tensions with Russia. Meanwhile, Europe´s pursuit of “strategic autonomy” continues to be undermined by its problematic policy regarding Turkey and differences of opinion on relations with Russia.

US credibility as been destroyed

Boton, 1-1, 22, John Bolton was national security adviser to President Trump from 2018 to 2019, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006 and held senior State Department posts in 2001-2005 and 1985-1989. His most recent book is “The Room Where It Happened” (2020). He is the founder of John Bolton Super PAC, a political action committee supporting candidates who believe in a strong U.S. foreign policy., Will Biden’s 2021 foreign policy failures reverberate in 2022?, https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/587617-will-bidens-2021-foreign-policy-failures-reverberate-in-2022

Turning to the bad news, America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was a strategic debacle, a national embarrassment, a rolling catastrophe for the Afghan people, a tonic for our adversaries and a downer for our friends. Both Presidents Biden and Trump contributed to this blunder. Although the global humiliation of the decision’s bungled execution, watched live by hundreds of millions of people, is largely Biden’s to bear, Trump’s indefensible predicate deal with the Taliban meant the tragedy would likely have unfolded the same under either president. White House sources anonymously hoped Americans would largely forget the shame and sadness. Unfortunately, however, the hits just keep on coming. The White House conceded just months after withdrawal that ISIS-K was capable of mounting terrorist attacks against the United States in 6-12 months, and al Qaeda in 12-24 months. In early December, CENTCOM’s commander grudgingly acknowledged that, contrary to Taliban commitments and Biden administration assurances, al Qaeda’s support had “probably slightly increased” and that “we should expect a resurgent ISIS” in Afghanistan. Hundreds of U.S. citizens and over 60,000 Afghans who worked with America (not counting their families) still seek asylum. Humanitarian disaster looms. Finally, the media report a large influx of Pakistani sympathizers to Afghanistan to join the Taliban, thereby inevitably raising the risks of Pakistan and its substantial stock of nuclear weapons also falling to terrorists. Speaking of nuclear-proliferation failures, Iran and North Korea were 2021 standouts. Since his inauguration, Biden has abjectly pleaded with Iran to revitalize the 2015 nuclear deal. Leaving aside that the deal itself is hopelessly flawed, and even assuming, contrary to fact, that Iran strictly complied with its provisions, Biden has irretrievably lost nearly a full year pursuing an illusion. Of course, Tehran wants release from U.S. economic pressure, as does Pyongyang, but neither wants it enough to make the strategic decision to abandon pursuing deliverable nuclear weapons. Biden seems unable to absorb this point. After a year of frenetic diplomacy and public optimism on Iran, and a year of frenetically doing essentially nothing on North Korea, the result in both cases is identical. Tehran and Pyongyang are one year closer to perfecting their nuclear and ballistic-missile technology, and for North Korea perhaps hypersonic cruise missiles. Time is always on asset for the proliferator, needed to overcome the complex scientific and technological obstacles to becoming a nuclear-weapons state. Iran and North Korea have both made good use of 2021. The United States stood idly by. Before Christmas, the media again speculated about a U.S.-Israeli “Plan B,” implying the use of force to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, presumably well above the low-level sabotage and disruption already inflicted on Tehran. Whether Israel has the will to use military force depends on its uneasy governing coalition, which clearly has the will to stay in office despite widespread policy differences. Some coalition members seem unlikely ever to favor dispositive pre-emptive force against Iran, despite Israel facing what former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called a prospective “nuclear holocaust” launched by Tehran. As for America, its rhetoric and real deterrence capabilities seem less persuasive than ever. Iran likely believes it can defy the U.S. without consequences for at least three more years. Israel needs to act accordingly. Which brings us to Russia and China, which appear to believe they either never lost parity with the U.S. or have now achieved it. Russian President Vladimir Putin had extensive discussions with Biden, including three hours in-person on June 17 in Geneva. By then, Biden had already gratuitously agreed to a five-year extension of the badly flawed New START nuclear-weapons agreement, wasting significant diplomatic leverage, since Putin had earlier been willing to accept a one-year increase. Moreover, Biden had been rumored to be willing to concede that the Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline was so close to completion that the U.S. would no longer try to stop it; an agreement with Germany to that effect was announced just a month after Geneva. After the summit, Biden said “all foreign policy is a logical extension of personal relationships.” Amtrak Joe, like Donald Trump, may believe foreign policy is about personal relationships, but Putin knows it is about power, resolve and raison d’etat. Putin has marked his man, and trouble lies ahead, most imminently in Ukraine. Biden’s reaction to the Kremlin’s pressure has been completely predictable: strong rhetoric about Russia’s belligerence, paeons to NATO’s importance, threats of economic sanctions and little else. Moscow has heard it all before and responded by formally annexing Crimea and taking effective control of substantial parts of eastern Ukraine. If Biden has nothing new or different to offer, the crisis for Ukraine and other former USSR republics left in the “grey zone” between NATO and Russia will only grow in 2022. The risk of a Russian military incursion was unabated as 2021 ended. Meanwhile, Beijing’s growing strategic threat should be paramount for Washington. Biden’s aimlessness on China is therefore not just troublesome, but dangerous. His lack of direction has one of two causes. Either he fails to understand the enormous scope of China’s threat, which spans the full spectrum of economic and politico-military affairs (which would be bad enough), or he is holding back, hoping desperately for Chinese cooperation on climate-change issues (which would be even worse). Although Biden has not spoken definitively, at least some of his diplomacy is constructive. He has strengthened the nascent India-Japan-Australia-U.S. Quad, holding its first in-person summit and advancing a potentially critical strategic partnership. He agreed to the joint Australia-U.K.-U.S. effort to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, a major advance in allied military cooperation. And, mirroring a 2020 U.S.-Palau deal, the U.S., Australia and Japan agreed to finance undersea communications cables to three Pacific island states, countering China’s relentless efforts to extend its influence. Whether these agreements are only sui generis or form elements of an urgently needed, long-term strategy is unclear. But they manifestly do not address more pressing Indo-Pacific problems. Despite tough 2020 campaign talk about China, which was popular across America’s political spectrum, Biden’s concrete follow-through has been noticeably lacking, especially regarding Taiwan. Roberts calls for judicial independence in year-end report Eleven interesting races to watch in 2022 The Afghan withdrawal and Biden’s emphasis on climate change reverberate worryingly in Taipei as signals of Washington’s willingness to abandon Taiwan or trade it for something Biden deems more worthwhile. Throughout the Indo-Pacific, Taiwan is seen as a synecdoche for regional security. If China prevails there, whether militarily or diplomatically, America’s position in this vast region will be irretrievably weakened. America ends 2021 pointed in the wrong direction on national security. On this record, and given the rising challenges globally, 2022 could be grim indeed.

