"Biden Seeks Allies For War On China.html"
Moon of Alabama (June 10, 2021)
U.S. President Joe Biden is currently in Europe.
President Biden @POTUS - 14:26 UTC · Jun 10, 2021
I believe we are at an inflection point in history. A moment where it falls to us to prove that democracies will not just endure — they will excel as we rise to seize the enormous opportunities of this new age.
Democracies excel against whom?
According to the Democracy Perception Index 2020 73% of the people in China say that their country is democratic. Only 48% in the United States see their country as such.
China is indeed rising to the "enormous opportunities of this new age". The U.S., well, not so much. And that is the crux of the whole situation [emphasis added].
Biden's tweet is gibberish. A good translation of what he really meant is probably this:
chinahand @chinahand - 14:55 UTC · Jun 10, 2021
It's how the more homely and honest "we have to f*ck up china before it eats America's lunch" gets translated into faux Churchill hero speak. Suspect Jake Sullivan lobbied for the existential crisis for democracy angle coz why wud Europe line up to just to save America's ass?
Biden is in Europe to ask its leaders to support the U.S. in its efforts against China (and Russia). But that is not in Europe's interest:
The President and his advisors would do well to remember that while former Belgian foreign minister Mark Eyskens famously said that Europe is a political dwarf, he also called it an economic giant. As several U.S. presidents have discovered, the subservience of European countries to the United States stops as soon as European wallets are involved [emphasis added]. This was demonstrated most recently in Germany’s adamant refusal to bow to U.S.pressure to abandon the North Stream gas pipeline from Russia.
A degree of common Western economic pushback against China is legitimate and necessary in two areas: Chinese behavior that clearly breaks universally accepted rules, as in the area of intellectual property theft; and control of vital national infrastructure. After all, the Chinese defend their own technological expertise, and they will never allow foreign control of essential sectors of the Chinese economy [emphasis added].
The Biden administration however seems to want to go much further than this, to effectively shut China out from any important say in shaping the rules of the international economy, and greatly restrict Chinese investment and infrastructural development outside China. This strategy is doomed to failure, and will cause deep divisions between the United States, Europe and Japan.
Europe won't line up behind the U.S. for its great war on China. And a war it is gonna be:
“I see stiff competition with China,” Biden said at the White House. “They have an overall goal to become the leading country in the world, the wealthiest country in the world and the most powerful country in the world. That’s not going to happen on my watch, because United States is going to continue to grow and expand.”
China will also continue to grow and expand - only at a faster rate than the U.S.
The U.S. lost the competition when it, in the early 1990s, declared itself to be the sole superpower. It lost when it pushed for globalization and free trade. It lost when it let its finance, insurance and real estate sectors of its economy run amok in 2000, in 2007 (and again now). It lost when I broke its promise not to expand NATO to Russia's border. It lost when it decided to a wage a war of terror in the Middle East [emphasis added]
All the above gave China the 30 years it needed to catch up and to overtake the U.S. It has three times the population. It now has all the necessary infrastructure and industries. It graduates some 4.7 million per year in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) while the U.S. has only 600,000 STEM graduates per year [emphasis added].
The U.S. became the primier power after World War II because the industrial capacities of all other powers had been destroyed by the war. To regain such a position the U.S. would have to engineer a war that would destroy China's industrial capabilities. A civil war within China could achieve that. But the color-revolution the U.S. incited in China in 1989 has failed and any new attempt to incite some strife will now be much more difficult. An external war waged on China is even more difficult because China is a nuclear power which can shoot back.
What the U.S. could do is not to attempt to out compete China. I could instead try to make it instrumental for its purposes.
Despite being on the winning side in both World Wars the British empire did not survive the carnage. Its role was taken over by the more powerful United States. But Britain did keep a role on the world stage that was (and is) disproportionate to its size. It managed to do so by making itself useful to the U.S. and by fostering a special relationship with its successor.
Could the U.S. try to get into a similar position in its relation with China? I believe that might be possible to a certain degree. It would be useful for China to grant the U.S. some special privileges if that avoids the costs of outright hostilities. But I also think that the U.S., for cultural reasons, will never try to get into such an agreement. It simply does not want to play number two [emphasis added].
So where do we go from here?
The most likely path is a more aggressive United States which uses its presumed advantages to attack China's capabilities below the level of open warfare.
Cyber warfare is a field in which the U.S. has already invested a lot. If its uses those capabilities, unacknowledged and in a destructive way, China's industries could be seriously harmed. The effects of random electricity failures, burning refineries and unreliable communication networks would accumulate to a slow down of China's growth. Ransomware like attacks on the Chinese banking system could leave its markets in chaos.
I am sure that there are a number of people in the Pentagon who are wargaming such scenarios. If history is any guide they will downplay the reactions and capabilities of their opponent. They might even be able to lure a president into signing off such a mission.
In the big picture though that would not change much. China would hit back against badly defended U.S. cyber targets. The skirmish would continue for several months but would end in a no-winner situation. After that it would be back to a cold war. The strategic situation would still be the same.
The U.S. can not win against China. How long will it take for it to recognize that? [emphasis added]