China, Our So-Called Foreign Policy, technology, national security, Mainstream Media, Barack Obama, Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria, George W. Bush, Biden, South China Sea, Taiwan, Donald Trump, globalism, Blob, privacy
Is “beyond clueless” or “beyond intellectually dishonest” the best way to describe Fareed Zakaria’s latest column for the Washington Post? It’s tough to tell. And you could ask the same of the editors at the Post‘s opinion pages, who clearly saw nothing wrong with letting this apologia for the United States’ thoroughly discredited (at least for those blessed with working and/or uncorrupted brains) pre-Trump China policies see the light of day.
Zakaria’s missive, from this past Thursday, suffers two glaringly obvious flaws. First, like America’s most influential leaders from both parties for decades before 2017 the author insists on the importance of Washington building and maintaining “a serious working relationship” with a regime that has developed (with oceans of reckless American assistance) into one of the world’s “two most powerful actors.”
And former President Donald Trump’s greatest sin (which Zakaria accuses President Biden of following)? Adopting a policy toward Beijing of “open hostility and criticism” that has caused the “collapse” of “communications channels for managing tensions,” and especially during crises or near crises such as that which appears to be developing over Taiwan.
But nothing could be clearer by now than the delusional nature of these procedure-obsessed and substance-free views (which of course despite Zakaria’s claim have continually been parroted by the Biden administration.) For by now it should go without saying that China’s top priority isn’t avoiding conflict with the United States. In particular, it lacks any interest in the President’s oft-stated objective of creating clear “guard rails” and other rules of the road that result in a safe and orderly “competition” for goals like “winning the twenty-first century” whose definition seems just as vapid, utopian – and distracting – as his administration’s “liberal global order” references.
Instead, China’s top priority is specific and concrete: increasing its power (in all dimensions) and reducing America’s in every way possible. The reason? Eliminate the greatest obstacle to its plans to ensure its decisive control over every major trend shaping the globe’s future – whether the field is military prowess or technological advance or wealth creation or the evolution of society and culture (especially through privacy-threatening progress in cyber-hacking and facial recognition technology).
Not that the Chinese are eager for conflict or even any kind of frontal challenge or showdown – especially when prevailing is still anything but guaranteed. But the ultimate objective is prevailing, and the means entail building the domestic, regional, and global conditions needed to prevail, either without firing a shot or when clashes do break out.
And not that American leaders shouldn’t make sure to maintain those communication lines with Beijing. With both countries possessing vast nuclear arsenals, lowering the odds of accidental conflict is clearly imperative.
But communication, much less broader engagement, mustn’t become an end in and of itself. History too often has shown that they encourage the (1) U.S. acceptance of empty promises; (2) rationalization of failure to achieve or preserve particular valued objectives in the here and now for the sake of payoffs stemming from a sense of mutual obligation that could be entirely unilateral and imaginary, over a time frame that tends to keep lengthening; and (3) the substitution of wishful thinking about attainable goals for gaining and maintaining the ability to deter or successfully counter specific, dangerous Chinese initiatives.
The second glaringly obvious flaw in Zakaria’s column is its exclusive reliance on former Obama administration officials to support his analysis – which makes as much as sense as citing former Carter administration officials as inflation-fighting experts.
After all, it was under Trump’s immediate predecessor that the Chinese began running wild throughout the South China Sea, pushing aggressive territorial claims and literally building islands with military facilities capable of controlling those commercially vital waters – and according to one senior U.S. admiral at the time, precisely because Beijing concluded that Obama would keep sitting on his hands.
It was also Obama who continued enabling China to pursue the predatory economic policies that badly damaged numerous manufacturing industries vital to American national security, and who turned a blind eye to the massive transfer by U.S. and foreign companies of advanced, defense-related techology to the People’s Republic.
But at least Obama “upgraded” the George W. Bush-era “Senior Dialogue” and “Strategic Economic Dialogue” in order to merge “the economic and security tracks” to “break down the barriers inside both the U.S. and Chinese governments to more effectively tackle cross-cutting issues such as climate change, development, and energy security.” Which accomplished exactly what to advance and defend American interests?
And this is where Zakaria’s editors at the Post come in. Evidently none of them thought to say something like, “Hey, Fareed. Maybe quote someone on China policy whose advice isn’t widely seen as a proven failure?”
Maybe they’re just supposed to look for stray commas and dangling participles? I suspect that the real reason is that they’re part of the same group-thinking, self-perpetuating globalist Blob that keeps working overtime to ensure that the American public is never exposed to any genuinely fresh ideas about promoting the United States’ security, prosperity, and optimal place in the world – and whose decades-long record of squandering the nation’s blood and treasure on behalf of one grandiose goal after another is its only claim to success.