War Is Too Serious to Be Left to Washington Politicians
Great change is afoot. People can feel it. The post-WWII global order is cracking. At a minimum, a renewed Cold War mindset is driving a permanent wedge between the U.S.-E.U. Atlantic Bloc and strategic competitors in Russia and China are unwilling to yield their national sovereignties to "rules-based systems" run from office suites in Brussels; Washington, D.C.; New York City; and the City of London. As with any zero-sum struggle between competing systems, though, the potential for "cold" wars to turn kinetically "hot" is high.
Will the war in Ukraine stay in Ukraine, or will NATO allies find cause to engage Russia directly? Where are the red lines these days? Nobody seems to know. At the same time, traditional avenues for de-escalation and normal diplomatic stopgaps have largely been thrown out the window. The West has declared linguistic war on all things Russian in a fit of pique, and the Russian people, not surprisingly, increasingly view the U.S.-led West with great apprehension and even enmity. Appeals to emotion within both societies are quickly overtaking sober restraint and common sense. Tempers have begun to boil over and mixed messaging from D.C. and the E.U. has only added a dangerous accelerant of confusion to an already smoldering tinderbox.
With a vaunted cyber-warfare program that allows Russia to cause more harm to its enemies than it achieves with traditional munitions while gaining some measure of plausible deniability, hybrid warfare affecting banking systems, power grids, and supply chains makes total war upon civilian populations inevitable. At the same time, the relative anonymity of cyber-attacks makes it increasingly difficult for hostile parties to distinguish acts of war from criminal mischief or even minor nuisances. The likelihood of misidentification of cyber-aggressors compounds the risks of mistaken intentions, unwarranted retaliations, and lethal engagements. Just as hybrid warfare complicates traditional rules of engagement, it also presents ample opportunity for false flag events to be used as cover for quickly ratcheting up conflicts. Narrative engineering has become a potent weapon for governments, and for this reason, propaganda and information warfare are replacing free speech and debate in Russia and throughout the West. Again, this type of state control over mass communication and the criminalization of dissenting opinion magnify the probability for lethal misunderstanding, misattribution, and mistakes.
While all eyes are on Eastern Europe, China is busy gobbling up strategic Pacific real estate, island-hopping from Samoa to the Solomon Islands in a steady effort to supplant regional American partnerships with its own. Simultaneously expanding its naval presence near Alaska and Hawaii while whipping up a public frenzy at home in support of invading Taiwan, China is committed to shattering American influence in Asia and American hegemony over the Pacific.
It is becoming increasingly undeniable that China has been preparing for this moment ever since the United States welcomed the communist country into the World Trade Organization over twenty years ago. The Chinese Communist Party has aggressively sought to influence Western politicians through a combination of campaign lobbying, personal business engagement, and financial inducement that, if not explicitly illegal, has nonetheless reeked of corruption and quid pro quo. In exchange for U.S. politicians' complicity in orchestrating the largest intercontinental transfer of wealth in world history from the paychecks and savings of the U.S. middle class to the bank accounts and military budgets of the CCP, China has doubled down on U.S. political susceptibility to graft by engaging in two decades of government espionage, trade secrets and industrial theft, commodity dumping, currency manipulation, and rampant violation of human rights.
By luring the U.S. into a state of economic dependency upon its cheap manufacturing, rare earth metals and other raw materials, and regular use of slave labor, China has effectively engaged in hybrid economic warfare that has devastated American wealth and self-sufficiency without requiring the firing of a single shot. While crippling U.S. economic might, it has hooked American politicians on the opium of its sweet monetary kickbacks and too many American citizens on the importation of its deadly fentanyl. As China sat back and watched the U.S. waste lives, resources, and trillions of dollars on two decades of war producing minimal strategic success, the CCP used its ill-gotten, American-transferred wealth to transform its military into a global powerhouse and to erect its own worldwide "rules-based system" under the harmless-sounding, chameleon-like Belt and Road Initiative. For twenty years, China has unleashed debilitating economic carnage throughout the United States, and the American political class has literally paid the communist dictatorship to expand its military and global influence. The fact that China has been at war with the U.S. while Washington politicians have done nothing but smile and nod in either abject ignorance or unpardonable collusion has been arguably the greatest self-inflicted national security catastrophe in American history.
What does all of this say about our current moment of unpleasantness? It says to me that our political aristocracy cannot be trusted to pursue Americans' best interests. On the one hand, the Washington war hawks are tripping over themselves to initiate a war with Russia that normal Americans have no interest in fighting. On the other hand, those same war hawks are noticeably mum about the Chinese dragon's two decades of economic warfare against America's middle class, the destruction of which has caused American families more harm than any other enemy in their country's history, save for perhaps D.C.'s own entrenched political class.
Before our effete Washington "warriors" drag us into a war that most Americans do not seek, should we not at least have a "national conversation" on the matter? Our supercilious "betters" regularly force us into all manner of "national conversations" on the most ridiculous contrivances. You can't say "all lives matter," when only "black lives matter," rube! Of course, men who pretend to be women should be rewarded for their delusions, bigot! How dare you call out our election fraud as evidence for a stolen election, insurrectionist! We have to "talk" about gun violence. We have to "sympathize" with the people breaking our immigration laws. We're forced to discuss the imminent impact of "climate change" as if Obama and other celebrities didn't live in multi-million-dollar properties right on the beach. We have been forced, as a country, to endure never-ending elitist claptrap about the most nonsensical, inane subjects. But we can't discuss whether we as Americans want to fight a war against Russia, while China's threats to the homeland receive but a glance?
For a "ruling class" that regularly yet incorrectly trumpets America's "precious democracy," you would think actual war might warrant a more broadly democratic backing than a Washington gaggle of war-starved neocons, some corrupt elected officials whose children have made big bucks from laundering money in Ukraine, and the corporate news propagandists who desperately want to distract from Joe Biden's escalating political problems here at home. If D.C.'s denizens have proved anything with their cavalier attitude toward nuclear gamesmanship with Russia and their invaluable assistance over two decades in effectuating Communist China's ascendance from third-world pariah state to global existential threat, it is this: war is too damn serious to be left to Washington politicians.
Image: Department of Defense, public domain.