In the past 24 hours, Australia changed the game in the Pacific and it has shaken things up.
First, Australia announced it will cancel a contract with France to buy diesel powered submarines and instead has struck a deal to obtain submarines with nuclear propulsion systems from the U.S. President Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new alliance jointly with Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Second, China reacted very negatively to the news, stating that it would create an arms race in the Pacific. Ha! China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea have already created an arms race. Australia, Taiwan, and Japan are already stocking up on missiles, rockets, fighter jets, and other weapons systems. China is rushing to build more nuclear weapons. Adding nuclear-powered submarines to the Australian fleet is hardly an escalation. It’s barely a warning shot fired across China’s bow.
Third, France reacted with outrage when it learned that Australia was canceling their contract with its state-owned company. France blamed President Biden, comparing the action to a move President Trump might have made.
Upon hearing that, half of the U.S. voter base said, “Oh, Sleepy Joe finally did something right.”
But seriously, what would you rather have, submarines using technology that dates back to WWII and have to surface every few days or a nuclear-powered fleet that can stay underwater for months at a time?
China is the Enemy
It looks like it is finally growing clear to both parties in the United States that China is the enemy.
Today, China is our ideological enemy and our largest trading partner. Tomorrow, they may be a new cold war enemy. In the future, things may come to blows.
China is bent on expansion, often at the expense of smaller countries, from Vietnam to Thailand to the Philippines. They threaten Taiwan on a weekly basis, and when they talk about Japan, it is reminiscent of Iran ranting about Israel.
China is a bully, and we all know that the only thing that stops a bully is not the teacher, but someone who fights back. By reminding China that there is an array of countries allied against it, Australia letting China know they are not to be bullied.
Good for you, Australia. Hey France, get with the program. Yes, you lost a few billion dollars, but you will lose far more if China becomes the world’s only super power.
We Must Do More
Besides selling arms to Australia and Taiwan, the U.S. needs to be doing more. We need to position ourselves to be on a war footing.
First, we should reduce our reliance on China for manufactured goods and bring more production on shore in the U.S., in Mexico and in other Pacific countries. The COVID-19 disruptions to the supply chain give U.S. companies an excellent reason to shorten the supply chain.
Second, we should build up our own military force, especially the Navy and Air Force. We should position more defensive weapons on U.S. outposts in the Pacific, including Guam and Okinawa. We should also station more offensive weapons in the area, including fighters and bombers.
Third, we must continue to sell weapons systems to friendly nations in the area, especially Taiwan. People worry that arming Taiwan will spur China to attack, but an armed Taiwan and its treaty with the U.S. is the only thing that has prevented China from invading already. We should continue to enlist countries like India in our plans against China under the idea that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. India not only shares a lengthy border with China (which is already subject to some disputes) but has an enormous army. China should worry about them opening a second front in the event of a war in the Pacific.
This Could Strengthen the U.S.
When I look at how the U.S. has fared since the collapse of the Soviet Union, I cannot help but think the lack of a serious enemy has contributed to the weakening of the country and the softening of our populace. When you have thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at you and have bomb drills monthly in school, it gives kids a certain toughness. (Where I grew up, they tested the air raid sirens the first Thursday of every month.) Right now, I bet school children in Taiwan are growing up with a similar threat. Maybe we need that reminder so people realize there are more important things to worry about than what someone posted on social media.
If we move more manufacturing capacity back to the U.S., that could provide some high-paying jobs, especially if we train high school kids who do not intend to go to college to work in these positions. Let’s make having a job equal having self-esteem again.
Finally, having a common enemy could help unite us as a country. This divisiveness, both in congress and in the streets, is not good for us. We are fighting amongst ourselves when there is an enemy at the gate, and the sooner we recognize that and work together, the better.
Do I think war with China is a good thing? No, but I think the threat of war could help the United States remember its former glory and regain some of its former strength.