Space Force Journal: Great Power Strategic Competition on Earth and in Space

By Lamont Colucci and Joshua Carlson

Abstract

The United States Space Force was established due to rising threats in space, a domain that is vital to U.S. national security and economic interests. Strategic competition among great power on Earth and in space is likely in the coming decades. This paper analyzes strategic competition among great powers to make predictions about future conflict in space.

Great power conflict has for millennia been earth-based.[1] However, humanity is now at a pivot point where the great powers may take their conflicts into space. The United States must maintain its military primacy to deter adversaries from starting disputes resulting in catastrophic conflicts.[2] The recent Space Capstone Publication, “Spacepower,” summed up the U.S. Space Force’s main challenge: “The U.S. must adapt its national security space organizations, doctrine, and capabilities to deter and defeat aggression and protect national interests in space.”[3] The document cites the late U.S. Air Force General Bernard Schriever, who notably stated in 1957 that “our safety as a nation may depend upon our achieving space superiority.”[4]

Following the end of the Cold War, some international relations (IR) and foreign policy scholars, such as Francis Fukuyama, argued that great power conflict was a relic of the past and that liberal democracy would continue to flourish.[5] President Barack Obama similarly argued that great power conflict is passé and the United States should prioritize multilateral issues such as terrorism, climate change, nuclear proliferation, pandemics, energy, and migration.[6] However, many of the global flashpoints today are great power motivated.[7] Space may intensify and amplify these flashpoints. Space itself may become the ultimate flashpoint.

The changes today are alarming. The first change is the United States’ slow disengagement from the dominating role after WWII, marked by a rollercoaster of lowering or increasing its defense spending and commitments.[8] During the Trump administration, America considered retreating from its leadership role in the rules-based liberal international order.[9] The fringes of the two major U.S. political parties, for different reasons, call on the United States to have either a light or a non-existent footprint across much of the globe.[10] This is not only a military footprint but also a cultural, economic, and diplomatic role.

The United States has begun a global recoil, as evident in the calls for a drawdown in Europe, Iraq, Afghanistan, and South Korea. There are calls in America’s body politic to withdraw further. This American withdrawal coincides with the second change. Four of the current great powers, such as Russia, China, India, and Japan, are re-evaluating, amplifying, or changing aspects of their grand strategy, especially as it applies to space. That last change is what this article discusses.

Russia Resurgent

The Global Firepower 2021 Military Strength Index ranks Russia second out of 140 countries ranked worldwide. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Russia ranks fourth globally in defense spending, with a defense budget of $61 billion in 2019.[11] Russia also spent nearly $4.2 billion on space programs in 2018.[12]

Creating and exploiting the “constellation of forces” to benefit “Mother Russia” governed Soviet grand strategy.[13] Russian strategic thinking today is dominated by several factors, all of which provide a window into their quest for space power. These factors include the border it shares with Eastern Europe, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) expansion, its border with China, a blessing and curse of natural resources, military modernization, nuclear weapons, and national pride. One of its greatest fears is an attack along its periphery. This requires the creation of buffers between itself and potential adversaries. Russia can do this by claiming to protect ethnic Russians in what it often calls the “near abroad,” where Russian minorities are large and loyal to Moscow.[14] One can postulate that the desire for strategic buffers will carry over into space.

Russian space strategy reflects its current and historical grand strategy. The U.S. and its allies and partners such as NATO, South Korea, Japan, and Anzus are preoccupied with the rise of China.[15] This preoccupation is a mistake for many reasons. China is the most severe threat to allied geopolitical interests, but that is different from dismissing Russia. Despite its relative weakness in comparison to China, Russia has a history of overcoming privation, setback, disaster, and incompetence. In the words of Edward Luttwak, “Drunk they defeated Napoleon, and drunk again they defeated Hitler’s armies and advanced all the way to Berlin.”[16] Drunk they could win against NATO.

President Vladimir Putin is attempting to reinvigorate the Russian space program that has been in decline following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Citing threats from U.S. missile defenses and programs like the X-37B experimental spaceship, Vladimir Putin restarted various counter space programs to prevent Russia from falling behind.[17] Russia will also likely continue to deploy new anti-satellite weapons within the next few years that will threaten U.S. space assets.[18] Some national security experts have contended that Russia is far more aggressive in threatening American satellites than China.[19]

According to Vladimir Putin, Russian’s intentions in space are “to drastically improve the quality and reliability of space and launch vehicles … to preserve Russia’s increasingly threatened leadership in space.[20] Russia’s space strategy includes essential modern warfare critical components such as space access and denial. Russia has begun the genesis of creating an organization that is similar to a space force.

