In sum, the international system is very much being shaped by a global ‘balance of power’ dynamic between the United States and China. But this ‘balance of power’ dynamic coincides with both political gridlock and gross incompetence in Washington. Thus, Washington very much plays into the hands of Chinese strategy. For one, Chinese strategy is shaped by Sun Tzu, and Sun Tzu said: “To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” Sun Tzu also said: “’The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
Thus, China sat back for the last twenty years and watched Washington play into its strategy. And as a result, the global ‘balance of power’ dynamic is very much in favor of China at the moment. Nikita Khrushchev once said that the Soviet Union would defeat the United States “without firing a single shot” and that the Eastern bloc would watch America collapse from within. At the moment, the likes of Joe Biden, Tony Blinken, and now Gina Raimundo are very much projecting strength amidst underlying weakness. As Sun Tzu said, one should act weak when strong, and act strong when weak.
In many cases, politicians conjure up a pattern of lies before the lies are exposed and the proverbial “House of Cards” collapses, as was the case with Ashraf Ghani and his team before the Taliban takeover this past summer. Moreover, Washington’s entire whole-of-government policy over the course of the last twenty or thirty years was based on a delusion and a lie. And in the end, delusions and lies do not end well. This delusion and lie sought to see through a whole-of-government policy of ‘global hegemony’ whereby aspirations exceeded capabilities, and in turn has fostered Donald Trump, Russia, and China.
After all that has happened over the course of the last twenty or thirty years, the question for Washington at this point in time is how does the global ‘balance of power’ dynamic with China tilt so that the balance of power dynamic does not go full-swing in favor of China and that there can be some sort of equilibrium in this global ‘balance of power’ dynamic with China. For one, an adversarial approach towards China needs to be transformed into one based on partnership with China. Without a transformation in America’s approach towards China from one that is of an adversarial nature to one that is based on partnership, Washington will not be able to resolve the myriad of problems that it faces at the moment.
Last but not least, an acknowledgment and recognition of the underlying cause of this situation is necessary in order to overcome gridlock, incompetence, and political paralysis. Thus, accountability, transparency, and truth are needed in Washington in regards to the corruption and war crimes over the course of the last twenty to thirty years which prompted this situation. Without accountability, transparency, and truth in regards to the underlying cause of this situation – in addition to a change in approach towards China from one that is adversarial in nature to one that is based on partnership – the global ‘balance of power’ will likely continue to tilt against rather than in favor of Washington in the coming years.