Replacing America

by Clifford D. May

China’s communist rulers intend to establish a new world order.

(JNS / The Washington Times) It’s been said that the last thing a fish is likely to be aware of is water. By the same token, the last thing most Americans are likely to be aware of is the world order.

There has always been a world order. For millennia, it was based on the law of the jungle: eat or be eaten.

Humans who were clever enough to organize into tribes became stronger. Stronger tribes conquered weaker tribes and became nations. Stronger nations conquered weaker nations and became empires.

Empires—usually colonial empires—imposed taxes, laws and sometimes religions on those they conquered.

European empires dominated much of the world from the 16th to the 20th centuries. But before that there were Persian empires, Arab and Muslim empires, Mongol empires, African empires and South American empires.

World War II was fought to prevent German and Japanese empires from conquering Europe, Asia and beyond.

After the defeat of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan, the sun set on Europe’s other empires.

The United States, which had become the most militarily and economically powerful nation, began constructing what would become known as the “American-led, international, liberal, rules-based order.”

It supported the self-determination of nations (many carved from empires), the development of international laws and norms, and the promotion of “human rights.”

To further these objectives, Americans founded an organization hopefully named the United Nations and gave the Soviet Union a permanent seat and veto on the U.N. Security Council.

Nevertheless, Stalin soon forced the nations of Eastern and Central Europe into the Soviet empire.

The collapse of the USSR in 1991 provided the United States with a “unipolar moment.”

But moments are fleeting. We are now in what many perceive as a new cold war. The People’s Republic of China, the most powerful Communist regime in history, intends to end America’s global primacy.

Increasingly aligned with Beijing are the unfree, anti-democratic, anti-American and anti-Western regimes that rule Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.

As for the U.N., it’s failed. For one, the repressive regimes in China and Cuba currently sit on its Human Rights Council.

For another, a U.N. entity has served for almost 20 years as the social services agency for Hamas, thereby leaving the terrorist organization free to plan the war it launched against Israel last October.

Third, during the COVID epidemic, the U.N.’s World Health Organization unceasingly parroted Beijing’s deceptive talking points.

I could go on.

Matt Pottinger, who served as Deputy National Security Advisor in the Trump administration and now chairs the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ China program, has studied the beliefs and intentions of Chinese leader Xi Jinping as revealed in writings and speeches in Mandarin to his Chinese Communist Party (CCP) comrades.

In testimony before Congress last year, Mr. Pottinger explained that Xi’s unambiguous goal is to overturn “U.S. leadership around the globe.”

To accomplish that, Xi has said, will require a “struggle” with America and the West, one that is “irreconcilable” and “will inevitably be long, complicated and sometimes even very sharp.”

Based on this and abundant additional evidence—Beijing’s military buildup, disinformation campaigns and trafficking of fentanyl into the U.S.—it is folly to pretend that the U.S. and China are merely “rivals” engaged in a “pacing challenge,” a “competition” that can be “managed” through “trust-building.”

“It does us little good,” Pottinger told Congress, “to repeat again and again that we aren’t seeking a new Cold War when the CCP has been stealthily waging one against us for years.”

The alternative, he said, is “to constrain and temper Xi’s ambitions now through robust, coordinated military deterrence (including an urgent expansion of our defense-industrial capacity) and through strict limits on China’s access to technology, capital and data controlled by the United States and its allies.”

America’s goal should be to prevent Xi from establishing a new world order—what he calls “A Community of Common Destiny for Mankind”—that would be illiberal with rules made by the CCP.

To achieve this and to keep this new cold war from turning hot requires that Xi and other adversaries perceive that America’s military and economic power is vastly superior to theirs and that Americans have the will to utilize their power when necessary.

President Joe Biden’s capitulation to the Taliban, his slow-drip support for Ukraine’s resistance to Russian imperialism, his attempts to appease Iran’s jihadi rulers, his so-far-unsuccessful response to attacks by Houthi rebels (a proxy of Tehran) on ships in one of the world’s most strategic waterways and his ambivalent support for Israel’s war against Hamas (another proxy of Tehran) while cutting the U.S. defense budget in real terms have conveyed weakness and fecklessness.

To the world’s sharks, that’s blood in the water.

Pottinger calls his proposed policy “constrainment” because, unlike “containment,” it takes into consideration the current reality of Sino-American economic interdependence. But this policy would “seek to puncture Beijing’s confidence that it can achieve its aims through war.”

At the same time, America’s economy should be strengthened in ways that ensure that China becomes more dependent on the U.S. and the U.S. less dependent on China.

Will this policy revive the “American-led, international, liberal, rules-based order”? Probably not, but it could ensure the survival of a free America and an America-led Free World.

If your objection to this approach is that it will be costly, let me remind you that deterrence is cheap compared to the price of hot wars. That is a fundamental principle upon which the Reagan doctrine of “peace through strength” rests.

It applies to the current “struggle” as much as it did to the first Cold War, a conflict President Reagan understood Americans could not afford to lose.

Originally published by The Washington Times.

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