The Russian Aerospace Forces is in many ways a three-branch service combining elements of the space forces, air forces, as well as air and missile defense forces under a single command.[21] The Russians are developing enhanced jamming and cyberspace capabilities and advanced weaponry such as directed energy weapons, on-orbit capabilities, and ground-based anti-satellite missiles that can achieve a range of reversible to nonreversible effects.[22] The service will monitor space objects and identify potential threats, attack prevention, and carry out spacecraft launches and placing into orbit controlling satellite systems.[23]

The United States has taken notice. Earlier this year, General John “Jay” Raymond, the service chief of the U.S. Space Force, detailed how Russian satellites were tailing American spy satellites.[24] However, a even more significant strategic concern is Russia’s plans to establish a moon colony between 2025 and 2040.[25] Russia recently signed a memorandum of understanding with China to construct a lunar research station on the moon’s surface or in lunar orbit.

The current Russian space doctrine can be titled the 3 Ds: disparate, desperate, and dynamic. Globalnaya Navigazionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema (GLONASS) is an excellent example of the establishment, fall, and rise of their independent global positioning system (GPS). Russian resilience and its willingness to endure deprivation and long-term sacrifice will likely spoil this myopic view. Russia may rise to turn out to be the more significant threat to international safety and stability, and one that the west may pay a high price for ignoring.

The Dragon Reborn-China

China’s strategic doctrine since the Deng Xiaoping era has been defined by the phrase “to preserve China’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.”[26] In recent years, other slogans and statements have been added, such as desiring a “harmonious world” system and taking advantage of a period of “strategic opportunity.”[27] The Global Firepower 2021 Military Strength Index ranks China third in overall military strength internationally.[28] The IISS ranks China second in military spending with a defense budget totaling $181 billion, of which the space budget is estimated to be around $8 billion.[29]

The Mao Zedong era attempted to destroy the “olds” of Chinese Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, and classical Confucianism. China is filled with bellicose nationalism and wounded pride.[30] The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its allies in the People’s Liberation Army use aggressive nationalism to unify them. There is no difference between the party, the government, and large Chinese business enterprises.[31]

Under President Xi Jinping, China has resurrected neo-Maoist evangelism and appealed to third-world Marxists. Xi’s ideology is anti-democratic, self-righteous, and revanchist. In many ways, China is restoring Ming and Qing dynasty ambitions by trying (with much difficulty) to create semi-vassal states in Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, and North Korea. If the battle in Russia was between Slavophiles and Westernizers, the struggle in China is between the “Yangtze River” mentality and the “Pacific Ocean.” The former desires to sit behind the Great Wall like the late Ming and Mao periods. The latter desires domination through adoption and expansion exhibited by Zheng He’s treasure fleet and the current President Xi Jinping. Nothing could be more evident than this latter view concerning the space front.

Space provides critical capabilities for China: China wants “cislunar space supremacy.”[32] China is obsessed with “First Presence” and currently exhibits the world’s second-largest space budget.[33] In addition to reaching Mars in 2021, China’s goals include sending probes to asteroids, Jupiter, and Uranus, developing quantum satellites, building a scientific research station in the moon’s southern polar region, and establishing a sophisticated large-scale space station within ten years.[34] In 2019, China continued to develop its space launch capabilities, providing cost-savings through efficiency and reliability, extending its reach into multiple Earth orbits, and improving its capacity to reconstitute space capabilities in low Earth orbit rapidly.[35] In 2020, China reached total operating capacity with its BeiDou-3 constellation, providing worldwide positioning, navigation, and timing capabilities to its users and additional command and control for the PLA, reducing China’s dependence on U.S. GPS.[36]

China plans to place a permanently operating space station in orbit by 2022. By 2025, China plans to construct a lunar research station to develop into an established crewed lunar research and development base before 2050.[37] They are using a similar timeline to pursue space-based solar power.[38] Under the current schedule, China will be the following country after the United States to send an astronaut to the moon by 2030 and is pursuing a Mars base, which they are currently testing the prototype of on Earth.[39]

China’s privatized space industry is flourishing, as are the private-military partnerships. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation states that China plans to become the most developed space power by 2045.[40]

China’s development of a space force is beyond that of the other great powers. The Chinese equivalent of the U.S. Space Force has identified space as a vulnerability for the United States and is doing everything it can to capitalize on that vulnerability by advancing its space capabilities.[41] The creation of the People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force (PLASSF) in 2015/2016 made one organization responsible for developing the PLA’s space and information warfare forces.[42] This will allow China to integrate its capabilities into a space force by enabling long-range precision strikes and denying other militaries the use of overhead command, control, communications, computer intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems.[43]

The PRC continues to strengthen military space capabilities despite a propaganda public stance against the weaponization of space.[44] China claims to be building a “nuclear fleet” of carrier rockets.[45] Reusable hybrid-power carriers will be ready for “regular, large scale” interplanetary flights and carrying out commercial exploration and exploitation of natural resources by the mid-2040s.[46] According to state media, they will have the ability to mine resources from asteroids and build solar power plants in space soon after.[47] “The nuclear vessels are built to colonize the solar system and beyond,” Wang Changhui, associate professor of aerospace propulsion at the School of Astronautics at Beihang University in Beijing, stated.[48]

If Russia is the 3 Ds, China is the 3 A(s): adventurous, advanced, and aggressive. The Biden administration is considering its options about China to include an aggressive containment strategy.[49] Any discussion of China’s power politics will weigh space as a significant factor.

