Friday, July 30, 2021

The Institute For Peace & Diplomacy


RCEP in the Contest between Washington and Beijing

By Douglas Macgregor

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s visit to Beijing got off to a rocky start this week in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin. Almost before Sherman could commence on the now nearly perfunctory display of U.S. grandstanding and the obligatory lecture on norms and values, Xie Feng, China’s assistant foreign minister, told her in the bluntest of terms that China’s leaders have no patience for her “serious concerns” about China’s strategic agenda, let alone her moralizing, self-righteous tone.

Accustomed to bullying foreign heads of state and their diplomats on topics ranging from human rights and trade to climate change, Sherman—who started her career in social work—seems to have genuinely expected the Chinese to listen to Washington’s litany of complaints. That delusion is not Wendy Sherman’s alone. 

As he travels across Asia, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is attacking China for its “aggression against India, destabilizing military activity and other forms of coercion against the people of Taiwan, and genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.” Austin’s agenda also involves buttressing the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD). Consisting of the United States, Japan, Australia, and India, the QUAD is widely perceived in Asia as the centerpiece of America’s containment strategy for China. 

Yet, so far, the QUAD has been more smoke than fire. India and Australia are lukewarm when it comes to actions that may provoke China, and Japan seems more interested in stabilizing relations with Beijing than in confronting it. At least one major reason for the QUAD’s inefficacy is the creation of a new Asian trading bloc called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP—a free trade agreement between China and the 15 Asia-Pacific nations of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

Together with China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea (ROK)—three of the four largest economies in Asia, the 15 member countries represent roughly a third of the world’s population and a third of global gross domestic product (GDP). Australia, meanwhile, is the top energy exporter within RCEP and the single largest source of coal and liquified natural gas (LNG) for China, Japan, and the ROK.

The strategic implications are inescapable. RCEP will not only surpass the European Union to become the world’s largest free trading bloc, but it will also lift tariffs and duties on 90% of commodities traded within the bloc over the next 20 years and significantly boost regional energy trade. RCEP will also establish new rules for e-commerce in Asia to include trade and intellectual property. 

It is easy to imagine that the sheer magnitude of trade will likely shift the center of gravity for global economic activity to Asia. In any case, China is now destined to be the dominant force influencing the rules of trade in the Asia-Pacific region. Washington is only just beginning to grasp the implications. Recognizing a few basic facts could help toward that end.

First, in its dealings with the world, Beijing works hard to avoid military confrontation and unnecessary escalation. China makes no attempt to export Confucianism and pursues a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of its potential customers. Instead, Beijing focuses ardently on its economic interests employing the power of money in all imaginable forms to cultivate customers and clients. As a result, Asian states are understandably reluctant to be identified with Washington’s scheme to contain or strangle China. RCEP members realize the huge economic potential of China and have no appetite for antagonizing Beijing, let alone go to war with it; indeed, they look to the Agreement as an efficient way to do business with the world’s largest market and advance their own interests.

Second, Americans fail to understand that Japan’s history of conflict with China revolved around the former’s unwillingness to make itself a tributary state of Greater China for the sake of gaining access to Chinese markets, not to mention the struggle for control of the Korean Peninsula. President Xi and his government have resolved the first conflict. Xi has given Japan complete access to Chinese markets from agriculture to mining and manufacturing. And Tokyo is also viewed by Beijing as an important source of capital investment for the foreseeable future. As for the second fault line, until Washington disengages its forces from the ROK, there will be no resolution of the conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

Finally, Washington’s inclination to militarize its dispute with China when the strategic competition in Asia actually centers on economic, not military, concerns is worse than foolish. It is also self-defeating, akin to a hurricane blowing down the White House and the occupant being concerned solely with repairing the mailbox.

One general problem is that the Washington national security establishment is too self-absorbed to understand the PRC and the 1.4 billion people it governs. For decades, Washington has failed to fathom that the vast majority of the Chinese in the mainland actually support the current regime in Beijing. There is little doubt that China’s central government in Beijing enjoys high approval ratings among adult Chinese. The question is “why”?

Other than the immense economic successes of China, the reason for general satisfaction with Beijing’s governance is due in large part to Xi’s anti-corruption campaign. In China, corrupt local officials not only face jail time, but the threat of execution. The Chinese might have a different conception of law and order when compared to those of Americans and Europeans, but they nonetheless care deeply for justice and Xi is seen as delivering on that front. In contrast to their views about the central government in Beijing however, when Chinese people are questioned about the competence and integrity of local government, they are much more critical. 

