Ever since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine and the Biden administration galvanized a NATO-wide effort to supply Kyiv with weapons and aid, U.S. policy has witnessed a deepening rift.
On one side are those — this author included — who see our response as a reaffirmation of America’s strategic DNA. On the other side of the rift stand those who maintain that the European theater is a distraction from the primary threat the United States faces, which is in the Indo-Pacific as China gears up to attack Taiwan. The argument against aiding Ukraine contains two subsets: First is the claim that by aiding Ukraine, the United States has in effect created a Sino-Russian alliance, whereas our goal should be to do a “Nixon-Kissinger in reverse” and peel Russia away from China. Second is that this is predominantly a question of resource constraints.
The China-first argument posits that our defense-industrial base is too small to support actions in both theaters, and we need to husband our stocks of weapons and munitions to defend Taiwan.
The relative value of each argument aside, egos are also on the line, and with the presidential primaries approaching, support of Ukraine and Taiwan, or of Ukraine versus Taiwan, could become hopelessly politicized, paralyzing rational debate over the issue.
One unfortunate aspect of America’s foreign- and national-security policy debates is that they can never be disconnected from larger policy positions that think tanks and government officials have taken, or from how they wish to position themselves going forward. Debates that often prove decisive in guiding the nation’s future foreign and security policy are usually about the past. They are often empty of foresight.
Such is the case with the false dichotomy between Ukraine and Taiwan, which has seen the larger context of U.S. geostrategic priorities fade in the background. The fundamentals of American power are barely discernible in this debate, if at all. What ought to be a debate about strategy has defaulted to the operational level, or even at times to tactics. After two decades of profligate spending on a failed war in Afghanistan, we seem reduced to talking about numbers and logistics, as though strategy was driven not by desired end-states but rather by current defense spending rates and production capacity.
It is worth restating, then, that the starting point of any strategic debate is to affirm the basics of geopolitics. The United States is a quintessentially maritime power, a sort of Great Britain on a continental scale, whose security and prosperity depends on its being anchored on both sides of the World Ocean. Our Constitution charges Congress with the duty to maintain a navy, while an army is to be raised as needed. This fundamental reality of American geopolitics and power has been understood by successive U.S. presidents, and since America’s rise to status as a global power in the early 20th century, this reality has driven our grand strategy.
The United States fought in two World Wars and then engaged in the Cold War to ensure that no one power would dominate the resources of Europe and Eurasia. Such a development would have ended our country’s unfettered access to the world’s resources, pushed us back into our hemisphere, and ultimately transformed the United States into a regional player, diminishing the country’s prosperity and security.
Suffice it to say that the past three decades of globalization and explosive global trade were made possible by America’s naval power, for it was the U.S. Navy that protected the sea lanes. The fascination with Asia at the expense of Europe in American policy debates overlooks the fact that in terms of both manufactured goods and services, America remains Europe’s greatest trading partner, with 75% of our commerce with Europe going through the North Atlantic. To argue that we can leave Europe to its own resources in order to deal with China’s threat to Taiwan, without facing defeat in both theaters, is myopic in the extreme.
The “abandon Europe for Asia” school is wrong, but not because it lacks an accurate picture of the resource constraints facing the U.S. military. The radical contraction of the United States’ defense industrial base is in fact one of the reasons we find ourselves wanting to choose among vital priorities. But this situation is not a function of limited resources per se. Rather it is the result of three decades of policy in which procurement flattened, and of a just-in-time philosophy that drove weapons and munitions acquisitions.
A similar contraction of the defense sector occurred across Europe and among our Asian allies as well. No surprises there — defense contractors are not in the charity business. They will not build new plants, hire labor, and expand output unless there are contracts to ensure that goods will be purchased. In light of the rates at which stocks are being consumed on the battlefields in Ukraine, it is clear that our capacity is inadequate. In major state-on-state conflict of the kind that proponents of a pivot to Taiwan are entertaining, we must have excess stockpiles. Without redundancies, we will not be able to sustain a prolonged effort.
