Saturday, December 28, 2013

Getting Close Enough

We aren't in a new Cold War with China and Russia? Tell that to them.

So we aren't involved in "a deadly, apocalyptic competition with Russia, China or anyone else. We are not fighting proxy wars." (tip to Instapundit)

But it kind of looks like it:

But although we are not fighting a new Cold War, the tactics of the old Cold War are now, at the dawn of 2014, suddenly being deployed in a manner not seen since the early 1980s. We in the United States may not believe that we are engaged in an ideological struggle with anybody, but other people are engaged in an ideological struggle with us. We in the United States may not believe that there is any real threat to our longtime alliance structures in Europe and Asia, but other people think those alliances are vulnerable and have set out to undermine them.

Well, we aren't plotting against Russia and China.

But we would like them more democratic and would prefer that they not push around neighbors, especially those who are friends of ours.

And we'd prefer they don't unilaterally grab territory, as China is slowly doing around their periphery and as Russia is doing in their "near abroad" of former empire and trying to do in the Arctic.

And we don't much like their autocratic systems of government. They may like state capitalism, but they like to keep competition in the private sector--not government.

Heck, Russia and China resist any efforts of the UN to intevene against brutal thugs slaughtering their own people on the theory that Russia and China don't want to set the legal precedent for us to mobilize the world against them! What they do to their own people is their own damn business, they reason. Humanitarianism doesn't motiviate us--sinister plots against Russia and China motivate us.

And so to Putin and his ilk and to the Chinese Communist Party, we logically are trying to undermine them.

Russia is fighting us in Syria. And sees our hand in Ukraine. Their paranoia knows few bounds. And resented us for supporting Georgia when Russia invaded that country. And seethes that former parts of their empire are now in NATO. And sees a US threat in a missile defense system in eastern NATO.

China is maneuvering against us in the South China Sea and East China Sea. And sees our hand in "their" affairs from India to Japan, trying to contain China. And is convinced we are seeking to weaken and overthrow the Chinese Communist Party (their military made a movie about it). And worries more about North Korea being on our side if it collapses than ending the murderous regime of the Kim family dynasty that runs a gulag with a UN seat.

Others can resist China or Russia because we exist as a military power and China and Russia have to account for us rather than roll over them at will.

In many ways, our very existence is a challenge to their systems of government. We supported democracy in Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan rather successfully, showing that democracy isn't alien to Asian society as China long claimed.

Democracy's appeal is also making Russia's former European empire seem farther away. And maybe within Russia itself.

So here we are, on the cusp of the sixth year of the Era of Hope and Change when the water levels themselves were supposed to recede, and Russia and China act as if some cowboy president is trying to destroy them.

So China and Russia seek weaknesses in our alliance structures and seek to exploit them to bring down our alliance structures that they believe are part of a system out to destroy them.

That's not unstable and dangerous at all.

Well, not until Russia (low odds) or China (higher odds) gain the military means to challenge us. Remember, Soviet Russia was a military challenge to us mostly because they had military power massed in East Germany. If they had been able to advance the relatively short distance to the Rhine River, they might have shattered NATO and driven us from Europe. If we'd lost control of Europe to a hostile power, we'd have been in deep trouble.

And assuming that the soothing balms of hope and change have no effect on Russia and China, at all. What are the odds of that happening?

So whether or not we elevate this new tension to a Cold War, Russia and China are challenging us--although not usually together because they have their own differences.

We're just not really noticing their efforts because they don't yet have the power to pose a military threat to key pillars of our power.

If it isn't a Cold War now, it's just because it isn't a Cold War yet.