Victor Davis Hanson // National Review
Donald Trump promised to shake up U.S. foreign policy. He has certainly done that from the Middle East to Asia. The U.S. is currently engaged in a three-front, maximum-pressure standoff with China, Iran, and North Korea — involving everything from tariffs to possible military action and the strictest sanctions in memory.
At first, Trump critics saw these policy recalibrations as either impotent or counterproductive. Pessimists asserted that China, with a population four times the size of the United States’, was fated for world hegemony. Why antagonize those who might soon control our political and economic future?
Bipartisan experts talked not of the heresy of “stopping” China’s ascendance, but of “managing” America’s relative decline. Translated, the implicit policy conceded that the U.S., in its trade concessions, should overlook systematic Chinese trade surpluses, flagrant violations of world commercial norms, neocolonial provocations throughout Asia, stealing U.S. patents and copyrights, product dumping, currency manipulation, and technological appropriation. Supposedly, the more we appeased China through acts of magnanimity, the more they would reciprocate by becoming like us.
Our classic model for China’s supplanting the U.S. was the prior gradual hand-off of world hegemony from the British Empire to the Americans, as the United Kingdom in the 1940s tutored us on our global responsibilities and tried to play Athenian philosophers to our Roman legions.