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The Era for Engagement with Russia and China is Over

China's Xi Jinping at BRICS Summit
China's Xi Jinping at BRICS Summit. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

This spring, the Biden Administration acknowledged that it must re-write its National Security Strategy, which guides the country’s overall security strategy, no doubt in recognition that the U.S. grand strategy must be fundamentally revised. The revision is necessary given the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and a failed three-decade attempt to entice China to become a liberal democracy. That silence you continue to hear today is the United States’ new grand strategy, following the failure of the post-Cold War strategy of ‘engagement and enlargement’ toward Russia and China.

The Biden Administration’s first-ever National Defense Strategy (regardless of the classified specifics), sent to Congress in late March 2022, was likely short on both reform and big think. According to its unclassified Fact Sheet (no unclassified version has been published yet), it is purposefully noncommittal, once again calling China a ‘pacing threat’ and Russia an ‘acute’ and ‘near-term’ threat. Both seem understatements. Expect little change, therefore, to the updated, supposedly more thoughtful, and directive, National Security Strategy – whenever it appears.

The NDS, which guides U.S. defense policy, exists under and within a larger (and still current) post-Cold War U.S. grand strategy of ‘engagement.’ The policy has been advanced consciously and explicitly by the Clinton, Bush, and Obama Administrations (and somewhat ambiguously by the Trump Administration). A new National Security Strategy – or better, a new grand strategy – must now set out a more explicit whole government strategy, educated by our failed, twenty-eight-year attempt to moderate and liberalize the now totalitarian states of Russia and China.

The strategy of ‘engagement and enlargement’ was coined and advanced by the Clinton Administration in its 1994 National Security Strategy. It advocated strong defense; cooperative security; open foreign markets and global growth; and the promotion of democracy abroad to enhance security. It involved the major powers (particularly China) in a web of commercial, academic, social, and political relationships and institutions to dissuade them from committing aggression or changing the existing international order. Engagement was the strategy of ignoring the polities of these states in the belief that such involvement would encourage these states to accept and move toward liberal democracy.

Yet today, no one thinks that the current regimes in Russia or China will be seduced by further economic development into becoming representative liberal democracies, with checks and balances, competitive political parties, free speech, and limited government. 

By allowing some forms of capitalism within their states, rising living standards worked to give the Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping regimes a patina of credibility and legitimacy, and allowed them to increase internal information control and oppression of any political dissent. Worse, U.S. business interests worked to crowd out and silence criticisms of these totalitarian regimes, despite their states’ now 20-year trajectory of greater and greater hostility toward the United States.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has severely and permanently undermined the un-written post-Cold War grand strategy of engagement – not only with Russia but with China too. Few believe, for instance, that China is currently evolving into a liberal democracy. Russia’s deep state – the siloviki (former members of the security and military services, who dominate the senior leadership of the major government agencies) – insulates the Putin regime from any notion of liberalization, just as communist party loyalists dominate all Chinese bureaucracies, the media, the police, and the national universities.

This historical tipping point should signal that the era of ignoring political ideology is over. The invasion of Ukraine has proven (once again) that totalitarian regimes do not evolve politically toward greater freedom; they do not move toward liberal democracy; they do not care to maintain or safeguard Western institutions. In fact, totalitarian regimes wish to subvert all of those advances. We know this because Putin and Xi tell us this and act on their words. They want the United States to decline, stumble, internally fracture, and fail. They wish to supplant the United States regionally (in the case of Russia) and globally (in the case of China).

In short, Putin and Xi want the United States to struggle internally and decline. U.S. policy for almost three decades now conversely has wanted Russia and China to flourish and evolve into liberal democracies. Their grand strategies have been working (with help from ourselves). Our strategy of engagement to affect political reform has evaporated. Yet nothing has replaced it to date.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, along with China’s takeover of Hong Kong and its implacable hostility toward the democracy of Taiwan, as well as increasing internal repression and control, has revealed that political ideology matters. In fact, ideology matters most. Political ideology is destiny.

There is no inevitable Thucydides Trap (the tendency towards war when an emerging power threatens to displace an existing great power); there is only the George Kennan Trap (totalitarian states trend toward greater internal control and confrontation with liberal democratic states). Totalitarian regimes are incompatible with modernity and cannot communally coexist with liberal democratic states.

