For four years, we were safe.
Under President Trump, we were safe. Not only was the border secure, but foreign threats were in hand. For example, ISIS – the global jihadist threat that Obama had publicly stated was a “generational threat” we just had to get used to – was not dealt with as an eventuality we must live with. Then President Trump declared war on the physical Caliphate of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and within a matter of months, the theocratic insurgent proto-state lay in ruins.
Whether it was Sunni Jihadis like ISIS, Shia terror-sponsors like Iran, or Kim in Pyongyang, Putin in the Kremlin, or China’s dictator Xi Jinping, they knew better than to mess with the America First President.
That is now ancient history.
The geopolitical disasters of the last three years are clear: Surrender in Afghanistan, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and now war in the Middle East. But the connective tissue behind them is less so, and they lead to our greatest threat: Communist China.
Let me explain.
In 1999, two senior colonels of the Communist Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) published the work Unrestricted Warfare. With this work, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui proposed that the context of conflict had drastically changed, and that this change required a “new” type of war without limits.
In their work, the colonels focused first on the geostrategic and geopolitical changes that necessitate “unrestricted warfare.” This discussion included excursions on the topic of globalization, the waning power of the classic nation-state, and the rise of “super-empowered” actors such as hackers and cyber warriors, and a lengthy discourse on the significance of the First Gulf War in demonstrating the “omnidirectionality” of combat, and en emphasis on the non-kinetic aspects of war such as information warfare, economic warfare, and subversion.
None of the principles listed was wholly new. In fact, several are as old as Sun Tsu’s The Art of War itself. And others are simply good common sense. Likewise, the contextual factors that have led to these principles being evinced are not new either, with scores of Western authors, such as Phillip Bobbit and Martin van Creveld, having discussed them since the end of the Cold War.
Nevertheless, we should not disrespect their work – or rather, we should not conclude that there is nothing new about how China has been thinking about and exercising its power in the post-9/11 world.
Every nation – and even individual nonstate actors – has its own unique strategic culture. Contemporary China has been primarily shaped by two specific historical experiences: The original period of the warring states which brought us the wisdom of Sun Tsu and the ninteenth- and early twentieth-century experiences of modern China.
The former imbued the strategic personality of China’s generals and leaders with an obsession for maintaining internal cohesion to a degree that far exceeds any reasonable attitude other nations have regarding internal peace and harmony. And the second created a suppurating psychological wound in the mind of the political elite that China must never again be exploited and humiliated by foreign powers, as it had been for so long in the modern age.
What have these resulted in today when it comes to China’s strategic goals and action? Liang and Xiangsui may not have expounded upon a revolutionary way of war for their nation, but Beijing is most definitely practicing a very shrewd form of irregular warfare that seems to reflect its prescription for war.
Simply looking at China’s actions in Latin America and South Asia in recent year, with billions “invested” in countries like Venezuela and Afghanistan for access to natural resources such as oil and rare earth elements, we see how China uses the non-kinetic to realize its national goals. Add to that the privatization and co-option of the state China has perpetrated in Africa in places such as Angola and Nigeria, and we can agree with the label author Rafael Marques has used to describe China’s foreign policy: “New imperialism.”
China buys the good will of whole governments in ways that are very reminiscent of the mercantilist methods of the West just a couple of centuries ago. Beijing’s approach has been to exploit weak nations and corrupt regimes, while capitalizing on the weaknesses of strong nations. And when it comes to the strongest of its competitors, such as the United States – to quote Liang from a CCTV interview in 2012 when he was already a general – the goal is “to make trouble for the troublemaker.”
That was hard to do under President Trump because he understood the threat of Communist China, with its laogai labor camps, COVID labs, and social credit score. But under the current incumbent, China has advanced her interests globally.
From harassing our military vessels in international airspace and international waters, to aiding Putin in his war against an independent Ukraine, to making sure America is distracted by hostage negotiations with the terrorists of Gaza, China continues to buy allies and intimidate her competitors and free peoples across the world with its “One Belt One Read” strategy for global domination; the plan is set to make China the world’s hegemon by 2049, the hundredth anniversary of the Communist takeover of China.
To quote Leon Trotsky: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you!” Americans may not be interested in China’s plans for them. That doesn’t mean China doesn’t want to dominate us all, or that it isn’t willing to engineer international events to distract and weaken us – especially when American leadership is AWOL.
(If you want to understand the threat from China, and our other enemies, read my second book, Why We Fight)
Read the original at Dr. G’s Substack