 

Putin’s popular, has developed a strong sense of nationalism, will engage in mass destruction, and will threaten all of Europe

Andrew Sullivan, 3-25, 22, https://andrewsullivan.substack.com/p/the-strange-rebirth-of-imperial-russia-694?s=w, Weekly Dish, The Strange Rebirth Of Imperial Russia

“The huge iceberg Russia, frozen by the Putin regime, cracked after the events in Crimea; it has split from the European world, and sailed off into the unknown,” – Vladimir Sorokin, New York Review of Books, 2017. The greatest mistake liberals make when assessing reactionaryism is to underestimate it. There is a profound, mesmerizing allure — intensified by disillusion with the shallows of modernity — to the idea of recovering some great meaning from decades or centuries gone by, to resurrect and resuscitate it, to blast away all the incoherence and instability of post-modern life into a new collective, ancient meaning. Even when it’s based on bullshit. You’d be amazed how vacuous slogans about returning to a mythical past — “Make America Great Again!”, “Take Back Control!” — can move public opinion dramatically in even the most successful modern democracies. That’s one reason it’s self-defeating for liberals to press for maximal change in as many things as possible. National identity, fused often with ethnic heritage, has not disappeared in the human psyche — as so many hoped or predicted. It has been reborn in new and strange forms. Now is the time of monsters, so to speak. Best not to summon up too many. This, it seems to me, is what many of us have missed about the newly visible monster of post-Communist Russia. It would be hard to conjure up a period of post-modern bewilderment more vividly than Russia in the post-Soviet 1990s. A vast empire collapsed overnight; an entire totalitarian system, long since discredited but still acting as some kind of social glue and cultural meaning, unraveled in chaos and confusion. Take away a totalitarian ideology in an instant, and a huge vacuum of meaning will open up, to be filled by something else. We once understood this. When Nazi Germany collapsed in total military defeat, the West immediately arrived to reconstruct the society from the bottom up. We de-Nazified West Germany; we created a new constitution; we invested massively with the Marshall Plan, doing more for our previous foe than we did for a devastated ally like Britain. We filled the gap. Ditto post-1945 Japan. But we left post-1991 Russia flailing, offering it shock therapy for freer markets, insisting that a democratic nation-state could be built — tada! — on the ruins of the Evil Empire. We expected it to be reconstructed even as many of its Soviet functionaries remained in place, and without the searing experience of consciousness-changing national defeat. What followed in Russia was a grasping for coherence, in the midst of national humiliation. It was more like Germany after 1918 than 1945. It is no surprise that this was a near-perfect moment for reactionism to stake its claim. It came, like all reactionary movements, not from some continuous, existing tradition waiting to be tweaked or deepened, but from intellectuals, making shit up. They created a near-absurd mythology they rescued from the 19th and early 20th centuries — packed with pseudo-science and pseudo-history. Russia was not just a nation-state, they argued; it was a “civilization-state,” a whole way of being, straddling half the globe and wrapping countless other nations and cultures into Mother Russia’s spiritual bosom. Russians were genetically different — infused with what the reactionary theorist Lev Gumilev called “passionarity” — a kind of preternatural energy or will to power. They belonged to a new order — “Eurasia” — which would balance the Atlantic powers of the US and the UK, and help govern the rest of the world. In his riveting book, “Black Wind, White Snow: The Rise of Russia’s New Nationalism,” British journalist Charles Clover recounts how mystical and often fictional accounts of Russian history pre-1917 endured through suppression in much of the Soviet era only to burst into new life under Vladimir Putin. Clover’s summary: The [reactionaries] argued that their native Russia, rather than being a branch of the rationalistic West, was the descendant of the Mongol Horde — a legacy that the Bolshevik Revolution, with all its savagery, seemed to confirm. They saw in the Revolution some promise of a future — a shedding of Western conformity and the rebirth of authentic Russianness, a Biblical event, a cataclysm that brings earthly beatitude. Alrighty then. But a civilization that sees itself as the modern incarnation of the Steppe Mongol tribes who ransacked cities and towns wherever they went is not quite a regular, Westphalian nation-state, is it? Nothing in modernity’s political structures quite captures it — because it is a pre-modern concept: mystical, spiritual, with no border to the north but frozen darkness, and no firm border between its neighbors to the south and west either. And, of course, in the 1990s and 2000s, this fantastic vision of a new Russia appealed to youngsters, hipsters, gamers, and online freaks, in a similar fashion to alt-righters in the West at the time, and often with the same ironic lulz. A key figure here is Aleksandr Dugin, a guitar-strumming poet who resurrected Gumilev’s theories by writing “The Foundations of Geopolitics.” That book is perhaps the best guide to understanding where Putin is coming from, and what Russia now is. Dugin has the same post-modern worldview as the woke left and alt right in the US: nothing is true; everything is power; and power must be exercised. For Dugin, “all ideology is mere language games or camouflaged power relations; all politics is simulacrum and spectacle; all ‘discourses’ are equal, as is all truth,” Clover writes. So of course it doesn’t matter if history is invented, lies repeated, myths invoked as facts. For the Russian reactionaries, just as for the critical race theorists, history is a tool to be manipulated and wielded to gain power, not a truth to be discovered and debated. And when Dugin pontificates about the West’s desire to dismember Russia, or sees the Cold War not as a fight between liberalism and communism, but between “sea people” and “land people,” you’re never quite sure if he’s serious or not. Was the long standoff between the US and USSR really “a planetary conspiracy of two ‘occult’ forces, whose secret confrontations and unwitnessed battle has determined the course of history”? Or is he just out for attention? But for Putin, it didn’t seem to matter. Dugin’s and Gumilev’s ideas were perfectly attuned to a post-truth dictatorship, crafted by relentless TV propaganda and opinion polling, and gave him a rationale for a post-ideological regime. So from 2009 onwards, Putin started using words like “passionarity” and “civilization-state,” rejecting a Western-style Russian nation-state, in favor of a multi-ethnic empire, in line with “our thousand-year history.” Putin went on in 2011 to propose a “Eurasian Union” to counter the EU. It’s worth noting here that this is not Russian ethnic nationalism: the whole point is that there are many distinct ethnicities in the Russian Empire, all united in the protective motherland. When today, Putin insisted that cultural diversity is Russia’s strength, this is what he meant. In all this, the contours of Dugin’s thought is pretty obvious: “The Eurasian Empire will be constructed on the fundamental principle of the common enemy: the rejection of Atlanticism, the strategic control of the USA, and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us.” Putin’s seething resentment of the West, his inferiority complex, his paranoia are all echoed in Dugin’s sometimes hypnotic prose — as Putin’s latest diatribes show. And yes, this is a kind of international culture war, which is why illiberal rightists across the West warm to the thug in the Kremlin — and why Putin just invoked JK Rowling as a fellow victim of cancel culture. Dugin’s view of Ukraine? “Kill! Kill! Kill! There can be no other discussion. This is my opinion as a professor,” he told a magazine in 2014. A joke or not? As with many of Dugin’s provocations, hard to tell. Putin distanced himself a little afterwards. Religion is part of this new Russia, as it is in American reactionism. Like America’s religious right, Dugin’s version of Orthodoxy has replaced Christian faith with Christianism — a fusion of politics and religious tradition in defense of a single charismatic leader’s authority — and against cultural liberals and their “gender freedoms.” How earnest is this? About as earnest as Donald Trump’s “faith.” But negative polarization — the consuming hatred of Western liberalism — keeps the show on the road, even in a country where actual belief in God is hard to find. Support independent media There is a tendency to talk of Russia as if Putin has hijacked the country, wresting it away from the West, and from being a “normal country.” I wish that were true. Putin is closer to many Russians’ view of the world than we’d like to believe; his popularity soared after the seizure of Crimea; his mastery of modern media manipulation means his war propaganda can work at home — at least for a while. Most Russians see Ukraine as indelibly Russian, and they certainly don’t support a fully independent nation-state allied with the EU and NATO. This was the view of figures as disparate as Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, George Kennan, and Joseph Brodsky in their time. And if you want to grasp the power of nationalism in Russia, remember that Alexei Navalny, Putin’s greatest potential foe, has built his career on it. All of this, it seems to me, tells us something about this moment: the invasion of Ukraine is part of a now-established narrative of Russia defending its civilization against the liberal West. It is wrapped up in history and religion and a sense that Russia means nothing if it is just another nation-state, what Russophobe John McCain called a “gas station masquerading as a country,” wedged between Europe and China. For years now, Putin has built his legitimacy as a “gatherer of the lands” of his Russian ancestors, buttressed by a near-eugenic understanding of Russian identity: “We are a victorious people! It is in our genes, in our genetic code. It is transferred from generation to generation, and we will have victory!” That seems preposterous — at least right now, as Russian troops in Ukraine take massive casualties and remain stuck in a stalemate. It proves reactionaryism’s core weakness: its alienation from reality and the present. You can theorize endlessly about Eurasia, the glories of Empire and the legacy of the Mongols, but if your tanks keep getting blown up, your communications don’t work, and your troops are poorly trained, it will all look pretty ridiculous soon. More to the point, if your nostalgia for imperial nationalism confronts real actual living nationalism among those you’re invading, it will also lose. The crudeness of the invasion, its cruelty and incompetence have all conjured up a far stronger Ukrainian identity — among Russian and Ukrainian speakers — than ever before. And if your worldview is built on esoteric theory from hipster fascists, and you ignore how countries shift in real time in practice, you’ll misunderstand your enemy. What Ukraine has gone through in the past decade has changed it. What it has endured this past month has transformed it. In one terrible mistake, Putin has been more successful at nation-building than the US has been for two decades. He has built a new Ukraine even as he continues to carpet-bomb it. Which is, of course, the caveat. The invasion of Ukraine is integral to the entire edifice of the Putin era. It is what everything has been leading up to — from Chechnya to Syria. If it ends in manifest failure, Putin is finished. But if it becomes a grinding, hideous war of attrition; if the West loses interest (as we surely will); if exhaustion hits Ukraine itself and Russia is able to pulverize and terrorize it from a distance, I’m not so sure. At the very least, Putin may succeed in the permanent annexation of the Donbas and Crimea, claim he has disarmed the “Nazis” in Ukraine, milk the conflict for a jingoistic boost, and declare victory. Russia tends to win wars of attrition — whether against Hitler or Napoleon, or in Chechnya and Syria. Russian regimes have little compunction in the mass murder of civilians or brutal destruction of towns and cities where their enemies live. Putin has a narrative into which all of this fits, and the extraordinary sanctions — an economic nuclear bomb — imposed on Moscow will feed into his story of the persecution of Russia and the perfidy and hypocrisy of the West. Putin could become like Assad, his puppet, turning Mariupol into Aleppo, testing chemical weapons, but with a nuclear capacity to turn the planet to dust. Sanctions? Putin will use them, as Saddam did, to further demonize the West, and sing the praises of Russian stoicism and endurance. I pray he fails. But Putin is not without allies. China, Brazil, India, Israel — they’re all hedging their bets, alongside much of the global South. And the invasion of Iraq and the US abandonment of the Geneva Conventions have greatly undermined any moral authority the West once might have had in the eyes of many in the developing world. This story is not over. Nor is this war. Nor the project Putin has constructed. It may, in fact, just be beginning..

