The US revolving door policy behind the collapse of US-Sino ties
In just nine months, Biden’s net scores fell 20%, leaving him behind all Postwar American presidents, with the exception of Trump, whose policies the White House has adopted. Today, Biden’s performance divides the nation, as does Trump’s before him.
Certainly, Biden is committed to ending America’s longest war in Afghanistan. This does not end “Eternal Wars”. It only means transfers of resource allocations to new regions. Last June, Bernie Sanders warned that such policies could “start another cold war” against China.
The global challenges facing America – climate change, pandemics, nuclear proliferation, massive economic inequalities, corruption and authoritarianism – are share challenges. They cannot be overcome unilaterally, Sanders warned. It is “distressing and dangerous that a rapidly growing consensus is emerging in Washington that views the US-China relationship as a zero-sum economic and military struggle.”
But if such policies are wrong, who benefits from the Cold War against China?
The revolving door policy behind militarized foreign policy
In 2019, Biden’s Asian Tsar Kurt Campbell and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan touted a new Chinese doctrine of “disaster-free competition.” As in the 1950s, the effective objective is to militarize the containment policy and minimize American costs by diversifying the risks for allies and proxy conflicts in Asia.
The new promoters of the Cold War like to refer to George Kennan, the architect of the American containment against Russia in 1947. Here’s the irony: Kennan himself started pushing for dialogue with Moscow already a year ago. later, when he denounced the “twisted” and “militarized version” of the Truman administration of containment – which, he told CNN in 1996, “led to 40 years of unnecessary, terribly expensive and disorienting process of the Cold War”.
So why this disastrous doctrine? The short answer: it pays off for its promoters.
President Biden’s biggest mistake has been his willingness to let a handful of political experts, each with deep economic ties to defense contractors, take charge of U.S. foreign policy. Everyone’s credibility – Campbell, Sullivan, Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin – is undermined by conflicts of interest, as US government watchdogs and journalists recently reported. investigation.
The resulting US-China-US tensions were not inevitable. These are fabricated results of the privatization of US foreign policy vis-à-vis campaign finance and revolving door policy between the White House, the Pentagon and its contractors – as evidenced by the plunge in relations. bilateral.
Collapse of bilateral relations
In the Trump era, bilateral relations have plunged to an all-time low. Instead of the hoped-for reset, Biden embraced Trump’s anti-China far-right policies.
High-level dialogues. Presidents Trump and Xi met five times in 2017-19, but the dialogue did collapse. In Biden’s day, bilateral relations were limited to a phone call in which Biden aimed to set “safeguards and parameters” so that “fierce competition does not escalate into conflict.” But in China, unilateral directives in the midst of an unwarranted Cold War sound like a bully monologue.
To exchange. In bilateral trade, Biden has embraced Trump’s protectionism and tariff wars. Both have hit American consumers hard. Likewise, American businesses are frustrated with Biden’s decision to keep Trump’s conflicting policies in China. They know Cold Wars are preludes to Hot Wars. In 1930, President Herbert Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which worsened the effects of the Great Depression, serving as a prelude to another world war (Figure 1).
Figure 1 Trump-Biden tariffs towards the hot war
Sources: Chad P. Bown and Douglas A. Irwin 2018.
Investment. In 2016, before the Trump era, U.S. foreign investment in China amounted to $ 15 billion, while Chinese investment in the United States soared to over $ 50 billion. Today, each number is closer to around $ 8 billion (Figure 2).
Figure 2 FDI transactions between the United States and China, 2000-2020 ($ bn)
Source: Rhodium Group; Difference group
Relations between military personnel. If a bilateral catastrophe is to be avoided, high-level military relations play a critical role. Yet in the Trump era, U.S.-Chinese military commitments have grown from 30 in 2016 to more than two-thirds in 2019, while plunging in 2020. What remains focuses heavily on risk reduction.
Climate change. In Obama’s day, climate change was the only area of bilateral relations that showed promise of cooperation. In the Trump-Biden era, that promise is fading, as Biden’s climate diplomat John Kerry recently discovered in Beijing. When Kerry urged China to move its peak emissions target, Foreign Secretary Wang Yi noted that when Washington’s grand strategy has targeted China as a “threat and an adversary,” it puts the whole world at risk. bilateral cooperation.
The current tensions are the net effect of a decade of missed opportunities.
Opposing positions to manage Sino-US relations
In 2013, when Chinese President Xi Jinping met President Obama in Sunnylands, he promoted the idea of a “new kind of great power relationship.” When the Pax Britannica has been replaced by the American Pax, the persistent transition has resulted in two world wars. As the size of the Chinese economy is expected to exceed that of the United States by the end of the 2020s, Xi saw a historic opportunity to avoid ill-advised conflicts and focus on economic development that would benefit the big two. powers.
However, the Obama administration stayed away from the idea, rejected it and replaced it with a shift to “renewed competition from the great powers.” The new doctrine was first affirmed in the National military strategy (June 2015). And he was placed at the center of the Trump administration National security strategy (Dec 2017) and National defense strategy (January 2018).
Insisting on inclusion, dialogue and multilateralism in the global economy, China advocated a “new kind of great power relationship,” which Washington rejected. With a focus on the quest for complete military supremacy, the United States has encouraged increasing force deployments and high-end large-scale warfare capabilities against Beijing.
The contrast between the two positions could not be greater.
Sleepwalking in the disaster
Since 1945, the only successful economic modernization in the world has occurred in Asia, with an emphasis on economic development. But after a decade of America’s backbone in the region, arms races and nuclear threats risk undermining the Asian century.
According to the New Trilateral Security Pact (AUKUS) between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, Washington and London “will help” Canberra to develop and deploy nuclear-powered submarines. The $ 66 billion deal effectively killed Australia’s $ 90 billion treaty sub-agreement with France. Surprisingly, U.S. and Australian officials had been in secret talks for months over the plan drawn up more than a year ago by the far-right Trump administration. Yet it was both adopted and accelerated by the Biden White House.
The pact will dramatically intensify regional nuclear proliferation, which China firmly opposes and casts a dark shadow over the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (1995).
The first tremors were felt months ago, twice. In the 2016 US election and subsequent riot on Capitol Hill, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley had reason to worry about President Trump’s possible use of war to distract from the unrest interiors. According to The peril, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book, Milley took covert steps to limit Trump and called on Chinese General Li Zuochen to “reassure in order to maintain strategic stability.”
Showing great restraint, Milley did everything to neutralize the risks. But what will happen next time?
Neither the White House nor the Pentagon seem to be effectively in charge anymore. Defense contractors are.
Dr Dan Steinbock is an internationally renowned strategist of the multipolar world and the founder of Difference Group. He has worked at the Indian, Chinese and American Institute (United States), the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies (China) and the European Center (Singapore). For more information, see https://www.differencegroup.net
A version of the commentary was originally posted by China-US Focus on September 29, 2021.
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