AFPC: DEFENSE TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM BRIEF, The Case for Space Development

This brief originally ran as a part of the American Foreign Policy Council’s Defense Technology Program in August 2020. It can be downloaded and viewed here.

by Lamont Colucci

The Trump administration’s creation, in late 2019, of the U.S. Space Force, as a free-standing branch of the American armed forces and concurrently the reestablishment of the U.S. Space Command, has brought new and much-needed attention to what is a critical emerging domain: space. What remains lacking, however, is a broader strategy to properly frame and articulate American priorities in the space domain, and to guide U.S. conduct within it.

Such a strategy begins with a mapping of cislunar space, a domain that encompasses near-space environment between Earth and the Moon. Cislunar space is the space between the Earth’s atmosphere and the area right beyond the orbit of the Moon. Strategically, cislunarincludes the Lagrange points, which are the points in space where there is an equilibrium between Earth’s and Luna’s gravitational force. It is an area that holds military, political, cultural and economic consequences that will determine the success or failure of American strategic primacy for the 21st century and beyond.


BRIEFING HIGHLIGHTS

Russia and China have surpassed the U.S. in the military space sector, as well as in the development of civilian space.

Their innovations include China’s proposed work in Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) and testing of anti-satellite weapons, as well as Russia’s advancement of hypersonic missiles. China intends to build space vessels that utilize nuclear propulsion, colonize the moon, and potentially create areas of anti-access and area denial in space. This activity belies the geopolitical imperative of primacy, now playing out in a new strategic domain.

Development of the near-space economy will require economic and industrial output and innovation that will fundamentally change the international economic system in ways not seen since the transformation that accompanied the Industrial Revolution. It will also require mankind to reorient its economic system as a whole.

Over time, space transport will revolutionize the global economy generally and several industries in particular—namely, aerospace & defense, IT hardware, telecom sectors, space tourism, package delivery, and energy. It will be energy that might have the most immediate and direct impact on the lives of Americans, as it will eliminate many of the problems surrounding climate change and conflict over fossil fuels.

Many of those who oppose the Space Force did so because they see space as primarily a realm of exploration and scientific interest. Yet if we want it to become more, an arena for commerce and innovation, we will need to ensure its safety and security. That, in turn, requires a new type of military thinking.


THE ECONOMICS OF NEAR SPACE

Any discussion of space development needs to begin with a basic question: is it worth it? While the projected evolution of a space economy is still conceptual in nature, it is already clear that the benefits of space development will be innumerable.

As it stands, the realm of space represents a nascent—and as yet mostly untapped—market. An increase in space satellites would facilitate a faster and more reliable internet on Earth, as well as reinforce the speed and reliability of calling and messaging on terrestrial telecom networks. Shipping capabilities in space could also be a growth industry, and eventually blasting a payload into space will become less costly and faster than shipping across an ocean or via commercial aircraft. Asteroid mining is also a likely space industry—and potentially an extremely lucrative one. Resources that are often scarce on Earth are many times as plentiful on asteroids across the galaxy.

Over time, space transport will revolutionize the global economy generally and several industries in particular—namely, aerospace & defense, IT hardware, telecom sectors, space tourism, package delivery, and energy. It will be energy that might have the most immediate and direct impact on the lives of Americans, as it will eliminate many of the problems surrounding climate change and conflict over fossil fuels. This will be especially true if America becomes the leader of spacebased solar power.

This new economic revolution will grow exponentially from its inception. Morgan Stanley estimates that the “space industry” will generate 350 billion dollars annually, a figure which could grow to $3 trillion a year if this system begins to be implemented.

The creation of strategic trade routes in “near space” will hearken back to the change in trade and globalization during the Renaissance. The term “globalization” will need to be altered, and a new term such as “cosmosization” will replace it in more than a name. The NASA Gateway project (see Figure 1), which will be built in orbit around the Moon, will deliver goods, services, and personnel to and from the lunar surface. (1)

This mission currently depends on the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft.

This new economic revolution will grow exponentially from its inception. Morgan Stanley estimates that the “space industry” will generate 350 billion dollars annually, a figure which could grow to $3 trillion a year if this system begins to be implemented. (2)

This, however, does not even account for the upward changes created by the continually evolving technology created by the space economy as it evolves.

In order for this to happen, however, an industrial reorientation is necessary. Simply focusing on exploration and scientific discovery are not sustainable economic and strategic models purely in themselves. Development of the near-space economy will require economic and industrial output and innovation that will fundamentally change the international economic system in ways not seen since the transformation that accompanied the Industrial Revolution. It will also require mankind to reorient its economic system as a whole. This imperative may be hard for many people to grasp, but it is also why America will have the best chance to lead this new economic revolution. After all, it was America that landed men on the Moon and answered the call of President Kennedy’s dream. American culture and history are infused with the ability to pivot and adapt and innovate. It will need a rebirth of the frontier spirit and a declaration that what famed historian Frederick Jackson Turner said in 1893, that the closed frontier has been reopened on a much grander scale.

It was America that landed men on the Moon and answered the call of President Kennedy’s dream. American culture and history are infused with the ability to pivot and adapt and innovate.

This, in turn, requires us to seriously tackle the matter of security in space. Many of those who oppose the Space Force did so because they see space as primarily a realm of exploration and scientific interest. Yet if we want it to become more, an arena for commerce and innovation, we will need to ensure its safety and security.

That, in turn, requires a new type of military thinking.

SECURITY MATTERS

In the context of space, security can be viewed on two levels. The first is international security – that is, the security of the international system as a whole. The second is the security of the western alliance: western nation-states (including the U.S.), their allies, their economy, their values, and their political culture. A serious plan for the former, if carried out by America and its partners, will necessarily serve to bolster the latter.

Currently, the global system has no protection against an extinction-level event, nor is there an alternative for human civilization to escape a disaster. At first blush, this state of affairs may seem acceptable, but it becomes decidedly less so once one grasps the dangers posed by asteroid collisions, a Carrington Event (solar storm), and a number of other existential dangers.

The current coronavirus pandemic provides a case in point; although far from a civilization-ending event, the disease has nonetheless illustrated the weaknesses, vulnerabilities and gaps in our ability to protect national populations, as well as the fact that there is no alternative but to do so.

The same holds true for space. As the United States moves more and more into the space domain, the imperative will grow for the nascent economy there to be protected. On a mundane level, it will need to be protected from space debris, which can wreak havoc on space-based technologies such as satellites. There will also need to be a defense against a breakdown in communication or travel.