Effective diplomacy relies on hard power

Gottlieb, 3-24, 22, Stuart Gottlieb teaches American foreign policy and international security at Columbia University, where he is a member of the Saltzman Institute of War & Peace Studies. He formerly served as a foreign policy adviser and speechwriter in the United States Senate (1999-2003), President Biden Is Leading From Weakness on Ukraine, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/president-biden-leading-weakness-ukraine-201383

Leading from strength means first recognizing that the Democratic Party’s approach to foreign policy over the past decade failed to prevent the first major land war in Europe since World War II. Following Russia’s seizure of Crimea in 2014, the Obama administration responded with weak sanctions and a refusal to provide Ukraine with lethal military aid, out of fear it would provoke a full-scale Russian invasion. Last year, the Biden administration exacerbated this blunder by first signing an agreement with Ukraine that supports its “aspirations to join NATO” (a blinking red line for Vladimir Putin), while simultaneously refusing defensive military equipment to Ukraine—such as anti-tank javelins and anti-air stingers—in case Russia invades. In other words, Democratic foreign policy left us with the riskiest of circumstances: bold proclamations mixed with weak actions. As Frederick the Great once said, “diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.” The way to deter an opponent is by credibly raising the stakes in advance, not simply relying on promises of bold responses in the future. CONTINUES] In the 1980s, Reagan broke from four years of foreign policy malaise under Democratic president Jimmy Carter—including the expansion of Russian (Soviet) power in Africa, Asia, and Latin America—with a simple message of “peace through strength.” Though many worried his approach, which combined increased military power and tough diplomacy, might provoke World War III, it instead inspired the end of the Cold War and a period of unprecedented peace. Every moment in history requires its own assessments and actions. And hard power must always be applied with prudence. But, as shown in the past, major global challenges are best met by an America focused more on what its power can accomplish, than fear of what it might provoke.

Global democracy at-risk, the US must defend

Gottlieb, 3-24, 22, Stuart Gottlieb teaches American foreign policy and international security at Columbia University, where he is a member of the Saltzman Institute of War & Peace Studies. He formerly served as a foreign policy adviser and speechwriter in the United States Senate (1999-2003), President Biden Is Leading From Weakness on Ukraine, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/president-biden-leading-weakness-ukraine-201383

Finally, leading from strength means bolstering U.S. leadership of Western alliances and security institutions like NATO. Democratic countries and the global liberal order itself are facing profound threats from anti-liberal, anti-democratic forces—from China, to Russia, to Islamist militancy. Democratic presidents like Barack Obama and Joe Biden fully understand this, and are most eloquent in their defenses of the West. But this moment requires a more assertive American leadership—one that more openly mixes power with principle.

Deterrence fails, nuclear escalation likely

Matthew Harries, a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. March 22, 2022, Putin’s Brutal War Shows the Dilemmas of Nuclear Deterren, Foreign Policy, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/22/ukraine-putin-russia-nuclear/

