The U.S. 2022 National Security Strategy: A recipe for global disorder
Updated 18:39, 14-Oct-2022
Keith Lamb
The White House in Washington, D.C., the United States, October 28, 2021. /Xinhua
The White House in Washington, D.C., the United States, October 28, 2021. /Xinhua

The White House in Washington, D.C., the United States, October 28, 2021. /Xinhua

Editor's note: Keith Lamb is a University of Oxford graduate with a Master of Science in Contemporary Chinese Studies. His primary research interests are China's international relations and "socialism with Chinese characteristics." The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The newly released U.S. National Security Strategy lays to rest any doubts that the U.S. doesn't have a coherent China strategy. In the report, China due to its "full spectrum capabilities" is described as the U.S.'s number one geopolitical challenger. Russia is also included and consequently the U.S. seeks to outmaneuver them both. However, the whole world will be affected by this strategy that is a recipe for global disorder. 

Gilded in the language of freedom and democracy, the U.S.'s goal is a world where "all nations that sign up to these principles [of democracy] … participate in, and have a role in shaping, the rules. It is prosperous in that it empowers all nations to continually raise the standard of living for their citizens. And secure, in that it is free from aggression, coercion and intimidation." 

The report sees the world at an inflection point where "American leadership is as great as it has ever been" but where if the U.S. doesn't act now leadership will be lost. To this end, the U.S. seeks to "share [their] vision of a world that is free, open, secure, and prosperous. This means that the foundational principles of self-determination, territorial integrity, and political independence must be respected." 

The problem is that the U.S. doesn't practice democracy at home or abroad. Certainly, it doesn't respect territorial integrity, so what is the U.S. trying to share?  

Mass elections do not equal freedom or democratic outcomes. Real democracy consists of real improvements to people's livelihoods. Internationally, all states no matter what their system, for the sake of democracy, must construct the rules together. 

Domestic U.S. mass homelessness and international illegal wars, characterized by coercion and aggression, are the physical results of an undemocratic and chaotic world order. If anything, the prosperity the report talks about has arisen due to economic cooperation with all global actors, especially China, which is now being thwarted. 

In terms of the aforementioned U.S. democratic values, China's goal of multipolarity and its resistance to sovereign interference, which it practices, is the basic foundation for global democracy, which is the prerequisite for internal democracy. Domestically, China's goal of building socialism is inseparable from expanding democracy and the lifting of its 98.99 million impoverished rural residents out of poverty by the end of 2020 is democracy in action. Here policy is set for the masses, not the minority. 

Tourists view the scenery of cole flower fields in Panzhou, southwest China's Guizhou Province, March 7, 2022. /Xinhua
Tourists view the scenery of cole flower fields in Panzhou, southwest China's Guizhou Province, March 7, 2022. /Xinhua

Tourists view the scenery of cole flower fields in Panzhou, southwest China's Guizhou Province, March 7, 2022. /Xinhua

Simply put, China is not an enemy of U.S. "democracy." It does not seek to change the U.S. system. At most the threat from China is that its own system proves effective and makes U.S. citizens question more. However, isn't this integral to U.S. democracy? 

The report believes a problem exists due to states' redrawing borders. However, this is primarily a problem emanating from the U.S. For example, Yugoslavia, subjected to an illegal U.S.-led war was balkanized. For China, this is the very strategy the U.S. seeks to follow by funding separatists in China's Taiwan region as well as leveraging ethnic tensions by constructing false genocide narratives.  

In order to carry out its strategy, the U.S. seeks to build on its alliances, bolster its industry, and modernize its military so that "it is equipped for the era of strategic competition with major powers." The problem is that this is a recipe for global chaos. AUKUS has brought greater uncertainty to the Indo-Pacific region and NATO's engagement with Ukraine sparked regional conflict. 

To justify the use of U.S. hard power and to hide naked hegemonism the report uses the Manichaean language of liberal democracy. This language delegitimizes the rational interests of non-liberal actors who can be "dealt" with. In reality, one needs to engage even more with those who think differently for the sake of global security and democracy. 

In fact, the U.S. has no problem engaging with non-liberal democratic actors when it suits their agenda. As long as states are subserviente to U.S. interests, then their governing system is unimportant.

When hegemonism comes first and principles are optional, all states, no matter what system they follow, need to be on guard. For example, the report drawing up a plan for an "integrated Middle East", in light of OPEC+ states not towing the U.S. line, is concerning. Indeed, the concern for chaos and destruction is precisely why the majority of the world is on board with the forces of construction characterized by the Belt and Road Initiative. 

Even the U.S.'s NATO allies are beginning to recognize their servitude to U.S. strategic interests. European peace is non-negotiable and the EU's economy is set to decline as energy prices soar. This will gut out the EU's industry which, unwilling to pay the price for expensive U.S. gas, will move to the U.S. A similar strategy is being followed in East Asia where its industry is also being "encouraged" to move. Consequently, the U.S. has strategically outmaneuvered its major allied competitors. 

All this is backed up by the gigantic U.S. military which is set to expand. Make no mistake, whether ally or enemy, whether liberal or non-liberal, the U.S. military will be the final guarantor of U.S. strategy against all states that seek democratic autonomy from the current chaotic world order. 

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