But other security needs prevail as well. No economic system can viably exist without adequate safeguards. That is the reason nations, irrespective of political and ideological outlook, have uniformly created penalties for threats to private property, penalized breach of contract, and provided security from hostility, violence, chaos, and criminality. There should be no doubt that a new economic revolution in space will foster the same challenges there. From the potential of electronic disruption to the (currently fanciful) notion of space piracy, the space domain will assuredly face potential criminality and sabotage as it develops. Assuring that this disorder stays at a minimum will go a long way toward instilling confidence in the emerging space economy.

As the United States moves more and more into the space domain, the imperative will grow for the nascent economy there to be protected.

Therein lies the conceptual case for a more robust American military presence in space. On June 18, 2018, President Trump changed the space dynamic by ordering the DOD to create a new sixth branch of the military entitled the Space Force, whose job will be to unify American national security concerns regarding Space. It was created as part of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. The current mission is to train, equip, and organize forces for space. In August of 2019, the United States reactivated U.S. Space Command as a unified combatant command whose job currently is to “conducts operations in, from, and to space to deter conflict, and if necessary, defeat aggression, deliver space combat power for the Joint/Combined force, and defend U.S. vital interests with allies and partners.”

A LOOK AHEAD AT A TRIPLANETARY PROJECT

The Triplanetary project, encompassing the Earth/Moon/Mars (see Figure 2), is an idea which recognizes that the strategic future of the United States in specific, and the western alliance in general, is not confined to cislunar space, and extends out to Mars as a way of ensuring prosperity for humanity. The name is more for literary purposes rather than literal, as the Moon isn’t actually a planet, but the project itself envisions a future of robust commerce and safe human transport spanning the range of space between Earth and Mars.

Space explorers, colonizers, and entrepreneurs see Mars as the future crown jewel.

“Newspace” advocates view Mars as the initial epicenter of a serious human presence among the stars. However, there are several developments that need to be completed in order for this dream to become a reality. The first stage of a Triplanetary economy would be an exchange of goods and services between two Earth-based entities in space (the Earth and Moon). An asteroid mining company may lead the economic impetus that will send raw extractions to a “floating” base, or to a moon-based processing plant where the minerals and metals can be extracted and used. Future stages would expand from Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO) and cislunar space on to the Moon, and then Mars. (3)

Basic resource use will eventually become trade, communication, and energy production, and finally move from a human presence to colonization. Ultimately, this will set the conditions for an even farther stage of interstellar exploration and expansion.

The Moon is a stepping stone to the future, but Mars will be an important next objective as it has comparatively more to offer for human colonization.

The Moon is a stepping stone to the future, but Mars will be an important next objective as it has comparatively more to offer for human colonization. Solar energy can generate power on the Moon and Mars, but Mars has the possibility of wind power and has greater ability to support agriculture and create a more “indigenous” civilization than does the Moon. Mars has the potential for rich and profitable mineral supplies, especially Deuterium—a fundamental element for nuclear power, particularly with the promise of fusion. Furthermore, there is today a discussion about “terraforming” the environment to eventually make it possible to create a stable civilization on a place like Mars, which scientists think could be rich in nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon, copper, sulfur, water, and ice. The NASA Gateway project and the Trump Moon-Mars Development project provide early glimpses into the possibilities that an economic zone that encompasses Mars has to offer. (4)

The Triplanetary project will be the launchpad to a permanent human presence in this arena and beyond.

HIGH STAKES

Throughout their existence, nations encounter pivot points – moments where they can choose between disaster and surrender or triumph and victory. A failure to expend the needed time and resources to plan for the future can lead to military disasters, and even to civilizational downfall. History is rife with such examples: Athens during the Peloponnesian Wars (404 BC), the Roman Empire in 476 AD, China in the 19th century (which suffered three stunning military defeats, in 1842, 1860, and 1895), France in 1940, and so on. In each case, there was a failure to appreciate the technological and strategic advancements that no longer conformed to past doctrine. History is littered with those who lacked the requisite foresight and imagination to properly adapt and seize the moment.

America is no different. In 1897, the famed officer and strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan took note of the last time the United States faced such a challenge—with the inception of what is now the U.S. Navy. He wrote: “Those who hold that our political interests are confined to matters within our borders, and are unwilling to admit that circumstances may compel us in the future to political action without them, look with dislike and suspicion upon the growth of a body [the navy] whose very existence indicates that nations have international duties as well as international rights, and that international complications will arise from which we can no more escape than the states which have preceded us in history or those contemporary with us.” (5)

Mahan was warning that the high seas had increasingly opened new vistas for commerce and communication, and the nation that invests in new seapower capabilities would therefore inevitably dominate the globe. The ingenuity and power of the aircraft carrier subsequently fulfilled Mahan’s prediction, ushering an era of American maritime—and ultimately global—dominance.

Will America lead in space, where it can create and facilitate a new economic revolution, bolster the democratic international order, and dominate the next great battlefield? Or will it cede that advantage to others, with potentially ruinous consequences for American primacy and global stability?

The United States faces the same need to innovate again today. For policymakers, this imperative presents simple yet weighty choices: will America lead in space, where it can create and facilitate a new economic revolution, bolster the democratic international order, and dominate the next great battlefield? Or will it cede that advantage to others, with potentially ruinous consequences for American primacy and global stability?

Whether Washington likes it or not, a scramble for space is inevitable, and in fact is already well underway. Today, both Russia and China have surpassed the U.S. in the military space sector, as well as in the development of civilian space. Their innovations include China’s proposed work in Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) and testing of anti-satellite weapons, as well as Russia’s advancement of hypersonic missiles. China intends to build space vessels that utilize nuclear propulsion, colonize the moon, and potentially create areas of anti-access and area denial in space. This activity belies the geopolitical imperative of primacy, now playing out in a new strategic domain.

Notably, Russia and China have been quite open about their ambitions. Both countries have recognized that nations that dominate space will end up dominating the globe. These nations are now angling for space dominance, and for good reason. The civilization that is the first to establish a durable presence in space will have the most vibrant and dynamic economy, the most advanced, high-paying jobs, and a technological edge that is second to none. Moreover, the potential for adversaries to put offensive weapons in space will blunt current American military superiority. U.S. aircraft carriers and land-based missiles will simply become convenient targets. China or Russia’s ability to dominate either energy or communication will make other nations into technological vassal states. As such, nothing short of America’s current superpower status is at stake.

