Teddy Roosevelt famously adhered to an American foreign policy grounded in “speaking softly” and “carrying a big stick.” That doctrine, described by him on many occasions emphasized diplomacy and talk first but was backed by the use of significant military force when required. Implicit in this doctrine was something else, though, that was critical to its success.
It is not enough to have military force. You must be willing to use it. Saying you will fight is one thing. Making the other fellow believe it is entirely another.
Which brings us to Joe Biden, China, and the very real possibility that we are headed for war.
The United States, Japan, France, and Australia are engaged in naval maneuvers designed to send the signal that they are prepared to push back against Chinese aggression in the Pacific. Beijing does not appear cowed.
“The ongoing joint exercises by Japanese, U.S., French and Australian troops, claimed to “serve as a deterrent to China,” is only symbolic and of little military significance, as the drill was put together by participants that have different agenda or are too weak, experts said on Wednesday, while slamming Japan’s outdated mindset of rallying alliances for confrontation.
“The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) doesn’t even need to make pointed responses to the joint drill since it is insignificant militarily. PLA should make concrete steps in its own development like it did with recent drills and warship commissioning said analysts.”
“China will not be daunted by the strategic pressure either from the U.S. alone or from any packs of allies it may form. Long gone are the days when China was a weak country that had no choice but to yield to the invasion and bullying of Western powers.”
“It would turn out to be a costly mistake if the U.S. and its allies miscalculate the situation and think that they can use coercion to force China to back off from defending its core interests.”
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been for decades now pursuing a policy dedicated to making China the world’s preeminent military, political and economic power. With the assistance of large numbers of Americans more interested in making money than in protecting their nation, the CCP is now dangerously close to achieving that goal. Joe Biden, perhaps the weakest, most incompetent President in American history presents them with a golden opportunity to move aggressively in the Pacific and fundamentally alter the balance of power that has existed there since 1945. Xi Jinping has no intention of wasting this opportunity.
Biden was the point man on U.S. policy in East Asia in the Obama administration. As such he was charged first and foremost with checking Chinese expansionism. He did nothing. China, in fact, seized essentially the entire South China Sea by building artificial militarized islands there and faced no consequences beyond stern finger-wagging from Washington.
Nothing Joe has done since he sat down in the Oval Office has suggested to Beijing that anything has changed. In fact, to the contrary, Biden’s actions regarding the military to date have indicated clearly that he intends to take up right where he left off in 2016.
The White House is proposing a fiscal 2022 Pentagon budget of $715 billion. That’s a 1.6% increase from 2021’s $704 billion, but it’s a cut in military spending in the real world where inflation is now projected to be well above 4%. Meanwhile, non-defense discretionary spending will increase 16%, with the Department of Education rising 41%, Health and Human Services 23%, and the Environmental Protection Agency 21%.
This is precisely where we were under Barack Obama when defense spending as a share of the overall federal budget fell dramatically. The result was predictable. Ships and aircraft broke down. They were not replaced or repaired. The capacity of the military to project power diminished significantly.
Not since prior to 9/11 has the United States spent less than 3% of GDP on defense. That is about to change. On this trajectory, we will be there shortly. Even as we talk – in terms of a recognition of the danger of the challenge from China, in particular – we are effectively on course for unilateral disarmament.
China now has a navy larger than that of the United States and is building ships at a rate we cannot possibly match. We are talking about increasing the size of our fleet, but that is all it is. Talk. We are not committing the money. We are not addressing the dramatic decline in our ship-building capacity.
Meanwhile, at the Pentagon, the clear emphasis is on critical race theory, the hunt for “extremists” in the ranks, and refining “gender-neutral” physical fitness tests. The Chinese are sharpening bayonets. We are concerned with what hairstyles will be permissible in the ranks.
Joe Biden does not scare the CCP. Neither do any of his key appointees, most of whom were coopted by Beijing long ago. Joint maneuvers with allies are fine for readiness in the abstract. As deterrence, they mean nothing unless the enemy actually believes you will fight.
No one in leadership in China today believes that of Joe Biden. They have taken his measure. He is found wanting. They intend to push him and hard, and the consequences may be catastrophic.
This is how wars start.