Securing Our Stocks
Bottom line: The discussion we should be having in the United States and among our allies is about the imperative to rebuild our capacity. Simply reallocating assets from one theater to the other solves nothing. It fails to address the structural vulnerability that remains. The expansion of our defense-industrial base is the answer for another reason: During the last 20 years of operations in Afghanistan and in the Middle East, our logistical supply lines were secure. But in the environment of actual and potential great-power conflict that we inhabit today, we must assume that our logistical chains will be threatened, making systemic redundancies for weapons stocks and ammunition imperative.
It is high time we start debating in earnest about our nation’s security at a grand-strategic level. The United States and its democratic allies are on the cusp of arguably the most challenging era we have lived through since the end of the Cold War. The war in Ukraine is a system-transforming conflict that has already reshaped Europe’s security environment and will continue to restructure power distribution worldwide. The Sino-Russian alliance has sought to create a two-frontier crisis for the United States at a time when our Joint Force is too small for two major theaters. Yet instead of addressing the core issue of what needs to be done to rebuild, we are tying ourselves in knots with arguments over which theater is more important. Today we have a non-NATO force grinding down Russian land forces on non-NATO territory — all Ukraine needs is weapons and money to buy us more time to rearm. In the process, the Ukrainian military is in effect dismantling the two-frontier crisis, while Beijing watches carefully whether we have the political will to complete the job.
The starting point for any grand strategy in our era of great-power competition is an acknowledgement that the European and Asian theaters are connected, and that Ukraine and Taiwan are not an either/or proposition. The era of unipolarity and of the Global War on Terror has accustomed Washington to think in terms of achieving objectives at a relatively low cost. Those days are over. The current era will be one of protracted systemic instability, one lacking the shortcuts, pivots, and resets that we became so accustomed to during our brief moment of systemic unipolarity.
We will prevail if we strengthen our alliances and commit sufficient resources to the fight. The Europe vs. Asia argument is a false distinction. It perpetuates our vulnerability rather than addressing it, it deepens partisanship rather than fostering consensus on foreign and security policy, and it is a strategic blueprint for American defeat. It is simply wrong.
A 19FortyFive Contributing Editor, Dr. Andrew A. Michta is Dean of the College of International and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch, Germany and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Scowcroft Strategy Initiative in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.
May 17, 2023 at 7:01 pm
Pretty good article. But maybe it isn’t a dichotomy. I think there has recently been a large group of isolationists with Trump being the leader that the US should just isolate itself from the entire world.
But that being said, the author isn’t too wrong in lumping that group for whatever reason into the group who don’t want action in Europe. And I agree with the author that this group is completely wrong. If you want to keep China out of Taiwan, Russia has to be defeated in Ukraine. If Russia can win, China can win. That is how China will see it.
As for those who say “it isn’t out fight.” They are just as wrong as the Lindberg idiots pre-WWII. We stay out of it and later we will be brought in under far worse conditions. History has shown this time after time. Another lesson for isolationists is Edo Japan. Japan became a completely isolated country for several hundred years. They had strong army that no outsider could beat. They had a completely self sufficient economy. They didn’t need anyone else. Just like American Isolationists want. After over 200 years, the world passed them up and when Perry’s black fleet came knocking, they couldn’t withstand it. There can be only one conclusion, isolationists are dangerously ignorant.
May 17, 2023 at 7:06 pm
The author is arguing from the standpoint of the US being the world’s police and having had to cover both conflicts. And sure, we need to make sure we are able to. But if you look at the issue from another angle, that Europe over the years should have grown to be able to cover its backyard, then it makes sense that the US focuses more in Asia where its allies are more vulnerable and less capable to fend off China aggressions. There are also short and longer term considerations. Capability build-up is more of the effort for longer term readiness. But China may not wait for the US to stock up its arsenal. So it is imperative to also enact tactical strategy to fend off China in the near term. Yes, we are caught with our pants down and can’t cover both adequately. The importance of Europe vs. Asia is not merely on trade. If China took Taiwan, it will be the beginning of the end for US influence in Asia. It will likely trigger a domino effect in the region with the US being replaced by China as the world’s number one superpower. The stake is high and should not be taken lightly. In short, near term, NATO can adequately defend Europe. Asia now cannot. We won’t lose Europe. We may lose Asia. Resource needs to be distributed and planned accordingly.