In order for the United States to maintain its position of primacy, the country must embrace a reinvigorated space strategy. America will need to progress beyond a mere space program, and lead a new military, economic and scientific revolution that will determine mankind’s destiny. The stakes here are high; the nation that achieves space dominance will win future military conflicts. The 5000-year evolution and history of military technology have confirmed this trajectory.


ENDNOTES

  1. NASA Gateway Project, https://www.nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars/lunar-gateway; “NASA’s Lunar Outpost will Extend Human Presence in Deep Space,” May 2, 2018, https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-s-lunar-outpost-will-extendhuman-presence-in-deep-space
  2. “Space: Investing in the Final Frontier,” Morgan Stanley, July 2, 2019, https://www.morganstanley.com/ideas/investing-in-space; Also see, Brian Higginbotham, “The Space Economy: An Industry Takes Off, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, October 11, 2018, https://www.uschamber.com/series/above-the-fold/the-space-economy-industry-takes
  3. Objects in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) travel between 99 and 1200 miles above the surface of the Earth and have an orbital period (the time it takes for the object to orbit the Earth of between 88 and 127 minutes). LEO is where the majority of manmade space technology currently exists, such as the International Space Station. Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO) Is where objects are in high orbit above 22,000 miles match Earth’s rotation (24 hours), which is useful for communications and surveillance satellites.
    Cislunar space is the space between the Earth’s atmosphere and the area right beyond the orbit of the Moon. Strategically, cislunar includes the Lagrange points, which are the points in space where there is an equilibrium between Earth’s and Luna’s gravitational force.
  4. Newt Gingrich, “Trump’s plan to develop the moon and mars will change the future of the human race,” Newsweek, July 23, 2019, https://www.newsweek.com/trumps-plan-developmoon-mars-will-change-future-human-raceopinion-1450736
  5. Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Interest of America in Sea Power, Present and Future, (originally published 1897).

Newsmax: 75 Years Ago the Bomb Saved the World

My last column concerned the legacy of the Yalta and Potsdam conferences that were the final summits at the end of the Second World War. The atomic bomb was integral to the outcome of those summits and completely altered both American foreign policy and American national security to this day.

It has and is fashionable to decry President Harry Truman and his decision to use the atomic bomb against the Japanese empire during the Second World War.

The decision has been mutated by the educational and media establishment, which seeks to cast the judgment as incompetence, but more likely, decries it as evil.

Like so much lost in America today, there is no appreciation for the history of this period, and more importantly, the existential struggle the United States faced against the Axis powers, and then immediately with the Soviet Union. In case some readers are unaware, the term “existential,” when applied to foreign affairs literally, means that the civilization involved will cease to exist if the decisions are wrong.

It’s probably difficult for those who possess little education, however much they might have on paper, to fully grasp the horrendous struggle America engaged in from 1941 to 1945.

They are less likely to understand how close to defeat we came on several occasions.

It’s lost on many that had the United States lost a few pivotal battles like Normandy, and Midway, the entire outcome of the war would have changed.

It’s also beyond the scope of many to fully grasp the casualty rates that America suffered.

Contemporary Americans may be shocked to know that America suffered 6,000 casualties on the first day of Normandy, and 49,000 during the battle of Okinawa.

One should pause here because part of Truman’s decision was because of the casualty rates that came in from Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Truman’s decision followed the absurd fighting in places like Iwo Jima and Okinawa and, more importantly, the projected casualties (as reported to Secretary of War Stimson) of Operations Olympic and Coronet (the projected conventional invasion of Japan) to be over 1 million Americans and 5 to 10 million Japanese.

Other myths and fairytales have grown up surrounding the decision to drop the bombs on Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and Nagasaki on Aug. 9.

We must keep in mind that the United States had three total bombs, one of which had already been used during the New Mexico test.

The most common myths associated with Truman and this period need a quick dispelling:

Truman had a committee considering alternatives, including using the bomb as a demonstration or continuing the much more horrific option of enforced starvation through a blockade. He also wanted to ensure that the targets made political and cultural sense, and therefore Tokyo and Kyoto were not ultimately targeted.

Truman’s decision was also affected by the growing kamikaze casualties and the militarists of Japan, who clearly stated that it would be better for Japan to be destroyed than surrender. Finally, it must be remembered the Soviets invaded Japan in between the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The question of whether Japan today would have been better off being divided like Korea is one that is easy to answer with an emphatic no.

Can the Japanese people or we even conceive of what the horrors and genocide inside a Peoples Republic (North Japan) of Japan would have looked like?

Finally, an item rarely discussed is that both the Germans and the Japanese were working on their own atomic bomb projects. We know the Soviets were stealing ours during our creation of it.

It’s worth reflecting on what kind of world would have existed if any of those powers would have had a first nuclear weapon, and worse, an atomic monopoly.

The decision to drop the atomic bombs was the hardest any president faced. Truman exhibited the first taste of his national security doctrine with this decision, and it was one that he neither relished nor regretted.

The dropping of the bombs ended the war in the Pacific and saved millions of allied soldiers and Japanese civilian lives. It blunted the immediate Soviet threat and gave the West breathing room to deal with the looming Communist threat that sought world domination through the spread of evil, misery, and terror.

This piece originally ran on Newsmax on 6 August, 2020.

Newsmax: Ghosts of Past Summits: Yalta and Potsdam

Seventy-five years ago, the Allied victory against the Axis was on the horizon. The crisis in international relations was only beginning. For almost 100 years, the world suffered under what international relations scholars clinically refer to as a “multi-polar” world system. Prior to that, there was a brief period of stability with the Pax Britannica from 1815 to 1871. Taking the long view of history, minus the brief period of British stability, the world had 1,500 years of great and small power conflict, starting with the fall of the Roman empire. This “system” of constant warfare, chaos, lawlessness and violence came to a crashing end in 1945 when the world experienced, arguably, for the only time in world history, a bipolar division between the USA and the USSR.

Two allied conferences occurred in the late winter and mid-summer of 1945. These conferences were designed to end the war and to sow the seeds for the future world system. The failure of the United States at Yalta pre-determined a problem at Potsdam and should remind us that when a liberal (Wilsonian) view of diplomacy is held, the interests of the United States are never met. This can best be translated by the idea that when the deal itself becomes more important than the mission, the United States always loses. We can see this conflict dynamic today over Iran created by the Obama administration and North Korea, created by the Clinton administration and the overall liberal failures regarding relations with Russia and China. Those forces that seek victory through a declaration of a deal versus those who see victory through American interests.

