Is It Time For A Harder Line On China?

Is The Bar For Conflict With China Too Low?
Elbridge Colby and Ely Ratner suggest that the US is not serving its interests by lowering the bar for conflict to too low a point. They believes history “has demonstrated the perils of focusing too much on stability at the expense of deterrence,” a strategy the Obama administration pursuing.

“Making the risk of escalation too low will at some point start running counter to U.S. interests. Why? Because China is taking advantage of Washington’s risk aversion by rocking the boat, seeing what it can extract in the process, and letting the United States worry about righting it. Beijing’s playbook of tailored coercion relies in part on China’s confidence that it can weather ephemeral international outrage while Washington takes responsibility for ensuring the situation doesn’t get out of control. This means that reducing the likelihood of escalation through high-level strategic dialogues and military-to-military hotlines, however important, is in and of itself insufficient to curb Chinese assertiveness,” they write.

Zachary Keck expresses support for this approach in The Diplomat and says the Obama administration should look to Richard Nixon for guidance on how to implement the “madman theory,” which aimed to make adversaries believe Nixon was a “madman” and that his behavior was irrational and volatile.

“One place the Obama administration could look for inspiration is the Richard Nixon administration. During Nixon’s presidency, he and Henry Kissinger sought to increase the level of risk adversaries perceived in the United States by playing up the notion that Nixon himself was an irrational madman who couldn’t be controlled. As Nixon explained the “madman theory” in the context of the Vietnam War:

“The primary challenge for using this approach toward China today is that President Obama’s reputation is the complete opposite of a madman. That is, he is known for being cool and deliberate in making decisions. Trying to convince China that its actions might provoke President Obama into taking irrational action will therefore not be viewed as credible,” Zeck argues.

Yes, What Happens In The Ukraine Matters
Alish O’Hora of The Irish Independent says the centenary of World War I offers lessons to the world about the conflagration of conflicts and why the protests in Ukraine matter.

She gives five reasons why it is important, including the that the growing support for Semitic groups. In addition, she writes, “the more West Ukraine moves the easier it will be for Washington to find ways to make political and economic links with the country. In addition, though, the US must try not to aggravate Russia at a time when it can play a role in resolving geopolitical and other issues with the likes of Syria and Iran.”

Like many other conflicts in the region, Russia and Western allies find themselves on opposite sides and engaging in rhetorical tit-for-tats, according to Reuters.

Secretary of State John Kerry said in offering support for the protestors that “nowhere is fight for a democratic, European future more important today than in Ukraine.” His Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, however accused those same protestors of trying to impose their choice to side with Europe.

“What does the inciting of street protests, which are growing  increasingly violent, have to do with promoting democratic  principles?” Lavrov said.

“Why do we not hear statements of condemnation toward those  who seize government buildings, attack and burn police officers,  and voice racist and anti-Semitic slogans? Why do senior European  politicians de facto encourage such actions, while at home they  swiftly and harshly act to stop any impingement on the letter of  the law?”

The divide between Russia and the West emerged at the Munich Security Conference as well where Kerry said he sees a “disturbing trend” of authoritarian rule and the trampling of human rights in Eastern Europe.

Al Qaeda Remains Strong – And Deadly
Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard has a comprehensive piece rebutting claims that al Qaeda is on the decline.

 

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