Ohio State Professor Says China Poses No Threat to the US - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Ohio State Professor Says China Poses No Threat to the US

Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin contemptuously called Western intellectuals who unwittingly served communist objectives “useful idiots.” Ohio State University political science professor and Cato Institute senior fellow John Mueller may be auditioning for that role with his article in the National Interest titled “The United States Does Not Need to Contain China.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping has not been shy about his desire to reunify Taiwan with the mainland, if necessary, by force. And, as evidenced by the recent 20th Party Congress, Xi has acquired Mao-like control over the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). China’s decades-long conventional and nuclear weapons buildup proceeds apace. And Xi has managed to forge a strategic partnership with President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Yet, in the face of these developments, Mueller advises U.S. policymakers to take a “mellower” approach to China’s challenge because, if we just wait patiently, he writes, the Chinese economy will stagnate, forcing the CCP to look inward instead of seeking global hegemony. And, in any event, Mueller argues, “China does not really present a significant threat,” so trying to contain it “scarcely seem[s] necessary.”

Mueller argues that China’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy has backfired, alienating other regional powers, and claims that its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has not lived up to expectations and has contributed to “rising Sinophobia” in the region. Mueller predicts that China’s internal problems — economic stagnation, an aging population, trade protectionism, environmental degradation, corruption, and domestic repression — will hamper its efforts to replace the United States as the world’s leading power. But then, Mueller is not convinced that China has that as a goal of its foreign policy.

While conceding that China may want to take over Taiwan and “establish some sort of regional ‘primacy’ as a springboard to global power,” Mueller writes that “these goals scarcely suggest a threat that is Hitlerian.” He believes that a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan “has already been deterred” by present Taiwanese deployments, and he predicts that China “seems likely to remain sensibly content with the present arrangement.” And Mueller doesn’t think that China “should be considered an ‘enemy.’” (READ MORE from Francis P. Sempa: Are We on the Road to Another Pearl Harbor?

Mueller tips his hand early in the article by invoking Strobe Talbott, a former Soviet “expert” who got just about everything wrong in the 1980s. Talbott was a chief critic of President Ronald Reagan’s approach toward the Soviet Union, blaming Reagan for worsening U.S.–Soviet relations by trying to “roll back” communism in Eastern Europe.

When Reagan succeeded in doing precisely that, Talbott, as Mueller notes, argued that Reagan (and others) exaggerated Soviet strengths and underestimated Soviet weaknesses — which has it exactly backward.

Reagan understood the geopolitical danger posed by the Soviet Union — which was real — and exploited Soviet weaknesses to undermine its empire in Eastern Europe. Talbott was wrong about Reagan all along but wouldn’t admit it. Mueller applies Talbott’s belated assessment of Soviet weaknesses in the 1980s, which Reagan supposedly overlooked, to what he characterizes as an overstated China threat today.

But the China threat today is as real as the Soviet threat was in the 1970s and 1980s, only greater, because, unlike the Soviet Union, which then posed solely a military threat to America and its allies, China today poses a multidimensional warfare threat to the United States and the West — economic, cyber, regional-naval, and informational. The last thing the United States needs to do is let down our guard — but that is what Mueller says to do.

Like the old “useful idiots” of the first Cold War, Mueller suggests that China’s assertive policies and rhetoric may be “a reaction to what it views as hostile provocations by the West, and particularly the United States.” Sounds a lot like Strobe Talbott in the 1980s.

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