Hegemony Weekly

To Cut — 

America in a World of Limits: In truth, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine does not change the fact that America’s global power position is constrained.

Last Best Hope: The West’s Final Chance to Build a Better World Order

Unipolarity Is Over: Great Power Rivalry Has Returned to Asia

China’s Southern Strategy: Beijing Is Using the Global South to Constrain America

A FLEETING GLIMPSE OF HEGEMONY? THE WAR IN UKRAINE AND THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF THE UNITED STATES

Russia and China’s War on the Dollar Is Just Beginning

When will we accept the new reality of the multipolar world

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

China-Russia ties increasing, threaten the US

Dereck Thompson, March 10, 2022, Russia’s Economic Blackout Will Change the World, https://www.theatlantic.com/newsletters/archive/2022/03/russia-economic-sanctions-wheat-oil/627004/

2) A New Chinese Empire

The commercial excommunication of Russia has left it heavily dependent on China, which has alternated between blaming the West for the conflict, distancing itself from Russia, refusing to call the invasion an invasion, and expressing grief over civilian casualties while calling for peace. Rhetorical waffling aside, China continues to trade with Russia, and Beijing is strongly considering taking a stake in Russian energy giants left in the cold by Western corporations.

Russia and China were getting closer even before the Ukraine crisis. Since Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014, Russian-Chinese trade has risen by 50 percent, according to Michael Cembalest, the chair of market and investment strategy at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. “Russia is now Beijing’s largest recipient of state sector financing,” Cembalest writes, pointing out that China and Russia began using their own currencies to settle bilateral trade in 2010 and “opened a currency swap line in 2014, sharply reducing reliance” on the U.S. dollar.

Tom McTague, March 10, 2022, For the West, the Worst Is Yet to Come, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2022/03/western-unity-putin-russia-ukraine/627013/

In some ways, the big picture remains unaltered by the blood-drenched catastrophe in Ukraine: The West faces a Chinese-Russian alliance seeking to reshape the world order, one that Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger spent so much political capital to avoid. Only now, instead of this axis being led by an autarkic and sclerotic Muscovite empire, the senior partner is a technologically sophisticated giant that is deeply integrated in the world economy. Furthermore, unlike it was during the Cold War, the United States is now unable to bear the burden of a global confrontation with both China and Russia on its own; it needs the help of partners in Asia to curtail Beijing, and greater resolve from Europe to hold off Moscow. Yet has the West faced up to the scale of this challenge? Does it collectively even agree what the challenge is? Though there has been a sea change in European thinking toward Russia, it’s far from clear whether there is agreement across the West that a civilizational battle is being fought between East and West, between democracy and autocracy, as Biden declared. Europe has united in opposition to Russia’s invasion, but as time goes on, and Europe’s own dynamics change, Europe’s interests may well diverge from those of the U.S. (as they appear to have done over their positions toward China). Add it all up, and it looks like China could become the counterpart of last resort for Russia. This would make Russia something like a giant North Korea. Since 2010, that rogue nation has relied on China for roughly 90 percent of its total trade. One plausible scenario, then, is that Putin’s failed attempt to expand the Russian empire grows the Chinese empire, as Russia clings to China to avoid economic ruin.

Nuclear war (even a small one) will destroy the climate and collapse global food supplies

Robinson Meyer, March 9, 2022, On Top of Everything Else, Nuclear War Would Be a Climate Problem, https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2022/03/nuclear-war-would-ravage-the-planets-climate/627005/

