by Joe MacKinnon
Much has been said and written about Thucydides’ Trap of late, ever since Graham Allison thoughtfully addressed it in his 2015 Atlantic article “Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?” and in his follow-up best-selling book in 2018 concerning that same question, Destined For War. The premise is that China has overtaken the United States and is in the process of edging it out, economically, politically, and militarily. There is a parallel between China and America’s dynamic now, with Pericles’ Athens and Archidamus’ Sparta in the 440s BC (where the former began to outgrow and out-power the latter), as well as with Germany outpacing England at the turn of the 20th Century, and in fourteen other major historical cases, the vast majority of which resulted in war. Whenever there has been discombobulation as a result of a rising power displacing a ruling power, fear results, and when a capable military power is fearful and unwilling to bend a knee to the new, war becomes inevitable.
Allison, who has served five Republican and Democratic administrations, quotes Napoleon for a missed warning offered in 1817: “Let China sleep; when she wakes, she will shake the world.” China is awake—wide-awake, thanks in part to benign efforts over the past century on the part of western powers keen to open up the Chinese market and liberalize a backward 2nd-world power after it massacred tens of millions of its own people. Over the past ten years, while American politicians fussed over identity politics, offshored the hopes of the middle class, and neutered industries at home, China’s economy has doubled. Allison reveals Napoleon’s warning to be prophecy: If over the next decade or two Chinese workers become just half as productive as Americans, China’s economy will be twice the size of the US economy. If they equal American productivity, China will have an economy four times that of the US.
Allison’s analysis leaves us with staggering facts and figures: “Between 2011 and 2013, China both produced and used more cement than the US did in the entire 20th Century…” The Chinese have embarrassed the cynics claiming Rome couldn’t be built in a day by building “the square foot equivalent of today’s Rome every two weeks.” Never mind architecture or city planning; China is now the world leader in producing computers, semiconductors, communications equipment, and pharmaceuticals, on which we are now heavily reliant (recall the recent revelation that America gets 97% of its antibiotics from China and India). We have not only dropped the ball, but run blocks for them into our own endzone.
Realizing Mao’s dictum that “power grows out of the barrel of a gun”, China also developed military solutions to all of the problems America’s forces are meant to pose such an imperialist first-world power, and they’ve gone to great lengths to arm our enemies. Of course, they had support from greedy traitors in American universities, useful idiots in the western mainstream media, as well as corporate spies who have stolen countless IPs, designs, blueprints, and patented technologies. With the help of bad actors at home and abroad, China’s plan to overtake the United States is in motion and the CCP Virus is a major accelerant.
Tuesday evening, Chinese defector and virologist Dr. Li-Meng Yan went on Tucker Carlson Tonight. Dr. Yan did extensive work at Hong Kong University’s public health laboratory science division (I would provide a link, but most of the site and the pertinent details on it have been scrubbed), a World Health Organization infectious diseases research center. She was among the first in the world to examine the novel virus created in Wuhan. What quickly became clear to her in her tests was that the so-called coronavirus was man-made—a chimera with various selected traits. Her studies and findings were suppressed, as were those of other prominent Chinese scientists, some of whom died suspiciously from the virus and others whom the CCP regime disappeared. Meanwhile, the CCP destroyed proof of the virus, purged the Wuhan virology-lab’s records, lied about human-to-human transmission, and permitted those in Wuhan to travel to the rest of the world in the lead up to the Lunar New Year, just before imposing a provincial quarantine. In her conversation with Carlson, Dr. Li-Meng Yan discussed these grievous actions as well as the science behind them (detailed in one of her reports). Though she had presented these findings previously on Steve Bannon’s War Room Pandemic, the mainstream media followed the CCP’s lead and suppressed the revelations. What did make it to print or to the nightly news was framed by American collaborators as outlandish conjecture. The truth they didn’t want you to hear—for it would inevitably prompt your righteous anger—is simple: the CCP lied. Americans died.
Senators Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, and Martha McSally, along with Representative Matt Gaetz, Jack Posobiec, and the War Room team—who the mainstream media has for months lambasted and ridiculed; who were targeted by Chinese state-directed smears; who were called conspiracy theorists and xenophobes—are vindicated by the evidence Dr. Yan has provided us with. The rest of America now needs to recognize that over 194,000 American lives have been taken and not by chance. It was no accident that mothers and fathers, sons, and daughters suffered excruciating pain and then perished. It was no accident that what killed them crossed vast oceans to do so—set free and purposed to do as much damage as possible. They were slain by a manmade virus; a virus manufactured and spread by Xi Jinping’s communist regime.
