Voracious reading — “I am reminded of Andrew Gordon’s masterful book ‘The Rules of the Game’ about the decline of the Royal Navy before the Battle of Jutland” — fuels the fluent writings of Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.). Their distilled essence is: People who are serious about national security should immediately speak loudly so that the nation can carry a big military stick. To qualify for the “marathon” competition with China, the United States must “win the sprint” right now.
After Princeton and before earning a Georgetown PhD, Gallagher served seven years as a Marine, learning Arabic, and, during two Iraq deployments, learning the cost of good intentions combined with muddy thinking. Now 38 and in his fourth congressional term, he chairs the House’s newly created and instantly most important committee. Its single subject is China — meaning, practically, the Chinese Communist Party.
Deterrence failed regarding Ukraine, with a huge cost in blood and treasure; a comparable failure regarding Taiwan would be immeasurably more catastrophic. About this, Gallagher’s thinking is congruent with that of scholars Hal Brands (Johns Hopkins) and Michael Beckley (Tufts) in “Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict with China.”
Demography, the authors say, dictates China’s destiny, which is decline. The danger zone is not this century — the marathon — but this decade, when China, “a falling power” facing an “ugly” future, might lunge through a closing window of opportunity for aggression.
The long run favors the United States, which is why “getting to the long run won’t be easy.”
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