On Top of Everything Else, Nuclear War Would Be a Climate Problem Even a “minor” skirmish would wreck the planet. When we talk about what causes climate change, we usually talk about oil and gas, coal and cars, and—just generally—energy policy. There’s a good reason for this. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide, which enters the atmosphere, warms the climate, and … you know the drill. The more fossil fuels you burn, the worse climate change gets. That’s why, a couple of years ago, I spent a lot of time covering the Trump administration’s attempt to weaken the country’s fuel-economy standards. It was an awful policy, one that would have led to more oil consumption for decades to come. If pressed, I would have said that it had a single-digit-percentage chance of creating an uninhabitable climate system. But energy is not the only domain that has a direct bearing on whether we have a livable climate or not. So does foreign policy—specifically, nuclear war. Since Russia invaded Ukraine two weeks ago, that threat has become a lot more real: Many Americans, including artists, climate-concerned progressives, and even a few lawmakers, have come out in support of a “no-fly zone.” But despite its euphemistic name, a no-fly zone means that NATO and the United States issue a credible threat that they will shoot down any enemy plane in Ukrainian territory. This would require U.S. bombing runs into Russian territory to eliminate air defenses, bringing the U.S. and Russia into open war, and it would have a reasonable chance of prompting a nuclear exchange. And it would be worse for the climate than any energy policy that Donald Trump ever proposed. I mean this quite literally. If you are worried about rapid, catastrophic changes to the planet’s climate, then you must be worried about nuclear war. That is because, on top of killing tens of millions of people, even a relatively “minor” exchange of nuclear weapons would wreck the planet’s climate in enormous and long-lasting ways. Consider a one-megaton nuke, reportedly the size of a warhead on a modern Russian intercontinental ballistic missile. (Warheads on U.S. ICBMs can be even larger.) A detonation of a bomb that size would, within about a four-mile radius, produce winds equal to those in a Category 5 hurricane, immediately flattening buildings, knocking down power lines, and triggering gas leaks. Anyone within seven miles of the detonation would suffer third-degree burns, the kind that sear and blister flesh. These conditions—and note that I have left out the organ-destroying effects of radiation—would rapidly turn an eight-mile blast radius into a zone of total human misery. But only at this moment of the war do the climate consequences truly begin. The hot, dry, hurricane-force winds would act like a supercharged version of California’s Santa Ana winds, which have triggered some of the state’s worst wildfires. Even in a small war, that would happen at dozens of places around the planet, igniting urban and wildland forest fires as large as small states. A 2007 study estimated that if 100 small nuclear weapons were detonated, a number equal to only 0.03 percent of the planet’s total arsenal, the number of “direct fatalities due to fire and smoke would be comparable to those worldwide in World War II.” Towering clouds would carry more than five megatons of soot and ash from these fires high into the atmosphere. All this carbon would transform the climate, shielding it from the sun’s heat. Within months, the planet’s average temperature would fall by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit; some amount of this cooling would persist for more than a decade. But far from reversing climate change, this cooling would be destabilizing. It would reduce global precipitation by about 10 percent, inducing global drought conditions. In parts of North America and Europe, the growing season would shorten by 10 to 20 days. This would prompt a global food crisis the world hasn’t seen in modern times. Corn, wheat, and soybean yields would all decline by more than 11 percent over five years. In a slightly larger conflict—involving, say, 250 of the world’s 13,080 nuclear weapons—the oceans would become less bountiful; the photosynthesizing plankton that form the basis of the marine food chain would become 5 to 15 percent less productive. In the case of a U.S.-Russia war, fishers worldwide would see their catches decline by nearly 30 percent. And even though the world would get cooler, the nuclear winter resulting from a full-blown global conflict (or even “nuclear fall,” as some researchers prefer) would not reverse the effect of what we might morbidly call “traditional” human-caused climate change. In the short term, the effects of ocean acidification would get worse, not better. The layer of smoke in the atmosphere would destroy as much as 75 percent of the ozone layer. That means that more UV radiation would slip through the planet’s atmosphere, causing a pandemic of skin cancer and other medical issues. It would affect not just humans, either—even on the remotest islands, the higher UV rates would imperil plants and animals otherwise untouched by the global carnage. Nowadays, we don’t tend to think of nuclear war as a climate problem, but concerns over these kinds of dangers were part of how modern climate change achieved political prominence in the first place. During the 1980s, a set of scientists raised the alarm about the effects of a nuclear winter and of the growing “hole in the ozone layer.” As the Stanford professor Paul N. Edwards writes in A Vast Machine, his magisterial history of climate modeling, these environmental issues taught the world that the planet’s entire atmosphere could come under threat at once, priming the public to understand the risks of global warming. And even before that, climate science and nuclear-weapons engineering were twin disciplines of a sort. John von Neumann, a Princeton physicist and member of the Manhattan Project, took interest in the first programmable computer in 1945 because he hoped that it could solve two problems: the mechanics of a hydrogen-bomb explosion and the mathematical modeling of Earth’s climate. At the time, military interest in meteorology was high. Not only had a good weather forecast helped secure Allied victory on D-Day, but officials feared that weather manipulation would become a weapon in the unfolding Cold War. The worst fears of that era, thankfully, never came to pass. Or at least, they haven’t happened yet. It is up to us to make sure that they don’t. Outside of the direct effects of the bombs themselves, the full effect of a nuclear exchange could be even worse. If several years of gasoline- and diesel-fueled conventional military operations followed the global destruction, then the permanent consequences for the climate system would be even worse. That would also be true if society tried to rebuild by undertaking a fossil-powered reconstruction—and that would very likely be the case. The ruins of our postwar society would be poorer, and fossil reserves are the easiest energy sources to locate. Renewables, wind turbines, and other decarbonization technology, meanwhile, require secure factories, highly educated engineers, and complicated global networks of trade and exchange. They depend, in other words, on everything that peace provides. Solving climate change is a luxury of a planet at peace with itself.

