I am in the open for years with my position on the American geopolitical "school of thought" as being extremely weak, if not outright delusional in the last 20 years or so. It is not surprising, once one considers what kind of "scholars" from Kissinger to Fukuyama, to late Brzezinski shaped it in the last decades. US geopolitical "scholars" suffer from serious ailment which remains treatment-resistant since Vietnam and has two major traits:
1. A severe lack of awareness of own country, United States that is, its dynamics, real state of its power and its economy;
2. Chronic inability to account for military power element in shaping geopolitical reality;
Now, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) issued, yet another, grand strategy vision on how the United States needs to deal with China and, in this document, provides 22 "prescriptions" of sorts on how to handle China's rise. Ironically (I deliberately start with Conclusion) in document's Conclusion author(s) of this vision admit(s):
Some of these suggested policy proposals are familiar and have been debated in recent public discourse. Thus, prescriptive familiarity is increasingly not the problem with respect to U.S. policies toward China and Asia writ large. Rather, it is that most such efforts have seen too little connection to U.S. grand strategy, too little conceptual integration, too little policy intensity, and too little policy follow-through. As Leonardo da Vinci supposedly stressed, “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
Hey, how about putting this not into the Conclusion but in the Preface section. This immediately brought back Admiral Sergei Gorshkov's sardonic quote:"The main problem with Americans is that they do not follow their own doctrines." It applies fully here. Before any usage of terms such as "diplomacy", "agreements" or "policy" among many others it has to be admitted that US has no competent diplomacy as such, any agreement with United States is not worth the paper it is printed on and policy, as in sane and implementable, is not something current US "elites" are capable of developing, no matter number of allegedly serious "academic" papers on any of these issues. But since CFR IS a part of the so called "Deep State" and passes in the US as a main brain behind US so called foreign policy, it is worth the effort of looking into the "prescriptions" CFR offers to place in the foundation of the US "grand strategy" towards China.
I neither have time nor, frankly, desire to go over all 22 of those prescriptions, so I choose only ones which are notable. Before I start, however, I need to congratulate the US "grand strategy" of 1970s through 2010s which succeeded in the largest technology and industry transfer from one country (USA) to another (PRC) in history. So, the United States has only itself to blame for building China's industrial might, while destroying own one, and turning China into global manufacturing superpower. Now, let's go.
1. The United States should mobilize all instruments of its national power to skillfully manage its economy; modernize its basic infra-structure; reform its immigration system; reduce its entitlement spending; rehabilitate the structure and quality of its education system; and address the serious political, economic, and societal divisions within the country. The U.S. contest with China over Implementing Grand Strategy Toward China international power and influence is likely to be decades long; a prosperous and well-functioning United States is the first requirement to ensure that Washington is well positioned not to lose that competition. Nevertheless, there is no need for strategic defeatism. The United States certainly has the resources to seriously deal with its domestic weaknesses, if it has the political and societal will.
My Comment. First, I do not only not believe, I know for a fact that US public education, especially on a public school level, is done. It cannot be "reformed" because it is primarily an indoctrination tool for increasingly dysfunctional American culture with STEM education being in a state of a permanent disaster. These are not just my ideas, no. This is clearly stated here:
Some of the most challenging aspects in the manufacturing sector are recruitment and retention. In a recent manufacturing skills gap study conducted by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, only one third of respondents indicated they would encourage their children to pursue a career in manufacturing.Gen Y (ages 19-33 years) respondents ranked manufacturing as their least preferred career destination. Yet once a candidate is hired, the struggle continues. 79% of executives surveyed stated it is moderate to extremely challenging to find candidates to pass screening and/or the probationary period, leaving them with employees unable to perform the work for which they were hired.While the total number of bachelor’s degrees in the U.S. has increased steadily in the last two decades, the number of STEM degrees conferred in the U.S. still pales compared to China.123In addition, the U.S. has seen an increase in students on temporary visas, many of whom would be unable to gain the security clearances needed to work in the defense ecosystem. Growth in advanced science and engineering degrees shows the U.S. graduating the largest number of doctorate recipients of any individual country, but 37% were earned by temporary visa holders125with as many 25% of STEM graduates in the U.S. being Chinese nationals
We discussed this before. STEM is hard, drama, poetry and hi-school football are fun and easy. As I repeat ad nauseam, it is not just some basic PISA rankings which matter (US is last there among most developed nations), it is a volume and complexity of knowledge in school which student receives, which matters. And here is what Forbes writes:
How bad is the shortage of American students? According to the non-partisan National Foundation for American Policy, in 2017 foreign nationals accounted for 81% of electrical engineering majors and grad students in this country. Foreign students make up three quarters of the majors and grad students in industrial engineering; 62% in mechanical engineering; 55%, or more than half, of those studying materials and metallurgic engineering. As for computer science, the vital crucible for America’s future in areas such as cyber and AI, American students make up barely 21% of the student body.
