America Responds to China’s Geopolitical Network

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America Responds to China’s Geopolitical Network

Almost every major geopolitical struggle in history has involved opposing alliances of nations with “shared interests,” as well as a set of nations that try to remain neutral.  The 20th century Cold War was defined by the competing ideological systems of communism and capitalism. That face-off, led by the United States and the Soviet Union, defined global geopolitical reality from 1948 to 1991.  The stakes were somewhat analogous to the medieval struggles between Christianity and Islam.  The stated objective was to transform the global order into one dominated either by “Soviet-style central planning” or by “American-style entrepreneurial capitalism.” 

That struggle was presaged by the joint U. S.-Soviet victory in World War II.  By 1944, it became clear that Germany, Japan, and their allies would be defeated.  At that point, the United States and the Soviet Union recognized an unprecedented opportunity to rebuild the destroyed economies of Europe and Asia in their own images.  From Eastern Europe to Vietnam to Korea to Cuba to Yemen, Soviet-back revolutionaries seized power and established Soviet-style economies; its military incarnation was the Warsaw Pact.  To counter this offensive, the U.S. launched the Marshall Plan and used the international institutions it had assembled at the end of World War II to build up the so-called Free World.  These institutions included the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, NATO, and, to a certain extent, the United Nations. 

This meant that, by the late 1950s, the world was partitioned into three competing alliances:  the “Free (or capitalist) World,” “the Communist World,” and a set of nominally “Non-aligned Nations.”  Non-aligned Nations included much of the Middle East, Africa, and India.  For the most part, Non-aligned Nations competed for the support of the Free World and Communist World, recognizing that their leverage was greatest when they were committed to neither side.

Between 1989 and 1991, communism in Russia and Europe collapsed under economic pressure from the Free World.  That led to nearly 30 years of globalized, market-based competition.  As a result, extreme poverty was largely eradicated, and global wealth exploded.  American culture seemed to be triumphant everywhere. 

The greatest beneficiary of that victory was the People’s Republic of China.  This ironic considering that, Mao’s Soviet-backed Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, had originally been at the heart of the Communist World.  In 1949, the CCP defeated the Chinese Nationalists backed by the United States...

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