How to Confront China’s Mounting Pacific Threat? We Could Try This

Here’s a stunning and impressive speech from a U.S. senator. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it despite the criticisms I anticipate for awarding it attention.

It’s a stunning speech because it’s full of hope — maybe even Hope — for an America deep in the doldrums now of buyer’s remorse over the dumb, accidental choice of a president so lost in self-importance and a senior fog.

It’s impressive because it’s crammed with common sense.  Which is uncommon nowadays. And – wait for it – new ideas.

Is that even possible when the stale politics of both parties today are so profoundly mired in the recurring recriminatory rhetoric of “Yes-you-did-No-I-didn’t-And-anyway-you-did-too”?

Of course, for a variety of disappointing and predictable reasons, nothing will come of these fresh ideas and hope – for now. But read about it, think about it. And I suspect these ideas and this man will have future impact on our public stage well beyond his home state.

The speaker was Ben Sasse, a 50-year-old former law professor and university president now in his second term as a senator from Nebraska. He’s an interesting guy, not one of the standard suits who walk the Capitol halls like robots with substance-free, programmed comments targeting select audiences.

Sasse has been a consistent critic of Donald Trump. In the second impeachment trial as a matter of “conscience,” the Nebraskan even voted with six other GOP senators to convict the 45th president. But apparently, Nebraskans agree or don’t mind all that much.

Sasse got just under 63 percent of the vote in 2020, which was four points more support than Trump drew in that staunchly Republican state that has not voted for a Democrat president since Willie Mays got a record $105,000 contract and some little-known British singing group got its first No. 1 U.S. hit (“I Want to Hold Your Hand”). As of May 2022, Sasse maintained a positive approval rating.

Anyway, back to the Reagan Library speech. Sasse had many good things to say, full of hope, if you can imagine such a thing during Joe Biden’s ongoing reign of error. I urge you to read the text here or watch the video here.

What struck me as intriguing was Sasse’s suggestion that the United States out of its own self-interest lead the assembly of a NATO of the Pacific. That would be an alliance of like-minded open societies against the looming military menace of Communist China, which will not go away just because it’s wishfully ignored.

The idea being that only together can the disparate Asian societies confront the massive economic and military menace that is Beijing and not get subsumed one by one. Currently, the Pacific has some scattered alliances and bilateral compacts, but nothing on the scale of NATO.

China is not waiting, however. It just signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands with hundreds of millions in “aid” and a future military base across a major Pacific trade route.

With U.S. leadership, NATO was founded in 1949 out of the smoldering embers of World War II Europe where Adolf Hitler had picked off individual countries to be conquered one by one for his Third Reich.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization now has 30 members with Sweden and Finland in line after abandoning their historic neutrality in the face of Russia’s brutal aggression in Ukraine.

Relying on Article 5 (an attack against one member is an attack against all) as a deterrent, NATO for decades faced down the Soviet Union’s expansionist Warsaw Pact and won the Cold War. The only time Article 5 has ever been used was to support the U.S. in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks.

Ukraine is not a NATO member. In fact, Vladimir Putin sees its proposed membership right on Russia’s southern border as a major threat to his dream of constructing some kind of greater Russia as his legacy.

Ukraine is massively outgunned and outmanned but has stymied Putin’s plan for a quick conquest to install a puppet regime. Kyiv’s forces are fighting for the country’s very existence.

They’ve been strengthened through an increasing flood of ammo, heavy weapons, and shared intelligence from NATO countries, who know that members like Poland or the Baltic states would be next on Putin’s conquest shopping list.

“It’s been a long time since this country did something big and hard together,” Sasse told a Reagan Library audience the other night.

He added:

We need allies to get back on the offensive against the CCP, and those allies need US leadership…As Chairman Xi looks to expand his sphere of influence, we need a new military alliance centered far out into the Pacific. This is our main foreign policy work…

Let’s arm the Taiwanese military to the teeth. Let’s amend the Taiwan Relations Act directly to make our security guarantee explicit. No more strategic ambiguity.

Let’s pair military partnerships with economic partnerships and end the nonsense anti-trade policies of the last two administrations. Pacific NATO should be a free-trade zone, too. Trade is a win-win because when Americans compete, we win.

Nobody out-thinks, out-hustles, or out-works the American people. We built an American order that saw us through the Cold War.

We can build a new American order that will see us through the coming conflict with the Beijing tyrant – that’s seeking to export his dehumanizing surveillance-state autocracy and the related technologies.

The idea of the United States actually providing international leadership once again to protect its own security offshore with others is exciting to imagine in stark contrast to the depressing drift of Joe Biden’s policies toward China.

For all we know, Hunter Biden maintains the large financial investments in China he established in 2013 after riding there with Dad on the vice-presidential plane.

How’s that for strategic competition?

There’s much more of refreshing interest in this Reagan Library speech. I urge you to scan it for yourself with an open mind keyed to the future. Let me know in the Comments what else struck you.

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