May 17, 2023 at 10:17 pm
“The Europe vs. Asia argument is a false distinction. It perpetuates our vulnerability rather than addressing it, it deepens partisanship rather than fostering consensus on foreign and security policy, and it is a strategic blueprint for American defeat. It is simply wrong.”
Agreed, it is all connected. That said, the west’s competition between positions is always a good thing (let them fight), and leads to much better results than our enemy’s Autocratic rule. Partisanship is necessary to the “Feedback of Competition”.
The problem with building deep stockpiles of weapons, and the industrial infrastructure to build them. Is that the West is buying the wrong weapons (obsolete).
The war in Ukraine is demonstrating the obsolescence of much of the West’s inventory of weapons. The evolution of weapons has made its largest (500 times) leap forward in history. Combat Power has made a quantum leap from Industrial Age dumb weapons to Information Age smart weapons.
Combat Power rule of thumb: 1 smart weapon = 500 dumb weapons
This can best be seen by Ukraine’s “Manhattan Project” to weaponize cheap (<$1,000) FPV drones. The competition of the Information Age has forced civilian consumer electronics like computers, drones, and smart phones, a couple of decades ahead of the monopolistic Western Military Industrial Complex. Simply throwing money at them to stockpile insanely expensive obsolete junk is a strategic blunder.
The West must retool for the Information Age's unmanned battlefield. The first military to do this will have a strategic advantage. Cheap, long range, attritable UAV's that can attack anywhere in the world within a few hours, from their place of manufacture. Will eliminate logistical lines of communication as a strategic vulnerability. And make the stockpiling of strategic raw materials, that can be made into anything, a strategic advantage. Building easily upgradable industrial infrastructure that can produce wartime quantities of weapons on demand, will advance all manufacturing for the nation.
The American way is to take problems (retooling for information age weapons) and turn them into advancements (adaptive [just in time] factories).
May 17, 2023 at 11:11 pm
There’s an iceberg dead ahead… but the captain keeps steering towards the ‘berg…
A close knit group around the captain are convinced the iceberg will shatter on impact… and they’ll sail right through it.
This attitude is mistaken.
To seek conflict as a first resort is as foolish as being an isolationist.
Of course, also know straw man arguments against so-called “isolationists” is the worst kind of argument, a rhetorical fallacy.
Taiwan is the iceberg… time to steer away from war… not directly towards it.
May 17, 2023 at 11:36 pm
Trump would have avoided a proxy war in europe.
But biden, the mike tyson US president, thinks having a proxy war right on moscow’s front doorstep is a brilliant move which would easily rival einstein’s E=mc2 formula jn brilliance.
Biden won’t begin to start a proxy war in asia unless he has russia already under his belt, which is not a given.
His proxy war could likely end fully in a very bad way for ukraine if russia decides to employ tactical nukes to overcome the sheer deluge of western weaponry.
Biden is a sure leftover from the cold war era of the 20th century, and this doesn’t bode well for humanity.
With the US southern border in chaos, and bank failures and debt ceiling crisis, biden’s misadventure in europe will give new meaning to clueless leadership.
May 18, 2023 at 1:24 am
Too many words.
It’s very simple.The United States has 4% of the world’s population. It cannot maintain a world dominating empire.
Have you seen American cities? They are rotting away in front of our eyes. The idea that we should spend more on military to latch on an empire that had only made a select few super-stockholders rich is a different level out of touch with reality!
May 18, 2023 at 2:20 am
America (and the west) is fond of wars, confrontation, conflicts and clashes and chaos all over the planet.
Every single problem, even it it can be back traced to the hallowed steps of capitol hill and/or the US War Dept (today the DoD), found on Earth today is regarded as a stand up/out NAIL, waiting for America to bang it down with its solid gold 24-carat hammer.
To the warmongers like Biden and stoltenberg, they should listen more to songs written by young people, like ‘Imagine’ or the song ‘Eternal Flame’ originally sung by the group Bangles.
