Home Featured The West’s biggest vulnerability is internal – POLITICO
The West’s biggest vulnerability is internal – POLITICO

The West’s biggest vulnerability is internal – POLITICO

by host

Meanwhile, Russia and China have been arming at speed and scale, with Moscow fully mobilized to generate a force of 1.5 million. | Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images

Our naïveté and wishful thinking prevented us from realizing that when it comes to hard power, there’s only dependence — and there’s nothing complex about that, other than who depends on whom and for what.

But risk is still present. It has always been inherent in our international system — whether manifest in unraveling military balances, mass migration flows or Covid-19. And even though still deemed unacceptable, the only way forward is to relearn how to live with risk and prepare for it.

For the U.S. and its democratic allies to craft a winning strategy against the axis of dictatorships, our political leaders must speak plainly, truthfully and directly: The rules-based international order — if it ever truly existed — is dead. There’s no strategic sleight of hand, no “pivot” that can substitute the imperative to reshore manufacturing to the U.S., decouple from China and double U.S. defense spending, while dramatically reforming our weapons procurement system.

Western leaders must communicate to their people that if we want to preserve our prosperity going forward, we will have to fight for it. If we want to ensure our security — and the security of our children — we must stop clinging to escalation management as our idee fixe, and be ready to go to war if challenged by enemies. Only then will deterrence hold and regional power balances endure.

Citizens across the democratic world don’t need to hear bromides about international norms and values. These have been violated with impunity by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea over the past 20 years. What we need to hear is that there’s no substitute for hard power built on economic strength and national cohesion. After all, it is nations not armies that go to war.

In this context, the biggest challenge democracies face today is the imperative of adaptation. But there can be no adaptation if we don’t articulate what it is we need to adapt to. Simply put: If we want to preserve peace, the U.S. and its allies need to move onto a war footing, if for no other reason than the fact that our enemies have already done so. To mobilize for what’s coming, we need a culture change in how we organize our economic activity and how we relate to each other in society.

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