States don’t engage in armed conflict simply because they become strong. Norway, Germany, and Japan – all with larger economies than Russia – may be economically competitive but do not physically threaten their neighbors, despite changes in their relative economic strength. None is building nuclear weapons, controlling information domestically, calling their neighbors Nazis, overflying weaker states, or assassinating their political opponents. States compete because of the political structure of their governments. Totalitarian states will clash with liberal democratic states inevitably.

It was cynical, self-serving, and delusional to argue that engaging and entangling the totalitarian states of Putin’s Russia and communist China would somehow lead them out of totalitarianism, though it was the strategy of most Democrat and Republican politicians since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is almost as if U.S. business cynically assuaged U.S. politicians that the easy way – following the Siren song of Russian and Chinese markets – was the best way to achieve peaceful regime change from these autocracies. 

No totalitarian state in history has chosen to commit suicide and evolve into a liberal democracy. Pro-Western authoritarian states – Taiwan, the Republic of Korea, Chile, Argentina – have evolved. But all totalitarian states have become more and more totalitarian until they collapse via some level of political turmoil or violence. Pro-Western authoritarian states argued that they were in necessary and temporary stages on the way to becoming secure liberal democracies. The United States shaped and encouraged their liberalization. The regimes of these stated were willing to reform, in response to the cajoling of the United States. In stark contrast, Putin, Xi, Khamenei, and Kim all see liberal democracy as threats to them personally and a diseases to their states. They don’t seek a path to liberal democracy.

Grand or national strategies do not necessarily need to be written down, though today such a document would certainly help. There likely already exists a majority opinion with Americans that the strategy of engagement has failed. What is lacking is a clear vision and policy from our national security leaders.

The Biden Administration, like its predecessors, to date has been reluctant to debate political ideology and instead wants to ‘deter’ everything it doesn’t want to happen. So far, this deterrence has failed in Ukraine, just as it failed in Georgia and Ukraine in the Bush and Obama Administrations. The current Administration has said almost nothing about the relevance of ideological differences between liberal democracies and totalitarian states – at least in the context of an overall, guiding, grand strategy.

Our grand strategy, however, cannot be mere deterrence. Deterrence is a military strategy for dissuading adverse occurrences. But deterrence must operate in the context of a larger positive vision of what the United States seeks to achieve in the world. Deterrence is unsuitable for a national strategy. Concepts of deterrence emerged prominently after nuclear weapons made traditional notions of victory following a nuclear exchange hard to perceive. The deterrence of nuclear engagement is appropriate. But deterrence alone does not address the realities of the political differences among the great powers. U.S. grand strategy in an era of totalitarian superpowers agitating for and violently pursuing political change cannot simply be the ‘deterrence’ of ‘pacing’ and ‘acute’ military threats.

The one and only grand or national strategy now must be to advance peaceful political change by advancing pluralism and liberal democratic institutions within these totalitarian states, much like the West did with the Soviet Union. Our NATO and Asian allies, the European Union, and all partners should adopt the same policy. States that attempt some middle road need to be challenged – there is no defending totalitarian rule or engagement any longer. It is inevitable that the current Russian and Chinese regimes will continue to challenge freedom; undermine international institutions; threaten neighbors; deceive their people; and commit violence. It is folly, for instance, to buy solar panels from China but allow the Chinese to emit twice as much CO2 as the United States with no plan to curb such emissions. Such policy is giving polluters and totalitarians our money. We cannot ignore this reality.

The phrase ‘regime change’ scares some, but it should not. The United States once directed such change toward the nuclear-armed Soviet Union and it collapsed from totalitarianism relatively peacefully. Enticing the totalitarian states of the 21st century to liberalize through ‘engagement’ was a policy of regime change via carrots (only). Denouncing totalitarianism, supporting dissidents, setting limits on economic engagement, de-coupling government investments, tying trade to CO2 emissions curbs, creating independent supply chains, and calling for political reform within these states is also a form of regime change: ‘strategic engagement with strings attached to effect political reform.’ Regime change is the strategy of these totalitarian states toward us; we should not be afraid to reflect the same. Our reluctance to adopt strong policy has furthered totalitarian truculence.

Our politicians and most academics are afraid to call for regime change since it evokes images of invasion and Iraq. Yet the President of the United States has called the leader of the state of Russia a war criminal who has pursued genocide. Mr. Putin cannot appear anywhere in the West again, or our values, institutions, and law will be rendered meaningless. North Korea will never flourish under totalitarian rule, nor will Kim Jong-Un ever choose to join the Republic of Korea. The endless wait for ‘moderates’ to change Iran is long past naïve. Chinese diplomats mock the United States daily. Russia and China work via information and cyberspace operations to undermine liberal institutions and U.S. leadership worldwide. We ignore the words and deeds of these totalitarians because our leaders are reluctant to accept the challenge or accept that our relationship with them is zero-sum.

