To be honest, I thought this essay got mixed up and replaced the words China/Russia with “US” because everything it says about China/Russia is true about the US:
Russia and China’s Dangerous Decline (non-paywall version here)
The risk of war arises not because they’re strong but because they foresee their advantages slipping away. By Andrew A. Michta
The risk of confrontation between the U.S. and China is greater than it has been in decades, and a broader war, triggered by a Chinese action against Taiwan, is a possibility. In “Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?” (2017), Graham Allison likened the situation to the Peloponnesian War, which the Athenian historian thought inevitable because Sparta feared the rising power of Athens.
This is a great analogy. But things are about to go downhill:
Yet the real reason for the current tensions has less to do with the decline and rise of great powers than with threat perceptions, balance-of-power estimates, autonomous assessments and internal decisions that have been driving China—and Russia—for several years now. (They have increasingly aligned in their opposition to the U.S. and the post-Cold War international order.) The rising threat of high-intensity state-on-state war is driven by the growing elite conviction in Beijing and Moscow that their power disadvantage relative to the U.S. and its allies will worsen unless they move soon, making victory increasingly unattainable.
Okay, wait–what? Why on earth would they feel that they’re losing ground to the US?
There are three principal reasons why China and Russia may want to confront the U.S. and its allies sooner rather than later, possibly within five years. First, the U.S. military will require time to restructure and refit away from counterterrorism and toward high-intensity state-on-state great-power conflict. The Army Modernization Strategy published in 2019 sets 2035 as the deadline for transforming the Army into a multidomain-capable force. From a Russian or Chinese perspective, that means each additional year will shift imbalances, which currently favor them in some areas, in America’s favor.
This makes sense.
But couldn’t you also argue that such a move on the part of the US is being made from a position of fear, so that the US can wage and win a war against China/Russia before it’s too late for the US?
Seems like the US is the one that wants to fight the war sooner rather than later, but that’s just me.
The second factor is domestic conditions in the U.S. and Europe. Western democracies are buffeted by the trifecta of Covid-19; increasingly brazen mass in-migration, to which their governments seem unable to respond effectively; and the cresting cultural revolution, especially in the U.S., which is likely to peak within the next two years.
How can you know this for sure?
All have strained national cohesion across the West, fed distrust in government, and sowed seeds of doubt that legacy democratic institutions and processes are able to meet the basic requirements of governance and satisfy the citizenry. Once America has moved beyond its current internal 1970s-style turbulence, a reconsolidated U.S., with its key manufacturing supply chains re-shored back from China, will present Beijing and Moscow with a far more formidable foe than today.
OKAY, HOLD ON. HOLD IT. I’m gonna have to stop you right there. We need to break this down one-by-one because this guy is making some massive assumptions here.
For one, how can you just assume that America will sipmly move beyond its “current internal 1970s-style turbulence”? This country has been bitterly divided and fracturing for almost two decades now. Obama couldn’t reunite the country. Trump couldn’t, and arguably made it more divided. And Biden doesn’t even know what day of the week it is.
The “turbulence” in America right now is not just some blip. It is a product of the fact that the American economy is stagnant and hollowed-out–a nearly-lifeless husk being bled dry by the financier class. Economic deficiencies exacerbate and inflame political divisions. How can you just assume that within the next 24 months, all will magically be well in America and everyone will be singing kumbaya and holding hands?
It is literally the core strategy of the political elite to provoke and maintain these divisions among the American people. How on earth can you assume it will abruptly abandon this strategy, no big deal?
And “re-shoring key manufacturing supply chains back from China.” That’s just going to magically happen, too? American multinational corporations are just going to decide they’re fine with losing money by moving manufacturing back to the US? They’re going to suddenly and magically stop being greedy, soulless and profit-driven?
So to recap: once America completely reorients its entire military away from counterterrorism, once it quells the growing domestic rebellion against its rotted and corrupt government, and once it completely reorients its entire economy to be less reliant on Chinese manufacturing–then WATCH OUT, FOLKS! Nobody had better mess with the US of A!
These are massive, massive assumptions, and the author of the piece, Andrew Michta, is making them like they’re nothing. Oh? Undoing the past 25 years of globalization and offshoring of American manufacturing to Asia? Yeah, no biggie. We’ll take care of that–2-3 years tops. We’ll reverse the whole thing. Bing, bang, boom. Done.
