US Should Avoid Two-Front Cold War | Opinion
The Biden administration appears to be heading for a two-pronged Cold War against Ukraine in Eastern Europe and Taiwan in East Asia, both of which could get “hot” any day. The recklessness of such an approach should be obvious, but the great danger is that such “crises” could escalate before the leaders concerned back down from the brink.
Russian Vladimir Putin may want to extend Russian power to Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, but he certainly wants to ensure that NATO expansion stops. Chinese Xi Jinping, like all of his predecessors, wants Taiwan to be unified with the mainland, and while he would prefer to do so peacefully, he might be willing to risk war with the United States to achieve his goal, especially if he does. he thinks he can win such a war at an acceptable cost.
It remains only to the Biden administration, which to date has sent mixed signals to both Russia and China. Administration spokesmen warned of serious consequences if Russia invaded Ukraine, but President Biden said those consequences would be primarily economic in the form of sanctions. Meanwhile, President Biden has said the United States will defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack, but administration spokesmen backed down and reaffirmed the US policy of “strategic ambiguity.” It is a recipe for confusion, misunderstanding and perhaps war on two fronts.
This confused US approach was underscored at the recent Democracy Summit, where the US President described international politics as a global struggle between democracies and autocracies and called the US a “champion” of democracy. democracy. Biden and other American democracy supporters seem to have forgotten Secretary of State John Quincy Adams’ wise advice that America wanted freedom for all, but only for itself. Supporters of American democracy have also forgotten the cautious diplomacy of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger who sought America’s geopolitical advantage to exploit the divisions and rifts between the two most powerful autocracies in the Eurasian landmass. And they have forgotten the wise and timeless advice of Sir Halford Mackinder, the great British geopolitical thinker, who urged the Democratic statesmen of his time to reconcile democratic ideals with geopolitical realities.
Foreign policy and strategy involves understanding and prioritizing threats, and then devoting the necessary resources to deal with those threats. China clearly poses the greatest threat to US national security interests in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. The Biden administration should focus on this and it should allocate resources accordingly. Chinese President Xi must understand that he cannot forcibly annex Taiwan without incurring unacceptable costs in a war with the United States. “Strategic ambiguity” should be replaced by “strategic clarity”. Meanwhile, the United States should use diplomacy to wean Russia from China’s orbit, including renouncing any further NATO expansion and avoiding democracy versus autocracy rhetoric. High-sounding principles don’t replace a tough head realpolitik. Biden’s model would have to be John Quincy Adams, or George Washington, or Richard Nixon, or looking across the oceans, Otto von Bismarck or Lee Kuan Yew – statesmen who understood geopolitical realities and who were not linked by so-called universal principles. Or maybe Biden could just emulate Abraham Lincoln, who during the Thirty Business in the midst of the Civil War, his cabinet and military advisers wisely warned: “One war at a time.
Francis P. Sempa is the author of Geopolitics: from the cold war to the 21stCentury America’s Global Role: Essays and Criticisms of National Security, Geopolitics, and War, and Somewhere in France, Somewhere in Germany: A Combatant’s Journey Through World War II. He wrote lengthy introductions to two of Mahan’s books and wrote on historical and foreign policy topics for The Diplomat, University Bookman, Joint Force Quarterly, Asian Review of Books, New York Journal of Books, the Claremont Review of Books, American Diplomacy, the Washington Times, and other publications. He is a lawyer, assistant professor of political science at Wilkes University, and editor of American Diplomacy.