The era of totalitarian regime change does not mean violence is inevitable, sought, or welcome. It simply means we must stop strengthening adversary states without condition (by trading with them; educating their students; allowing them to steal our intellectual property; giving them trade advantages …) in the naïve belief that their success will lead them to liberalize. It means we recognize that totalitarianism is incompatible with liberal democracy. The United States ought to adopt as policy that it will support, trade with, and embrace liberal democratic states and states that take steps to liberalize. Conversely, the United States should eschew and limit engagement with those that do not. We must de-couple our economy from that of Putin’s Russia and the Chinese Communist Party. But in addition, the United States ought to appeal directly to the people within these totalitarian states and inform them that they do have a choice. Such change, like with the Cold War, may not come easily or anytime soon.

As we did in the Cold War, the U.S. Government ought to support opposition parties to totalitarian rule. The United States should highlight dissidence and protect it where it can; teach political ideologies and their histories at home (our youth is oblivious to the relevance of ideology, given now a generation of ignoring its importance in academia); adopt a competitive economic strategy toward the totalitarian states (they have adopted such an attitude toward us); and demand political progress (i.e., reform) from Russia and China. Today, Russia and China agitate for political change around the world, while the United States is a status quo power. This dynamic must be flipped.

The current Russian and Chinese governments want Americans to be afraid to demand political progress from them. They achieve this through intimidation, influence operations, the corruption of U.S. academia and journalism, and scare mongering. That is why we must muster the political strength, will, and leadership to advance the only coherent national strategy left to us. We are in an era of zero-sum political competition, whether we like it or not. The strategy of engagement and enlargement is over; the strategy of regime change is upon us.

James Van de Velde, Ph.D., is a Professor at the National Defense University and an Adjunct Faculty Member at Johns Hopkins University. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U. S. Government.

Written By

James Van de Velde, Ph.D., is a Lieutenant Commander in the US Naval Intelligence Reserves, an Associate Professor at the National Intelligence University, and a Lead Associate for the consulting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton. He has over 25 years of experience in academia, intelligence collection and analysis, political, counter terrorism and proliferation analysis and national security affairs. He is a former White House Appointee in the US Department of State for nuclear weapons arms control under President George H. W. Bush, a Lecturer and Residential College Dean at Yale University, and a career Foreign Service Officer for the US State Department of State.

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Frank Martin

    September 6, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    While I’m not condoning what Putin has done, this conflict was totally avoidable. Regarding Communist China, considering what they did with Covid and all the supply chain leverage they have with us,the fact that we continue to do business with them on a massive scale tells me our govt doesn’t care about American lives. If a shooting war breaks out, does anyone think they’ll continue to ship us needed goods? It’s folly, incompetence.

  2. Beth McLaurine

    September 6, 2022 at 5:08 pm

    Russia is totalitarian, and we are not ? Amazing how unaware we can be about the state of our own country.

  3. Jack

    September 6, 2022 at 5:39 pm

    When China senses they have the military means to take the USA down …they will…

    Therefore we need to build 10 more Boomers ASAP..

  4. David Chang

    September 6, 2022 at 6:00 pm

    God bless people in the world.

    Most people in Taiwan and ROK believe socialism and evolution as Karl Marx and Charles Darwin say. In other words, it is democracy.

    God bless America.

  5. Jiri Novacek

    September 6, 2022 at 6:35 pm

    You writing this very post prove that US is not a totalitarian country. Or being a russian troll anyway?

  6. Ezra Teter

    September 6, 2022 at 7:07 pm

    This idiot has a PhD? In what? I feel stupider reading this. The author never defines totalitarian does he mean that the country imprisons a lot of people like we do. Or maybe he means a woman can’t get an abortion. That is becoming harder and harder here but women in China have access to all reproductive health services. Or maybe he is talking about public executions like those of our ally Saudi Arabia. Maybe, if we just concentrated on building our own network of bullet trains and actually using state resources to develop our economy the way China does we wouldn’t have to feel so insecure when they inevitably pass us up. Here is an idea: why should China or Russia trust us?