In February 1945, the sickly Roosevelt attended his last conference at the Crimean resort of Yalta. He believed he needed the Soviet Union to defeat the Japanese and therefore issued his call for free elections in Europe merely as a face-saving device; he received a promise from the Soviet Union that it would enter the U.N.

Roosevelt believed that a Soviet sphere of influence was a reality and opposing it was not worth the risk of the Soviet Union not entering the U.N. or the war against Japan. He saw few alternatives, as he did not believe the American public would accept more casualties over a war with the Soviets. Roosevelt’s obsession with the Grand Alliance blinded him to the future catastrophe that awaited the United States during the Cold War and beyond. Roosevelt’s obsession over the ideal of the deal, for him, the U.N., blinded him to the reality on the ground. His insistence on unconditional surrender had merit until opportunities in Germany in 1944 presented a different picture. Roosevelt’s doctrine of fighting in Europe first, then Japan, made grand strategy sense, as did his use of the presidency to rebuild the U.S. military as much as he could before the war started. His role as a wartime leader is untarnished, but his view of grand strategy was mixed and murky.

Roosevelt’s appeasement of the Soviets at Yalta led to the problems of Potsdam. He traded liberalism and realism like a horse broker, compromising over Poland to get Soviet promises over Japan and the United Nations, arguing to advisers that he could “work with Stalin.”

The infamous Yalta Conference Declaration was made on February 11, 1945. Although it reiterated unconditional surrender and the need to punish the evil of the Nazis, it also guaranteed that liberated Europe would be treated under the terms of the Atlantic Charter. For all of FDR’s railing against appeasement, Yalta seemed to appease the Soviets.

FDR was attempting to lay the foundations for the Grand Alliance to outlast the war and thought that accommodating the Soviets was worth this price. This strand of thought continued throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, with those advocating accommodation to get some perceived concession by sacrificing American values.

The new U.N., FDR’s ultimate legacy of liberal internationalism, was supposed to be an “instrument of American leadership.” Mirroring Wilson, FDR seemed to be willing to sacrifice genuine issues, such as Poland, on the altar of international organization participation. FDR saw the so-called four policemen dividing up law and order for the world with Great Britain in Western Europe, the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, the United States in the Western Hemisphere and the Pacific and China in the rest of Asia. These spheres of influence would contain Germany and Japan and also solidify American internationalism. Wilson had conducted even worse diplomacy to get international support for the League of Nations, arguably sowing one of the major seeds causing the Second World War.

Harry Truman became president because of the death of FDR in April 1945. Truman immediately faced two immense national security decisions, one of which — the decision to use nuclear weapons — no leader and no human had ever faced before. The other was the Potsdam Conference from July 16 to August 2, 1945. The “Big Three” were Truman, Stalin and Churchill, who was replaced by Atlee. The only person to have attended all of these was Stalin. When Truman was vice president, he had been locked out of national security and foreign policy decisions by FDR, and he was only allowed to meet with FDR twice.

Potsdam was a strange conference in that it occurred after the German defeat but prior to the surrender of Japan, which many did not foresee until 1947. During the Potsdam Conference, Truman was informed about the successful test of the atomic bomb in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Truman informed Stalin that America had a superweapon, not realizing that Soviet intelligence had already provided Stalin with more information than Truman probably had. The result of the Potsdam Conference was the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945, calling for the unconditional surrender and occupation of Japan. It promised that if Japan did not surrender, “the alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.”

The Potsdam Conference sowed the seeds of conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union by dividing Germany and Austria into four occupation zones and doing the same for the city of Berlin. It pledged to treat Germany as a single nation and to de-Nazify the government and society. The failure of the Japanese to accept the conditions of the Potsdam Declaration led Truman to authorize the dropping of the only remaining two atomic bombs that the United States possessed — on Hiroshima on August 6 and on Nagasaki on August 9. There were reasonable military and political reasons to use the bombs.

Truman’s radio report on August 9, 1945, to the American people, after Potsdam illustrated the initial goals of the U.S. national security policy, his desire to work hand-in-hand with the U.N., his frustration over past conference agreements (especially over Poland) and his defense of using the atomic bomb:

“We must do all we can to spare her from the ravages of any future breach of the peace. That is why, though the United States wants no territory or profit or selfish advantage out of this war, we are going to maintain the military bases necessary for the complete protection of our interests and of world peace. Bases which our military experts deem to be essential for our protection and which are not now in our possession, we will acquire . . . The question of Poland was a most difficult one. Certain compromises about Poland had already been agreed upon at the Crimea conference. They obviously were binding upon us at Berlin . . . Our victory in Europe was more than a victory of arms. It was a victory of one way of life over another. It was a victory of an ideal founded on the rights of the common man, on the dignity of the human being, on the conception of the State as the servant — and not the master — of its people. A free people showed that it was able to defeat professional soldiers whose only moral arms were obedience and the worship of force.”

He believed at Potsdam and afterward that the only thing the Russians understood was force.

Truman salvaged FDR’s titanic mistakes at Yalta as best he could. In 1947 he declared what became known as the Truman Doctrine, which combined American realist interests with its democratic values righting the ship of state and creating the only successful template for American national security. Truman’s legacy has guided successful foreign policy since that time, namely a foreign policy that confidently faces the future based on robust strength, clear national interests and democratic values.

This piece originally ran on Newsmax on 16 July, 2020.

Newsmax: Failed Economic Ideology on China

“Warfare is the greatest affair of state, the basis of life and death, the way to survival or extinction. It must be thoroughly pondered and analyzed.” 

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

If you say something often enough, you can either talk others or yourself into believing it.  We have been told repeatedly by pundits who lecture us on how vital pragmatism in politics is and how ideology is irrelevant and that the only thing that matters is the bottom line.

Utilitarianism in politics and economics is equally attractive as it is useless. We call this column “From the Heartland,” and so a saying from the heartland is appropriate. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. This is especially true when one analyzes the assumptions of the status quo regarding China. The media devote much of the news to the “new Cold War” and “sudden tensions” between the United States and China. Those primarily on the Left will use this narrative, with help from some libertarians, to condemn the current administrations’ more robust approach towards China, advocated by officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The problem is that the narrative is false.

In reality, America and the PRC have been on a collision course since 1949. The Truman administration quickly realized that the creation of a left-wing totalitarian dictatorship would not only destabilize Asia, condemn the Chinese people to state terror but also create a permanent enemy to American values and strategic concerns. This situation literally blew up with Mao’s engineering (with the support of Stalin) of the Korean War, which set the tone not only for our relationship with China but with the tragedy on the Korean peninsula.