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.

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.

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?

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’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 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.

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.

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.

US working to contain China now

Green & Medeiros, 1-31, 22 MICHAEL GREEN is Director of the Asian Studies Program at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and Senior Vice President for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He served as Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration.EVAN S. MEDEIROS is Penner Family Chair in Asian Studies at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council during the Obama administration, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/asia/2022-01-31/can-america-rebuild-its-power-asia, Can America Rebuild Its Power in Asia? Biden Started Strong, But Progress Is Halting

Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s late former leader, used to complain that Americans believed U.S. policy toward Asia could be treated like a video. Washington could press pause as it sorted out problems at home or in other parts of the world, and then hit play when it found the timing convenient. It is easy to see why U.S. policymakers—busy managing the transatlantic alliance, conflicts in the Middle East, and domestic politics—would find this approach tempting. But as Lee noted, it was deeply ineffective. “It does not work like that,” he said. “If the United States wants to substantially affect the strategic evolution of Asia, it cannot come and go.” To see why this is, consider the Asia policies of the last president. Under Donald Trump, the United States withdrew from the main trade agreement in Asia, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Trump also rattled allies by demanding exorbitant payment increases for U.S. troops while professing his “love” for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Although the United States hardly abandoned Asia, especially as tensions rose with China, the Trump administration left Washington’s closest partners feeling deeply uncertain of U.S. staying power as Beijing sought to reshape the regional order. Now, President Joe Biden is trying to press play again, and in his first year, he scored some quick wins. Biden took creative steps to reenergize U.S. alliances, including upgrading the Australian-Indian-Japanese-U.S. Quad to a summit, concluding a historic submarine deal among Australia, the United Kingdom, and Washington, and signing a new cost-sharing agreement with South Korea to keep U.S. troops in the country. Biden has sustained a very competitive approach toward Beijing, but the United States is now working more collaboratively and effectively with others to constrain Chinese power. As a result, confidence in U.S. diplomatic engagement is on the rebound in the region. But despite this renewed diplomatic outreach, Biden has not remedied Trump’s economic disengagement from Asia, nor has he made the investments necessary to maintain the United States’ military advantage. Chinese President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, has expanded his country’s military capabilities, domestic repression, and coercion of neighbors. He has upped China’s bid for Indo-Pacific economic leadership. Beijing even applied in September 2021 to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the successor to the TPP that the United States once championed. For these reasons, just hitting play again is not good enough. The Biden administration must not only sustain its current momentum but also broaden its actions in the Indo-Pacific, even as new crises arise in Ukraine and the Middle East. Biden especially needs to do more in the areas of economic statecraft and military deterrence—and to think creatively about how to do both. He must make clearer his approach to China, which has no intention of slowing its drive for regional dominance. The United States’ friends and allies in Asia will strongly support Biden if he acts boldly in the second and third years of his administration, but they will begin to lose their confidence if he does not. Especially after Trump, their patience is limited.

