spy balloons have briefly captured the nation’s imagination, but
they’re just another in a series of surveillance layers that begins with
satellites and ends with phone apps. The spy balloons seem odd, but
they reveal the thoroughness and dedication of Beijing’s data hounds who
are not satisfied with hacking us, embedding thousands of spies in our
universities and tech firms, but want that added edge with slow-motion
spying on our bases and defenses.
The balloon may seem silly but it reveals a rigorous mindset that ought to be frightening.
economic warfare hollowed out our economy in the same dedicated
fashion, aiming low to aim high, capturing our industries from the
bottom so that we laughed at all the ‘Made in China’ junk and we went on
laughing until it became impossible to find anything else. No aspect of
our economy was too unimportant to outsource and no angle was
overlooked. Our retail sector now consists of buying American brands
that are made in China from Chinese third party sellers on Amazon. Soon
we’ll be buying Chinese brands on Chinese platforms like Alibaba.
The same obsessive attention to detail that served China so well in its economic war is at play in its war plans. Having lost an economic war to China, we’re sleepwalking into a military defeat.
Even on our end, we’ve lost war games against China over and over again.
“The trend in our war games was not just that we were losing, but we were losing faster,” Air Force Lt. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote stated. We’re losing because we have no serious plan to win and that’s because we don’t really believe that there will be a war and so we don’t need to.
China is serious. We’re not. Xi lives in a zero-sum world. So does the rest of the Communist regime. They believe that for them to win, we have to lose. They’d rather not fight a war and they would prefer that we decline into oblivion while selling our souls for consumer gadgets, but they are seriously preparing to fight and win a battle that will establish them as the world power.
Our leaders speak of China as being a “competitor” rather than an enemy. That’s a concession on our end, but China has no intention of merely competing, it wants to end the competition.
We don’t. And that’s why we’re setting ourselves up for defeat.
Despite the defeatism in some circles, China is not naturally superior to us. But, like most of our opponents, it’s nationalistic while we have decayed into a globalist apathy that claims to care about the world, but without any particular attachment to any part of it including our own.
China knew that it could stomp over Hong Kong and that it would excite no more opposition from most of the western world and its leaders than the manifold human rights abuses all over the world. Similarly, it anticipates that if it can manage to take Taiwan, the story will vanish in the news cycle the way that fighting in dozens of other places in the world have.
In the globalist paradigm, everything matters and so nothing matters. China’s human rights abuses deserve no more and no less attention than those in Africa, the Middle East, or the rest of Asia. Untethered from national interests, we have come to view China’s advance through the dispassionate lens of human rights activism, outraged over everything and dedicated to nothing.
Globalism seduced us into handing out pieces of our economy to any nation willing to take it on the disproven theory that binding nations together through collective economic interests would end war and usher in a collective humanity, a European Union, a North American Union, a United States of Africa, a New Middle East, an Asian Federation, and finally a United Earth.
“No two countries that both have a McDonald’s have ever fought a war against each other,” Thomas Friedman idiotically argued in his paean to globalization, ‘The World Is Flat’. “No two countries that are both part of a major global supply chain, like Dell’s, will ever fight a war against each other as long as they are both part of the same global supply chain.”
Someone forgot to tell Russia and Ukraine.
America’s Cold War diplomatic strategy, carved out by FDR and Truman administration holdovers, hinged on a multilateralism built around the UN and international organizations, that at times suspiciously resembled a mirror image of the USSR, to avert a world war. The Soviet Union easily infiltrated and took over the multilateral organizations, beginning with the UN, and built alliances with third world nations that kept free western nations on the diplomatic defense.
Every Republican administration until Reagan put all of its efforts into maintaining this house of cards as the only way to avert the horrors of nuclear war. The more domestic propagandists terrified us with nuclear bombs falling on our cities while children were taught to cower under desks (not in the hopes of saving their lives, but of terrifying their parents into clamoring for a diplomatic solution), the more we turned to the globalism that was slowly destroying us.
And then the Soviet Union fell.
Having learned nothing, or perhaps everything, the Clinton administration made globalism into the axis of our foreign policy. The world was divided between progressive regimes, abiding by international law and institutions, and reactionary ones opposed to the international order. Instead of returning to our national interests, we put our military at the disposal of the UN, we fought to bring democracy to countries united only by the democratic desire to kill all infidels.