Early on, there were advocates in the United States that sought accommodation and during the Nixon years, an attempt to use our enemy in Beijing with our stronger enemy in Moscow. When Deng Xiao Ping began opening China in 1978, there were early American promoters who wanted to take advantage of this situation. This resurrected the 19th century American merchant dream of the “China market.”

The 1980s and 1990s saw this blossom into full-throated advocacy of entering China, no matter what the cost, in order to take advantage of a cowed workplace, low wages and a corrupt Communist Party willing to accept bribes and favors to streamline business ventures and foreign investment.

China was lauded as the “workshop of the world,” and billions of dollars of products ranging from heavy industry to electronics to medicines were moved to the communist dictatorship. Many Democrats and libertarian inclined Republicans bought into the idea that globalization and a mutated free-market could change China’s behavior and reap generous profits at the same time.

This became the status quo religion and anyone who opposed it was a heretic. These “panda huggers” took over the levers of the American foreign policy, academics and the corporate boardroom establishment. In more formal language, this camp referred to itself as advocates of “constructive engagement.” This group believed that the economic liberalization and greater opening to the West would lead to democratic liberalization. They saw China’s military growth in the context of internal national security rather than expansion. They argued the necessity of keeping trade open as the only source of Western influence in the PRC.

These establishment thinkers in the public, private and academic sectors were wrong on all counts. It was, to use modern slang, an epic fail. These same experts were the ones who told us that the USSR would never collapse and that terrorism was only a mild irritant.

This “practical” argument was as attractive as it was useless. When I was in the government, I took from a Fulbright report I authored earlier, where I wrote, “The Peoples Republic of China will be the next superpower in the 21st century. She will rise to prominence economically, politically and militarily over the next few decades. The PRC will either rival American supremacy or work around it… these security issues that America faces will lead us and the PRC to conflict.”

Such ideas were heresy and had there been some firewood and stakes I might have ended up as a human bonfire. Later, at the beginning of the 21st century, I and other conservatives identified the flashpoints where conflict with China would occur: the South China Sea, a potential military or economic invasion of South Asia, an attempt to dominate the various maritime straits in Asia such as Malacca, Taiwan and Tsushima. China would use intimidation to coerce Taiwan and Japan, destroy freedom in Hong Kong, modernize its military to expand and use coercive economic diplomacy.

Unlike the constrictive engagers, those advocating containment were right on all counts.

We can add to this the latest and boldest attempts by China regarding their insidious actions concerning the COVID virus, the economic imperialism of “One Belt-One Road,” and the beginning attempts to dominate space.

Those who opposed the status quo thinking of the late 20th Century, advocating containment, were castigated as right-wing warmongers. The “panda huggers” excoriated them, insisting they did not understand the supremacy of the market and the inevitability of democratic thinking.

Just as liberals and progressives have suddenly discovered the Russian threat, a threat they belittled for decades, they failed to see the threat from China and continue to misunderstand China’s strategic objectives. Republicans, who had stars in their eyes about the China market, allowed themselves to rationalize PRC behavior and told conservatives to wait, that China was an adolescent that needed to mature.

Conservatives understood that there was never a utilitarian argument, just as there is no right moral utilitarian argument in philosophy, a curse from the nonsense of Jeremy Bentham and the Benthamites.

Conservatives are believers in the free-market, but they do so because they believe the free-market enhances economic and political liberty. A conservative would never serve his nation on a platter to a foreign entity for business. Conservatives made the case that there were national security imperatives that overcame economic utility and industries ranging from high tech to medicine to heavy steel were, by necessity, needed to be domestically maintained. They understood that the driving force behind the Chinese government is the twinning of a corrupt communist party and her grand strategy globally.

The communist party will do anything to stay in power, exemplified by President Xi’s lifetime presidency and a political crackdown on any dissent or freedom. Strategically, China desires to overcome U.S. power regionally first, globally second and finally to dominate the final frontier in space. The “constructive engagers” were wrong in the ’80s, the ’90s and today.

Their poor decision-making has cost America dearly, including the thousands dead of the COVID virus. Beware when someone advocates pragmatism, as it is rarely “what works,” but it is almost always a ruse for a selfish narcissism whose goal is sinister and backward. Conservative principles are the only anchor for any policy regarding China now and in the future.

This piece originally ran on Newsmax on 19 May 2020.

Badger Institute: Socialist dream failed in Ripon

1800s utopian commune called Ceresco was established — and collapsed — just blocks from where GOP was later founded

Bernie Sanders is out of the presidential race, but support for the Vermont senator and his socialist ideology runs deep in the Democratic Party, particularly among young voters who don’t know the long history of failed socialist experiments across the globe.

And right here in Wisconsin.

Most Wisconsinites likely know that in 1854, the Badger State birthed the Republican Party in Ripon’s Little White Schoolhouse. The party was originally a mix of Whigs, Free Soilers and the Liberty Party, glued together by their opposition to slavery and a belief in the principles of individual liberty, life and property.

The Ceresco commune was located in a valley between two gentle hills in what is now the city of Ripon. Wisconsin Historical Society photo.

The Ceresco commune was located in a valley between two gentle hills in what is now the city of Ripon. Wisconsin Historical Society photo.

Thus, it may be surprising for many to learn that one of the most famous socialist experiments began — and failed — in the same town where the Grand Old Party was founded.

There, a decade earlier, Warren Chase established a utopian commune known as the Wisconsin Phalanx. It was based on the ideology of Charles Fourier, a wealthy French philosopher whose fortune was created by his free-market businessman father.

An extreme anti-Semite, anti-Christian and anti-free marketer, Fourier envisioned a society dotted with communes he called phalanxes. People lived in a phalanstery, a large multi-story building where they would work, play and meet.

Fourier was a proponent of sexual freedom and free love. He thought that by creating a holistic lifestyle, where people could change jobs and partners at will, cooperation would rule and everyone would reap the communal benefits.

Property and economic activity were owned by the community, and shares in the phalanstery, in place of cash, were used to distribute goods to members of the commune. Members were compensated based on their contribution. Children could begin work at age 2, and families were discouraged from having too many of them.

The Ceresco commune

Warren Chase

To establish the Wisconsin Phalanx in 1844, Chase, of Southport (today’s Kenosha), acquired 600 acres in what is now Ripon and later acquired another 1,000 acres.

