So, now that the motion to establish a “Trudeau Corruption Committee” has failed and, therefore, we ought not to have an election, unless Prime Minister Trudeau is more desperate than even I imagined, I can turn to two articles in Foreign Affairs that caught my eye and which I think should be of interest to readers:
- First: the noted international relations expert Christopher Layne says, in ‘Coming Storms ~ The Return of Great-Power War,’ that “Today, the U.S.-Chinese relationship is in free fall. Economic relations are on the rocks due to the Trump administration’s trade war, and U.S. technology policy aims to put Chinese firms such as Huawei out of business. It is easy to see how any number of flash points could trigger a war in the coming years;” and
- Second: historian and China scholar Julian Gewirtz opines in ‘China Thinks America Is Losing ~ Washington Must Show Beijing It’s Wrong,’ that “China’s conviction that the United States is a diminishing and hostile power has emboldened its leaders to pursue long-standing objectives with new vigor. Their view of U.S. decline makes them see fewer risks in taking highly aggressive positions, and their sense of U.S. hostility, among other factors, increases their willingness to incur international opprobrium: imposing a new national security law on Hong Kong; committing atrocities in Xinjiang; bullying Australia, India, and the Philippines; threatening Taiwan; forging new partnerships with Iran and Russia; and letting Chinese diplomats spread conspiracy theories about the origins of COVID-19. With the United States withdrawing from multilateralism and international institutions, China has tried to reshape global bodies, such as the UN Human Rights Council, in its favor. China’s behavior in these areas is often at odds with U.S. interests and a rules-based order, with Beijing flouting rules it dislikes and undermining liberal norms and values.“
Professor Layne cites the eminent Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan’s explanation of how, in 1914, two great powers that were closely aligned, both economically and socially, drifted into war. He says that too many scholars think another major war, à la the Second World War, is impossible, but he carefully, and in my opinion, successfully demolishes their theories about the effectiveness of:
- the “high level of economic interdependence between two countries [which] reduces the risk of violent conflict;”
- misplaced “faith in the strength of nuclear deterrence” which is being undermined by technology; and
- then notion that “the so-called liberal international order will preserve peace.”
None of these, he says, will withstand the stresses and strains that China’s rise have placed on the US-led West. I fear he is correct when he says that “China is unlikely to abandon its goal of becoming a regional hegemon in East Asia. Beijing will also continue pressing the United States to accord it respect as a great-power equal. Avoiding war by accommodating China’s desires would require the United States to retract its security guarantee to Taiwan and recognize Beijing’s claims on the island. Washington would also need to accept the reality that its liberal values are not universal and thus stop interfering in China’s internal affairs by condemning Beijing’s policies in Hong Kong and Xinjiang and issuing thinly veiled calls for regime change … [and] … There is little chance that the United States will take those steps. Doing so would mean acknowledging the end of U.S. primacy. This makes the prospect of a hot war ever more likely. Unlike during the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union generally accepted each other’s European spheres of influence, today, Washington and Beijing have starkly different views of who should enjoy preeminence in the East China and South China Seas and Taiwan.” I have said, many times, that Cold War 2.0 is an enduring legacy of the Donald Trump presidency and neither Joe Biden nor his successors are likely to want or be able to change it. Now Christopher Layne says that there is a very good chance that the Cold War will turn hot.
Canada explicitly abandoned the notion that there might be another great war fifty years ago, in 1970, when the Pierre Trudeau regime published his White Paper, ‘Foreign Policy For Canadians,’ which I continue to regard as the worst act of strategic policy vandalism in over 150 years. If Professor Layne is correct then Canada will pay a horrendous price in blood and treasure for ever having embraced Pierre Trudeau’s totally nonsensical notions that culminated in his failed “peace initiative.”
Dr Gewirtz explains why China seems to think that its time has come, again, to dominate the world. We can (and I would) argue that in the classical era, 500 BCE to 200 CE, around the the time of Pericles, Julius Caesar and Marcus Aurelius, China was the world’s greatest power ~ but we could not, at that time see it and we refused to look at world history in economic power terms until this century:
China, Julian Gewirtz explains, does not fear Cold War 2.0 because its leadership is persuaded that America is, already, in an irreversible decline … as Paul Kennedy predicted over 30 years ago in his seminal work ‘The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000.’
The Chinese leaders are not fools, they are not megalomaniacs, they are not war-mongers. But they do see an opportunity to Make China Great Again while America is, arguably, relatively weaker than it has been in almost 200 years. America’s relative (that word matters) decline is NOT Donald J Trump’s fault, nor can we blame Barack Obama or George W Bush. It started when John F Kennedy decide to test the limits of power and then allowed an experiment in using unconventional forces to spiral into a real war in which ended when a gang of “peasants” wearing “flip-flops” routed what was, ostensively, the most powerful army that the world had ever seen. The Chinese, perhaps not too surprisingly, now believe that they can prevail in almost any contest against America.
The Chinese, I am certain, do NOT want a major shooting war, but they have some well-defined core interests that they are prepared to defend to the bitterest end and, as I have explained, they are willing to take some high-risk military actions because they believe that particular “cause” is worth a high price.
I also see, in a report by David Akin of Global News, that recent government polls show that “there appeared to be little appetite for an economic recovery plan that placed a high priority on quickly transforming to a carbon-neutral economy.” That’s good; Canada doesn’t need and cannot afford a ‘green recovery.‘ What Canada really needs is a ‘green and grey recovery:’ green as in the colour of Canadian soldiers’ uniforms and grey as in the colour of warships and military aircraft:
Well planned and managed military spending can create good, long term jobs for Canadians and can spur civil applications, too.
But, Canada has had its political head buried in the strategic sand for a half century. Pierre Trudeau and his ethically challenged son have persuaded two generations of Canadians that we can live under the American security umbrella by doing just barely enough to “defend against help:” to do the bare minimum necessary to prevent the USA from taking over our country because they need us as a buffer. In effect, Pierre Trudeau made us a de facto American colony, a sort of Northern Puerto Rico. A few Canadian leaders, Brian Mulroney, Paul Martin and Stephen Harper …
… wanted to change that, but there was never enough popular support to overcome Pierre Trudeau’s “culture of entitlement,” which, to this day, pervades all aspects of Canadian society. That needs to change. There is, as Christopher Layne and Julian Gewirtz explain, a rapidly growing risk of a full scale, all-out, global war between China and its allies and the US-led West which, like it or not, includes Canada.
Canada can no longer affords the Trudeau “visions” of a post-national state and other such assorted, silk-stocking-socialist nonsense. It’s time for a real change.