Foreign policy experts have spilled a lot of ink on the debate over whether the United States is, or not, in a new cold war – whether with China, or Russia, or maybe both. Whatever the observer calls it, it should be very clear that Russia and China have done more to the core national security interests of the United States and its allies than it ever did on the battlefield or during the entire classical Cold War.
In fact, the “cold war” may not be sufficient to capture what really happened. On the other hand, what China and Russia have done may be more useful to regard as “full spectrum warfare, “Which consists of formidable geopolitical challenges by traditional military and nonmilitary means.
Experts and laymen alike can understand military rivalries, not to mention massive economic clashes, and even intelligence agency spycrafts. But aspects of cyber warfare – including destroying voter lists and machines, malware, social media intrusions, troll farming and more – are proving to be more difficult to deal with (even among senior officials, past and present, on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Atlantic. ).
In the first half of the era of full spectrum warfare, China won. Over the past decade and a half, Chinese government hackers stole unimaginable amounts of intellectual property from the United States – valued at $ 300 billion to $ 600 billion annually – and beyond. Starting with former President Barack Obama’s administration, many aides and cabinet officials are pushing him to do more to hold China to account. It was a huge failure he didn’t do.
US President Donald Trump continued that failure, and now 1 in 5 The North American-based company reports that Chinese hackers have stolen intellectual property, including information with live military applications – as senior American military officials observe on staff-to-staff visits with their Chinese counterparts in China. China’s long-term plans to expand its full spectrum warfare may be even more threatening. The Trump administration is clumsy, but it is rightly concerned deeply about TikTok, WeChat, Huawei and other Chinese technology platforms and companies, all of which pose a strong disruptive threat to the United States and its allies.
In short, it is clear that China won the first round of full spectrum warfare. Russia, however, has taken the second round. As retired Lt. Gen. James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, stated in his book, Facts and Fears, if not for Russian interference, Hillary Clinton would have been president.
In Europe, Russia intervenes in elections across the continent on behalf of populists. And British officials were even more reckless than their American counterparts in doing something serious about Russia’s major meddling in the British Brexit vote, which caused millions of instances of misinformation to spread in the four weeks leading up to the vote.
And furthermore, Russia is allegedly paying a reward to the Taliban for killing US and British soldiers, most of which displaced the United States in Syria after Trump’s erroneous abandonment of Kurds, has intervened in Libya, and has sold off Turkey, a NATO ally, the missile system. anti-aircraft S-400. Recently, Russia is gaining momentum in the Balkans and Central Europe, with pro-Western governments gaining support from offices in Kosovo and Montenegro. And in recent weeks, Russia has assisted Armenia in its war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
And that brings us to round three. Back in the United States, former senior officials like Sam Nunn, Ernest Moniz, Matthew Rojansky, and Thomas Graham, as well as think tanks around the world including the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the European Leadership Network, and the Institute for International Affairs in Italy, advised on everything from working more candidly with Russia to accommodating it by doing the unthinkable and trading Crimea for the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.
If the United States had done all of this, it would have handed three bullets to Russia as well, boiling the whole American frog. Instead, the next government must hold Russia’s feet by targeting the personal assets of top Russian officials, augmenting allied forces in Europe with several new troop battalions and various permanently deployed offensive weapons systems, forging a full court press to bring a populist regime leaning towards Russia back to Western alliance, strengthen air and sea-based weapon systems in the Indo-Pacific aimed at China, and join all allies in refreshing NATO and the European Union.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for a ceasefire with the United States over election interference and has begun to protect Russia’s stakes by praising Democratic candidate Joe Biden. China is likely to follow suit. But subsequent US administrations cannot forget the devastating damage the two countries have done to the United States and its friends. The next president must ensure that the United States and the West win the third round of a new era of full spectrum warfare.
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