Wednesday 3 August 2022

Stripping away all the accretions of “defending liberalism” or “promoting democracy” with which American politicians are accustomed to shroud their defence of empire


'Stripping away all the accretions of “defending liberalism” or “promoting democracy” with which American politicians are accustomed to shroud their defence of empire, Colby breaks down the raw facts of power to their essentials. Asia is the most important economic sphere in the world, and thus, to maintain its global preeminence, America must maintain hegemony in Asia."

I like this sentence from a review by Aris Roussinos, published in Unherd in November last year and just republished, of a book about Taiwan by an American strategist Elbridge Colby called The Strategy of Denial.

It applies to Ukraine too.

For Americans extending or defending democracy means extending or defending their empire and vice versa. 

This is not a polemical point. It is simply a fact.

The review explains the argument of Mr Colby. Does it throw light on the war in Ukraine?

'China must be provoked into initiating any escalation of the conflict, so that it will always appear the aggressor; it must be permitted to strike as indiscriminately as possible (Colby urges the US not to provide potential civilian targets with air defences, reasoning that collateral damage will whip up the public anger against China necessary to winning a war); at every stage, China must be manoeuvred into situations where it is forced to escalate the conflict and so lose world sympathy, or back down. Over time, he reasons, the Chinese leadership will realise that the costs of seizing Taiwan will outweigh the benefits, and will be reassured enough by American pledges that the US will not aim to launch a wider war or dismantle their state that they will sue for peace.'


  1. Americans are low on money, chastened by the Iraq fiasco, and exhausted by years of recent tumult. They might tolerate some forms of proxy war, but they are hardly eager to enter any full-fledged conflict with China. In fact, they have already lost interest in Ukraine.

    1. I would have said "chastened by the Iraq/Afghanistan/Syria fiascos..." other wise spot on.

  2. So the US antagonises the Russian bear over Ukraine to react in a way that makes it lose the PR battle there in order to reassure it that there is no wish to pursue the antagonism further. All of that to make it sue for peace. The thinking sounds baroque or even rococo, not to say dangerous.
    Of course naked hegemonic power is behind human empires in a Darwinian manner but I don’t think the furthering of such power is behind the US démarches in Taiwan or Ukraine in the convoluted way I suggest above. Those démarches are simply led by the strand of Fukuyama-style foolishness, believing in the furthering of liberal democracy etc, which appeared in George W Bush and the Democrats. Such people believe in that folly and have been in power. You correctly avoid such foolish thinking but they didn’t.

  3. It could just be that the more unpleasant the neighborhood is...the nicer America looks as an ally. Ukraine and Taiwan want to be free of the Russia and China. Only one power can give them the weapons and support that can help make that happen.