Incorporated in 1845 under his presidency, the village was named Ceresco after the Roman god of the harvest, Ceres. Wheat agriculture was the primary activity, and membership in the commune was based on investment, similar to a modern cooperative.

Members constructed a collective dwelling called a long house; it was designed to hold 20 to 30 families and included a common dining hall. A school for children was established in Ceresco, against the Fourier philosophy.

Alcohol was prohibited, while gambling and profanity were discouraged. The lifestyle was primarily collectivist, membership was controlled by a board of managers and people could be expelled.Ceresco commune members lived and dined in along house, designed to hold 20 to 30 families. Wisconsin Historical Society photo.

Ceresco commune members lived and dined in along house, designed to hold 20 to 30 families. Wisconsin Historical Society photo.

People were divided into three hierarchical classes. The first was “necessity,” whose members performed hard labor and received the largest share of resources. Next was “usefulness,” whose members engaged in trade, agriculture and teaching. Last was “attractiveness,” or domestic work, which, against Fourier’s thinking, was almost exclusively women.

So, why did Ceresco fail?

The rigid hierarchy was repressive and lacked social mobility. Also, the collective nature of the lifestyle alienated individual nuclear families, who desired some degree of privacy.

At its peak in 1846, the commune had about three dozen families and 200 total residents. By 1848 (when Chase served a term in the state Senate), only 29 families remained.

The commune’s limited revenue could not pay everyone for their work, which led many to seek jobs elsewhere. In addition, women were disenchanted by the failed promises of equality.

Charlotte Mason, in an 1848 letter to her sister, described some residents as lazy and disgruntled. Strife arose between the irreligious and the multiple religious denominations.

But the greatest issues were the lack of economic advancement and the monotony imposed by the economic system.

By 1850, the socialist experiment was over. It took an act of the Wisconsin Legislature to allow the sale of the commune’s property to individuals, and in 1853 the villages of Ceresco and Ripon were merged and renamed Morena. That name didn’t stick, and the City of Ripon was established in 1858.

In the end, Ceresco — as did its counterparts in Brook Farm, Massachusetts, and New Harmony, Indiana — failed because the human spirit does not desire to be crushed into hierarchies, enforced systems, infantilized equality and bizarre ideologies.

Left-wing ideologies are fundamentally sad and unhappy with humanity and wish to engineer mankind to fit some archetypal mold.

History has shown that the human spirit will always rebel against this and that the only way for any type of socialism to succeed is through violence, coercion and intimidation.

The Hill: What Russia is up to in Syria

Although the world has ground to a near-standstill as a result of COVID-19, America’s foreign policy problems have not disappeared. To the contrary, many are becoming much worse, as dictators across the globe forge ahead with their destructive plans.

Russia’s recent machinations in Syria are a case in point. The Kremlin’s 2015 decision to enter the Syrian civil war on the side of dictator Bashar al-Assad was informed by the “Putin Doctrine,” which had been laid out by Russia’s president in 2008 and the chief focus of which is blunting American influence globally while increasing Russia’s regional status and ability to project power. The subsequent Russian incursion was a prime example of a marriage of Tsarist imperialism and Soviet expansionism: Although Syria’s Ba’athist state does not border the old Soviet empire, it served as a critical piece to Soviet strategy during the decades of the Cold War — and today, of Russia’s, too.

Russia’s activities there over the past half-decade, in turn, have yielded concrete dividends for the Kremlin. Under the guise of an ongoing struggle against ISIS and other “wahhabists,” Moscow has transformed the country into a laboratory for the testing of weapons, technology, strategy, and tactics. In a reflection of this role, the Russian High Command has termed Syria a model for training and its operations there a “strategy of limited action.”

Today, some 5,000 Russian troops, primarily military advisors, special forces, and air support personnel are estimated to operate in Syria. Russia continues to supply Assad with weapons and gives the Syrian dictator much needed diplomatic backing on the international stage. Russian airstrikes, a critical component of the Assad regime’s continued survival, have been directed primarily against rebel forces fighting Assad rather than against ISIS.

These airstrikes, moreover, have indiscriminately targeted Syrian civilians; according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, the total civilian death toll in Syria since March 2011 was 226,247, with at least 6,514 of them killed directly by the Russians. Other estimates put the number closer to 8,400. Further, the United Nations has accused Russia of engaging in war crimes through indiscriminate airstrikes against civilians that have terrorized the population and displaced large numbers of Syrian people.

Moscow has learned from its past military mistakes, however. Unlike the Soviet experience in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Russia has been very measured in its commitment to the Syrian battlefield. The Russian government has prioritized the use of stand-off tactics (like aerial strikes) and military contractors. The results speak for themselves; as of last Spring, the Kremlin has officially confirmed just 116 Russian fatalities.

At the same time, Russia has put a premium on strengthening its military foothold in the country. It has reinforced its naval presence in the southern port city of Tartus, erected an airbase at Hmeimim, and created military encampments elsewhere in the country. For these facilities, Moscow has managed to secure long-term, open-ended leasing arrangements from the Assad government, which remains weak and is eager to see Russia stay and provide security protection.

Economically, Russia has deftly exploited Syria’s precarious situation. Its energy conglomerate Stroytransgaz (which has been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department) dominates the Syrian energy sector, developing gas fields whose revenue feeds Assad’s killing machine. The company has secured contracts for exploiting hydrocarbons in eastern Syria, completing pipelines linking Syria and Jordan, multiple gas processing plants, and is given preferential treatment by the Assad regime. 

These activities, and Russia’s continued presence in Syria, represent a threat to American interests. They help to undermine U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean. They have allowed the Kremlin to reemerge as a serious player in regional politics and begin to shape Middle Eastern affairs in its image. And they have helped to strengthen Russia’s long-standing ties to Iran, which is also aiding Syria, and which the Trump administration continues to seek to isolate and contain. As such, Moscow’s machinations should be understood for what they are, a serious national security concern for the United States, and should be treated as such by Washington.

This piece originally ran at The Hill on 4 May, 2020.

Newmax: How Coronavirus Felled ‘Woke’ — For Now

As our nation goes through the trauma of Covid-19, we remember one of the cultural and political effects seen in the aftermath of 9/11, namely the death of “woke.”

Of course, in 2001, no one was using the term woke.

Back then it was known as “poltically correct” (PC).

Regardless, the current national crisis ensures the death of yet another variation of the same sentiment by a segment of the population with a desperate desire to control and manipulate the First Amendment.

