Writing this seems weird and not because it’s Halloween. Rather, it’s because by the time you read this, Election Day will have passed but as of this writing, I have no idea who will have won or if we’ll even know for sure. Of one thing I’m certain, however. The election will not have solved our problems or healed our divisions. The problems are too numerous and profound and the divisions too deep to be amenable to quick solutions. Herewith are two problems that warrant early attention.
While I don’t agree with Dean Andrew Michta of the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany, writing in the Wall Street Journal, that the American experiment is on life support, I do agree that it is seriously ill. We have, as he wrote, witnessed a half century, beginning in the 1960’s of leftist indoctrination of our university students which is now spreading to high schools and middle schools. Young Americans are being taught that their country not only has a racist past, but is now systemically racist and evil and that the entire white race is stained by the original sin of slavery and must forever bear the resultant guilt because of the color of their skin. One wonders what the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have thought of this notion.
This indoctrination, as much as the examples of police brutality against Blacks, has contributed to the violence, arson, rioting, looting, destruction of statues and monuments, and defiance of authority we have seen in places like Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland, Atlanta, Kenosha, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburg and elsewhere with white college –educated students, many from affluent families participating in riots causing havoc in mostly Democrat-run cities. Many are woefully uninformed of our history beyond its faults and failures and ignore the good our nation has accomplished including saving the world from tyranny in two world wars, eliminating slavery which existed centuries before it was exported to the American colonies and serving as a refuge and preferred destination for the world’s huddled masses.
Their playbook is eerily similar to that which the Bolsheviks used to seize power in Russia resulting in the Soviet Union and its reign of terror. Is this the path we are doomed to follow? Whoever leads America in the next four years must determine the answer. He must restore patriotism and inspire pride in our country before it is too late or we will have no country. That’s job one.
Job two should be to reassure the world that although we have domestic issues and political divisions, we are still the world’s largest economy and strongest power and that we intend to retain that role indefinitely. Whoever leads our nation for the next four years has to get our priorities straight. Russia is not, as Joe Biden has claimed, our biggest threat. Not by far. The Chinese Communist Party, which runs the People’s Republic of China (PRC), is. Russia is a regional power whose largely energy-based economy ranks behind that of Brazil. Its population is less than half that of the U.S. and is aging. It is a concern mainly because of its huge nuclear arsenal. China, by contrast, is the world’s second largest economy and is rapidly gaining on the U.S., having recovered rapidly from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its population, the largest in the world, is nearly five times larger than ours. Its stated aim is to overtake us as the world’s largest economy and superpower.
It would be comforting to think of our relationship with Communist China as friendly competition between trading partners but it would be a mistake. Our problem is not with the Chinese people, of course, but with the Communist Party that controls their lives and their government. China will use any means, legal or illegal to promote Chinese advantage and keep the Communist Party in power. On its mission to overtake us as the world’s predominant party there will be obstacles that can easily escalate to conflict. One is China’s effort to assert sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, the vast body of water between the Indian and Pacific Oceans through which over half of the world’s maritime cargo passes daily. This threatens freedom of navigation which the U.S. as a maritime power is committed to ensure. The other is the future of Taiwan, formally known as the Republic of China (ROK), which Beijing regards as a renegade province and has expressed willingness to use force if necessary to establish sovereignty over the island nation.
Our policy toward Taiwan has been characterized by ambiguity since we severed diplomatic relations with Taipei and recognized the People’s Republic as the one China. The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which abrogated the U.S.-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty, states that the U.S. expects that the future of Taiwan will be settled peacefully. It did not, however, specifically commit the U.S. to using force to help defend Taiwan against Beijing’s use of force to occupy the island.
Taiwan has never been a part of Communist China and was in fact ceded to Japan at the end of the Russo-Sino War. It remained part of Japan until the end of World War II. Taiwan has a thriving democracy and robust economy and has been a loyal ally of the U.S. and we need to make it clear to Beijing and the rest of the world that the U.S. will not abandon an ally that does not wish to become a part of Communist China and be ruled by the Chinese Communist Party and that no action would be off the table. It is important that this be made clear to all parties to avoid a dangerous miscalculation on the part of Beijing.