Western policymakers would do well to also keep in mind that contemporary China is preeminently a Confucian society with a State-controlled economic order. Chinese or “nativized” Marxism never supplanted these cultural norms. Within its model of state capitalism, Beijing is clearly adept at co-opting clients through corruption, building coalitions against common foes, and subverting or infiltrating competing or opposing governments with cyberwarfare and various economic schemes; and Beijing is not shy to use such instruments of statecraft to achieve strategic advantages. Nevertheless, apart from the Leninist tactics and rhetoric Beijing employs in the conduct of its foreign policy, China today has steered away from Communism. 

Do these points suggest that armed conflict between Washington and Beijing is inevitable? Certainly not. As noted earlier, Beijing regards armed conflict as antithetical to commerce and harmful to its business interests. Chinese ruling elites have therefore adopted a different, more cautious approach toward Washington premised on strategic patience that could be summed up as: 

“Let America fall on its own sword in pursuit of global military hegemony while its government dramatically expands the U.S. money supply miring the country in inflation and economic meltdown and its intelligence apparatus wages war at home against its politically undesirable citizens fomenting social unrest.” After all, the Chinese have a much keener sense of history than most Americans, enough to know that arrogance is the ultimate cause in the downfall of the mighty.  

To be fair, China has plenty of problems at home. In some sense, it can be argued that China and the United States are engaged in a contest of competitive collapse. However, unlike Washington, which always seeks instant results and short-term gains, Beijing will work steadily on its domestic problems and wait patiently for Washington to eventually either fix its own house or turn its bellicose sword back on itself.

Douglas Macgregor is a retired U.S. Army Colonel and former Senior Advisor to the Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense. He holds a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Virginia and is a senior fellow at The American Conservative.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Danger Of Wokeness In Uniform

 The surrender to leftist ideology among military leaders endangers all Americans.

JULY 13, 2021|12:01 AM


Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. Mark Milley testifies on the Defense Department's budget request during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty Images)

Until recently, decades of failed senior officer leadership in a series of disastrous American military interventions, from Vietnam to Afghanistan—operations that compromised basic principles of military leadership and produced a stable of morally bankrupt sycophants in the senior ranks of the armed forces—awakened surprisingly little concern in Washington, D.C. Cold War triumphalism had run its course everywhere in the world, but not inside the Washington Beltway.

Then, “wokeness,” along with a senior officer’s defense of teaching critical race theory (CRT) at West Point, suddenly became topical for many Republican members of the House and Senate. One concluded that Congress should defend patriotic service members against the services’ woke leadership.

Is it true? Are America’s four stars (44 of them) becoming the military equivalent of Davos Men; denationalized cosmopolitans who view national identities and boundaries as antiquated obstacles to the liberating force of globalism? Or is “wokeness” really just a matter of civilian control of the military?

It would be wrong to suggest that today’s senior officers (three and four stars) are gold collar globalists. It would be more accurate to suggest that steadily rising defense spending combined with the absence of accountability for performance has devalued the importance of character, competence, and intelligence in the selection of senior officers.

In addition, Washington has lots of revolving doors. Just as political appointees move from the defense industries or think tanks to and from the Pentagon, retired senior officers work or consult for defense contractors and sit on the boards of defense conglomerates. For appointees and retired senior military officers, the opportunity for self-enrichment is substantial.

Most of the time, the revolving door reinforces a static military mindset that thrives on bureaucratic routine and preserves existing money flows to satisfy congressional, private sector, and service interests. Officers who question the status quo are sidelined, ensuring that generations of senior military officers are very homogenous. Sometimes, the outcome is ethically shady behavior.

The result is a class of senior officers ready to adopt whatever politically mandated social policy their civilian superiors demand, provided they are left to run the service bureaucracies, control promotions, and structure the forces as they like. Thus, punishing midshipmen who criticize Black Lives Matter and compelling soldiers to march in high heels or to embrace identity politics even in the face of evidence that such policies might weaken, if not subvert, American fighting power is carried out with surprisingly little fanfare.

All discipline is a form of habit and the habit of conforming in the senior ranks is quite strong. Young officers learn that in battle, hesitation, indecision, or the refusal to obey orders under fire can cost the lives of American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.

