Slowing down a bit for the holidays
More reflections, family and friends, to begin wrapping up 2022
Happy Monday to all,
As things wind down towards the holidays, including the end of the 2022, I’ll revisit a couple of topics from earlier, meander towards lighter subjects a bit, and raise an occasional sharp point about threats. Our home here in TX slows down regarding work and quickens its holiday pace this time of year. My writing tapers off a little. After all, overburdening you with nothing but threats, is a poor fit with the holiday spirit. Also, like most old soldiers, the holiday wish for “peace on earth” is near and dear to me. I certainly hope that all of you will slow down a bit too.
Regardless of which or how many holidays that you celebrate, I am offering my most sincere wishes to all, for happiness, health and an ever rosier, 2023.
Today I will open the week with some news and things to focus on while searching your soul for those all-important, New Year’s resolutions.
Last evening, I had the recurring honor to moderate a panel of experts discussing democracies forced to deal with Chinese aggression and global security challenges for the Asia-Pacific region. The host organization, The Asia Pacific, Security Innovation forum, began holding their yearly, summit this week, with a fine lineup of, world-class experts discussing security issues that challenge the Asia-Pacific region. I’ve had the high honor to be a speaker at APSI events and to also moderate event panels occasionally. Sadly, I wasn’t able to make the event in person but hosted from here in Texas. Especially sad since their organization is based in beautiful New Zealand.
When the video of last night’s event is edited and ready for public viewing, I will gladly share the experts’ views on the topics at hand, as that they are directly tied to US, allied and partner security.
Of critical importance for the hosted panel, is what form Chinese aggression takes, who it focuses on and why. I can assure you that within the region, those threatened have important perspectives that our defense community often fails to understand. Since the goal, in my opinion is to “modify Xi’s behavior,” not to destroy China, the opinions of his regional neighbors and the globally connected commercial/ private sectors, are factors often ignored or misunderstood in western think tanks.
As that China’s aggression, along with her ever-ascending friendship with Putin involves a primary threat to global security, I will often visit this topic in the future. At the moment, it’s long overdue that the US national security community stops seeing this in exclusively western terms and forming strategies based on near obsolete, 1980s thinking, that unsuccessfully puts arms races at the core of our strategy. I’m not saying an elite military isn’t important, it’s just that when there’s a symbiotic commercial relationship with China, weapons alone are a failed strategy.
Some good news and reasons for cautious optimism…
Over the past year or so, we’ve seen the wave of dominant authoritarianism, populism and despotism wane a bit, globally. We are still putting up with Putin, Xi, the military regimes of other nations and even populists like Modi, but even their peak power period, beginning around 2014 has fallen off substantially. Populists like Trump, and Bolsonaro in Brazil are gone. Putin’s aggressor period, kicked off most prominently with his annexation of Crimea, is sputtering and grinding towards a humiliating defeat in Ukraine.
Xi, who seems to have a penchant for making poor strategic decisions, has lost his domestic battle regarding his failed, “zero-COVID” policy. Tens of millions of courageous Chinese citizens filled the streets until Xi’s ridiculous policy was dramatically reduced. Iran’s Ayatollahs have lost their battle to protect the Vice Police during the months-long, demonstrations against repressive theocracy. I’d like to offer a special “shout-out” to the exemplary courage of the women of Iran for leading an unrelenting war against the evils of the oppressive Ayatollahs.
Putin’s citizens are also demonstrating in record numbers against Putin’s barbaric and unprovoked invasion of sovereign Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of Russians have left the country rather than be drafted into Putin’s war-crime filled attempts to erase Ukrainian culture from the planet. Yes, cultural genocide. In the US, midterm voters in an unprecedented fashion, rejected the conspiracy theory and extremist laden ideology of the Republican party in our midterm elections.
While I’m still sorting through the reasons for this global shift in morality, I’ll gladly go into the end of 2022 with renewed optimism. Still, please let’s remember that I began this section with, “cautious optimism.” The current positive trends will wither and die without continued attention. The global answer is much the same as what we experienced here in the US during our recent election period. Collective rejection of extreme populism by opposing political viewpoints paved the way towards a renewed embrace of America’s best values. It will take collective attention to what is termed the RBIO, rules-based, international order and its adherence to common human values. Progress towards a better life for all humans, is dependent on people, regardless of belief system, adhering to their better angels.
Finally, for today, the next trial against four of the January 6th Seditious conspirators gets underway. This is an ugly, self-inflicted wound on the body of US democracy. As painful as this period was and still is for our nation, we must open this wound fully to drain it of infection, then begin the healing process. When we went through an actual Civil War, 1861-1865, we failed, after Lincoln’s assassination to heal the nation properly. We cannot afford to fail again with the healing process. Like all infected wounds, eventually, they come back to imperil our democracy with even worse, sometimes fatal consequences.
Everyone doing their part to be completely honest about January 6th and then enable real healing, sounds like a worthwhile New Year’s resolution to me. Like any other therapy, being completely honest with ourselves and then having the courage to move forward in a positive direction, is the key to success. Anything less will impose a sentence of a long, debilitating disease, on the body of American democracy. I can assure you; I will do my part and gladly help others. Please consider if you will join me and the tens of millions of Americans, who will enable our future because it’s part of our American DNA. Our children, grandchildren and beyond, deserve a better nation to inherit than our current one.
My very best for everyone’s week ahead,