Though it remains unclear whether the virus escaped the lab in Wuhan or if it was wittingly unleashed, the fact is that the CCP has waged biological warfare on humankind. The CCP lied to the world about the nature of the virus, and put America months behind in terms of mitigation efforts. When China wasn’t lying to the World Health Organization, WHO was lying for China. With advanced warning (and had the CCP not destroyed critical evidence), America and the rest of the world could have taken life-saving measures far sooner. Had the CCP been transparent, the United States would never have accepted travelers from Wuhan or the surrounding region. (Thankfully, despite protest and claims of xenophobia as well as assurances from Xi Jinping, Trump promptly shut down travel from China to America when the carnage in Europe began.) Had China not denied American experts access to the Wuhan virology lab, we would now be much closer to a vaccine and innumerable families might still be whole.
Why would China do such a thing?
Xi Jinping and the hawks in the CCP want China to entirely displace America and take the title of world superpower by 2049. This is neither a theory nor a dream. It is a well-defined plan, which Director of the Center on Chinese Strategy Dr. Michael Pillsbury discussed at length in The Hundred Year Marathon. China is running a marathon, and the free world hangs in the balance. The failure in Washington—at least up until the Trump administration—to recognize that we’re in a race and losing, Dr. Pillsbury argues, constitutes “the most systematic, significant, and dangerous intelligence failure in American history.” He emphasized that the first step, “recognizing that there is a Marathon, may be the most difficult to take, but it is also the most important.”
Ten years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, Chinese hawks went ballistic when the United States accidently killed two Chinese nationals in Serbia on May 7th, 1999. At the time, doves within the party had a shot of reforming the country; perhaps not of democratizing it or liberalizing it in a meaningful way, but of making China less antipathetic to the West. The bombing in Serbia gave the hawks license to purge the doves from the regime, and inspired greater commitment among the remaining skeptics to both America’s destruction and the end of centuries of perceived humiliation by the West. After all, the hawks believed that the American “tyrant” was testing their resolve; that America had inspected their cauldrons. (In the Warring States era, for one leader to ask to see the cauldrons belonging to another sovereign was to indicate his intention to take them militarily. This concept is contextualized in Pillsbury’s book, where he discusses the relationship of Warring States strategy to the CCP’s marathon.) In the alternate history the CCP has impressed upon the Chinese people, Clinton’s apologies were theater; intended as insult to an intended injury. In the final weeks of 2019, the CCP answered back. This past winter, the Chinese regime asked to see America’s cauldrons, and did so by killing over 194,000 Americans.
If the rest of Congress and the Senate—particularly outside of the Trump camp, which is already onside—doesn’t recognize that there is a marathon and that America could very well lose, the world is either destined for war (a prospect Allison entertains) or slavery. Not only must America make a concerted effort to win this race, but it must check the CCP for daring to have inspected its cauldrons.
To presume the CCP’s innocence or ignorance where the spread of the virus is concerned is to discount its nature. The Chinese Communist regime evidences its blatant disregard for human rights and freedom daily: its genocide of Uyghur Muslims; its brutal persecution, torture, re-education, imprisonment, organ seizure, and harassment of underground Roman Catholics, house Christians, and the Falun Gong; its erasure of Nepalese and Mongolian culture; its ‘great firewall’ preventing citizens access to content not approved by their censorious overlords; its tight control on its people’s mobility; its growing social credit program and surveillance initiatives; its history of forced abortions (an estimated 250 million since 1979); its ongoing aggression against Tibet, the sovereign Republic of China, Japan, India, and other neighbors; its abuses in Hong Kong; and so forth. A regime that monstrous to its own people and community cannot be allowed to win this marathon, and America cannot be abandoned by its friends to run alone. But how does one run such a race? How do we win it? Would sanctions suffice? Would a full and total decoupling be a nonviolent means to annul the race?
