In a battle of wills, being too eager to maintain peace only emboldens our enemies.
Across our planet, democracies are on the back foot.
The authoritarian states, China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, have the initiative, as do terrorist groups like the Houthis.
There is no reason it has to be this way.
The collective economic power, technological power, and potential military power of the democracies far outstrips the autocratic states.
Just consider the combined might of the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and even Canada (though our military is crumbling our energy resources would be a significant asset in a global conflict). And, that doesn’t even include India, who would far prefer to avoid a China-dominated world.
By contrast, Russia has proven to be nowhere near a peer power of the United States – though Russia still poses a significant danger, while China’s economy is slowing dramatically, North Korea has a tiny GDP, and Iran is mired in societal division and economic stagnation.
With even a half-hearted effort, the democracies could easily overwhelm and push back the authoritarian states.
But we’re choosing not to.
And a big reason why we are making that choice is because we want to avoid war.
Avoiding war, causing war?
Now, avoiding war sounds great, but it can actually make war much more likely.
The authoritarian states have the much harder task. They are trying to overturn the already-existing world order. To do that, they must win a series of wars.
They are less technologically advanced, and their collective economic power is smaller.
And so, they can only succeed if they are able to convince the West to be timid, afraid, and to artificially weaken our own level of power. They need to pick off countries one by one, without the democracies decisively stepping in.
They are also looking for signs of weakness, and we are giving them plenty of those signs. Everytime a Western leader says “we don’t want war,” or “we don’t want to escalate,” we send a signal that the authoritarian states can push even further.
This weakness also has implications here at home.
In the West – including the United States and Canada, people are freely pushing the propaganda of China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Hamas, and the Houthis. Obviously, none of that would be seen as acceptable if we saw ourselves as being in a war, (either a hot war or cold war), with those nations and terrorist groups, but because our leaders are so desperate to avoid any indication of conflict we leave ourselves open to being torn apart from within by those who are acting on behalf of our enemies. In effect, we are letting borderline treason go unpunished, and even rewarded.
Show the willingness to escalate
So, what must the free world do to respond to this?
First and foremost, we must stop being afraid of ‘escalation.’
Escalation is happening anyway, as Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea continue to escalate their threats. They escalate because they think the free world won’t.
But if they were to see the democracies start to rapidly ramp up our military spending, if they saw us starting to show pride and confidence in our history and our values rather than undermining ourselves, and if they saw us stepping up the provision of weapons to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan, as well as rebuilding our own stockpiles, they would recognize that the free world had the willpower and strength to fight back.
Whether we like it or not, we are in a new cold war, and it could turn hot at any minute. We can either avoid acknowledging this out of fear, or we can accept reality and respond accordingly by ensuring we deal with it from a position of strength, rather than a position of weakness.
Photo – YouTube