Ask yourself the following: since the Virus has gained national attention, what stories and news items have survived the cut? One telling area that has survived “virus primacy” is religion. This has been mainly focused on how Christian churches continue to operate and provide services and how people are unhappy that they cannot go to those churches as they once did.

There have been stories about trade, the stock market, unemployment, and the direction of the economy. There is much concern about how families, primarily married people with children, will manage hosting school at home.

This dialogue is not on woke issues, but on educational fundamentals and making sure children continue their education at home.

There have been a few reports on the machinations of Iran, Russia, and China.

We also have a smattering of stories on the American military, the space program, the Olympics, Islamic Extremism (and terrorism), and the question of the elections.

What have we not seen?

There is no serious person today that is addressing what one could call woke concerns.

These include, but are not limited to, concerns about pronouns or labels-mislabeling in general, white male patriarchy, social justice warrior activism, or spending on a myriad of dubious woke monetary programs that do not help people in economic need.

One school of thought will argue that the absence of these stories proves nothing.

They will say that the crisis is unusual, and therefore the “normal” role of the media and people’s concerns have shifted.

This is an interesting pseudo-intellectual response that proves the point about importance.

If one’s issue is not essential during times of stress and turmoil, how essential is it when things are normal?

That is forgetting that woke people hate the word “normal,” to begin with.

The virus has been and continues to be horrible.

Every normal person on the planet is saddened at the continuing tragedy, especially looking at places like New York City, and Italy. However, one morning we will return to the regular routine, and all the divisive coverage designed to isolate Americans from each other, forcing us at each other’s throats, might also return.

The woke movement will be one of the primary reasons for this, and they are much better adept than Russian and Chinese bot accounts.

The entire premise of the woke movement is to compartmentalize us, categorize us, victimhood us, and label us. This is George Orwell’s “1984” without the state as the main actor, but a movement made up of sad little kings on sad little hills. Kings relishing in the politics of destruction and cancel culture. They are the enemies of free thought and critical thinking, and thus the enemy of true liberal education.

This crisis reminds Americans of the true purpose of a republic.

The role at the national level is to provide for the common defense and welfare.

This means to guarantee our comprehensive national security, which not only protects us from enemies foreign and domestic (ranging from space issues, counter-terrorism, and threats from great-powers, domestic radicals, unsafe food to an unstable medical supply chain) but safeguards our economic health and the health of the American people.

At the state and local level, it is to provide for fire protection, ambulance service, law enforcement, sanitation, and ensuring the roads are safe and maintained. Once all of these things are fully complete and funded, then should we look to anything else.

Americans have unified during this crisis, Democratic governors praising President Trump, and bipartisan legislation being passed in record time. This unification needs to continue, and an objective assessment of the good, bad, and the ugly of how the crisis at all levels was handled needs to occur.

This analysis should not focus on recriminations, but on avoiding it in the future.

When this is over, ask yourself this question when the woke people attempt to restart their assault: if these woke issues were unimportant during the crisis, why are they relevant today or perhaps, ever?

This piece originally ran on Newsmax.com on 1 April 2020.

Newsmax: Coronavirus: Beginning of the End for Communism in China?

During the presidential primaries of 2016, I was invited to a faculty dinner whose purpose was to host an editor of a major national newspaper. I found myself amongst a group of left-wing academics and students who represented the vast supermajority of the room.

Amongst the general horror felt by most as Donald Trump began to rack up election victories from the Republican side, a question was posed for dinner discussion: “What will be the major headline in 50 years?”

The majority of answers broke down into variations of an Earth ravaged by climate destruction, nuclear war, and big data manipulation. I began to laugh as I thought how the answers matched the personalities of their political inclinations: humorless at best, foreboding and dark at their worst.

When it fell upon me to deliver my pearl of wisdom, I glibly declared, “Not to burst the dystopian fantasies that we have all built here, but the major headline in 50 years will be a democratic China with which the United States is negotiating a military alliance with.” It goes without saying that the room fell silent in shock and disbelief.

In the early 2000s, I had been presenting the idea that China had just as much of a chance of national implosion as becoming a type of economic wunderkind of the early 21st century.

Both of these thoughts are converging. China, especially the Communist Party, is quickly losing runway to land their ideologies, policies and economic expansion. It has been decades since Chinese communist ideology was anything more than a rump placeholder for any sense of national identity or ethical behavior.

However, their world has become darker. Not only have they failed to meet the magical 8% growth rate of GDP that was always thought to be the price to purchase a compliant population, but they have suffered defeats over the Taiwan elections, international condemnation over Uighur “re-education camps” in Xinjiang, trade conflict with the United States, excessive violence usage in the Hong Kong protests, and finally, their latest catastrophic handling of the coronavirus.

With global deaths from coronavirus topping 1,000, far above that of the SARS outbreak from 2002 and 2003, the Chinese government has exhibited classic tactics of dystopian plotlines: They have manipulated the number of infected and dead since the virus’s initial onslaught; Chinese journalists covering the crisis have disappeared; Dr. Li Wenliang who warned about the virus back in December 2019, was detained and punished for “spreading rumors.”

Then there are the mysterious circumstances surrounding Dr. Li’s death. Social media posts show panicked citizens barricaded into their homes by authorities, while others are forcibly dragged from their homes. A woman was shown crying on her balcony pleading for help for her dying husband. One particularly disturbing image shows a couple thrown into a windowless, airless metal container while a little boy, off-camera, watched and asked what was happening.

It has yet to be seen how the coronavirus saga will unfold before it is relegated into the history books as a modern global pandemic. A major question remains: How many people will die from the virus and what percentage in quarantine zones will die from starvation and neglect reminiscent of Mao’s famine years?

For mainland Chinese, however, the question they absolutely will ask is, will we continue to tolerate this form of government, and will we allow it to consume our children? 

Accurate archival material of the Mao years may be hard to come by, and indeed, scholars in academia continue to argue whether he was the liberating leader of a Great Leap Forward, or an agent of evil.

But in this information age, Mao’s Communist legacy, as seen through today’s Chinese government, is made indisputable in its tactics, intentions and treatment of its own people.

For over 70 years, this Communist legacy has failed to grasp the concept that the most powerful emotion in the world, a close second to love, is found in freedom. If they had given Dr. Li the vehicle to speak freely and frequently, many would still be alive.