Threat of escalation critical to deterrence

Malkasian, 1-31, 22, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2022-01-31/master-deterrence. CARTER MALKASIAN, Chair of the Defense Analysis Department at the Naval Postgraduate School, is the author of The American War in Afghanistan: A History. From 2015 to 2019, he served as Senior Adviser to U.S. General Joseph Dunford, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Foreign Affairs, Master of Deterrence What Washington Could Learn From Robert Powell

In recent months, American policymakers have more than once found themselves contending with a danger that had for decades seemed consigned to the dustbin of Cold War history: the prospect of war with a nuclear-armed adversary. A clash with China over Taiwan has seemed more and more possible as U.S. and Chinese aircraft and vessels increase their presence in the Taiwan Strait. And in the past weeks, the Ukraine crisis has generated a risk of escalation with Russia that has sidelined all other foreign policy issues. Such challenges, coming in the wake of a years-long refocusing of U.S. defense strategy on competition with China and Russia, have put questions of deterrence back at the heart of U.S. strategic considerations. In the coming weeks and months, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is due to roll out its National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy, and Nuclear Posture Review. Deterrence—especially nuclear deterrence—is likely to be a centerpiece of all three. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks of “integrated deterrence,” which combines the full range of U.S. military capabilities (nuclear, conventional, space, and cyberspace) with diplomatic and economic tools. Other analysts argue that deterrence depends on strong military forces capable of defending against any aggression—“deterrence by denial”—or on imposing costs on an adversary. As this new generation of analysts and top national security officials grapples with updating deterrence for a time that may be even more challenging than the Cold War (given changes in technology, declining U.S. economic might, and a greater number of nuclear powers), they would do well to consider the work of Robert Powell, who served as Robson Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, until his death in December. An economist by training, Powell was responsible for groundbreaking research on game theory that shed light on aspects of deterrence often overlooked in today’s discourse. Policymakers and academia have yet to combine efforts to the degree that was the case in the Cold War. Most important, Powell explained how the risk of escalation is a fundamental of deterrence. The unavoidable chance of things sliding out of control can dominate the behavior of nuclear powers in crisis and in war, possibly more so than the balance of military or economic strength. In this situation, Powell noted how the balance of interests—which side places greater value in the stakes at play—matters for which side is better able to deter. The side with greater interests at stake can be more willing to face the risk of escalation. They simply care more. For U.S. policymakers today, that insight underscores the inevitable disadvantage they face in efforts to deter China and Russia from acting on what those countries consider critical interests, such as Taiwan and Ukraine. A hard reality is that the United States might be better off confronting Russia and China closer to home, where the United States has greater national interests at stake, where it is more willing to run the risk of escalation. Although most contemporary military officers and defense and intelligence analysts have been taught the rudiments of game theory, they generally lack knowledge of the more sophisticated methods that since the 1960s can help them make sound strategic decisions while accounting for such factors as dynamic interactions, multiple players, differing risk perceptions, and incomplete information. John Nash, Thomas Schelling, John Harsanyi, Reinhard Selten, and Roger Myerson all received Nobel Prizes for discoveries involving new applications of game theory. Powell was among the first to apply game theory to international relations. His 1990 book, Nuclear Deterrence Theory: The Search for Credibility, explores brinkmanship, cost imposition, counterforce, off-ramps, and the risk of surprise attack—all subjects that remain relevant today. His 1999 book, In the Shadow of Power: States and Strategies in International Politics, formally models fundamental international relations problems, examining diplomatic bargains, balancing domestic and defense spending, and shifts in the distribution of power and military technology. Powell refined the results of these experiments in a series of articles published between 2004 and 2020. In 2015, he produced one of the first formal models capable of integrating the dynamics of a conventional war with the dynamics of nuclear escalation. Risk and the balance of interests were recurrent themes in Powell’s work. Powell questioned the degree to which conventional military capabilities would remain relevant in a modern war between adversaries with recourse to nuclear weapons. The United States might successfully repel a Chinese