The first conclusion to draw from all this is that nuclear deterrence is an inherently risky way of managing relations between great powers. Because deterrence is neither automatic nor static, there is no way to reap its prime benefit—discouraging war between nuclear-armed states—without some real chance of nuclear weapons being used, even if the probability is low. Unusable weapons cannot deter, and the risk of nuclear use will be present during any crisis of the sort currently seen in Ukraine. What’s more, the strong normative taboo against nuclear weapons means that the most reckless party to a conflict can extract the most value from playing with nuclear risk. In this case, it is clearly Russia. Nuclear brinksmanship may become a feature of Europe’s security landscape in a way that its current generation of leaders have not experienced firsthand. These risks are compounded by the possibility of inadvertent escalation. With tensions high and Russia fighting in close proximity to NATO forces, a mistake or misjudgment could be the spark for a wider war. Yet despite its dangers, moving away from nuclear deterrence will be very difficult. Unless the war ends in Russian defeat and regime change, Russia’s leadership will probably reckon it has benefited greatly from possessing nuclear weapons and will be even less inclined to disarm. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is watching Russia’s brutal aggression, conducted under the cover of nuclear threats and inflicted on a non-nuclear country that, unlike NATO members, does not enjoy the United States’ nuclear backing. This has awakened a sense of existential threat in Europe and is likely to strengthen support for nuclear weapons where they already exist. It has already ensured, for example, an accelerated German decision to procure F-35 fighters to replace the aircraft currently equipped with NATO nuclear bombs. So, as things stand right now, Russia’s invasion may have killed off for a generation or more the idea of an orderly, multilateral process of nuclear disarmament. That process was imagined as a managed series of steps, starting with deep reductions to the nuclear stockpiles of Russia and the United States and then drawing in the other nuclear-armed states, including China. It depended on the belief that nuclear weapons could be gradually moved to the background of world affairs. None of that seems likely today. Two drastic war outcomes—the use of nuclear weapons or Putin’s removal from power—could change this picture and even perhaps open up more sudden and disorderly paths to disarmament. A large-scale nuclear exchange would be a global catastrophe and remains unlikely. Yet if nuclear weapons were used in a limited way, there would be plausible pathways to further escalation. Indeed, nuclear deterrence relies on at least some fear of uncontrolled escalation in order to work. No risk, no deterrence. Nuclear use that did stay limited would still be a historic turning point, its meaning defined by the consequences imposed on Russia. If Russia were to use a small number of nuclear weapons with impunity and achieve concrete benefits, then, in addition to immediate humanitarian consequences, we would enter a dreadful new nuclear era. As well as killing off hopes for disarmament, Russian success could entice nuclear possessors to develop a broader range of limited options and even make use more likely elsewhere.

Hard power is needed to deter conflict; international norms and institutions are not enough to prevent it

Stephen M. Walt, a columnist at Foreign Policy and professor of international relations at Harvard University, March 21, 2022, Foreign Policy, Hand European Security Over to Europeans, Hand European Security Over to the Europeans, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/21/us-geopolitics-security-strategy-war-russia-ukraine-china-indo-pacific-europe/

Properly understood, the war in Ukraine shows that Europe taking greater responsibility for its security is not only desirable but feasible. The war has been a wake-up call for Europeans who believed that large-scale war on their continent had been made impossible by norms against conquest, international institutions, economic interdependence, and U.S. security guarantees. Russia’s actions are a brutal reminder that hard power is still vitally important and that Europe’s self-ascribed role as a “civilian power” is not enough. Governments from London to Helsinki have responded vigorously, belying predictions that “strategic cacophony” within Europe would prevent the continent from responding effectively to a common threat. Even pacifist, postmodern Germany appears to have gotten the memo.

Ukraine war proves Russia is weak and Europe can defend itself

Stephen M. Walt, a columnist at Foreign Policy and professor of international relations at Harvard University, March 21, 2022, Foreign Policy, Hand European Security Over to Europeans, Hand European Security Over to the Europeans, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/21/us-geopolitics-security-strategy-war-russia-ukraine-china-indo-pacific-europe/

The war has also exposed Russia’s persistent military deficiencies. Despite months of planning and preparation, the Russian invasion of far weaker Ukraine has been an embarrassing debacle for Russian President Vladimir Putin. No matter what he may hope, it is now obvious that Russia is simply not strong enough to restore its former empire—and will be even less so as Europe rearms. Moreover, even if Russia’s brutal tactics and superior numbers eventually force Ukraine to capitulate, Moscow’s power will continue to decline. Neither Europe nor the United States will return to business as usual with Russia as long as Putin remains in power, and the sanctions now in place will hamstring the battered Russian economy for years to come. Propping up a puppet regime in Kyiv would force Russia to keep a lot of unhappy soldiers on Ukrainian soil, facing the same stubborn insurgency that occupying armies typically encounter. And every Russian soldier deployed to police a rebellious Ukraine cannot be used to attack anyone else. The bottom line is that Europe can handle a future Russian threat on its own. NATO’s European members have always had far greater latent power potential than the threat to their east: Together, they have nearly four times Russia’s population and more than 10 times its GDP. Even before the war, NATO’s European members were spending three to four times as much on defense each year than Russia. With Russia’s true capabilities now revealed, confidence in Europe’s ability to defend itself should increase considerably. For these reasons, the war in Ukraine is an ideal moment to move toward a new division of labor between the United States and its European allies—one where the United States devotes attention to Asia and its European partners take primary responsibility for their own defense. The United States should drop its long-standing opposition to European strategic autonomy and actively help its partners modernize their forces. NATO’s next supreme allied commander should be a European general, and U.S. leaders should view their role in NATO not as first responders but as defenders of last resort.

China is the biggest threat to US security, Europe can defend itself

Stephen M. Walt, a columnist at Foreign Policy and professor of international relations at Harvard University, March 21, 2022, Foreign Policy, Hand European Security Over to Europeans, Hand European Security Over to the Europeans, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/21/us-geopolitics-security-strategy-war-russia-ukraine-china-indo-pacific-europe/

The war has also exposed Russia’s persistent military deficiencies. Despite months of planning and preparation, the Russian invasion of far weaker Ukraine has been an embarrassing debacle for Russian President Vladimir Putin. No matter what he may hope, it is now obvious that Russia is simply not strong enough to restore its former empire—and will be even less so as Europe rearms. Moreover, even if Russia’s brutal tactics and superior numbers eventually force Ukraine to capitulate, Moscow’s power will continue to decline. Neither Europe nor the United States will return to business as usual with Russia as long as Putin remains in power, and the sanctions now in place will hamstring the battered Russian economy for years to come. Propping up a puppet regime in Kyiv would force Russia to keep a lot of unhappy soldiers on Ukrainian soil, facing the same stubborn insurgency that occupying armies typically encounter. And every Russian soldier deployed to police a rebellious Ukraine cannot be used to attack anyone else. The bottom line is that Europe can handle a future Russian threat on its own. NATO’s European members have always had far greater latent power potential than the threat to their east: Together, they have nearly four times Russia’s population and more than 10 times its GDP. Even before the war, NATO’s European members were spending three to four times as much on defense each year than Russia. With Russia’s true capabilities now revealed, confidence in Europe’s ability to defend itself should increase considerably. For these reasons, the war in Ukraine is an ideal moment to move toward a new division of labor between the United States and its European allies—one where the United States devotes attention to Asia and its European partners take primary responsibility for their own defense. The United States should drop its long-standing opposition to European strategic autonomy and actively help its partners modernize their forces. NATO’s next supreme allied commander should be a European general, and U.S. leaders should view their role in NATO not as first responders but as defenders of last resort. After 9/11, the United States got sidetracked into a costly so-called war on terrorism and a misguided effort to transform the greater Middle East. The Biden administration must not make a similar error today. Ukraine cannot be ignored, but it does not justify a deeper U.S. commitment to Europe once the present crisis is resolved. China remains the only peer competitor, and waging that competition successfully should remain the United States’ top strategic priority.

