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America Is Stronger Than It Looks
Ukrainian Armed Forces move to park in their base near Klugino-Bashkirivka village, in the Kharkiv region on January 31, 2022. (Photo by Sergey BOBOK / AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian Armed Forces move to park in their base near Klugino-Bashkirivka village, in the Kharkiv region on January 31, 2022. (Photo by Sergey BOBOK / AFP via Getty Images)

America Is Stronger Than It Looks

Walter Russell Mead

The world’s attention may be fixed on Russia’s challenge to Ukraine, but the Biden administration faces something much larger: an intensifying challenge by China, Russia and opportunists such as Iran and North Korea to the global order that the U.S. inherited from a faltering British Empire in the 1940s. While Vladimir Putin tightened his grip on Belarus and stepped up his war of nerves against Ukraine, China signaled its support for Russia’s Ukraine policy, sent record numbers of fighter jets through Taiwan’s defense zone, conducted joint naval drills with Russia near Japan, and beefed up its naval presence between Japan and Taiwan. While China’s ambassador to the U.S. warned of a growing danger of war over the island, Jin Canrong, a leading Chinese academic with extensive contacts in the Chinese Communist Party, predicted that China would carry out an “armed unification” with Taiwan by 2027.

For some, this crescendo of global crises illustrated the overextension of American power. Why, they ask, does every problem in the world end up in America’s inbox? Why not give the world a rest and turn our attention to urgent problems at home?

It is an appealing idea, but the last time we tried it things didn’t end well. In the 1920s Americans hoped that standing for democratic principles, international law and economic cooperation with other countries could prevent another world war. It didn’t, and after the shock of World War II and Stalin’s postwar hostility, American policy makers decided that constructing an Americanized version of the old British world system, a global economic order backed by U.S. military might, was the safest and cheapest way to defend core American interests.

Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal

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