assault on Taiwan, for example, yet that would not prevent China from escalating with nuclear strikes. Powell returned repeatedly to the concept of brinkmanship as defined by the pioneering American game theorist Thomas Schelling. Brinkmanship, Schelling wrote, “is a competition in risk-taking. It involves setting afoot an activity that may get out of hand, initiating a process that carries some risk of unintended disaster.” Powell was impressed by the notion that a war between states with nuclear second-strike capabilities would boil down to a competition in risk-taking. A state that highly values the stakes, he wrote in 2015, has “an incentive to adopt doctrines and deploy forces that make the use of force riskier and thus easier to transform a contest of military strength into a test of resolve.” Powell’s models focused on determining not relative military strength but which side had the greater stake in the issue at hand. Although a state may be able to bluff an adversary into backing down by feigning a greater stake, the side that genuinely has the greatest stake will likely tolerate more risk and display more endurance. This logic is apparent in the infamous veiled threat contained in Chinese Lieutenant General Xiong Guangkai’s remark to U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Chas Freeman during the Taiwan Strait crisis of 1996: “Americans care more about Los Angeles than they do about Taiwan.” The 2018 National Defense Strategy asserted that “the surest way to prevent war is to be prepared to win one.” Powell’s work counsels a very different approach to preventing war. Deterrence, he concluded, is best achieved by credibly signaling that any conflict would carry a higher risk of escalation than the adversary is willing to bear. The implication is that no new defense strategy can be complete without the risk of escalation front and center as fundamental to deterrence. China and Russia must recognize that the United States is credibly committed to bearing the risk of escalation if they conduct aggression. As part of the Biden administration’s ongoing drive to fortify alliances battered by COVID-19 and former U.S. President Donald Trump, the United States could reinforce the message by making it clear that willingness to bear risk applies to U.S. allies, to. Strengthening U.S. alliances raises the risks for Russia and China because alliances cannot be broken without incurring significant domestic and international political costs. A so-called tripwire strategy that positioned U.S. forces in places vulnerable to Chinese or Russian aggression so as to make a clash with the United States inevitable could help demonstrate commitment. Powell stressed that slowly ratcheting up risk via methods such as selective sanctions, discriminatory nonkinetic antisatellite capabilities, and precision conventional strikes, could also be an effective deterrent. This more gradual approach, he argued, was far safer than the sorts of strategies—full-scale blockades, indiscriminate destruction of satellites, or all-out counteroffensives—that effectively forced presidents toward the brink. THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-INTERROGATION Perhaps most important, Powell’s work compels policymakers to thoroughly interrogate American interests and goals to determine whether the United States truly has more at stake than its adversaries. Against a determined adversary, the risk of brinkmanship runs high. Brinkmanship that requires placing long-range strike systems in Ukraine or Taiwan, as Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev did in Cuba, would seem manifestly dangerous. In such cases, the solution is not to jettison brinkmanship and instead build more conventional forces. The solution, Powell would likely counsel, is to scale back policy goals and seek to cement one’s defensive and risk-taking posture for more plausibly vital interests. The United States can work to strengthen deterrence by reinforcing alliances, posturing forces as tripwires, and identifying multiple options to ratchet up risk. None of those steps, however, can alter an underlying imbalance of interests. The Biden administration’s new defense strategy could benefit most from a thorough analysis of those interests and clear-eyed thinking about where U.S. interests really lie. Deterrence should be more credible if the United States does not try to confront Russia over Ukraine and the Black Sea. Confronting China over Taiwan is a tougher question because of the island’s strategic position. Nevertheless, there should be a sober acceptance that U.S. willingness to confront China would surely be more credible over Japan, South Korea, or the Philippines. A strategy that inadvertently commits the United States to a greater risk of nuclear war than its interests bear benefits no one. The future that is coming into view differs from the bipolar competition of the Cold War. Even after his death, Powell’s work will continue to offer critical insights as we seek to safely navigate this future. Yet few scholars today can match Powell’s aptitude for combining theory, math, and strategy. As we again confront questions of nuclear and conventional deterrence, in a new and rapidly developing technological context, his guidance will be sorely missed.

