While America remains largely focused on the Middle East, the situations in the Ukraine and Hong Kong remind us of a grave existential threat to Western civilization that is the topic of a new book. That threat -- the alliance of Russia and China with each other, rogue nations, and non-state actors -- is the topic of prominent Democratic consultant and pollster Douglas Schoen's must-read new book, "The Russia-China Axis."
In the book, Schoen goes into great detail to document that on matters such as cyber security, military supremacy, nuclear security, economics, intelligence and the broader war of ideas, the U.S. despite real strengths is failing -- beginning with refusing to admit that it is in a new Cold War, let alone who its enemies are -- while Russia and China despite real weaknesses are growing stronger.
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. (Image Source: allthingsnuclear.org)
Below are 18 vital quotes that reflect Schoen's overall theme that "we confront a relentless enemy; that we have, to date, dared not call him an enemy and confront him openly; and that we must soon overcome our reluctance to do so."
[sharequote align="center"]"[T]here is a new Cold War in progress, with our old adversaries back in the game"[/sharequote]
1. "Individually and together, Russia and China seek to undermine the social, economic, and political framework of democratic societies and our alliances in a way that is yet to be fully understood."
2. "Russia and China now cooperate and coordinate to an unprecedented degree--politically, militarily, economically--and their cooperation, almost without deviation, carries anti-American and anti-Western ramifications. Russia, China, and a constellation of satellite states seek to undermine American power, dislodge America from its leading position in the world, and establish a new anti-Western global power structure. And both Russia in Eastern and Central Europe and China throughout Asia are becoming increasingly aggressive and assertive, even hegemonic, in the absence of a systemic U.S. response--not-withstanding the Obama administration's 'strategic pivot to Asia.'"
3. "In short, there is a new Cold War in progress, with our old adversaries back in the game, more powerful than they have been for decades, and with America more confused and tentative than it has been since the Carter years."
4. "If we don't build awareness of what Russia and China are up to, greatly improve our understanding of their actions and motives, and take steps to defend ourselves and protect our interests, we will see our economic and political well-being threatened. And we'll watch as the international order tilts toward authoritarianism and away from democratic ideals and freedoms."
5. "Russia and China are the world's leading practitioners of cyber warfare. They work overtime to sabotage and subvert military, economic, and infrastructure assets of nations they view as adversaries--and to loot their systems of military intelligence, diplomatic information, and corporate trade secrets. The Russians have brought down the technology infrastructure of Georgia and Estonia; Chinese hackers affiliated with the Army of the People's Republic have infamously been identified as the culprits in massive attacks on U.S. banking, security, infrastructure, and even military systems."
6. "Moscow and Beijing are in the business of survival. Martyrdom does not interest them. They don't go about provoking manifestly stronger adversaries--and they recognize, for the time being, the United States' clear, if dwindling, military edge. But they will exploit weakness whenever it serves their interests--politically, economically, militarily, and also by proxy, where their willingness to make mischief often has the bloodiest consequences."
7. "Russia and China are, to put it bluntly, playing a double game: They work with the United States and the international community on broad efforts and thus preserve their political deniability and their economic and political relationships with the United States; at the same time, they thwart the will of the international community by backing the world's most dangerous regimes."
8. "Imagine if, during the Cold War, the Pentagon announced that the Soviet Union had stolen the secrets to dozens of military programs, weapons systems, and battle plans. In an era of fallout shelters and nuclear-readiness drills, that news would probably have caused a national panic. Thankfully, nothing on that scale occurred. But now it has. Chinese hackers have gained access to design information for more than two dozen US weapon systems, from missile-defense systems for Europe and Asia to combat aircraft and ships. These include many of the Pentagon's flagship weapons and technology programs..."
9. "When it comes to cyber security, the myopia in U.S. policy comes down to three core points: First, so far, we are more focused on offensive operations than defensive; second, we have not come to terms with the structural disadvantage an open society faces in this struggle; and third, our inability, or unwillingness, to confront the Axis, China in particular, is bound up with the same deficiencies that affect our overall posture--namely, a preference for wishful thinking over acknowledgment of reality."
