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Russia or China – Which Is the Greater Threat?

The U.S. faces two global threats, but which requires the most attention?

The U.S. finds itself with finite resources and two major national security threats. So, how can the Biden administration best allocate its assets to counter both Russia and China successfully? The decision requires making judgments about which of the two global competitors is the greater hazard; determining which needs immediate attention and which can be handled with a longer-term approach. Observing the behavior of both Russia and China provides the clue to which is which. This article is the first in a series (see links below article) to address the more significant threat, why that adversary is the greater threat, and what the U.S. can do about it.

A 2018 RAND Corporation study titled “Russia Is a Rogue, Not a Peer; China Is a Peer, Not a Rogue” describes a dangerous geopolitical and geoeconomics playing field. According to the Rand researchers, the former Trump administration’s National Security Strategy accurately characterized the two adversary states as working to:

“… challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity. They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and repress their societies and expand their influence … Today, they are fielding military capabilities designed to deny America access in times of crisis and to contest our ability to operate freely in critical commercial zones during peacetime.”

GettyImages-1237397282 Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

To compare the two U.S. adversaries’ behaviors, RAND explained, “Russia assassinates its opponents at home and abroad. Russia interferes in foreign elections, subverts foreign democracies, and works to undermine European and Atlantic institutions.” On the other hand, China’s growing impact on countries it wishes to influence is pernicious and malevolent but with the mask of positive influence on the world order. Again, from the RAND analysis, “China has even become the largest contributor to U.N. peacekeeping operations,” along with positive activities “in trade, investment, and development assistance … These attributes make China a less immediate threat but a much greater long-term challenge.”

What should be particularly of concern for the Biden national security team is the conclusion of the RAND comparison between Russia and China. In the near future, Russian influence can be managed with deterrence, sanctions, “information operations and alliance relationships that held the Soviet Union at bay for half a century. China cannot be contained. Its military predominance in east Asia will grow over time.” The relentless growth will require the U.S. to invest more heavily and accept more risk to support current commitments.

Looking at the shorter-term problem, Russia has been engaged in a campaign of threatening behavior, most dramatically along Ukraine’s eastern border. Additionally, recent combat training events in Belarus serve to intimidate Ukraine from the North. However, there are signs that, though menacing to be sure, Putin’s immediate threat may be waning. In a Christmas Day article, Reuters commented on an Interfax report that Moscow is redeploying “more than 10,000 of its troops from Ukraine’s border to permanent bases.” Yet, between 70,000 and 90,000 Kremlin-deployed infantry and motorized armor remain on Ukraine’s doorstep. Putin’s posturing and bullying actions may be the cause du jour, but the adversary that requires President Biden’s complete and, as much as possible, undivided attention is China.

New Banner Military AffairsThe Chinese military’s bellicose operations against Taiwan are the most obvious defense issue the U.S. has with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). But what makes Beijing the most critical long-term focus of America’s all-of-government security, is the ubiquity of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and its insinuation into the fabric of U.S. society, military preparedness, and culture. Pete Sweeney, writing for Reuters, reports that typical of the PRC’s impact on America’s economy is the recently revealed “secret deal” by Apple’s chief executive officer, Tim Cook. Cook agreed to invest $275 billion “in [China] over five years in exchange for relaxing pressure on its business.” This type of corporate extortion is not uncommon. “Coerced technology transfer in exchange for market access is a point of major diplomatic friction between China and its trade partners,” writes Sweeney. The problem is more pervasive than information technology systems like Apple. Major aerospace and defense companies are part of the PRC’s metastasis into the U.S. economy.

Sweeney reveals that “Everyone from Microsoft to Boeing has built research and development centers in the People’s Republic, or directly handed over intellectual property.” The Apple deal resulted from Beijing officials targeting iPhone for “various lapses.” Cracking down on one of the world’s top ten largest companies could have put the computer giant’s supply chain in jeopardy, seriously curtailing Apple’s global profitability.

China is the single most imperiling existential national security threat to the United States’ viability as a world power and global influence for democratic values. In upcoming articles, Liberty Nation will examine more deeply the CCP’s recent and anticipated worldwide alarming activities and what the Biden administration could do to counter Beijing’s hegemonic aspirations.

The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.

~ Read more from Dave Patterson.

Part 2: US v China: A Menacing National Security Trend
Part 3: China Doubles Down on Geopolitical Challenge to US
Part 4: China Creates the Opportunity to Be a Threat Using Any Pretext

Read More From Dave Patterson

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