AN APRIL FOOL’S ANALYSIS
In February 1946, the diplomat George Kennan — then serving as charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow — authored a 5,000-word telegram analyzing the sources of Soviet conduct and laying out the case for what would become the Cold War strategy of containment. Seventy-five years later, as the United States enters a new era of great-power competition with the People’s Republic of China, War on the Rocks is pleased to publish a landmark essay in this same tradition by acclaimed international relations strategist and renowned Sinologist C. Lea Shea, drawing on his decades of scholarship and service in Democratic and Republican administrations alike.
The defining challenge facing the United States in the 21st century is the rise of China. This is an uncomfortable truth for the Washington foreign policy establishment to admit. Since the turn of the millennium, while the American eagle should have been soaring over the cerulean waters of the Indo-Pacific, its head instead has been buried, ostrich-like, in the Middle East’s sterile sands. But while Washington has been dozing, Beijing has been dreaming — and China’s dreams are the stuff of American nightmares. At long last Americans are slowly rousing from their strategic slumber — awakening to the reality that they have been sleepwalking into disaster. After a long, dark night of geopolitical confusion, can it be morning in America again?
The answer is yes it can — but time is running out. The world is approaching an unprecedented inflection point. Global geopolitics is undergoing a historic paradigm shift. After centuries of Euro-Atlantic supremacy, the balance of power — not only military and economic, but ideological, technological, teleological, and geospatial — is pivoting to the East. Much about this new era remains uncertain, but what is obvious to every sharp-eyed strategist is that the future of the future will be written in Asia. Indeed, it is conceivable that, after decades of the Pax Americana, we are on the cusp not merely of an Eastern Decade or a Pacific Century, but a Sino-Asian Millennium — what political scientists refer to as “The Big SAM.”
It is no exaggeration to say that China’s rise challenges every national interest that the United States has ever had. With its continental economy and cutting-edge technological prowess, Beijing threatens to seep into the nooks and crannies of the liberal international order like butter on an English muffin — clogging the arteries of freedom with the cholesterol of communism and corruption.
We need a strategy — and we need one now.
READ FULL ARTICLE HERE : WAR ON THE ROCKS
C. Lea Shea is one of Washington’s foremost experts on Sino-American relations. He is founder and chairman of the Center for the Study of Great Power Competition, formerly known as the Long War Institute on Counterterrorism and Counterinsurgency and, prior to that, as the New Globalization Initiative. He is author of From Athens to AI, Strategies of Attainment, and a forthcoming book, All Hail RUBIO: Why Rules-Based International Order Will Conquer the Future.