Instead, emblematic of dictatorships everywhere, they are scrambling to cover up yet another embarrassing policy failure, one of which was entirely in their control, and could have been entirely averted.

President Xi and the entire Chinese Communist Party face a continued trial against their de facto authority, and the coronavirus may prove to be the pivot point that fractures the party from within and without by further exposing its inner methodologies.

Confucianism, which Mao and the Communist Party attempted to stamp out, declared that rulers rule only at the behest of Heaven. Once corruption is exposed through natural disasters and unrest in the population, Confucius argued this was a way for Heaven to remove its blessing.

Perhaps the headline of 50-years-in-the-future is revealing itself sooner than expected.

This piece originally ran on Newsmax.com on 11 February 2020 and was co-authored with my wife, Kathryn Colucci.

Newsmax: Why It’s Time for a ‘Triplanetary’ Economy

The Triplanetary project is an idea that recognizes the strategic future of the United States and the western alliance. It’s dependent on the dominance of space.

The concept envisions activity stretching from the planetary surface, Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO), Cislunar space, the moon, and Mars.

The Triplanetary (Earth/the moon/Mars) concept has far-reaching military, political, cultural, and economic consequences that will determine the success or failure of American strategic primacy for the 21st century and beyond.

The term, Triplanetary, is a catch-all phrase integraing  Earth, the moon, and Mars into a single synthesis. It’s a good and direct concept regardless of the howls by some that the moon is not a planet; those individuals — at best — miss the point.

The United States government must lead the Triplanetary project, but in partnership with American corporations, allied nations, and their corporations. It is the positive and optimistic side of a dark future dominated by authoritarian and totalitarian nations and organizations which are casting a wide net to dominate the same arena.

For example, the threat posed by nations like Russia and China, as well as non-state actors such as ISIS, is real and outlined. Failure of the United States to act, will by default, result in victory for those that seek not only the emasculation of American civilization but that of western values and the moral concert of nations.

The first stage of the Triplanetary economy will be an exchange of goods and services between two Earth-based entities in space. The economic impetus may be led by an asteroid mining company that will send raw extractions to a “floating” base, or moon-based processing plant where the minerals and metals can be extracted and used by another entity to build another spacecraft for future space exploration.

Regardless of what is the first great economic venture, none of it can be achieved without resolving the issue of security. This is not only security against threats to western democracy but against natural extinction-level events from space.

America is at this crossroads, not later, but right now.

This crossroads presents us with a decision about whether or not America will lead in space, create and facilitate the newest economic revolution, ensure the democratic international order, advance medicine through space technology and be able to dominate the next battlefield.

It is a national security and economic imperative, where anything else pales in comparison.

The benefits of a Triplanetary economy are innumerable.

The U.S. will lead and facilitate a new economic revolution based on an untapped market in the realm of space, the increase in satellites, and entirely new and exponentially powerful internet capabilities, shipping, space resources, energy production, surveillance, and military primacy.

The Triplanetary project will require economic and industrial output and innovation that will fundamentally change the international economic system not seen since the beginning of the industrial revolution. It will eventually lead to great exploration and colonization and will be the launchpad to a permanent human presence in this arena and beyond.

One of the concrete examples of the Triplanetary economy is President Trump’s Moon-Mars Development project, which will establish a base on the moon and develop technologies to take astronauts to Mars and beyond.

This development should be taking place within five years with a proposed moon landing in 2024, where the first of many replacement teams stay for three-week rotations as the base is built with routine travel established by 2028 and on to Mars by 2030.

America has the opportunity to reinvigorate its space strategy; it must go light years beyond a space program. It must lead a new military, economic, and scientific revolution that will determine mankind’s destiny.

If we surrender to the status quo thinking of the mid-20th century, we will be surrendering more than our imagination and innovation:

We will be surrendering our nation.

This piece originally ran on Newsmax.com on 31 January 2020.

Newsmax: Trump Makes Good on American Values With Hong Kong Policy

Providence provides the best explanation when analyzing the odyssey of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong would have remained a poor cluster of fishing villages had it not been for the stain of the Opium War and the insightful actions of a clear-thinking British Officer, Captain Charles Elliot, who seized Hong Kong for Great Britain in 1842.

Elliot, personally opposed to the opium trade and advocated a conciliatory policy toward China, was recalled in disgrace by then-foreign minister Lord Palmerston. However, without the Opium War and Elliot’s actions, Hong Kong today would not pose as the dagger point to China’s corrupt communist dictatorship.

Last June, this column focused on the phenomena that it was Hong Kong’s Christian churches that kept the protests focused, civil, and moral. We should be reminded that it was China that violated its own promise that it would refrain from interfering in Hong Kong’s domestic and legal affairs for 50 years, by respecting Hong Kong’s Basic Law.

It is therefore not surprising that President Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019. The bill requires the U.S. government to impose sanctions against Chinese and HK officials that are responsible for human rights abuses in HK. It also requires yearly reports to re-assess the situation and directs various departments to determine whether political developments in HK justify changing HK’s unique treatment under U.S. Law.

The protestors know full well that they need to keep the momentum for democracy going or face the same fate as the 1989 Tiananmen Square protestors ending in bullets and show trials. Although the puppet rump-democracy government of Hong Kong argued they did not need American support, protestors by the thousands waved American flags and held up photos of President Trump with the body of Rambo. Just as in the period of Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt, and Secretary of State John Hay, America is on the side of the Chinese people, not the corrupt government or pernicious foreign powers seeking to exploit the situation.

From America’s decision not to participate in the carving up of China, our Open Door policy at the turn of the 20th century, America’s covert entry into the Second World War on the side of China with groups like the Flying Tigers, to today, American values stand at the forefront of the battle against tyranny and the corrupting power of communism.

Many analysts assumed that President Trump would not sign the bill, led by legislators like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. The media assumed he did not want to upset ongoing trade talks with China. However, given the fact that local elections in Hong Kong were dominated by anti-government (read anti-communist party of China) by a whopping 87%, it is clear that the people of Hong Kong want reform and independence.

The Chinese communist party’s response was a typical reiteration of their tired old mantra that any attempt by the United States to speak about democratic values is inherently an intrusion in China’s internal affairs. In a sense, Beijing is right, democracy and Christianity pose a much greater threat to their rule than American hard power, they are correct to be alarmed, dismayed, and perhaps shocked.

President Trump’s decision to sign the Hong Kong human rights bill is not only a victory for him in a time of chaos but a victory for the American people and their values.

This piece originally ran on Newsmax.com on 27 December 2019.