Listening to those songs I often imagined or transported myself back to the 1990s, when I was much younger, with a decidedly stiff spring in my steps, prowling the shopping malls when cash was (still) king.
The last thing I fancied was war, but sadly those days were filled with stories about the ongoing breakup of Yugoslavia where US & NATO were already taking more than a passing interest in the unfolding events.
It almost or nearly almost resulted in the outbreak of ww3 in Europe when a US army commander ordered an assault on russian troops stationed at pristina airport.
Fortunately, the order was disobeyed, and ww3 averted.
Those guys should listen more to songs like Imagine and Eternal Flame.
May 18, 2023 at 3:31 am
Ukraine is destroying China’s main ally at very little cost to the US, less than 8% of annual defence spend, forcing America’s European allies go take defence spending seriously (Trump got that right) and providing a wonderful primer in strategy, tactics and weaponry effectiveness.
Iran, Russia’s ally, will need to be defanged, Straits of Hormuz is far too important to allow a pirate navy to operate there & on no account can the lood soaked mullahs be allowed nuclear weapons (Obama got that wrong).
May 18, 2023 at 6:36 am
Excellent article. The author makes note of how much trade exits Europe and reaches North America. Europe has as much invested in that going without a hitch as we do in the U.S. & Canada. If one considers the rapid growth of mfr’ing capabilities in Mexico, one might say that Europe REALLY has a vested interested in the security of goods shipped from Europe… or face the consequences of drastic re-shoring of manufactured goods elsewhere to hardened foreign shore, supply chains. Yet, for all it’s machinations, Europe’s defense outlays reflected a woeful lack of investment in it’s own security. So it’s not unreasonable for the U.S. to expect Europe to play a much greater role in the preservation and security of sea lanes of communication between Europe and N.A. It’s not an either or situation, it’s a simple fact that we cannot cover the globe with the joint force we have. It has to be balanced according to the geostrategic realities reflected across IndoPac. This isn’t about isolation, it’s about re-balancing the load to be sustainable. Narrow isolationist, “world’s policeman” posturing does not alter the fact that we do not and will not have the resources to guarantee the security of sea lanes of communication ala The Brettenwood Agreement post-WWII.
May 18, 2023 at 6:45 am
European are reaping what they sowed with Putin,now that White European are experiencing,what the rest of the world has experience,some of it brought about by European colonization , American ignoring their own domestic problem,they do it at their own peril,by concentrating some of the military spending to domestic priority or even on countries in our hemisphere,this war in Europe was finance with the trillion of dollars payed by European to Putin,now that the chicken has come home to roost,while the fox was in the henhouse, China not only pay their ,they are paying our bills too,the US should not be in the business of promoting White Supremacists in the US and should be in the business of protecting White Supremacists European government in Europe
May 18, 2023 at 9:01 am
My impression is that Taiwan had had 10+ years to build up its forces and invest heavily in its military forces, but has not done. It has great indigenous weapons, but is not producing them at scale relying on US weapon imports instead. It has not build up its reserve forces.
An ally who is not willing or incapable to defend itself is a problem, see Vietnam. An ally willing to fight is worth of all our support see Israel and also Ukraine. Unless Taiwan goes to 6% GDP defense spending, the costs of defending it seem too high
May 18, 2023 at 11:01 am
The essence of the author’s argument when you boil it down is to reconstitute the Cold War posture of the United States.
Are near-peer adversaries going to sit back?
Obviously not. No, this will spiral into an arms race… and where does that arms race end?
The rejoinder to this perspective is, “We aren’t driving these actions… we are reacting to our adversary actions.”
But it takes two to tango.
Seemingly, there is a desire in a significant number of people to turn the whole world into an “armed camp” with guns drawn and pointed at each other.
How does that end well?
Previously, there was an understanding among many a never ending arms race is ultimately not the way to go and potentially self-destructive.
There has to be effort at creative diplomatic approaches… which aren’t simply preparatory to war.
Diplomacy is to avoid war… for far too many that idea has been put on its head: diplomacy sets the stage for war.