Toshihiro Nakayama, a professor of U.S. politics and foreign policy at Keio University, March 22, 2022, Maintain the Strategic Focus on China, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/21/us-geopolitics-security-strategy-war-russia-ukraine-china-indo-pacific-europe/,

Russia’s war in Ukraine will change geopolitical perceptions much more than geopolitical reality. While Russia under President Vladimir Putin looms large as a short-term challenge, China will remain the overriding threat in the medium to long term. How to balance the two will be critically important. Although attention tends to be drawn to the here and now, strategic focus must be maintained. We can expect major changes in Russia after Putin—if he does not take the world to hell before his demise. But the threat from China is structural, where a change in leadership will not bring major changes. The overwhelming reality is that China is narrowing the power gap with the United States. Nevertheless, Washington’s attention will have to be drawn toward the European front. In the face of Russia’s attempt to reestablish a sphere of influence through the use of force, the United States has no choice but to confront it with power. Even Europe, after it had noticeably distanced itself from the United States, has rediscovered that U.S. power is indispensable. Germany’s review of its defense posture, for example, is based on this premise. China will try to behave as a more responsible country even as it cozies up to Russia. Seeing the unity of the West and its partners in response to Russia’s war, Beijing may just now be learning how dangerous a game it is to attempt to change the status quo by force. It will become increasingly difficult for China to justify a Sino-Russian partnership with “no limits,” as Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly described it shortly before the invasion. China may emphasize that it is not an outlaw state like Russia while doubling down on establishing a sphere of influence through nonmilitary coercion, as it is already doing. In Washington, it appears as if the battle between advocates of strategic competition and those of engagement has been settled in favor of the former, but we may see pushback by those who favor engagement based on the argument that China is behaving more responsibly than Russia. The United States does not have the operational capability or sustained attention for a full long-term commitment to two spheres. But geopolitical reality demands that Washington commit to both. If this is the case, then U.S. allies and partners on both the European and Indo-Pacific fronts will have no choice but to commit themselves more actively. The good news is that there are signs this is already happening. The message is certainly coming through that the United States will not intervene in Ukraine directly. This is understandable, as there is a clear line between NATO and non-NATO members. While this logic cannot be applied directly to Asia, there is no doubt that how we perceive U.S. credibility will be greatly affected by how the United States acts in Ukraine.

Transatlantic security cooperation needed to deter China

Anne-Marie Slaughter, the CEO of New America, March 22, 2022, Build Out the Trans-Atlantic World, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/21/us-geopolitics-security-strategy-war-russia-ukraine-china-indo-pacific-europe/

The consensus opinion about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is that we are at an inflection point in global affairs, that the post-Cold War era is now over, and that if Putin wins, he will have rewritten the rules of the liberal international order. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is horrific, brutal, and a flagrant violation of international law, and the West should do everything—short of engaging Russia directly—to help the Ukrainians fight Russian forces to a standstill. But is this invasion a difference of degree so great that it is a difference of kind? Putin already broke international law in precisely the same way in 2014, when he invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. The United States violated the same pillar of the international order when it invaded Iraq without formal approval from the U.N. Security Council. Both the Soviet Union and the United States invaded countries they considered to be within their spheres of influence during the Cold War. The fundamental change today is not Putin’s war but China’s refusal to condemn it. As CNN’s Fareed Zakaria has written, pushing Moscow and Beijing closer together is a costly strategic byproduct of the Biden administration’s policy of challenging and containing China. A world in which China and Russia support each other in redrawing territorial maps and rewriting the rules of the international system—rather than working to gain influence within existing institutions—is a much more dangerous world. In this context, the folly of the Biden administration’s elevation of the U.S.-China rivalry as the focal point of its security policy is all the more evident. Washington should have focused on Europe first by building out a trans-Atlantic economic, political, security, and social agenda and expanding it as far as possible across the entire Atlantic hemisphere, both North and South. The best way to compete with China is to recognize that the continents that both Europe and the United States have treated as their backyards deserve front-yard treatment. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine underlines just how indispensable Europe is as a military ally but even more as an economic, moral, and legal partner. Europe, however, has a different perspective: Although the invasion appears to be convincing key European countries—above all, Germany—to increase their defense spending, they are not doing this to draw closer to the United States. Rather, they are preparing for a future in which Europe may no longer be able to count on U.S. support. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke of purchasing a new generation of fighter jets and tanks but insisted they would have to be built in Europe with European partners. Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s hostility to NATO and the continuing dysfunction of the U.S. political system have rattled European leaders even as they appreciate the Biden administration’s assiduous diplomacy and staunch support. The United States should encourage all European efforts to develop a stronger and more coherent pan-European defense—not least because European military power will make Washington less likely to take Europe for granted. At the same time, the Biden administration should press ahead with a new trans-Atlantic trade and investment treaty and digital common market. The United States should also encourage European relationships with countries in the global south while acknowledging they are often freighted with postcolonial baggage. And after Putin’s demise, Washington should support Europe in building a new security architecture from the Atlantic to the Urals, perhaps with intersecting and overlapping circles of defense cooperation among groups of countries. NATO will never be able to stretch to the Pacific, so other frameworks should be pursued.

Strong alliances needed to deter both Russia and China dominance

By C. Raja Mohan, a columnist at Foreign Policy and senior fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute, March 22, 2022, Empower Alliances and Share Burdens, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/21/us-geopolitics-security-strategy-war-russia-ukraine-china-indo-pacific-europe/

Unlike the Trump administration’s 2017 National Security Strategy, which viewed both Russia and China equally as threats, the Biden administration focused mainly on China in its 2021 interim guidance. U.S. President Joe Biden even reached out to Russian President Vladimir Putin in pursuit of a stable and predictable relationship that could let Washington focus on its priorities in the Indo-Pacific. Unsurprisingly, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised questions about the sustainability of Biden’s tilt toward the Indo-Pacific. Does the United States have enough political bandwidth and military resources to cope with simultaneous challenges in both Europe and Asia? Some in Asia now worry that the threat posed by Russia in Europe could compel Biden to ease the confrontation with China and return to a China-first strategy in the region. Notwithstanding Washington’s diplomatic attempts to enlist Beijing’s help in stopping Putin’s war, the Feb. 4 joint proclamation of a Sino-Russian partnership with “no limits” by Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping precludes Biden from choosing between the European and Asian theaters. Further, the geopolitical trajectories of Putin’s Russia and Xi’s China are founded in a shared deep distrust of the United States. The room for either leader to negotiate a separate peace with Washington seems quite small; if anything, the prospect of a weakened Russia could bring them closer together. If Washington now faces both Chinese and Russian challenges, it must necessarily empower its allies and modernize burden-sharing arrangements in Asia and Europe. Fortunately, the Biden administration’s grand strategy has the space to do both. Its special emphasis on building what U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan calls a “latticework of flexible partnerships, institutions, alliances, [and] groups of countries” has already gained considerable traction in Asia. As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi put it recently, the United States has developed a “five-four-three-two” formation in Asia—“from strengthening the Five Eyes to peddling the Quad, from piecing together AUKUS to tightening bilateral military alliances.” There could be no better endorsement of the Biden administration’s latticework in Asia. Thanks to Putin’s war in Ukraine, Europe’s prolonged sabbatical from geopolitics has come to an end. It is finally ready to do more for its own defense, including a historic German decision to rearm. If the United States’ European allies take greater responsibility for securing their homelands from the Russian threat, there is little reason for Washington to downgrade Asian concerns for the sake of European stability. Unlike the Europeans’ more recent epiphany, U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific—especially Australia, India, and Japan—have been ready to shoulder greater responsibilities for Asian security. Neither Asia nor Europe can balance China and Russia on its own for the foreseeable future. But by doing more for their own security, they help boost U.S. domestic political support for sustained military commitment to the two regions. By promoting a larger role and increased political say for its allies, Washington can build durable regional balances of power in Asia and Europe—backed by U.S. military power. That, in turn, might compel Beijing and Moscow to adopt more reasonable approaches to their neighbors and discard the belief that they can cut superpower deals with Washington over the heads of Asia and Europe. Shared security burdens and empowered alliances with the United States will make it easier for Asia and Europe to explore the balance of near-term containment of and long-term reconciliation with China and Russia. That outcome reinforces the enduring goal of U.S. grand strategy—to prevent the domination of either region by a single great power.