  7. cobo

    September 6, 2022 at 7:42 pm

    Don’t wait for it, let’s get at it: attack, attack, attack. Let the warriors rise to the top. Eliminate the quislings, the appeasers, the liars and the weak. The war isn’t coming, it has been underway in Western countries for decades. Universal conscription – no safe spaces, only warriors. Iran, North Korea, Russia, China: attack their military and industrial concentrations, destroy their leadership, burn their land and take their resources, no s… Fight.

  8. Steve

    September 6, 2022 at 7:43 pm

    Totalitarian may be too strong a word. But there IS a war on for your mind, and if you believe the news, you are just naive. So what’s the reality? There are totalitarian forces at work in the world. And yes, I am stoned.

  9. Steven

    September 6, 2022 at 7:52 pm

    IDK, I hate to be a chicken hawk, but with Russia down and the CCP acting like a**holes, maybe it’s time to take down Communism once and for all…if not now, when? Imagine all the freed up funds? No Communist threat…. not a bad idea… Plus all these articles analyzing military affairs, no one ever mentions our cyber warfare capabilities not classified abilities. How do you know we can’t shut down the entire Chinese grid, including there nukes? (if they even work…never met a Made in China can opener to last more than a week…).

  10. Steven

    September 6, 2022 at 9:14 pm

    And yes, I misspelled’their’.

  11. Jacksonian Libertarian

    September 6, 2022 at 10:32 pm

    Authoritarians fear their own people more than anyone else. China has a middleclass now (400+ million), that will be enraged by the loss of affluence the crashing and burning of their economy will entail. Will they buy the excuse that it’s America’s and the West’s fault? Or recognize that it was foreign investors that uplifted them from a Communist water buffalo level economy into modern civilization? And what if the Chinese start a war? Will the Strategic blockade of China’s ports through which 98% of China’s foreign trade moves and is responsible for 40% of China’s GDP, make China’s middle class happy?

    Russia is in the process of losing a war in Ukraine, and it has cost the West chicken feed to supply Ukraine with the smart weapons Russia can’t compete with. What will happen when Russia loses?

    The fact is Logistics are still how nations compete, and none of the Authoritarian countries can compete with or create free markets (The Politically Powerful take everything they want). Free markets are the most efficient way to allocate resources. Also, it’s the “Feedback of Competition” which provides both the Information and Motivation that forces continuous improvements in Quality, Service, and Price in Free Markets.

    Authoritarian cultures can neither create nor maintain Modern Civilization, without continuous 1st World input. Cutting off all trade as war does, will leave the West suffering from dislocation as new sources of common products is developed. But Russian and China will see their economies crippled by 40%+ with no way to replace the imports their economies are too corrupt to produce.

  12. Cerberus

    September 6, 2022 at 10:49 pm

    Shift all supply Chains from China to the largest democracy in the world, India. The USA should have zero trade with China and zero trade with Russia. No exceptions.

  13. Bender

    September 6, 2022 at 11:20 pm

    Good Article,

    I hope to see more from this author in the future.

  14. 403Forbidden

    September 7, 2022 at 5:36 am

    Russia & china ought to realize by NOW the US plus army of minions want total control of the planet Earth.

    What US wants is a one-world government where there’s ONLY ONE WORLD with Washington as the boss.Nothing else accepted.

    Both Joint Vision 2020 and NATO 2030 have spelt it out crystal clear politically & militarily.Complete and utter dominance plus full-spectrum forward courtpress.Nothing less accepted.

    Once US forward bases it’s coming hypersonic arsenal (recall pgm-19 missiles in far-off turkiye in ’61), it’ll be GAME OVER for Russia & china.

  15. Taylor

    September 7, 2022 at 7:17 am

    NATO’s behavior as well as the Ukrainian situation is a European provocation. The United States has violated every agreement it made with the Russians after 1991. The insanity of Russia, Russia, Russia is just as stupid as the Davos driven Trump, Trump, Trump nonsense. The west is finished. First Europe goes down this winter following their stupid energy policies then the Ukrainians will be left with a third world impoverished backwater half its current size, finally the United States will be outflanked in Taiwan by the Chinese.

  16. A.z

    September 7, 2022 at 7:41 am

    I m sure this loser was all in when Dumbo bush launched the Iraq war2, a war that ended us hegemony .

  17. Lehman

    September 7, 2022 at 7:46 am

    I understand, but why are companies like Tesla,Apple,AMD and Intel are engaging in Chinese market.

    They should exit their market

    Ideology is greater than money.

