The Coming War
Tensions are rising high amidst grave uncertainty. The pieces are all in place.
I wrote this piece about 4 months ago after contemplating the possibility of war breaking out. Foreign relations and geopolitics are, to me, a matter of great importance as their impact can be felt directly around the world but also in many ways below the surface. My initial prediction dating back to early 2021 was for China making the first move of aggression against Taiwan. I also thought aggression by China would not occur at least until after the 2022 Winter Olympics, hosted in Beijing. To my surprise, Russia seems poised to tip the first domino piece over in Ukraine. In any case, I left the piece in place with minor edits and adjustments for clarity.
Sorrowful as it may be, war is evident. With China making subtle if not open threats of invasion of Taiwan, Taiwan solidifying fortifications, and Japan signaling it would join to defend its close ally, the world should be ready for a New Pacific Theatre. Whether China makes the first move is no longer a question of if, but now it is when. So the tables turn to the US and where they see themselves in the coming conflict.
Throughout history, global hegemony, something the US has held dear since the end of World War II, has been retained through force and dominance. Whereby non-hegemonic states fail to act, often even when contrary to their best interests, out of fear of economic or military repercussions from the hegemonic state. Moreover, a state takes the title of the most powerful entity in the world after an often bloody war. Look no further than the last 150 years. The Ottoman Empire was the most powerful state but had its hegemony (and its entire state) destroyed after World War I. Great Britain took the reins until Nazi Germany gunned for it, only to be defeated by the Allied Forces led by the US military. As a result of that victory, the US took over control as the global hegemonic state. So what is next?
Recognizing that China wishes to and is likely to attempt a take over of Taiwan, an island a mere 80 miles off its shore and a place China considers to be the mainland, it begs the serious question of how the US will act. We know a fact from the past: whenever the hegemonic state is threatened with succession, it fights a war to retain its status. The reason is that by forgoing war, the state thereby relinquishes its status as the global leader. With strength comes power, and by failing to use your strength you lose your power.
Understanding this we are faced with two possible outcomes, both with different secondary results. The first is that the US joins in a fight against China - the pretext being a war against Western values by an aggressive Eastern Communist State bent on imposing its authoritative principles on the world. With this calculation and rationale, the US has no choice but to send in troops and rally its allies in the Pacific and NATO to the charge. From there likely begins a new World War, as neither side will concede until victory is clear. China is not willing to back off its claims of owning Taiwan as well as the economic and cultural backlash of a humiliating defeat at the hands of the West. Depending on the length and periphery of the fighting, it is possible that proxy wars could occur elsewhere, though more likely they will be contained in the Pacific Theatre. In the end, if the US and its allies prevail, Western dominance will prevail. If not, China will become the global superpower, and in the West’s greatly diminished state many of the secondary actions described below can come to be.
The second possibility is that the US does not act. They issue thinly veiled threats of economic sanctions towards China, but in the end, China handily takes over Taiwan. They did it with Hong Kong, so why would anyone care about Taiwan? However, by doing this, the US signals to the world that it has relinquished its place as the global superpower to China, and that its hegemony is no more. Then what? Will the world carry on uninterrupted? Likely not. Russia, seeing to it that the US has “lost its swagger”, may take the opportunity to engage in its long-awaited invasion of Ukraine. Will NATO then join in the fight in a last-minute desperation attempt to hoist Western values on the global stage? If they did, a large-scale war would break out. If not, the proxies will continue.
In the Middle East, long-held beliefs by successive Israeli governments have been that Israel’s security is dependent on support by a strong United States. The argument against this can be strongly made, but the fact is that the greater global public has bought into this idea. Will Israel’s Arab neighbors with friendly relations renege on the Abraham Accords, or will those who still swear Israel as its enemy, like Iran, take the opportunity to engage in its long-desired war of destruction?
The list can go on indefinitely. Every war for global dominance has never been confined to the borders or region in which the conflict originated. A world in disarray by definition causes conflict across the globe. The dominos are set in place, it’s now only a matter of who drops the first piece and where it lands.
Books I’m currently reading:
Token Economy: How the Web3 reinvents the Internet by Shermin Voshmgir
The Guide for the Perplexed by Maimonides
Jewish Meditation by Aryeh Kaplan
The Ego and the Id by Sigmund Freud
When Will the U.S. Stop Lying to Itself About Global Politics? (NYTimes)
11 Years After Trying to Kill Each Other, a Marine and a Talib Meet Again (NYTimes)
“The genuine love for reading itself, when cultivated, is a superpower.” - Naval Ravikant
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Until next time…