Russia-Ukraine crisis – China is America's biggest enemy, not Moscow

US foreign policy should be based on what’s best for preserving American freedom and prosperity

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The United States is better off without Ukraine joining NATO. But when I sent a letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken last week explaining why, the usual Washington suspects – the people who delivered two failed wars, botched the evacuation in Afghanistan, and enabled the rise of China – had their usual meltdown.  

The neocons called me "evil." The White House said I was "parroting Russian talking points." That last accusation is particularly rich coming from an administration that has stuffed dollars in Vladimir Putin’s pockets by green-lighting his energy pipeline and made weakness their calling card. But there’s a deeper issue at stake.  

American foreign policy should be based on what’s best for preserving American freedom and American prosperity, not expanding an empire of "liberal order" around the world. Too many in the Washington cartel – of both parties – have forgotten this. With China rising, now is the time to get it right. 

RUSSIA, UKRAINE AND NATO'S FUTURE – AMERICA'S NEXT CRISIS

For decades, the Washington foreign policy establishment has aimed to extend a "new world order" of liberal values across the globe. The phrase belongs to former President George H.W. Bush, but the project has been bipartisan. The idea was that the United States would usher in an era of global, multilateral cooperation, underwritten by American military might. This new global, liberal order would bring peace to the world and prosperity to the United States – it was to be, in the famous words of one commentator, "the end of history."  

That project has not succeeded. Instead, Americans have spent decades fighting endless wars in the Middle East under the banner of democracy promotion and surrendered millions of working-class jobs to China. Thousands of American have lost their lives, with tens of thousands more wounded. The Washington elite have shelled out trillions on nation-building abroad while families and towns in this nation have languished, denied industry and good-paying jobs.  

Americans deserve better. They deserve a foreign policy that protects their interests. Above all, that means preventing any other nation from imposing its will on us. Today, the principal threat comes from China. Beijing took advantage of America’s adventures in the Middle East to grow its strength. Now it towers over Asia, an economic and military giant ready for conquest.  

Americans deserve … a foreign policy that protects their interests. Above all, that means preventing any other nation from imposing its will on us.

And conquest is precisely what it seeks. Xi Jinping has been clear: hegemony is Beijing’s goal, first in Asia, then the world. If Beijing succeeds, it will be able to harness Asia’s resources to further propel its rise. The shadow of its military will grow longer than it already is, covering not just Asia but other regions, including ours. All the while, Beijing will be able to restrict Americans’ access to the Asian markets that our farmers, workers and manufacturers depend on for their livelihoods.  

The United States cannot afford to be shut out of Asia in the years ahead. Nor can we afford to allow Beijing to dictate terms for market access, knowing it will use that leverage to control not just how we trade abroad, but what we say, do and think here at home. Still less can we tolerate a future where the Chinese military patrols openly in our own backyard.  

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So we must not let Beijing succeed. Fortunately, there is still time to deny China’s hegemonic ambitions, starting in Asia. But – and here is the key point – doing so will require us to do less in other theaters.  

In Europe, that starts with expecting our allies to do more to deter a resurgent Russia. Our allies are up to the task, but they have long refused to defend themselves. Instead, all but the most vulnerable members of NATO have let their militaries rot away.  

This must end. Russia poses a far greater threat to Europe than it does to the United States. It is time for our allies to act accordingly and take primary responsibility for the conventional defense of Europe. And the United States must incentivize them to do so. That means no longer sending U.S. forces to Europe to reassure allies who are perfectly capable of defending themselves. It also means discarding the 2014 Wales Pledge for allies to spend 2% of GDP on defense. Two percent might have been enough in 2014, but it is no longer adequate to the threat today. 

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The United States should also end its support for Ukraine’s membership in NATO. To be sure, America has an interest in Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity. And we have a strong interest in deterring Russian adventurism. But these interests are not so great that we should commit ourselves to fight Russia over Ukraine’s future. Instead, we should provide Ukraine what lethal and other aid it needs to defend itself and use sanctions and other non-military tools to support its defense, while reducing our military footprint in Europe. 

The Washington establishment will fight hard to keep this from happening. But this is the same establishment whose failures brought us to today’s sorry state. Americans deserve better. American freedom in the 21st century depends on it.  

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