Sadly, diplomatic creativity is in short supply… too may think war is the only answer.
It’s not… but if all you got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
May 18, 2023 at 11:12 am
God bless people in the world.
According to Ten Commandments, and just war theory by Augustine of Hippo, Mr. Michta should not say some people are the defeatists whom atheism parties accuse.
We should think about the wrong policies of the Democratic-Republican party with the policy thought of the U.S. President Trump.
The first policy thought is that people in the U.S. should believe God grants us life and property and freewill, and repent to God by obeying Ten Commandments. So the education, judicial, and monetary policies of the U.S. shall be about justice of God, not about social justice of Karl Marx, because of sin. Therefore, the U.S. President Trump says that America people should oppose socialism and evolution, that means to determine policy with psychology and sociology is wrong. Only by doing so, the United States would prevent making more policies from violating fiscal discipline. So we could understand that the Ukraine socialism warfare that the Democratic Party cooperated with the Communist Party is wrong, because Democratic Party violates fiscal discipline. Therefore, the United States should ask E.U. declare participation in Ukraine’s socialism warfare as soon as possible, and reserve military and currency to prepare for the second half of World War II.
So securing our stocks is the inventory management and depreciation policy of the market economy, the manufacture and inventory management of weapons and ammunition should not be planned economy, because we should not covet others’ properties, nor make excessive investment and overproduction, nor cause the Depression. For the research and manufacture of weapons, the correct fiscal planning is a long-term quantitative production plan, but not a short-term mass production plan.
The second policy thought is that the United States should confess that we cannot prevent being attacked by nuclear weapons in the second half of World War II. Because of sin, Russia, PRC, Iran, North Korea and other atheism parties and countries will make nuclear war. The U.S. has announced No first use and Mutual assured destruction, so people should not continue to argue about the day of nuclear war or disarmament. According to the U.S. Nuclear Policy in 1957, the United States must manufacture sufficient nuclear and conventional weapons, recruit and train sufficient soldiers.
The first policy thought causes the fiscal policy of the United States government, and the second policy thought causes the defense policy and foreign policy of the United States. But we should determine defense policy with fiscal discipline. If people in Europe, Asia and Africa would not oppose socialism and evolution, they should be responsible for their choice.
Moreover, the military theory of the U.S. Navy is to protect the shipping lines from the United States to the Persian Gulf, because the socialism warfare between the socialism parties of Israel and Arabs is the danger to the oil supply that the American people depend on. If Russia, PRC, North Korea, Iran, or Africa socialism countries attack merchant ships from the U.S. to other countries, it’s not only the defense obligation of the U. S., but also the defense obligations of other countries at the same time.
God bless America.
May 18, 2023 at 11:40 am
God bless people in the world.
Walker is wrong.
Although the defense policy of the Japan Kingdom in the end of the 19th century presages that Japan will lose in the war of the 20th century. However, the strategy of Admiral Yamamoto is still an important question, because the Japan Socialism Army pushes the Japan Confucianism Navy to follow the policies determined by the Army. Therefore, General Yamamoto’s task is to protect the Kingdom of Japan in place of the Japan Socialism Army. So Admiral Yamamoto is General Yamamoto.
Because General Yamamoto knows the future of the Japan Kingdom, Bushido is the political thought of Japan Navy in the first half of World War II. Die for the king.
The interception strategy of the Japan Navy originated from the Tsushima Strait War in 1905. In this war, the Japan Navy confirmed the doctrines of attrition strategy with maneuver tactics. But General Yamamoto’s problem is that they don’t have enough ships and soldiers to implement the interception strategy in the Western Pacific. The maneuver tactics are difficult to achieve the strategy goals of the Japan Navy in the Western Pacific battlefield. First, the Japan Navy does not agree with the Japan Army’s invasion, so the navy only cooperates with the army for the transportation and supply of Japan’s military in mainland China.
