Whether we’re prepared to admit it or not, there’s no escaping the fact that a new Cold War has been raging since at least 2001, although only one of the parties involved seems to have cared or even noticed…until now.
Western democracies have been burdened with a stupefying level of naivete for at least the last century, and its consequences have been far more destructive than anything the coronavirus could ever wreak upon our open and tolerant societies. One of the more insidious side effects of this liberal-democratic mindset is an unfortunate tendency to judge the motivations of others by our own standards. This very often leads Western policy makers to view others as sharing our motives if not our viewpoint, rather than identifying a rival and incompatible belief system for what it really is and effectively challenging it. This peculiar mental pathology remains as much a threat today as it did when Kim Philby was officially cleared of spying for the Soviet Union.
“To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” Sun Tzu’s Art of War
Perhaps the most egregious example of this huge blind spot has been the sense of invincibility that settled over the West when the Berlin Wall finally fell in 1989. We thought it was over and we thought we’d won, but that complacency has cost us dear.
Of course, we in the liberal democratic West were not the only ones taking notes as the Soviet experiment collapsed; communist China was also watching carefully, determined not to follow that same road to ruin.
As Hansard is not available for Beijing’s deliberations, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever know the exact debate that took place within the Chinese Communist Party during that period. Despite that, I think it’s highly likely that the shrewd Chinese quickly learned the vital lesson that head-to-head military and economic competition with the West could only ever lead to defeat. A new strategy would be needed to advance the cause of worldwide socialism.
For many years, nominally friendly but ideologically hostile Arab states have been working to spread a hardline anti-democratic, Islamist message throughout the West, and using West’s own wealth to pay for the subversion of its democratic values. For anyone who cares to listen, the Arabs openly talk about the Oil Weapon and its strategic use has been remarkably successful.
Adapting this proven model of self-funding subversion, Beijing began opening its huge internal markets up to the world. By allowing China to join the World Trade Organisation in 2001, the inexhaustible naivete of the West was exploited once more as our pampered elites foolishly imagined themselves as a benign influence on the communist party that gave the world Chairman Mao and the Cultural Revolution.
“Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer we use to crush the enemy.” Mao Zedong.
The evidence of such folly is now so overwhelming that it scarcely needs elaboration here. It’s just a pity that those who actually bothered to read Mao’s little red book were sidelined as swivel eyed conspiracy theorists.
When we think about the dismissive and insulting attitude of our policy makers towards those who warned about the dangers of the EU as well as communist China, a disturbing pattern begins to emerge. Either our cultural, academic and media elites are so collectively stupid that none of them could see such obvious dangers, or they were so drunk on cultural, economic and political power that they simply had no interest in the serious harm their appeasement policies have inflicted on the nations they claim to represent.
It’s taken the better part of twenty years and a series of completely avoidable crises to answer that question about our own society, and what we’ve learned doesn’t make for easy sleep.