Ronald Reagan bankrupted the Soviet Union, which imploded in 1991. China’s Tiananmen Square, in 1989, exposed the horror of its Communist government. Communism was in the dustbin of history. But communists didn’t just go away.
Russia transmogrified from a Soviet system to a nascent kleptocracy, which has turned into the world’s largest (or second-largest, depending on who is measuring) criminal enterprise. China retained its central Communist government, while opening massive pockets of capitalism that supercharged its economy in those megacities. But the Russian and Chinese governments–headed by autocrats unafraid to kill anyone in their way–still retain absolute control.
Since the early 90’s, our Cold War adversaries have only strengthened and rebuilt, while America had our heads in the sand, and our gaze centered on our War on Terror. America has Gitmo, but Putin tells his security apparatus to “liquidate the bandits on the spot.” That’s how Russia deals with Islamic terror. China also crushes internal enemies and terrorists. Just like Chairman Mao, they put a million Muslims in “re-education camps.”
Why would we think the Chinese and Russians would treat us any differently?
The next Cold War, which, frankly, is here now and has been for a decade, will not depend on military might. America has everyone beat in spades in that department. It will depend on the cyber domain, the human domain, and the technology domain (and to some degree, the space domain). America doesn’t have nearly as big a lead in these areas as we do in our armed forces.
We know what the Russians have been doing for the last ten years. Their social engineering efforts and political interference in our internal affairs is legendary.
As much as I disagree with President Trump’s tariffs because they are bad for America’s economy, I do believe they serve a purpose with China. China uses its tremendous manufacturing capacity as a lever to win the Cold War against America. They do this worldwide. The Chinese have thoroughly penetrated American educational institutions, politics, and consumer goods markets. They have stolen billions (trillions?) in technology trade secrets. They are building military-capable ports in the Middle East and in Central and South America.
The blacklisting of Huawei is the first real step I’ve seen to stand against China’s onslaught against us. Good. Read what Eli Lake wrote in Bloomberg:
The tech cold war against China, like the original cold war against the Soviet Union, could last a long time. And like the first cold war, it will not always make American lives easier. Now as then, however, that cost is worth paying to contain a dangerous adversary.
This Cold War is here, and it’s going to cost us something. It will cost us a lot more if we lose. It’s time we woke up and realized that we’ve sat far too long while the present and former Communists have set their eyes on our prize.