This would be like if I said, “You know, I’m going to be president someday.” And you replied, “How, though?” And I was like, “Oh, you know I’m just going to get elected to Congress, then get elected to the Senate, make a bunch of powerful friends, maybe become a governor, and then I’ll run for President and win. You know, pretty simple process.”
How much is this guy Andrew Michta being paid, and by whom? You do not just say stuff this idiotic on your own accord.
A good indicator is the recent reports that the U.S. has made a qualitative leap in hypersonic missile technology, likely to nullify the edge Russia and China had hoped to maintain through the investment in their own programs. Notwithstanding their blustery propaganda, Beijing and Moscow are keenly aware that America’s research-and-development base can be mobilized to improve U.S. capabilities. Time is on America’s side when it comes to the quality and sophistication of its weapon systems.
LOL, so the US is just now starting to catch up to China and Russia in hypersonic missile technology, and that’s supposed to scare them? China just deployed a missile from outer space, and the US’s response was to promote the transgender Rachel Levine to four-star Admiral.
The new Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified to the Senate that he believes “gender advisers” are critical to the United States military.
Our military has been kneecapped by wokeness. On top of this, we’re purging the military of soldiers who refuse to get vaccinated, because our government cares more about Pfizer’s profit margins than it does our military (as well as the lives of our troops, but we’ve long known they view our troops as disposable).
And what happens when China takes over Taiwan, a nation that produces 63% of the world’s semiconductors? Taiwan is also the place where iPhones are made. What happens to America then?
What happens to our much-discussed Technological Edge?
The third factor: internal pressures building within Chinese and Russian societies. For both countries, population trends and current projections paint a devastating picture. In 2021 China reported its first projected population decline since the famine that accompanied Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap Forward” in the late 1950s. With the official birthrate of 1.3 children per woman—far below the replacement rate of 2.1, and in part a result of the now-relaxed one-child policy—there are credible projections that China’s population will peak in 2022, and that births will continue to decline and deaths will surpass births by six million in 2025. Russia’s population is projected to decline from 146 million today to 121 million in 2050.
Projections are merely projections. As authoritarian states, China and Russia can both take drastic action to turn around their declining populations. They are already doing so.
And America’s population growth is slowing to a crawl, too. Why no mention of that? American elites seem determined to slow the growth of the US population, actually. The promote abortion, feminism, environmental extremism and LGBT–all things that contribute to slower population growth.
America has normalized and mainstreamed pornography, which is another major drag on population growth rates. Russia, meanwhile, has banned it. China has it banned, too, and remains in an ongoing struggle against online porn. The Chinese and Russians know that people who watch porn are less likely to actually go out, meet women and start families. America’s leaders seem perfectly happy with the country’s next generation being shot into tissues and socks. FREEDOM, BABY!
Okay, sorry for that visual but it’s the truth.
Historically, wars have often started because of miscalculations based on unsound intelligence estimates and underestimating the enemy. In the case of U.S. strategic competition with China and Russia, the risk of war has grown not because of their rise but because of how China and Russia assess the real near-term implications of Washington’s decision to refocus its defense strategy on the fundamentals of great-power competition and conflict instead of counterterrorism and nation building. Whether war breaks out will depend on how badly Beijing and Moscow fear the global power shift in the next decade and how eager they will be to exploit their perceived current relative advantages to remake the world.
This guy acts like the US is the up-and-coming power. What is he talking about? The US is a stagnant and dying empire. Joe Biden is the American empire personified. He is the perfect representative for the state America is in regarding world affairs: old, decrepit and on the way out.
The US population is thoroughly exhausted by 20 years of pointless and fruitless wars. There is no appetite for war in the US at all.
Trust in the US government is at an all-time low, and I’d say it’s more likely the US government is overthrown by its own people than it is to win a war against the combined forces of China and Russia.
If anything, the US government would stage a false flag attack on its own citizens and use it as an excuse to launch a massive war against a foreign power as a last-gasp effort to rally its fracturing populace around the flag, 1984-style.
We are not on the way up. China and Russia are on the way up. We’re on the way down.