US naval power needed to deter growing Chinese aggression, secure supply chains, protect the economy, reduce global poverty and maintain the liberal order

Schake, 2-22, 22, KORI SCHAKE is a Senior Fellow and Director of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of Safe Passage: The Transition From British to American Hegemony. She was Deputy Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department in 2007–8., https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/review-essay/2022-02-22/lost-sea

In 1897, the British Parliament pressed George Goschen, first lord of the Admiralty, about the potential maritime threat posed by a deepening alliance of continental European powers. Asked what the United Kingdom would do if it were confronted by multiple European navies at sea, Goschen replied, “Trust in Providence and a good Admiral.” In other words, the United Kingdom had no good answer for a challenge of that magnitude. The same could be said of the United States when it comes to the threat of a rapidly rising China. For years, the United States clung to a near-religious belief that as China grew more prosperous, it would become more democratic and politically liberal. Now that the authoritarian regime in Beijing has disproved this theory, it seems the American public can trust only in the good admirals of the U.S. Navy to handle the looming threat of an increasingly belligerent China, even as the American economy grows more and more reliant on that same adversary. That is because to a degree many observers fail to appreciate, the contest between Beijing and Washington will increasingly become a struggle for naval power. Naval analysts joke that in a war with China, the U.S. military should first strike the port of Long Beach, in California, since disrupting China’s seaborne commerce to the United States would inflict more damage on Beijing than attacking the Chinese mainland. So interwoven are transnational supply chains that pandemic delays in China caused container ship traffic jams in Long Beach so costly that the Biden administration considered deploying the National Guard to help unsnarl them. The COVID-19 pandemic has raised awareness of those global linkages and spurred some governments to consider “reshoring” production in crucial areas, but the webs of investment, communication, and production that bind economies together continue to expand. Maritime trade and power are critical to these global networks: around 90 percent of the world’s traded goods are transported by sea. Discussions of power and strategy in the twenty-first century often revolve around the novel frontiers of cyberspace and outer space. But in the near term, the geopolitical future will play out mostly in an older, more familiar arena: the sea. Two new books assess the challenges and importance of contemporary maritime power relations. Bruce Jones’s To Rule the Waves and Gregg Easterbrook’s The Blue Age are primarily concerned with international security, building on the naval strategist and historian Alfred Thayer Mahan’s premise that “the history of sea power . . . is largely a military history.” Both make strong cases that U.S. security and prosperity depend on naval dominance, and both are laden with omens that commercial waters will once again turn violent. These books will exasperate experts but will offer most readers helpful insights into maritime aspects of the global economy, the rise of China, and climate change. Jones takes a journalistic approach, using accounts of his own encounters and conversations as a foundation for his ideas and explanations. To illuminate the centrality of the oceans in everyday commerce and communications, he charts the enormous web of undersea fuel pipelines and transmission cables, underscoring global economic reliance on seaborne delivery. And he makes powerfully clear that the oceans “play a surprisingly central role in the realities of energy, and in the global fight over climate change.” Jones sets out to show that “the world’s oceans are rapidly becoming the most important zone of confrontation between the world’s great military actors.” He argues that the cooperative patterns of the twentieth century are eroding, setting the stage for a large-scale conflict—and that geopolitical struggles are now playing out on the high seas. Given this grim forecast, Jones warns against the diminishment of U.S. maritime hegemony. His recommendations, however, are unrealistic and lack analytic rigor: he calls, for example, for an “alliance of alliances” in which the United States would orchestrate global cooperation among all energy-consuming economies. He would also have Washington “tackle the question of winners and losers from globalization” and “adopt the kinds of plans needed to abate carbon emissions.” But he offers few specifics to flesh out any of these proposals. Control of the sea will be the defining factor of the next century. Easterbrook likewise advocates maintaining U.S. maritime dominance, but he takes a different tack. He is clearly writing for people on the political left. “Many people do not like military organizations,” he declares. “The reasons to dislike them are self-evident, and we can dream of the day when no nation requires an army or navy.” Nonetheless, Easterbrook wants to make “a liberal case for the U.S. Navy” on the basis that its power has produced “an amazing reduction of poverty in the developing world . . . and higher material standards almost everywhere.” Easterbrook argues that beyond maintaining U.S. naval dominance, Washington could seek to enhance the U.S. Navy’s global reach by having its ships make more port calls, establishing more bases to defend allies, and enforcing freedom of navigation. But he undercuts his argument by concluding that the U.S. national debt is already too large to make such steps fiscally attainable. Easterbrook, like Jones, offers a number of policy prescriptions, but he makes little effort to evaluate alternatives. Easterbrook is even more utopian than Jones, proposing the establishment of a “World Oceans Organization” that would provide “a true global governance system” to protect worker rights, restrict weapons, regulate offshore energy projects, enforce free trade, and guarantee environmental standards throughout the world’s waters. Both authors make faulty assertions that dent the credibility of their analyses and prescriptive ideas. Contrary to Jones’s interpretation of the 1956 Suez crisis, it was not “one of the first moments when the Cold War might have escalated into actual conflict”: the 1948–49 crisis over the Soviet blockade of Berlin and the Korean War fit that description more closely. For his part, Easterbrook wrongly states that “the United States has nearly the same number of deployable modern naval vessels as do all other nations combined,” when China alone has a larger navy than the United States. He also blames friction between China and the United States on “threat inflation by the military-industrial complex and alarmism by journalists,” absolving China of any responsibility. Regarding the South China Sea, where China has routinely violated other countries’ territorial sovereignty and created artificial islands to establish military bases, Easterbrook concludes: “So far these waters are mostly peaceful—for which China receives no credit in the West.” Despite their flaws, both books are admirable attempts to lure general readers into specialized waters. For the United States to meet the challenges of globalization, the rise of China, and climate change, ordinary Americans will need to develop a better grasp of maritime issues and of their own country’s role as a naval power. To preserve the decaying international order that Jones and Easterbrook laud, the United States will need to restore the military and civilian maritime power that it has allowed to atrophy. The global interconnectedness that both authors praise has enabled the rise of enormous private logistics conglomerates that now dwarf the U.S. merchant marine fleet, which is essential for the United States’ capacity to mobilize for military purposes in times of war. In 1950, the U.S. merchant marine fleet accounted for 43 percent of global shipping; by 1994, that share had dropped to four percent, despite a 1920 law requiring ships passing between U.S. ports to be built and registered in the United States and operated by a crew of mostly U.S. citizens. The current U.S. merchant fleet of 393 vessels ranks just 27th in the world. By contrast, China has the world’s second-largest merchant marine fleet, and that doesn’t include the notorious paramilitary fishing fleet it uses to launch incursions into disputed waters.