    Crazy lunatic like Musk always talks about how he hates communism while bowing and sucking xi’s popsicle in china.

    This Hypocrisy must be destroyed.

  18. Keevan Morgan

    September 7, 2022 at 9:43 am

    This article suffers from a fatal flaw even though in another era it would have been spot on.

    The fact is that the Democratic Party “anti-war” movement won, turning that party almost entirely dovish and leading to the retractionist Obama Administration.

    However, that victory was more complete than even the movement imagined, as it also conquered the Republican Party, leading to the retractionist Trump Administration.

    The only foreign policy difference between the Obama and Trump administrations is that Obama did not want America throwing its weight around because the rest of the world was too good for America and Trump did not want America throwing its weight around the world because America was too good for the rest of the world. The net result was the same no matter what the reasoning.

    The victory of the anti-war movement did, however, turn the Blues and Reds against each other at a base level, and they cannot stand each other. On this point, the Democratic Party is somewhat worse than the Republican Party and Biden is actively divisive.

    Lincoln was correct that a house divided cannot stand. What the author is not taking into account and is fatal to his policy is that a house divided also can’t throw its weight around the world even if it reversed course and decided to again start doing so. Republicans are not going to sacrifice or die for a Democratic President and Democrats are not going to sacrifice or die for a Republican President because neither party is any longer actually loyal to the leadership of the other.

    Our nation’s true national security policy ought to be to duck and stay out of the world while rearming to the hilt in the hope that when the totalitarians eventually inflict enough pain on us we have a chance to come to our senses and defend ourselves all together. But I don’t expect that experience to be pretty.

  19. Jim

    September 7, 2022 at 9:46 am

    This article is pure Neocon 101.

    “Freedom & democracy” … nothing must stand in our way. We must subdue and regime change all governments that don’t measure up to our standards.

    We must dominate the world.

    (All empires have fallen… every single one.)

    The author ignores all the “regime change” the U. S. has engaged in since WWII.

    If this neocon logic continues, the U. S. will no longer be a republic, but just another empire that will fall because of over-stretch.

    The author fails to recognize war is the health of the state (as most neocons conveniently do), thus the quest for dominance will erode our freedoms over time. The U. S. has already seen our freedoms decline and the power of the state grow ever larger.

    This author also fails Mackinder 101: don’t push Russia & China together to form a “world island’ in Eurasia. Yet he seems totally unaware of this concern.

    Neocons aren’t aware of much other than their own quest to dominate the world, thus all the recent failures in foreign policy.

  20. Tits

    September 7, 2022 at 9:56 am

    Putin pledge to protect Russian ethnics any where in world and gives Russia to enter any country to assist in their safe being, this bollocks takes the biscuit he will get Russia and its population Nuked. Some one explain to this piece if scum that Russians leave Russia to be liberated fron authoritarian rule by Neo Nazi putin so forget all these pathetic Russian innuendos they are are asking for Russian help it’s all bull shit and bollocking,the more I hear about this Russian creep this little tiny man Puking Puking Putin the walking piece of shut the more I hate the can’t and his followers as does all the West . PUKING WILL GET RUSSIA NUKED THE DELUSIONAL CUNT SADIST MURDERING INBRED MUNGRE.

  21. TDog

    September 7, 2022 at 11:25 am

    “They’re not like us, so they must be punished because we’re free and they’re not.” Note that even as a full fifty percent of the US electorate thinks our government needs to be overthrown, we still busy ourselves telling others how they should live. China isn’t at war with us, hasn’t been for well over seventy years, and yet we still so badly want a war with them that we’re gearing up for one and have been for decades.

    The sheer audacity of America’s militaristic missionary zeal is on full display here. The message that China is trying to upend the world order is somewhat ridiculous given that the narrative is as such: the world order led by the US is meant to let everyone prosper. Yet China prospering is what makes them a threat!

    Worse than our hypocrisy on that score is the fact that having lost the formerly glorious War on Terror (yeah, we got bored with it), we are now looking for bigger opponents to fight. Grandiose talk of “Great Power Conflict” was proven little more than puerile chest-thumping when the opportunity to fight one was handed to us on a silver platter (invasion of Ukraine anyone?) and we begged off double-quick. “Uhh… we, uh, we don’t have a treaty!” Well, we didn’t have one with Iraq, Libya, or Syria, yet in we went!