Unfortunately, this learned behavior also persists in matters of national military strategy, which produce policies affecting the morale, discipline, and fighting power of the nation’s armed forces. When confronted with tough issues from the Gulf of Tonkin to disbanding the Iraqi military, senior military leaders are inclined to acquiesce to bad strategic policy decisions on the grounds that it is their military duty to comply or because they fear exclusion from access to greater income in retired life. In any case, it’s ill-advised, even immoral.

Why is it wrong for senior officers to simply go along to get along? National military leaders must fuse the body and soul of the nation into one united fighting force. Decisions that commit forces to vague objectives based more on wishful thinking than reality, as was the case in Vietnam and Iraq, or policies that nurture hatred against all or some of the nation’s service members put the very survival of the force at risk.

Today, Americans in uniform confront an extremist ideology that is unapologetic in its hatred of all things Western, white, and Christian in America. Many serving in the ranks think this extremism takes the form of de-nationalization and believe that it is being institutionalized by the Biden administration.

Perhaps the poster child for anti-Western and anti-white extremism is Bishop Garrison, the man tasked by the Biden administration to fight alleged extremism in the military. Garrison subscribes to the “1619 Project,” a twisted, hate-filled Marxist interpretation of American history that vilifies Western culture, Western civilization, and the Europeans who created it. The project rests on the belief that Americans of color, especially black Americans, are “marginalized” and oppressed inside American society.

Predictably, the 1619 Project divides American society along racial lines to condemn white Americans as the privileged class. It inspires policies that classify soldiers, by forcing them to wear badges identifying them by race and socio-economic status during “diversity and inclusion training.”

Much like the members of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, the advocates in uniform for CRT and the 1619 Project seem unable to conceive or admit of anything good or positive in America’s past. To many Americans serving inside the armed forces, those in uniform who proselytize for CRT seem determined to purge the ranks of anyone who might question whether “systemic racism” really is the defining feature of 21st century American society. Put another way by a serving sailor, “if you are straight, white, and male, especially if you are a Christian, the military does not want you.”

“History,” wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, “is a picture gallery containing a host of copies and very few originals.” It is not the first time mankind has witnessed a radical reordering of politics that rejects compromise and destroys a nation in pursuit of an allegedly more just society.

In 1917, Lenin argued for a democratically elected assembly to govern Russia. In January 1918, when the Assembly met and Lenin discovered the vast majority of Russian delegates elected to Russia’s Constituent Assembly opposed his policies, he told his followers, “To wait for the [Russian] constituent assembly which will clearly not be with us is senseless.” Lenin dissolved the assembly and turned his attention to control of the state organs of power: the military and the police.

Extremists are never concerned with the truth or compromise, but extremists do understand power. Lenin organized his supporters into Red Guards—a volunteer paramilitary force that could terrorize Lenin’s opponents. Lenin and his successors built an internal police force (the NKVD) with political watchdogs to transform the military into an instrument of the Communist Party.

A political force or idea taken to its extreme always produces its opposite. If the senior leaders of the armed forces do not halt the radical attempt to de-nationalize the American military and weaponize it for the use of the American Left, the U.S. armed forces will be compromised. Americans will reject appeals to conservatism and moderation, and turn instead to the power of American nationalism, the force diametrically opposed to the radical left.

Senators and congressmen should be worried, and so should the American people.

Douglas Macgregor, colonel (ret.) U.S. Army and the former senior advisor to the Secretary of Defense, is a Ph.D., the author of five books, and a senior fellow at The American Conservative.

A Neighbor's Choice by David Gornoski

Col. Douglas Macgregor Tackles McWoke Military

Friday, July 9, 2021

of interest: Derek Maltz and Bill Bennett discuss the escalating drug crisis in America


FOX Americas Newsroom on 07/09/2021 with Derek Maltz and Bill Bennett

Americas Newsroom segment with Derek Maltz, former Agent in Charge of DEA's Special Operations Division and then Bill Bennett, former Drug Czar discussing the escalating drug crisis in America.

The Mexican cartels are working with Chinese organized crime flooding America with massive amounts of poisonous fentanyl and methamphetamine.

The US should designate the cartels as foreign terrorist organizations to apply maximum pressure on their deadly operations.

The Ingraham Angle 7/8/2021

The Ingraham Angle 


Biden Spins Afghanistan War Boondoggle

U.S. Troops Are Out, But Money's Still Flowing In