If economic war is our preference and Allison is right in his cynical outlook that by all metrics and indicators it is a war we will likely lose (ultimately an argument for managed decline), then do we stand now as pacifists only to bow later as captives? Is capitulation the route we’ve resigned ourselves to? Are there no other radical options we have yet to fully consider? For instance: a meaningful alliance with a tsarist-democratic Russia to hem in China on its western border (i.e. to once again join forces with Russians against a totalitarian power)? A strengthening of the Alliance for Liberty, particularly between ANZUS nations, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and India? A revamped TPP to bring the world together and isolate the growing Chinese threat? (It will have to be another American-led initiative extra to the IMF or WTO given the UN and other globalist institutions are either impotent or have been made irrelevant by Chinese-sponsored twins such as the AIIB.) Hammer companies that offshore labor to China and amp up Trump’s America First initiative? Unite the western hemisphere in common cause against Chinese economic and military incursions and for liberty? Coalesce Canada and the United States into one to form ‘Fortress North America’, extra to NorthCom and NORAD integration (i.e. already desired by secessionists in Alberta, the world’s 3rd-largest oil reserve)? Form an agricultural cartel between America and Brazil as a check on the Chinese overreach? Localize the threat by recognizing the sovereignty of Taiwan, provide it support, and bring Gondor to Mordor’s gates?
Isolationism and appeasement may be viewed as great short-term solutions, but what will happen to our allies when we retreat? Will we answer their call tomorrow? If not, we should let them know today their cauldrons and futures are forfeit. We should let them know we are Chamberlains, not Churchills—that we are ready to sacrifice American trade and global access along with our friends—to abandon our allies in the Pacific and to leave networks won in patriot blood to the whim of capricious Maoists. Making a hard decision now may, to Allison’s point, spare us from having to save face later. After all, it was saving face that imperiled Pericles and Archidamus II in the Peloponnesian War. That which was out of their control were their allies, and the delicate balance between the two rivals was upset on the fringes of their care.
Even if America should have to radically reevaluate her friendships, pacts, and alliances, it must know in no uncertain terms what ultimately it is happy or willing to relinquish. What advantage? What mobility? As for liberty, whose is it willing to let see lose? As freedom is gobbled up across the globe, the hunger will eventually reach American shores like the CCP Virus before it. What ultimately comprise or constitute America’s defensive walls? Its borders made permeable by leftist and anti-sovereigntist lunacy? In the modern world, borders are the walls of the castle keep containing the citizens who the government is designed to protect. The outer walls—those are our allies abroad. If the walls fall, then our fellows fall on that wall, and the hunger draws ever closer to the keep unabated.
If China, by biological warfare, OBOR, economic bullying, and military expansion, endangers our allies, what do we do? Are we to retreat now to our keep and hope the world beyond our borders satisfies Xi’s appetite? Or are we, by ways not necessarily violent, to confront the threat now and to take the Archidamian gamble? (Keeping in mind that Sparta ultimately trounced Athens in the Peloponnesian War.) It could be as simple (in concept) an exercise as penetrating the great firewall of China and winning a decisive cultural war, but first we would have to once again be certain in ourselves and in our culture. Exporting our academics’ anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Christian rhetoric, we would give the Chinese people greater cause to expedite our doom. If we really wanted to—to one of Allison’s proposed strategies—, we could convince the Chinese to love liberty as we do or at least as we have, and might, in doing so, spare Africa, South America, and our friends in the South Pacific from serfdom. Whatever the means or method, we must decide sooner rather than later.
Allison quotes the Corinthian ambassador who chastised the Spartan leadership as new war with Athens became inescapable: “You it was who first allowed them to fortify their city…You alone wait till the power of an enemy is becoming twice its original size, instead of crushing it in its infancy.” The west was not so malicious, prescient or utilitarian to release serpents into the Chinese cradle, so now we must hope that Heracles’s unheroic alter-ego wounds himself with pride, is undone by inner turmoil, or has Olympus unilaterally turned against him. (We know for certain he won’t do a good job of the cleaning the stables…) Of course destruction and violence are not the only ways forward, though war—whether it is of a cultural, economic, spiritual, or military nature—is already here. Potter’s field on Hart Island is full of fresh reminders of that fact. The question remains: do we fight or give up on the best civilization in human history?
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Joe MacKinnon is an author of six books, including his most recent The Gunpowder Coast.