Credibility answers: (1) Other factors matter more; (2) US can’t be credible due to the nature of its geography; (3) trying to protect credibility leads to war

Stephen M. Walt, a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University, 1-29, 2022, America Has an Unhealthy Obsession With Credibility, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/01/29/us-credibility-ukraine-russia-grand-strategy/?tpcc=recirc_latest062921

As many observers have commented, the most predictable feature of any debate about U.S. foreign policy is the ritual invoking of “credibility.” Whether the issue is Ukraine, Iran, Russia, Taiwan, Afghanistan, the global war on terror, or even trade policy, sooner or later someone is going to argue that failing to implement their preferred policy will do grievous harm to the United States’ reputation for resolve. Why is the United States so obsessed with this aspect of foreign policy? Is it an artifact of its political culture, a result of how international relations is taught in universities, or an odd quirk of America’s national history? Is it merely a handy refuge for hard-liners trying to justify actions that can’t be defended on other grounds or just a persistent mind-worm that the foreign-policy elite can’t get past? Or is it perhaps the direct consequence of U.S. grand strategy itself? Whatever the reason, I can’t think of another great power as concerned with preserving its own credibility as the United States has been for many years. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying the United States is the only country that worries about its reputation for resolve, nor am I suggesting that being perceived as credible isn’t valuable when dealing with friends and foes alike. Since World War II, however, the idea that a failure to respond to and decisively defeat any challenge would have baleful consequences for the United States has been a central theme of U.S. foreign-policy discourse. It is the key ingredient in the infamous Munich analogy—surely the most moth-eaten trope in the foreign-policy elite’s toolkit—but also central to the so-called domino theory and recurring fear that any sign of weakness would lead allies to abandon the United States and bandwagon to its foes. In 1968, for example, then-incoming U.S. National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger insisted that the United States had to fight on in Vietnam, even though he had apparently believed the United States could not hope to win the war. Why? Because he believed U.S. credibility was all-important: In his words, “nations can gear their actions to ours only if they can count on our steadiness.” Failing to respond when states act contrary to U.S. wishes supposedly invites further predations, which is why some observers of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision not to retaliate after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons encouraged Russian President Vladimir Putin to seize Crimea in 2014, even though direct evidence of a link is lacking and Putin might well have acted no matter what Obama did. Today, former U.S. officials claim that failing to respond with force to a Russian attack on Ukraine will invite a Chinese attack on Taiwan and “set the global system back decades,” said retired U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis to the New York Times. For the credibility-obsessed, in short, everything is connected to everything else, and even fairly minor events in one part of the world can have enormous repercussions thousands of miles away. Take this logic far enough and the credibility of U.S. commitments becomes the single most important source of peace and order in the world. Historian Hal Brands, U.S. diplomat Eric Edelman, and author Thomas Mahnken express this hard-line view perfectly: “If America’s credibility is strong, then adversaries will be deterred, allies will be reassured, and relative geopolitical stability will prevail. If American credibility is weak, then adversaries will be emboldened, allies will be unnerved, and geopolitical revisionism and aggression will proliferate. Opportunistic powers will gradually become more assertive on the theory that their aggression will not be punished; the international system will veer toward greater conflict and upheaval. … [I]t is the very foundation of international peace and stability.” The CIA helps Vietnamese evacuees. Children climb along the rotor of a wrecked U.S. Blackhawk helicopter. Left: A CIA employee helps Vietnamese evacuees onto a helicopter from the top of 22 Gia Long Street, a half mile from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, Vietnam, on April 29, 1975. BETTMANN ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES Right: Children climb along the rotor of a wrecked U.S. Blackhawk helicopter in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Oct. 14, 1993. SCOTT PETERSON/LIAISON VIA GETTY IMAGES This rather self-centered view of world affairs conveniently ignores those episodes where it was the United States that acted to disrupt “international peace and stability,” but never mind that for now. If the credibility of U.S. promises is the key to world peace, one wonders why the world didn’t come unglued after the United States lost in Vietnam, after North Korea got away with seizing the USS Pueblo and holding its crew prisoner for almost a year, after the