However, the people in Japan who believe socialism and evolution think that the United States is the enemy after World War 1, so the Japan navy will fight the U.S. navy. So General Yamamoto’s strategy question is where is the decisive war area to the big U.S. Navy. By the finances and industries of the Japan Kingdom, the Japan Navy doesn’t have sufficient ships, supply, and repairing factories to complete the interception strategy to guard the shipping line from Japan to Indonesia. Therefore, General Yamamoto decides to fight the U.S. Navy first, by which could save supplies and earn the bedtime
So the Japan Navy fought the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor, and some U.S. Navy Admirals respect General Yamamoto.
As the contrary of this military theory, the CCP makes the U.S. Navy to take the invitation of PLAN for fighting in a designated area expected by atheism political parties of one-China.
Moreover, if there was no Pearl Harbor naval battle, when the Japan socialism army occupied all China and built more naval factories, the Japan Navy would be the so-called the Second Island Chain defender. The U.S. Navy will have a decisive battle from Okinawa to Guam. However, if the Japan Army established the Southeast Asia Socialism Alliance, it would make the US-Soviet Socialism Alliance more close and make German and Hitler’s Socialism government to occupy Iran more easy.
Finally, each of us will bear the moral responsibility for this.
God bless America.
May 18, 2023 at 12:39 pm
God bless people in the world.
About the defense policy of the Japan Kingdom in the end of the 19th century, we have to think of the Japan navy strategy paper “On the History of Imperial National Defense” published in 1910 by the Vice Admiral Satō Tetsutarō.
In this atheism paper, the Vice Admiral Sato thinks about the wrongness of the defense policy of Japan Kingdom, and discusses the scope and nature of the military that Japan people should maintain and strengthen. For Japan, enhancing military strength is the first and foremost to enhance its own national strength, and by extension, it has the significance of guarding the nation-state. This is because Japan must win the competition for survival, and Japan is also under the law of victory and defeat.
The Vice Admiral attaches the importance to the fate of Japan as a nation, especially mentioning the immortality of the nation, that is, the existence of the emperor. In order to preserve Japan’s independence and continue to progress, military force must be used to bring Japan’s enemies to their knees. He thinks that the duties of national defense are to maintain the security and welfare of the nation, to protect and extend commerce, and to prevent the entry of enemy troops into the nation in times of distress. As this principle, Japan must never invade other countries or resort to weapons to promote their own national interests, but to avoid the vigilance of other countries, defend the state power, and maintain peace. So he declares that the purpose of arming should be to ensure the country’s financial resources, promote economic prosperity, and thus ensure the great cause of thousands of generations.
The Vice Admiral Sato considers the size of military is related to economy and population, and believes that it is wrong to devote all national power to the military necessary for the country’s survival. The country cannot be demeaned because of the economic damage caused by the expansion of military power for the sake of national defense. As for the casualties of war, there is a risk of losing adult males who will be the labor of families and industries. Also, due to the nature of the fighting, casualties tend to be greater in land battles mobilizing reserves than in naval battles. Regarding the geographical environment closely related to the level of military power, he believes that to counter Russia, South Korea should be regarded as a buffer zone, with the advantage of naval power instead of land power for national defense, and he suggests that Japan should concentrate its power on the sea. He also criticized people who advocate deploying troops to the Korea peninsula and northeast China for misunderstanding the principles of the offensive. Therefore, the Vice Admiral Sato believes that the strategy of expanding the country and offensive strategy advocated by the defense policy of the Japan Empire in 1907 is contrary to the original intention of armaments.
Early mistakes will lead to future failures. Even if people do the best to save the disadvantage, it is difficult to avoid failure and only try to make a draw.
The Democratic Party wants to force the Republican Party to accept the New Deal and Modern Monetary Theory. Unlimited issuance of the U.S. dollars.
But the Ukraine socialism warfare has caused the high consumer price index and the US federal government debt more and more, expensive goods cause more people to believe socialism, so the Democratic Party and other socialism parties are helping Russia and the CCP to make the socialism international.
God bless America.
May 18, 2023 at 1:37 pm
“commit resources to the fight.”
We have borrowed $32 tillion dollars and wasted it on “resources” for your mythological “fight.”
