This blog “It Does Not Add Up” focuses primarily on U.S. fiscal and economic issues such as massive debt and slow economic growth. But lately I have also been discussing other serious threats to our comfortable and prosperous way of life such as global warming and challenges from rival powers such as China and Russia.
The Hoover Institution’s Larry Diamond well describes these growing foreign policy threats in his new book, “Ill Winds. According to Mr. Diamond it is imperative that we:
- Stand up to Putin. “Putin is like a burglar walking down a corridor of apartments, testing to see which doors are unlocked. When he gets the chance he breaks in; when he cannot, he moves on.” We need to continue pressuring regime elites where it hurts: their assets and their ability to enjoy them. Targeted sanctions are effective because they punish corrupt and abusive individuals, not the Russian people at large.
- Stand up to Xi. The most important thing to do here is to continue to insist that China stop stealing our intellectual property and that it provide fair access to Chinese markets for American products. We need to keep the trade pressure (i.e. tariffs) on China as long as necessary while reducing it on our longtime allies around the world as well as well as neutral countries with whom we do business.
- Continue to support freedom and democracy around the world. Remember that no two democracies have ever gone to war with each other. We need to support not only established democracies but struggling and developing democracies as well. We should try to pressure authoritarian regimes to stop abusing the rights and stealing the resources of their citizens. We should continually update and reboot our public diplomacy – our global networks of information and ideas – for today’s fast-paced age of information and disinformation.
Summary. We are still the leading superpower in the world, both economically and militarily, but we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. Our continued success is not automatically assured. We must never forget that “freedom is not free.”