Russia just inked a massive new agreement with India that includes oil and defense, and points to a burgeoning relationship between the two nations. India was supposed to be the US’s counter-balance to China in Asia, but now it appears India is trending towards the China/Russia side.
China, meanwhile, is returning to its role in the world, not ascending to it. We’ve merely been keeping the seat warm over the past century or so.
To illustrate this point, consider this chart that shows the share of the world economy represented by the great powers of the world over the past 300 years or so:
And this chart is from 2008. China is even closer to the US today.
China has always been the biggest economy in the world, but for about a 100 period, China fell on some very hard times, and mainly because of actions taken against it by Western Powers, primarily Britain. In China, the period of 1839-1949 is known as the “Century of Humiliation.” During this time, China was ravaged by widespread opium addiction, largely facilitated by the British East India Company. The European powers took advantage of the fact that China was not a modernized nation and basically they partitioned China and appropriate all its economic resources and valuable territories for themselves.
The Century of Humiliation is over, and China has largely recovered, but it has not forgotten any of it. In fact, the hardships China suffered at the hands of Western Powers during the Century of Humiliation largely drive Chinese foreign policy toward the West today.
China’s economy is growing faster than ours. It’s slowing, but it’s still growing faster than ours, and they are going to surpass us in terms of GDP at some point in the next decade. Ray Dalio says China is winning the economic race against the US.
On top of this, China is basically taking over Africa and its vast supply of natural resources, and it is doing so largely unchecked by Western Powers, who are still scarred and stigmatized in Africa by the legacy of colonialism.
The CIA just admitted that they simply cannot operate effectively in China and are basically guessing about what Xi will do next. Our intelligence-gathering in China is impotent. Anything they do will take us by surprise.
Militarily, the US just got throughly embarrassed in Afghanistan.
We have a record of 1-4 in our past 5 wars: we lost Afghanistan, we lost Iraq, we lost Vietnam and we lost Korea. And in Korea, we lost to the Chinese, who at the time were not only decades behind us economically, technologically and militarily, they were also just a few short years removed from their own long, bloody civil war. And they were still able to beat us all the way back down to the 38th parallel.
Our only “win” in a war since the end of WW2 was the first Gulf War in 1991, but that wasn’t even a full-blown war. It was more like the prelude to the Iraq War, followed by a 12-year pause, and then when we actually launched a full-blown invasion of Iraq, sure, we got rid of Saddam, but we ultimately could not hold the country. And despite the war in Iraq officially “ending” a decade ago, we still have a military presence in the country and are still barely hanging on against a resurgent ISIS and an Iran that is always waiting in the wings to move in and take over once we leave.
This idea that America is pulling away from China and Russia is simply not reflective of reality.
This article in the Wall Street Journal has the whole reality of international affairs flipped on its head.
The more likely scenario was that US, the slipping former world hegemon, was moved out of desperation into preemptive war against China/Russia in an effort to prevent them from ever becoming powerful enough to challenge American supremacy.
But now I don’t even think that’s possible. I think it’s too late for that now. Even assuming the US could defeat a China-Russia military axis, there is absolutely no appetite for such a war in America. We simply do not have the will to fight anymore.
Americans now rightly see the wars waged by the ruling class not as wars of necessity, defensive and beneficial to the nation at large, but as offensive and imperialistic wars fought primarily to maintain the wealth and power of the ruling class.
The US government does not have anywhere near the level of public support needed to go to war with a country like China or Russia–much less both at the same time.
Next year, Russia is likely to invade Ukraine and push its borders further West into Europe.
There is also a strong chance China finally invades and conquers Taiwan, something it has been wanting to do for over 70 years and now sees a golden opportunity to do with US hegemony in the world receding.
Imagine how delusional one must be to view those developments as evidence of American strength, and of Chinese and Russian weakness and insecurity.
The one fear I have, and the one thing we cannot rule out, is the potential for the US government to stage a false flag attack on its own citizens and use that as a reason to go to war. This is the only chance the US government has of gaining public support for a war with China/Russia. Even this is a longshot, though.
And that’s my ultimate takeaway from this ridiculous article in the Wall Street Journal. They are trying to mentally prepare Americans for a potential “attack” on us by the supposedly insecure Chinese and/or Russians.
That’s the whole premise of the article, basically: “China and Russia are weak, and they might attack us because we’re pulling away from them!”