    We’re not looking to liberate anyone or uphold peace and freedom… we’re not even looking to fight a war… we’re looking to win. What we win is not clear and how we will win it is an impolite question these days given how popular the idea of war is with everyone. The cynical part of me says we hate China because they have proven immune to the playbook we use to bribe and control other governments, but the realistic side of me says we are addicted to war and are just too damned stupid to realize that we’re no good at it.

  22. Leon Lou

    September 7, 2022 at 12:54 pm

    Oh the self-adulation of the West speaking of themselves about themselves for themselves! For this author, we tolerated the Chinese in “Engaging them for 30 years”. Naturally, if they do not evolve into “liberal democracy” it is the end of “engagement”. I suppose several millennia of Chinese culture did not matter if it fails to accept Western liberal democracy of bickering nihilism as the essential organizing principle of their lives. In the old days, when we had the monopoly on violence (guns and missiles), we would send a fleet to liberal-democratize it and take its resources, its human capital to enhance our superiority. GOOD OLD-FASHIONED COLONIALISM, Do we miss those wonderful days. After all, look at the wonderful work we just did with Libya. The morality is “I engage you so you can become me”. It is not a healthy respect for our differences, you become me or else. Who would not love this great arrangement? surely in the West that is very very peachy.

  23. Scottfs

    September 7, 2022 at 12:54 pm

    What a brilliant analysis of the misguided American policy of the last 35 years!

    Yes, our policies have failed. Yes, our policies need to change. And that change is long overdue.

    I hope the next president takes these words to heart. The future of America – and the West – depends on it.

  24. Neutrino

    September 7, 2022 at 1:59 pm

    Although the observation is true that all totalitarian states want US to decline, does it have to be a Cold War between authoritarian states and democratic states? How many in the BRICS would you consider as totalitarian states? But they all want to end the US hegemony, don’t they? It is the evil greed for world hegemony that drives the instability and wars, isn’t it?

    If you really believes democracy, why would you have to promote regime change in other countries by violent means? If you are concerned about capital flowing to totalitarian states and helping them economically, shouldn’t you think more on why investors do not move away from the totalitarian states, and spend more in US instead?

    Democracy or authoritarian is a choice of their own people of individual countries or religions. You cannot win by expensive regime change wars. It would be better to spend the money and effort domestically to improve the health, education, and investment environment of the US.

  25. MrSatyre

    September 7, 2022 at 6:35 pm

    “…once again calling China a ‘pacing threat’ and Russia an ‘acute’ and ‘near-term’ threat.”

    This attitude has always struck me as incredibly bass ackwards.

  26. Richard Tasker

    September 7, 2022 at 8:54 pm

    “The Biden Administration, like its predecessors, to date has been reluctant to debate political ideology…” I disagree – Biden’s defining foreign policy emphasis is Democracy versus Autocracy.
    As to America’s prior attempts at positive engagement with China and Russia, I judge that we needed to give them a chance.
    Your general argument is extremely well stated, and I agree.

  27. DaveyJones

    September 8, 2022 at 3:10 am

    Reading the comments here, I find quite distressing the utter lack (by-and-large) of any proper sense for the values of the Enlightenment and the American Experiment on the part of (purported) US citizens. The collapse of the American Experiment will not come from without but rather from a profound want of civic education and the responsibilites entailed by _civitas_ within… which really will be quite a shame since, to quote Churchill, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” Are the Western liberal democracies perfect and without stain on their histories? Clearly not. But the totalitarian alternatives (and those of you out there who seem to have some trouble with the term might do well to educate yourselves a bit as to its history and meaning) ought to well and truly frighten _everyone_ who is not a hive/slave -minded automaton.

  28. Joe Comment

    September 8, 2022 at 10:49 am

    Neutrino: “Democracy or authoritarian is a choice of their own people of individual countries or religions.” By definition, authoritarian governments are precisely those which do not give a choice to their own people, while democracies do.

  29. Joe Comment

    September 8, 2022 at 10:57 pm

    Leon Lou: “I suppose several millennia of Chinese culture did not matter if it fails to accept Western liberal democracy of bickering nihilism as the essential organizing principle of their lives.” I’m puzzled by this take. The Communist Party of Mainland China was founded on a Western ideology, undertook a massive campaign to destroy traditional Chinese culture, and has been in a state of constant bickering nihilism for its entire existence. Meanwhile, in the parts of the world where Chinese people have the ability to freely express their political opinions, notably Taiwan, we find no sign of any preference for authoritarianism.

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