Peter Beinart proclaims that “the Trump administration is preparing for a new Cold War.” Against whom? Against Russia and China.
The left can’t seem to make up its mind. Is President Trump a tool of Putin or an anti-Russia cold warrior?
I say he’s neither. Instead, I think Trump is slowly recognizing, as President Obama never seemed to, that Russia and China are waging a Cold War against us, and is beginning to respond accordingly.
This time around, China is the stronger of our two adversaries. And it signaled its determination to escalate its Cold War against the U.S. when Xi Jinping became, in effect, dictator for life.
As the New York Times puts it:
Rather than beginning a final term next month as a lame duck, Mr. Xi will govern with new authority to pursue his agenda of making China a global power even if it risks putting Beijing in conflict with Washington and triggering a new Cold War after 40 years of mutual engagement. . . .
Cui Liru, the former president of a think tank under the Ministry of State Security that often reflects Chinese government thinking, puts it this way:
In the Asia-Pacific, the dominant role of the United States in a political and military sense will have to be readjusted. It doesn’t mean U.S. interests must be sacrificed. But if the U.S. insists on a dominant role forever, that’s a problem.
A problem in what sense? China has thrived economically under the status quo. It has benefited from favorable trade deals with the U.S. And the U.S. certainly has not used its political and military power to engage in aggression against China or anyone else in the region.
The problem for China is that the U.S. stands in the way of Chinese aggression and visions of regional, and indeed global, domination. Hugh White, a scholar and former defense official in Australia, explains:
It is now clear Xi’s agenda to rebuild an Asian order with China at its center is here to stay. I think Xi is impatient. He wants China to be the predominant power in the Western Pacific. He wants to do it himself and for it to go down in history as his achievement. That makes him formidable.
According to the Times, Chinese leaders view the U.S. as a superpower in decline. They doubt that we have the will to compete economically or militarily with China in Asia.
Their doubt is well-founded. The Democrats don’t have the stomach to compete with China and until recently, Trump’s willingness to do so seemed to consist only of engaging in a trade war.
That’s changed, as Beinart says. But Trump is not a dictator and he won’t be president for more than the next seven years.
If China fails in its quest to dominate Asia, and indeed the globe, it probably won’t be due to sustained U.S. resistance. Rather, it will be down to inherent weaknesses in the Chinese system manifested, for example, by Xi’s ascension to dictator for life.