10. [Regarding Chinese and Russian advances to counter U.S. weaponry at a fraction of the cost to deter us from meddling in the Asia-Pacific region] "[T]he problem…is not with the weapons and technologies themselves, which rarely fail to perform as intended; it is in their vulnerability to asymmetric arms. Consequently, they do not give use the dispositive, conflict-ending advantage that we assume they will. Our complacency has little basis in objective reality."
[sharequote align="center"]"[D]espite the extraordinary...military advantage, the U.S. is...losing ground against the Axis"[/sharequote]
11. "…despite the extraordinary American military advantage, the U.S. is actually losing ground against the Axis in almost every area. In Washington, policy planners cut budgets with no plan for what they are trying to achieve; we lack not only an overarching strategy, but also a practical framework for what we decide upon. The Russians and Chinese, by contrast, while not immune to some policy confusion and disagreements of their own, are for the most part clear in their articulation of broad goals and consistent in the actions—economic, financial, strategic—needed to achieve them.”
12. "Despite our technological superiority and long history of providing whatever resources were necessary to protect our mainland, the United States has been continually scaling back its nuclear weaponry and nuclear defenses, even as every important adversarial regime is rapidly ramping up its own. Our nuclear stockpile and our missile-defense platform have been systematically downgraded at a time when Russia and China are aggressively modernizing their nuclear technology—and while rogue regimes…continue to build, stockpile, and proliferate these weapons and technologies.”
13. "So, yes, the United States remains the world's preeminent military power, retains an extraordinary advantage in military spending and capability, and begins from a position of strength—but we are decimating budgets with no clear goal, let alone a clear understanding of what we face on the other side of the cuts. Meanwhile, the Russians and Chinese have clear plans and strategies, and their military budgets reflect this. Our rivals are back in the game in a big way. They make no bones that America is the primary enemy. We show no such clarity in our thinking about them."
President Barack Obama and then-Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev discuss "flexibility." (Image Source: AP)
14. "…China and Russia have disadvantages of their own to overcome, but they hold one key edge over the United States: They have no ambivalence about defining their national interests and no hesitation whatsoever in pursuing them with maximum force. Economic downturns, new challenges, and the occasional setback only make them redouble their efforts."
15. "...[W]e see an irony of the triumph of market capitalism: The free flow of information and labor across borders was supposed to soften the power of totalitarian governments. Instead, the Axis has successfully used the new freedoms to extend the reach of oppressive or coercive state behavior, which is now easier to engage in and harder to scrutinize."
[sharequote align="center"]"They have no ambivalence about defining their national interests"[/sharequote]
16. "We wrote this book as a warning about the threat America faces…American influence across the board is waning, while the Russians and Chinese have grown economically, politically, and militarily more formidable. Beyond the discouraging trend in all these areas is a less tangible but more fundamental sign of American retreat: the decline in the power and appeal of the American idea. We do not defend and argue for the principles of freedom, liberty, and democracy as we once did. As a result, these ideals lack a global champion in an era of great social and economic dislocation, political violence, and technological change. In the meantime, the Chinese and Russians have put forward compelling alternative models—authoritarian, nationalistic, antidemocratic, and socially conservative—that have resonated with millions. They also challenge the American role in the world. Putin calls loudly for "non-interference" and state sovereignty, while the Chinese amorally push a promise of never-ending economic growth and consumerism as a justification for their authoritarian rule and human-rights abuses. The United States, meanwhile, largely stays silent, conceding the rhetorical and even moral high ground to these despotic, antidemocratic regimes."
17. "…[W]e [have] outlined a number of key recommendations: Advance American principles of freedom and liberty; support free trade around the world; recommit ourselves to a defense budget suited to the challenges we face; reach consensus on the need for a more robust global presence; reverse the tendency toward a restricted and limited nuclear arsenal; do everything within our power to counter conventional and unconventional use of technology by our adversaries. If we do not take these steps, we will face a grimmer and more challenging future.”
18. "If the Cold War terrain has changed, one fact hasn't: The same battle for global dominance across the continents continues, only under different names. Russia and China understand this; the United States and the West seem unwilling to acknowledge it. We do not participate in the intelligence game with the same intensity as Moscow or Beijing. They know what they're playing for and what they're willing to do to achieve their goals. Can the same be said about the United States and its Western allies?"
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