Biden complained that China violated “international law” by flying spy balloons over our territory. China responded by accusing us of violating its territory. This tedious tit-for-tat legal wrangling, so familiar from the Cold War, is also entirely besides the point. Do we object to China spying on us on the grounds of international law or national interest? Anti-American leftists and a few rightists excel at pointing out where America has violated international law. But nations that prioritize their interests view violations of international law as strategic, not moral. We shouldn’t care that China violated international law, but we should care that it violated our territory. And that it did so as part of a larger program to spy on us in order to military defeat us.
To globalists, this is a minor matter. A war between China and America is to be avoided not because they care about America, but because all wars are bad as a matter of principle. They interfere with the free flow of commerce, raise ocean temperatures and teach little boys warlike behavior. But as Americans, China’s military and economic threat to us should be foremost.
The myth of international law is dying a slow death in Ukraine. But it’s died many times before, in two world wars and countless massacres, wars and genocides since, especially in Africa. The international conclaves of “people of goodwill” have accomplished nothing except to build lifetime careers bemoaning the millions of deaths that they have utterly failed to prevent while claiming that those track records of failure somehow endow them with moral authority.
Moral authority cannot be vested in multilateral institutions, only national ones because only nations can be animated by a clear and defining sense of right and wrong rooted in their cultures that they implement by risking the lives of their people. That doesn’t mean that nations are necessarily right, either always or at all, but, unlike globalist ones, they are meaningful.
Globalism claims to represent everyone while representing no one. Its ambitions are as vast in scope as they are empty. Its world government of abstractions commands the loyalty of no one even while basing everything discredited theories that have never worked in the real world.
China’s ambitions are equally global, but it is not globalist. It has a clear plan to expand its territories locally and its economic empire globally. The only way we can even begin to fight it is by making the vital nationalistic calculation that we must be at the epicenter of our interests. China is not a threat to the international order, but to us, and it has effectively used the international order to weaken us, bleeding our economy and shackling our military operations.
No one wants a war with China, but, as WWII showed us, the surest way to stumble into one is to pompously proclaim the dogma of international law that we have no intention of defending, while having no notion of how to deal with an enemy that isn’t seeking a diplomatic solution.
England and France were convinced until the last minute that Hitler wanted a diplomatic solution. The FDR administration believed that the Japanese diplomats were there to negotiate in good faith until the bombs fell from the sky on Pearl Harbor. China’s attack, if it comes, will be equally sudden, ruthless and decisive unless we wake up from our daze and deal with reality.
(If COVID was deliberately released from a lab, it was a mere underpowered trial run.)
America’s leaders, Democrats and Republicans, still live in a globalist fantasy in which most issues can be worked out across conference tables, and in the worst case scenario, sanctions can be used to bring recalcitrant regimes to the table. North Korea, Iran and now the Ukraine war have taught them nothing. The globalist fallacy is that everyone wants to be globalists.
They don’t. Instead, serious nations want to be global world powers.
International law was created to bind us to be reactive, to appease and to bribe other nations to join us in the globalist utopia. As a result we have lost our edge, betrayed our allies, and put ourselves on a path to defeat. If we are going to confront China and avoid a war, we need to take a leaf from its playbook and remember the lessons of our own history. Weakness and empty rhetoric impress no one. America should be strong and silent. We should let our actions speak louder than words, make few threats, but demonstrate that we would win any war.
China, its goods and services, its companies and its scientists, should have no place in this country. The entire question of being open to Chinese commerce should not even be considered until the day that China is willing to open its borders to us the way that we have to it. Our enemies have clearly shown us what we have forgotten: a military rides on the economy.
We have a limited window in which China has out-competed us economically, but not militarily, unless we shift that balance of power soon, then we will be stuck in a weaker position. And we will need to retreat from Asia entirely while trying to maintain what’s left of our economy. By then, there will be negotiations, not over the status of Taiwan, but the status of Hawaii.
Either we will shed globalism and rediscover our national interests or, like much of Europe, the question of national interests will become irrelevant because we will have limited scope for asserting them. We will retreat into globalism, not to restrain our strength, but to protect our weakness, and then we will be a few generations away from total national extinction.
It’s not too late, but if we refuse to remember what makes nations great, it will be.
Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine. Click here to subscribe to my articles. And click here to support my work with a donation. Thank you for reading.