It is not true. If anything, the opposite is true. The WSJ article should be titled “America’s dangerous decline,” instead of “Russia and China’s dangerous decline.”
In March of 1992, the New York Times ran a front-page story entitled “US STRATEGY PLAN CALLS FOR INSURING NO RIVALS DEVLEOP — A ONE SUPERPOWER WORLD — Pentagon’s document outlines ways to thwart challenges to primacy of America.”
In the immediate post-Cold War era, after America’s decades-long mission of defeating the Soviet Union was finally achieved, the American foreign policy establishment turned its vision toward a new goal, now that it had become the undisputed superpower of the world: maintaining the status quo. This has been the overriding foreign policy goal of the United States for nearly 30 years now.
“With its focus on this concept of benevolent domination by one power, the Pentagon document articulates the clearest rejection of to date of collective internationalism, the strategy that emerged from World War II when the five victorious powers sought to form a United Nations that could mediate disputes and police outbreaks of violence.”
The US government seeks to “benevolently dominate” the world, and it has been for 30 years.
Benevolently, of course.
Everything you hear from the government and the media is in pursuit of this grand objective of “benevolent domination.”
Do not let the Wall Street Journal article fool you. China and Russia are not worried about us; we’re worried about them.
At least our government is.
If it seems like I am being anti-American, I can assure that is not the case.
It is because I am a patriotic American who loves his country that I do not want America to go to war with China and Russia.
We do not need to be the world’s superpower anymore. What has it gotten us? Look where we are now.
A unipolar world is too much of a burden on the nation at the top of the totem pole. It never lasts.
America is currently stretched too thin. We are trying to run the world, meanwhile America itself is falling apart. We don’t need any added burdens to the burdens we already have.
On the matter of the rise of Russia and China and how it affects America’s place in the world, I’m sorry, but this is a problem for the ruling class, not for us regular Americans.
Our ruling class is comprised of power-hungry psychopaths bent on world domination. The American people do not have the same goals. Sorry. We just want peace and prosperity. That’s it.
How would war with China and Russia bring peace and prosperity? It obviously wouldn’t. It would bring the opposite of peace and prosperity.
It would only allow the ruling class to have a puncher’s chance at maintaining (perhaps “regaining” is the proper word) their dominance over the world.
In fact, for the average American, it might actually be a good thing, on balance, if China and Russia ascended to the point where they are consistently able to check the US government in world affairs.
Monopoly is a bad thing, right? Well doesn’t that also apply to power as well, in terms of foreign policy?
It’s not good for the world if one nation and one nation only is calling the shots. Too much power is concentrated in one place.
Russia and China are the only countries that have the potential to knock the US government and our ruling class down a peg.
I think that would be a good thing, quite honestly.
For us–the American people–that is.
Wasn’t America better off when we had the Soviet Union to counterbalance our power in the world?
Things have been pretty shitty for America in the 21st century. There was maybe a decade period after the collapse of the Soviet Union where things were pretty damn good: peace (relatively), prosperity, and America in charge of the world. The 1990s. The biggest problem in America in the 1990s was the president getting a blowjob.
Then came the 2000s, and 9-11, two wars in the Middle East, and a Global Financial Crisis. Then we had Obama, Libya, Syria and ISIS–which caused Europe’s worst migration crisis in modern history. Then came Trump, the fake Russiagate nonsense, and the Chinese coronavirus.*
It’s like 9-11 set a fire in Western Civilization and that fire has just been growing and getting worse the past 20 years.
I don’t know, man. Seems like this whole “One Superpower World” thing hasn’t really worked out all that well, even for us.
In fact, it feels like things in our neck of the woods have gone to hell in a handbasket since we lost the Soviet Union as a check on our government’s** power.
*If you needed any further proof that America has fallen off, look no further than China not facing any accountability at all for Covid. Plus the fact that Anthony Fauci, the co-creator of Covid, is somehow not in a maximum-security cell in Guantanamo Bay enjoying a steady diet of cockmeat sandwiches.
**By “government” I predominantly mean, of course, The Agency That Must Not Be Named; the one, the only, the sea eye yay. I mean, yeah, of course, the whole US government in general for sure, but chiefly the sea eye yay.