Shah of Iran fell and the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was captured, after the Reagan administration’s hasty withdrawal from Lebanon in 1984, after the Black Hawk Down debacle in Somalia, or after former U.S. President Bill Clinton opted not to intervene in the Rwandan genocide. Maybe U.S. credibility is neither as fragile nor as essential as hard-liners think. More importantly, this view assumes that security guarantees—in particular, guarantees issued by the United States—are the main ingredient in global peace, leaving little or no role for negotiation, compromise, reassurance, or other diplomatic efforts to give potential rivals less reason to challenge the status quo. It is also worth noting that the positive effects of a successful defense of credibility never seem to last very long: No matter what the United States did the last time it was challenged, it has to respond as soon as a new problem emerges or else its newly won reputation for resolve may shatter like glass. As you might expect, scholars have explored these issues for years without reaching a clear consensus. Credibility skeptics—such as academics Jonathan Mercer, Ted Hopf, and Daryl Press—argue that concerns about credibility are generally exaggerated, especially when would-be challengers are trying to determine if another state will fight to defend a commitment. They point out that government officials rarely base their estimates of what another state will do on the basis of how that state acted in some unrelated context in the past. Rather, they base them on whether it has interests at stake that are worth defending and the capacity to act effectively. Other scholars have challenged this conclusion, however, arguing that individual leaders acquire reputations for resolve (or weakness) that persist over time and that past behavior can influence how potential challengers gauge a defender’s level of interest in a given commitment. States with good reputations may find it easier to form alliances too. There is also the strong possibility that reputation and credibility are issue-specific: Whether a state lives up to the terms of a trade deal may tell you next to nothing about its reliability as an ally or on an issue like arms control. The bottom line is that credibility and reputation operate in complex and contingent ways, and simple generalizations about them—such as the sort that politicians and pundits typically make—are often wrong. Credibility and reputation do matter in some circumstances, but how, why, and under what conditions remain exceedingly difficult to parse. (For a good summary of recent scholarly developments on this topic, see here.) I won’t try to sort out this complicated set of issues here. Instead, I want to suggest that the U.S. preoccupation with credibility is, to a large extent, a function of U.S. geopolitical position and grand strategy, especially the outsized international responsibilities the United States has assumed for itself. At the most basic level, credibility is the likelihood that a state will fulfill a promise or commitment as perceived by others. With respect to deterrence, for example, a threat to retaliate is credible if a potential challenger believes it is likely to be carried out. Even when a defending state is 100 percent willing to fulfill a particular commitment, deterrence can still fail if the challenger isn’t convinced. Commitments are not created equal, however. Some guarantees are inherently more credible than others because it is obviously in a state’s interest to uphold them. No one questions whether great powers will defend their own soil against attack, for example, and even weak states often fight fiercely to defend their home territory against more powerful invaders. Similarly, states are more likely to fight to defend important economic interests, such as access to critical resources. For this reason, U.S. pledges to defend access to energy supplies from the Persian Gulf were inherently credible because a significant reduction in energy exports from that region might be extremely costly. One might say something similar about the importance of defending Taiwan’s chip-making industry, which much of the world now depends on. During the Cold War, the United States’ commitment to defend its allies in Europe and Asia was also highly credible, especially if it could be done without using nuclear weapons, because significant Soviet expansion in either region might have tilted the global balance of power against the United States. By contrast, challengers are more likely to question a commitment when it is more difficult for them to see it as vital to the defender. The U.S. pledge to defend West Berlin during the Cold War was harder to demonstrate, for example, because the loss of West Berlin would not have affected the balance of power at all or had much of an impact on U.S. prosperity back home. West Berlin was an important symbol, of course, and U.S. leaders worked hard to make the pledge to defend it credible by explicitly tying it to the broader issue of Western resolve. They also kept enough troops there to make it impossible for the Warsaw Pact to seize the city without killing a lot of U.S. soldiers. A credible commitment was maintained, but it took more effort. In short, the more tenuous the link between a particular pledge and a country’s security and prosperity, the harder it will