The United States either fixes its schools, which by now is almost impossible without tearing the whole system down, or, well--no amount of money can save a system which is wound up to produce politically correct mediocrities who will find jobs only in non-productive sectors, unless they go into some trade or do try (fewer and fewer of them) to get themselves into STEM programs in the colleges and universities. I simply cannot see this happening, especially in the nation increasingly legalizing pot. Education catastrophe alone, even without considering a catastrophic de-industrialization of the United States, is serious enough argument for doubting such a wishful thinking having any base in the reality. Once REAL economies of the United States and China are compared, one gets a good feel of the abyss which separates two nations, with China's real economy dwarfing that of the United States.
2. The United States should protect the integrity of its democratic institutions, both for the good of the nation and to offer a powerful alternative model to China’s authoritarian archetype.
My Comment. This one is easy to comment on and it shows CFR's people complete lack of contact with the reality, a global one. Should they have been decent analysts who study the world, they would have noticed by now, that using term "democratic institutions" and the United States in the same sentence is akin to using "moral" while describing a pedophile or a serial murderer. Funny, but I can see many in China still exercising some illusions on the issue of "democratic institutions", but in very many other nations of the world the United States is viewed mostly as a rogue nation and a corrupt oligarchy in the process of tearing itself apart in public. US political elites are corrupted to the core and the world at large can see proofs of that everyday in the news. I am sorry to break the news, but the United States cannot provide any "alternative model" at all. I guess if "impeachment spectacle" and elites which produce specimens such as Adam Schiff or Mike Pompeo are capable of offering "alternative models", these are not the models which will sell.
3. The United States, in coordination with allies, should attempt to initiate an extended conversation with Vladimir Putin and the Russian government on world order and the security of Europe and Asia. Zbigniew Brzezinski, in analyzing threats to the United States, warned that “the most dangerous scenario [would be] a grand coalition of China and Russia . . . united not by ideology but by complementary grievances.” In particular, Russia would surely consider moving further into Ukraine in the event of a full-blown U.S.-China confrontation over Taiwan.
My Comment. LOL! No, really, LOL. They do not even understand that their problem IS Brzezinski and his ideas, but let's be specific here. The United States has NO geopolitical currency or resources for "extended conversation" with Vladimir Putin because Russians have an extraordinarily good idea about US actual, very limited, real power and resources, and militarily Russia is not really in the mood to discuss anything unless the United States is ready to give back what Russia wants. The US is not ready and, in fact, it is non-agreement capable. Moreover, if people from CFR didn't notice yet, Russia not only doesn't need Ukraine, Russia doesn't want it--who needs millions of freeloaders may of who, in addition, hate you? Ukraine was EU-US "operation", so let them deal and pay for this bloody mess. I know, all those US "plans" to get Russia involved directly and make Russia spend valuable strategic resources on a shithole of a country, such as Ukraine, I can only imagine when the reality started to dawn on the students of Brzezinski that all those plans were, as always, wishful thinking detached from the reality. Ukraine is a toxic asset and Russia is not going to pay for it. Plus, Russians have a good memory and Gorbachev who sought, by means of betraying historic Russia national interests, integration into West is universally hated and despised person in Russia. As they say: take a hint. Donbas, that is a separate matter.
The rest of the document is same ol', same ol' wishful thinking par excellence but also a good indicator of a profound crisis of ideas and knowledge US foreign "policy" elite finds itself in, because of arrogance, ignorance and inability to learn. In this respect, though, the fact that they try to formulate something not overtly militarily aggressive is already some progress. But, in the end, all this "grand strategy" is a classic example of too little, too late for the world in which the United States is not anymore an unquestionable (self-proclaimed) hegemon but just another great power (for now) which will have to find its peaceful place in the new world order or face further decline and fading into irrelevance. For finding itself in this position, the United States has only itself and its geopolitical dreams to blame.