China-Russia ties threaten the global order

Marco Rubio, a Republican, represents Florida in the U.S. Senate, March 19, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/03/18/rubio-china-complicit-russia-ukraine/

The Chinese Communist Party has a long list of sins, including the systematic repression of basic human rights, industrial espionage, the use of slave labor and genocide. Now, the CCP’s complicity in the atrocities Russia is committing in Ukraine can be added to that list. Twenty-one years ago, China signed a “Treaty of Friendship” with Russia. It might have started as a marriage of convenience, but that relationship has grown only stronger over time, through cooperation at the United Nations, energy deals and military exercises. Earlier this year, the two nations pledged an unprecedented level of cooperation and coordination. And over the past few weeks, Beijing has enabled Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression. With China’s support for Putin’s bogus excuses for invading Ukraine (the Chinese foreign ministry blamed the United States and NATO for pushing Russia to the “breaking point”), CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping has once again made his strategic objective clear: dismantle democracies and replace them with authoritarian regimes to undermine, and eventually supplant, the U.S.-led world order. Of course, Beijing denies any foreknowledge of the invasion and plays semantic games to avoid openly endorsing Putin’s war. However, official documents speak for themselves. At the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Putin and Xi announced a “no limits” partnership to deepen their cooperation — likely a veiled reference to the impending attack on Ukraine. More damning, the New York Times reports, China told Russia to refrain from invading until after the Olympics, which is exactly what happened As war approached, China turned a blind eye to Moscow’s aggression, refusing to acknowledge it as an invasion. Even though Putin’s troops are now clearly committing war crimes in Ukraine, Beijing refuses to condemn them. This is yet another display of how little the CCP’s word is worth. China’s foreign minister paid lip service to Ukraine’s “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity” at the Munich Security Conference right before the invasion. For decades, Beijing has claimed it espouses “non-interference” in other countries’ “internal affairs.” And the CCP consistently denies the validity of what it considers “separatist” movements in Taiwan, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Hong Kong and Xinjiang. By supporting Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in “defense” of Russian-speaking separatists, Beijing has abandoned its supposed principles in favor of ruthless opportunism. The world now sees that the CCP’s claimed impartiality and commitment to sovereignty are a shameless, self-serving charade. That means every nation partnering with Beijing on infrastructure projects, technical investment and deployment, or advanced research should question the reliability and security of those relationships. It also means the United States and its European allies must resist perceiving China as a potential “tamer” of Putin, as the CCP might have us do. For many years, the free world has tried, in vain, to persuade Beijing to “tame” North Korea — this time will be no different. It is naive and dangerous to believe the United States has “shared interests” with a genocidal communist regime. The delusion that we could somehow identify such interests in the absence of shared values is responsible for decades of failed U.S. policy. Instead of cooperating with Beijing, the United States must act to prevent it from strengthening Putin and undermining freedom. Starved of funds from Europe and the United States, Russian banks are pinning their hopes on a lifeline from China’s financial system. If Beijing crafts a workaround to aid Putin, Americans’ money, in the form of trade and investment, will begin making its way to banks that help finance the Russian military’s campaign. We cannot let this happen — which is why I have introduced a bill that would impose sanctions on any Chinese bank that attempts to help Putin escape the penalties for waging war on Ukraine. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has laid bare to the world what some U.S. policymakers have been aware of for some time — that the Moscow-Beijing axis is real, and it is a growing threat to the United States and to freedom worldwide. So significant is the danger presented by this relationship that it demands a fundamental rethink of U.S. strategy. That begins with a willingness to punish Chinese support for Putin’s invasion. Xi hopes to reap the benefits of a “no limits” partnership with a dictator whose military bombs hospitals and slaughters civilians. To protect our national and economic security, we must ensure that Xi and the CCP pay a price for that partnership.

Perceptions of US decline trigger Russian aggression and risk nuclear war

Anthony Capaccio, March 17, 2022, Putin Likely to Make Nuclear Threats If War Drags, U.S. Says, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-03-17/putin-is-likely-to-make-nuclear-threats-if-war-drags-u-s-says?sref=fqqmZ8gi

President Vladimir Putin can be expected to brandish threats to use nuclear weapons against the West if stiff Ukrainian resistance to Russia’s invasion continues, draining conventional manpower and equipment, according to a new assessment by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency. “Protracted occupation of parts of Ukrainian territory threatens to sap Russian military manpower and reduce their modernized weapons arsenal, while consequent economic sanctions will probably throw Russia into prolonged economic depression and diplomatic isolation,” Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in its new 67-page summary of worldwide threats. The combination of Ukraine’s defiance and economic sanctions will threaten Russia’s “ability to produce modern precision-guided munitions,” Berrier said in testimony submitted to the House Armed Services Committee for a hearing on Thursday. “As this war and its consequences slowly weaken Russian conventional strength,” Berrier added, Russia likely will increasingly rely on its nuclear deterrent to signal the West and project strength to its internal and external audiences.” The Pentagon agency’s grim appraisal of the war’s broader stakes comes on the eve of a call between President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping. Even as U.S. officials struggle to discern China’s position on the war, Biden will seek Xi’s help ratcheting up pressure on Moscow to end it. Putin already has announced that he’s put Russia’s nuclear arsenal on a state of higher alert. The Russian Embassy in Washington didn’t immediately return a request for comment on the Defense Intelligence Agency report. Unlike a report on global threats issued by multiple intelligence agencies last week with findings that predated the Russian invasion, the new report reflects information as of Tuesday. A senior Pentagon official told reporters Thursday that the invasion is largely stalled, with Russia relying so far on more than 1,000 long-range missile strikes into Ukraine. “U.S. efforts to undermine Russia’s goals in Ukraine, combined with its perception that the United States is a nation in decline, could prompt Russia to engage in more aggressive actions not only in Ukraine itself, but also more broadly in its perceived confrontation with the West,” Berrier said. A key motivation for the invasion, he said, is Russia’s determination “to restore a sphere of influence over Ukraine and the other states of the former Soviet Union.” He added that “despite greater than anticipated resistance from Ukraine and relatively high losses in the initial phases of the conflict, Moscow appears determined to press forward by using more lethal capabilities until the Ukrainian government is willing to come to terms favorable to Moscow.”

Nuclear use escalates to human extinction

Ira Helfand, 3-17, 22, CNN, The unimaginable nightmare that haunts the world, https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/17/opinions/nuclear-war-weapons-abolition-helfand-levy-bivens/index.html

If the Kremlin feels itself losing a conventional war, will it resort to the nuclear option as Putin has explicitly threatened? Tactical or “battlefield,” nuclear weapons are far smaller than the enormous warheads intended to destroy cities — but the smallest of them still has the force of up to 300 tons or 0.3 kilotons of TNT. Such a bomb creates a fireball 300 feet across. The flames and explosion could destroy residential buildings and cause life-threatening burns to anyone within about 1,000 feet and deliver a lethal dose of radiation to anyone within about 2,000 feet. Yet as bad as that sounds, in some ways, the worst thing about such a small bomb is its very smallness. It provides a terrible temptation to a military under pressure to go nuclear “just a little.” We cannot be certain what would happen next if Putin decided to take this smaller nuclear option. But war games in which a tactical nuclear weapon is used have usually progressed to full-scale nuclear war. Once that threshold is crossed, neither side tends to know how to stop. A nuclear war between Russia and NATO allies would be an unimaginable tragedy. A single 100-kiloton (100,000-ton) bomb detonated over Washington, for example, would likely kill 170,000 people and injure hundreds of thousands. A similar bomb detonated over Moscow would likely kill 250,000 and injure more than a million. In both cities, the medical care system would be destroyed outright and what few emergency medical resources remained would be totally overwhelmed. But in a large-scale war, it would not be a single bomb over a single city. Rather it would be many bombs over many cities. A 2003 report showed that if just 300 of the roughly 1,500 weapons deployed in the Russian strategic arsenal exploded over US cities, 75 to 100 million people would die in the first day. But they might be the lucky ones: The vast majority of those who survived the initial attack would also die over the coming months from radiation sickness, infectious diseases, famine and exposure.In the wake of such a massive nuclear attack, the entire economic infrastructure would be destroyed: the electric grid, the Internet, food and water supply systems, the health care system — it would all be gone. Temperatures would be terribly cold, as a large-scale nuclear war would have also put 150 million tons of soot into the upper atmosphere, triggering a “nuclear winter,” global famine and likely the end of civilization as we understand it.

