Fear is a powerful weapon. When the fear of a coronavirus can shut down the world, there is little wonder that our opportunistic diplomats will embellish Chinese threats to strike fear in the hearts and minds of the NATO nations. (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
To continue the confrontation approach of the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations is foolish. To increase U.S. Navy patrols in waters near China, sanctioning Chinese leaders, and issuing public demands will only provoke obstinate and retaliatory behavior from China.
Secretary of State Blinken just recently continued this foolish confrontational approach. At the recent March 2021 NATO Headquarters Summit, he warned of the global threats that we face. He included climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, economic inequality, and an increasingly assertive China.
Blinken categorized the three global threats as; 1) Military, 2) Technology, Economic and Information Threat, and 3) Environmental. Blinken specifically identified China as the culprit in two of the three threats and indirectly indicate them in the third. Leaving little doubt that the Biden Administration considers China to be the #1 Global Threat.
According to the Secretary, China has threatened freedom of navigation, militarized the South China Sea, and has increased its military capabilities. Blinken claims that the Beijing military ambitions are growing by the year with new military capabilities and strategies. And that its modernized technology challenge that once seemed half a world away is no longer remote.
Blinken targets China and Russia as the primary perpetrators of the Technology, Economic, and Information threat. He claims they conduct disinformation campaigns to fuel distrust in our democracies and cyberattacks on infrastructure, stealing intellectual property, and blatant economic coercion aimed at Australia.
MORE, MORE, MORE
Most concerning are his more, more and more solution. More modernization to improve our military capabilities and readiness against Beijing increased use of resources, markets, and technologies to pressure our allies and drive wedges between us. More help to push back, if necessary, when China uses coercion or aggression to get its way.
Display more strength in the East and South China Seas to ensure a free, open, inclusive, and healthy Indo-Pacific region, unconstrained by coercion and anchored by democratic values.
More cooperation with following U.S. sanctions on individuals engaged in the atrocities against Uyghurs in Xinjian China. And more togetherness to stand firm against any retaliatory response by China to send the message against bullying tactics.
More alliances to ensure that our strategic nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure, and effective. Expansion of our ability to address transnational threats, like its 5G surveillance technology. More cooperation is needed to counter the Chinese coercive behavior. And more effort to prevent China from undercutting the rules of the international system. Finally, more values exerting coercive pressure to use its technology and infrastructure.
Diplomacy is not counterproductive muscle flexing with China. Diplomacy is to stop spending money and resources to confront China. If we continue to misuse diplomacy, the U.S. will eventually exhaust itself. Attempting to contain Beijing in its backyard will only increase the risk of direct conflict with a nuclear-armed state.
China is a rival. We must recognize our interests sometimes align, sometimes diverge, and sometimes do not intersect. The U.S. policy should reflect that reality. Washington must be able to compete where necessary while preserving the ability to cooperate in areas of mutual concern.
The U.S. should engage China on the diplomatic and economic fronts to redress intellectual property rights issues, rely on our existing powerful military deterrent, and encourage our regional partners to bolster their defenses.
China has undergone a diplomatic, economic and military modernization that has seen them rise to become the second-largest economy and a potent regional military power. China underwent an economic and diplomatic evolution that has a global reach. But its military development has been local and regional nature.
China has taken controversial actions; they have militarized artificial islands in the South China Sea, have imposed a restrictive new National Security Law in Hong Kong, and continue threatening force to reunify with Taiwan. The Washington blob argues, these actions have initiated a global military threat that American military power must counter.
The Chinese armed forces focus on; 1) building the capacity to make good on their long-standing threat to reunify Taiwan and 2) deterring the U.S. from intervening militarily in Taiwan.
They are building assault ships, beach landing craft, and missile forces in preparation for an invasion of Taiwan and have engaged in constructing considerable anti-access, area-denial (A2/AD) defensive belts to prevent American attacks against the Chinese homeland.
China shares a land border with 14 countries and sea borders with several more. These include nuclear powers such as Russia, India, North Korea, and Pakistan and potent regional powers like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Beijing is far more concerned with regional security than in launching into territorial conquest elsewhere. The United States borders two vast oceans and two friendly countries. China is in a far more vulnerable position.
The Chinese leadership has its hands full trying to maintain local and regional security. It remains far more interested in developing its economy than in any consideration of threatening to attack other countries around the world, much less the United States.
China has not created the physical ability to project sufficient power abroad for territorial conquest. Chinese warships are not sailing down the East Coast into the Caribbean; Beijing is not filling Latin America with bases and troops; Chinese officials are not attempting to dictate American policy regarding Cuba. China is not demanding aggressive posturing in the Western Hemisphere to contain America.
Where is the threat? The threat is to the American taxpayer. Those of us that continually finance the latest military expansion. In a security state, the military budgets never get cut. Because when the expenses of one war diminish, another conflict starts. After all, the trick to maintain and expand a government budget is spending all of it.
The U.S. should not go to war with a nuclear-armed power over worthless rocks, or the sovereignty of Scarborough Shoal, or the Chinese interest in reuniting Taiwan. Washington has to know that NATO will not join an American crusade against China. Blinken is foolish to expect NATO to send a task force to the Indo-Pacific to help drive the Chinese navy back into their territorial waters?
At the 2021 Munich Security Conference, President Biden promised, “the United States is fully committed to our NATO Alliance.” He went on to say, ” we’ll keep faith with Article 5. It’s a guarantee. An attack on one is an attack on all. That is our unshakable vow. “
Then the NATO Summit, Secretary of State Blinken also mentioning the Article 5 clause of NATO, promising to go to war for other countries. Whether these promises are pre-game prep talks or bluster, they are playing with fire. Please don’t poke the Dragon.