Think what you will. We don’t have any resources left. And that is a an indisputable fact.
May 18, 2023 at 2:33 pm
100 trillion to 1, Ukrainain will not be occupying Yalta on Dec 31,2023 American have no credibility,who want spread democracy abroad,but not want maintain it at home
May 18, 2023 at 3:29 pm
Dumb straw man argument, not worthy of this publication.
Nobody of any serious consequence in American politics or governance, outside of that blithering idiot Donald Trump, suggests that the US “abandon Europe in favor of Asia”. Ridiculous straw man unworthy of comment really.
The actual question before American policy makers is how much of our resources is appropriate to direct to defending Ukraine against Russia’s incursion, and what risk to US national security does our intervention in Ukraine-Russia pose?
Considering also that the US has many other risks and opportunities to address, far more, to be exact, than what is at risk in Ukraine-Russia.
This is classic cost-benefit analysis of multiple alternatives, or put another way, classic allocation of resources and risks in order to produce the optimum outcome for US national security and economic prosperity.
Nothing and nowhere gets “abandoned” – well, except for Afghanistan by both of the last two Presidents. But the US does not have infinite resources, and the US most definitely has serious national security risks, and opportunities, that are not part of the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
Joe Biden has been spending like a drunken sailor our resources in supporting Ukraine, despite the fact that Ukraine is NOT a treaty ally of the US, and Russia is not the greatest immediate or long term threat to US national security – but with one proviso. Russia easily owns by far the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, and the risk of Russian use of nukes, if Russians feel sufficiently at risk from US and NATO support for Ukraine that their own national survival, or at least regime survival, is in doubt, presents a humongous security risk.
To put it bluntly, Ukraine and Ukrainians are not worth killing tens or even hundreds of millions of American citizens in an uncontrolled nuclear holocaust triggered by Russian fears of losing.
The risk of doing too much for Ukraine presents an impossibly huge risk of nuclear devastation for the US and Europe. We have to be extremely careful to not trigger the Russians.
And the thing is, all human regimes have always been very bad at “calibrating” their war responses, such that their nations end up suffering needlessly as a result of wars getting out of control. Anyone who thinks that they, or their nation, can carefully calibrate war and limit its extent while actually achieving anything of useful value is an idiot and a fool. Regimes are incapable of wielding such a bloody and blunt object of geopolitics as is warfare.
On the other hand, China is clearly challenging US hegemony and values and economic interests, threatening actions both near term and long term that could be extremely damaging to our national interests. China is a far larger, far more powerful economy and military capability than Russian could ever possibly wield against us. Anyone who thinks China can somehow be ignored while we preoccupy ourselves messing around in Russia’s front yard is, again, an idiot and a fool.
We have to be much smarter about geopolitics than have been that doddering old senile fool in the White House now, or his immediate predecessor. American deserves far better leadership than either President of either party has provided this past decade.
We must do better as voters, or we will get what we deserve, good and hard.
May 18, 2023 at 4:47 pm
There is a group who are resolutely opposed to the Ukraine policy, but shift decisively in favor of war against China… China being the primary threat in their minds.
But Taiwan isn’t the place to do it.
The Chinese see “peeling Taiwan off” into independence as an existential action against China.
The U. S. has recognized the One China policy since 1943 @ the Cairo Conference. And has continued on for 80 years to this day with the One China policy and with several reaffirmations in the 1970’s: Nixon, Carter, and the Taiwan Relations Act passed by Congress.
China sees Taiwan as a sovereign territorial province of their country.
They will go to war to prevent a U. S. sponsored independence.
The South China Sea is where to draw the line.
China, in violation of International Law, has erected military airstrips on coral atolls, claiming territorial sovereignty by Right of Conquest in other country’s recognized 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zones.
For hydrocarbons under the seafloor, fishing rights, and potential trade rout control in the event of war.
This claim is NOT existential for China the way Taiwan is… they claim to respect International Law and the U.N. Charter… let them prove that in binding arbitration or go to war against the United States.
My hunch is China would submit to binding arbitration over the South China Sea than risk war against the United States.
That’s where the Red Line should be.