No real checks on Putin’s decision to use nuclear weapons

Uri Friedman is the managing editor at the Atlantic Council and a contributing writer at The Atlantic. He was previously a staff writer and the Global editor at The Atlantic, and the deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy magazine, March 15, 2022, The Atlantic, Putin’s Nuclear Threats Are a Wake-Up Call for the World, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/03/putin-nuclear-weapons-system-presidential-power/627058/

We don’t know a lot about how exactly the authority to launch nuclear weapons works in Russia. This opacity is deliberate. All nuclear command-and-control systems, including America’s, have a “first rule of Fight Club”-like aspect to them: You don’t talk much about them, to keep your enemies guessing. But Pavel Podvig, an expert on Russian nuclear forces (who, even armed with all his knowledge, speaks about some of his assessments in terms of guesswork), has concluded that the Russian president can probably order the use of nuclear weapons on his own, even if the country’s policies aren’t necessarily designed that way. The Russian system, which dates back to the 1970s and was crafted with Soviet-era collective, centralized decision making in mind, calls for the defense minister and the chief of the military’s general staff to be looped in on any orders by the country’s leader to use nuclear weapons, giving them an opportunity to influence the decision. (Experts think each of these figures possesses a Cheget, Russia’s rough equivalent of the American “nuclear football,” though whether all three briefcases are needed to transmit a nuclear-launch order is unclear.) If, as some speculate he might in the course of the conflict in Ukraine, Putin were to reach for his tactical nuclear weapons—a lower-yield, shorter-range variety that can be deployed on the battlefield—he would need to remove them from storage and prepare them for use in a relatively protracted process that would ostensibly involve more consultations. But given the degree to which Putin has recently concentrated power, it appears that no actor in the Russian system would actually be able to veto a presidential decision to use nuclear weapons. Podvig told me that any Russian plan to employ nuclear weapons would likely have to first be developed by military officials, who would thus “have a chance to offer their opinion [and] raise objections.” Nevertheless, he added, “ultimately they are there to carry out orders, not to dispute them.” Were Russia to come under attack, its system calls for solid confirmation of such an offensive to initiate retaliatory nuclear strikes, he explained, “but when it comes to a deliberate [Russian] first strike [with nuclear weapons], most safeguards could be circumvented.”

Increased military readiness needed to protect the global liberal international order and save democracy

Beckley & Brands, March 14, 2022, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2022-03-14/return-pax-americana, MICHAEL BECKLEY is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2022-03-14/return-pax-american HAL BRANDS is Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us About Great-Power Rivalry Today.

The United States and its allies have failed to prevent Russia from brutalizing Ukraine, but they can still win the larger struggle to save the international order. Russia’s savage invasion has exposed the gap between Western countries’ soaring liberal aspirations and the paltry resources they have devoted to defend them. The United States has declared great-power competition on Moscow and Beijing but has so far failed to summon the money, the creativity, or the urgency necessary to prevail in those rivalries. Yet Russian President Vladimir Putin has now inadvertently done the United States and its allies a tremendous favor. In shocking them out of their complacency, he has given them a historic opportunity to regroup and reload for an era of intense competition—not just with Russia but also with China—and, ultimately, to rebuild an international order that just recently looked to be headed for collapse. This isn’t fantasy: it has happened before. In the late 1940s, the West was entering a previous period of great-power competition but had not made the investments or initiatives needed to win it. U.S. defense spending was pathetically inadequate, NATO existed only on paper, and neither Japan nor West Germany had been reintegrated into the free world. The Communist bloc seemed to have the momentum. Then, in June 1950, an instance of unprovoked authoritarian aggression—the Korean War—revolutionized Western politics and laid the foundation for a successful containment strategy. The policies that won the Cold War and thereby made the modern liberal international order were products of an unexpected hot war. The catastrophe in Ukraine could play a similar role today. Putin’s aggression has created a window of strategic opportunity for Washington and its allies. The democracies must now undertake a major multilateral rearmament program and erect firmer defenses—military and otherwise—against the coming wave of autocratic aggression. They must exploit the current crisis to weaken the autocrats’ capacity for coercion and subversion and deepen the economic and diplomatic cooperation among liberal states around the globe. The invasion of Ukraine signals a new phase in an intensifying struggle to shape the international order. The democratic world won’t have a better chance to position itself for success. The United States has been talking tough about great-power competition for years. But to counter authoritarian rivals, a country needs more than self-righteous rhetoric. It also requires massive investments in military forces geared for high-intensity combat, sustained diplomacy to enlist and retain allies, and a willingness to confront adversaries and even risk war. Such commitments do not come naturally, especially to democracies that believe that peace is the norm. That is why ambitious competitive strategies usually sit on the shelf until a shocking event compels collective sacrifice.

Globalization won’t prevent conflict

Beckley & Brands, March 14, 2022, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2022-03-14/return-pax-americana, MICHAEL BECKLEY is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2022-03-14/return-pax-american HAL BRANDS is Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us About Great-Power Rivalry Today.

Democratic populations believed that globalization had rendered old-fashioned conquest and imperialism obsolete. They assumed that Putin and Xi were savvy, cautious leaders pursuing limited objectives—staying in power, maximizing economic growth, and gaining a greater say within the existing order. Russian and Chinese paramilitary forces might engage in “gray zone” operations below the threshold of war. But if push came to shove, Moscow and Beijing would cut deals and de-escalate crises. And if they started acting more aggressively, there would be time for the West to pull itself together. Until then, the United States and its allies could focus on getting their own houses in order and squabbling among themselves.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shattered these comfortable myths. Suddenly, great-power war looks not only possible but perhaps probable. Western policymakers have rediscovered the value of hard power and have started taking Putin’s and Xi’s imperial aspirations literally. The idea that the United States can focus on China while pursuing “stable and predictable” ties with Russia has become laughable: the Chinese-Russian entente could violently challenge the balance of power at both ends of Eurasia simultaneously. As a result, moves previously thought impossible—accelerated German and Japanese rearmament, EU arms transfers to Ukraine, the near-total economic isolation of a major power—are well underway.

Global support for democracy needed to challenge Russian and China aggression

Beckley & Brands, March 14, 2022, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2022-03-14/return-pax-americana, MICHAEL BECKLEY is Associate Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World’s Sole Superpower, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russia-fsu/2022-03-14/return-pax-american HAL BRANDS is Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of The Twilight Struggle: What the Cold War Teaches Us About Great-Power Rivalry Today.

First, think big. Truman didn’t limit his response to North Korean aggression to the Korean Peninsula or even to Asia. Rather, he sought to fortify the larger free world. Today, Russian aggression has created similar possibilities by sharpening divisions between democracies that support the liberal order and powerful authoritarians trying to destroy it. Nearly eight out of ten U.S. residents view the Ukraine crisis as part of a broader fight for global democracy. In the short term, the crisis in Europe may pull U.S. attention away from the Indo-Pacific. In the l