be to convince others that the commitment is rock-solid. In these situations, defenders are in effect trying to convince others that they are willing to do something that might not be in their short-term interest—such as being willing to do something where the short-term costs exceed the benefits—to convince challengers that their word is good and other commitments should not be threatened. They aren’t necessarily bluffing, but others are more likely to suspect this might be the case. Moreover, the greater the number of less-than-vital interests a country pledges to defend—that is, the more places it says it may fight to protect for less-than-vital stakes—the more other states will question both its willingness and ability to do all that it has promised. Trying to honor all those commitments may also be expensive, sapping both resolve and resources over time. Instead of bolstering one’s credibility, defending a lot of secondary interests for the sake of one’s future reputation may unintentionally undermine it. Here’s the real kicker: The United States has a credibility problem in part because its own geopolitical position is so favorable. There are relatively few interests that are truly vital to the United States’ independence or prosperity, yet it still maintains a far-flung global presence and has made a lot of promises to protect other countries. Start with the first point. By any measure, the United State is still the most secure great power in history. It possesses the world’s largest economy in nominal terms, there are no great-power rivals near its borders, its nuclear deterrent consists of thousands of sophisticated nuclear weapons, and it has powerful conventional military forces. No country is going to attack the U.S. homeland directly, attempt to blockade it, or directly threaten the American way of life. These features do not insulate Americans from all global dangers—including contagious viruses—but what country wouldn’t trade places with the United States if it could? On the one hand, this favorable geopolitical position makes it possible for the United States to intervene all over the world for the simple reason that it doesn’t have to worry very much about defending its own territory. But on the other hand, this also means it has less immediate need to take on ambitious foreign-policy missions. U.S. military deployments and overseas commitments aren’t primarily about defending U.S. soil directly or protecting American lives at home. Rather, they are about trying to shape events in distant regions in ways that U.S. leaders think will spread a desirable set of values or enhance U.S. security—or both. What this situation implies, however, is that there are few overseas commitments where it is unmistakably clear to friends, foes, and itself why the United States should fight for them. Please note: I’m not arguing for isolationism here; as I’ve written repeatedly, I think the United States has a vital interest in helping preserve favorable balances of power in key strategic areas (specifically, East Asia, Europe, and—to a lesser extent—the Persian Gulf). I am simply pointing out that potential challengers have reasons to wonder if every one of the United States’ overseas pledges is something the country would truly be willing to send its children to die for. During the Cold War, the United States took on an array of global missions, most of them directly linked to its broad strategy of containment. But U.S. ambitions grew even larger once the Cold War was over, and Washington spent the next three decades trying to create a global liberal order under its own supposedly benevolent leadership. Today, there are dozens of places where the United States is engaged, committed, obligated, and in some way expected to act should trouble emerge but where it is hard to demonstrate that truly vital interests are at stake. In these circumstances, other states are bound to question whether the United States would really do what it has promised to do or whether it would stay the course should fulfilling the stated mission prove more difficult than expected. That is why U.S. leaders worry so much about credibility and why they look for opportunities to demonstrate resolve. They are hoping that a demonstration of firmness will convince other challengers not to try their luck, thereby making it less likely that other commitments will need to be defended. The danger, of course, is that this powerful need to demonstrate credibility will lead U.S. leaders to fight in places that don’t matter very much in the hopes it makes it less likely that they will have to fight in places that do. But there’s another option: The United States can make its commitments and guarantees more credible to others by being more careful and discriminating when making them. A more selective, realistic, rational, and restrained approach to overseas commitments will make the ones that remain more credible because the United States’ interest in meeting them will be readily apparent to potential challengers. Carefully drawn commitments are also more likely to command more enthusiastic support from the American people, not just when answering a pollster’s question but also when they are called on to make genuine sacrifices to fulfill them.

Strong US hard power projection in Asia needed to create an equilibrium 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.