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Russian and Chinese Shows of Force Confront Biden Administration

Austin Bay on

Russia and China are conducting multiple probing operations intended to test President Biden's administration as a whole and, to be frank, directly target Joe Biden as the septuagenarian human being who ostensibly leads what China's communist propagandists ritually deride as the U.S.-led "Liberal International Order" but recently scorned as "U.S.-led anti-China cliques."

These cliques include but are not limited to Japan, South Korea, France, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, Poland and, in my view, Taiwan.

The ongoing probing operations are classic examples of "power cocktails" mixing what strategists dub the basic elements of power. The Pentagon uses the acronym DIME to sketch them: diplomacy, intelligence/information, military and economic.

The key operational cocktails Russia and China currently serve are Military shows of force (ships, planes, tanks), Diplomatic threats and Information-warfare operations (propaganda and psychological warfare). Military shows of force, like the one Russia is conducting on Ukraine's borders with massed mechanized forces, could result in a sudden attack -- in other words, a drastically escalated war in Eastern Europe.

At the moment, we have reason to doubt that is the Kremlin's intention, but no one really knows. However, it's a slam-dunk guarantee the military demonstrations, diplomatic intimidation and provocative lies are threats of war calculated to achieve a strategic effect: inciting fear that erodes the will to confront the Russian regime, first and foremost in America but also in other powerful democratic states.

China has the same goals, as it targets Taiwan and the Philippines, threatens Japan and confronts India in the Himalayas.

 

A key assumption this column makes but that is based on experience: Beijing and Moscow are coordinating their probes, at least at the wink and nod level.

This column's bottom-line argument: Without strong leadership by democratic nations, primarily from the powerful U.S., our weaknesses, especially our self-inflicted weaknesses, could quickly become debilitating wounds the authoritarians will leverage, to our great loss.

Credit French President Emmanuel Macron with recognizing that, at least regarding Russia. He told CBS News the democracies must continue discussions with Russia but "define clear red lines" with Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime. He added, "sanctions are not sufficient in themselves, but ... are part of the package."

Macron criticized "a failure of our collective credibility" to respond effectively to Russia's 2014 Ukraine invasion. The "international community" also failed to enforce the Obama-Biden administration's now-infamous August 2012 "red line" forbidding use of chemical weapons by Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad. During the interview, he made this strong statement: "We will never accept new military operations on Ukrainian soil."

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