Japan- Rising or Setting Sun?

Japan is not usually considered a great power. However, it remains an economically powerful nation with space ambitions. Japan solidified its great power status in the late 19th century. Japan is at the cusp of recapturing aspects of that period as it faces rising rivals and the threats of the new frontier of space. Japan perceives the world as hostile due to Chinese imperial dreams in Asia, North Korean aggression, and Russian resurgence.

The Global Firepower 2021 Military Strength Index ranks Japan fifth in global military power.[50] The IISS ranks Japan eighth in military capability and international status with a defense budget of $48.6 billion.[51] Japan’s space budget is estimated to be $4 billion.[52] Unlike the other great powers, Japan’s constitution, written by the United States, hampers its military, and it depends on the United States for its national defense.[53] Then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the most critical prime minister of the 21st century, continued the evolution away from this dependency by slowly returning Japan to its intrinsic geopolitical imperatives.[54] If America retreats, Japan will accelerate its strategic independence. Traditionally, Japan’s need to protect its sea lanes of communication to provide raw resources to fuel its economy at home dictated its grand strategy.[55]

Under Abe’s direction in 2013, the Japanese cabinet approved Japan’s first national security strategy, resulting in creating a Japanese National Security Council.[56] In response to China’s aggressive moves in the Pacific areas such as the Senkaku Islands, the strategy argues that Japan needs to make a more “proactive contribution to peace,” and thus it needs to contribute more to its military alliance with America despite its pacifist constitution.[57]

Japan’s national security space ambitions have been limited compared to Russia and China. The government exploration agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), has stated that it does not intend to militarize space. The Basic Space Law of 2008 emphasized that Japan will “guarantee international peace and security as well as ensuring the security of the country” within the framework “of the pacifist principles of the Constitution,” while the Space Act of 2016 encouraged and defined the role of the private sector and space. These offer other windows into Japanese space thinking.[58] The Japanese government is currently working on a ground-based space tracking system expected around 2023.[59] The unit’s main task will be to monitor space debris, threats of attacks, or interference by other countries’ satellites.[60] Cooperation between the United States and Japan is crucial for the new space race because their primary goal for space is democratic control.

Japan’s Space Force is currently limited. There is a space operations squadron as part of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces; however, it has less than 100 members.[61] Japan’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed that it will assign 100 military personnel to its space domain mission unit expected to be stood up by their fiscal year 2022 and probably merged with the space operations squadron.[62] This began when Japan announced its desire to launch a military space force by 2019 with the initial tasking of protecting satellites from dangerous debris orbiting the Earth.[63] The move to a Japanese space force aims to strengthen Japan-U.S. cooperation in space and comes after the countries pledged to boost joint work on monitoring space debris.[64] The number of personnel assigned to the space domain mission unit may increase over the coming years as Japan participates in a growing number of space-centric joint operations with allies such as the United States and some European countries. In August of 2020, Abe met with Raymond. They agreed to enhance bilateral defense cooperation in outer space between the U.S. Space Force and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Space Operation Squadron.[65]

Japan’s space posture mirrors its overall grand strategy, tied to the United States in almost all areas.[66] Its geopolitical imperative is based on its negative WWII legacy, its inherent natural resource problem, and its robust alliance with the United States. Both Tokyo and Washington, D.C. must enhance this alliance into space to counter adversarial power.

India- Expanding Power or Regional Hostage?

While not yet a global power, India is a regional power and a strategic competitor to China. India also has space ambitions. India spent much of its post-independence history as a nominal leader of the non-aligned movement, though it has recently dedicated minimal attention to articulating a grand strategy. The Global Firepower 2021 Military Strength Index ranks India fourth in military capability.[67] The IISS ranks India fifth in military spending with a defense budget of $60.5 billion.[68]

India’s strategic outlook is within the context of Hinduism and Hindu nationalism, using concepts like Niti (Difficult choices, unworthy means to achieve good ends), Artha (prosperity), Dharma (Moral obligations, duty), Mandala (geopolitical configuration), and Danda (force and punishment).[69] General V. K. Singh’s “Transformation Study” created a window into India’s new strategic thinking by envisioning an Indian military able to fight on “two-and-a-half fronts” – namely, against China, Pakistan, and an Islamic insurgency at home.[70] However, India has been unable to develop a consistent policy for its three major geopolitical issues: Pakistan, China, and the Indian Ocean.

India’s decision over the Indian Ocean will determine its pathway as a great power. A new generation of policymakers has indicated that they want to consider the Indian Ocean as an Indian lake.[71] India’s naval power projection buildup continues, despite the nation spending only $60.5 billion on defense. It has two aircraft carriers, and by 2022 intends to have a third.[72] This would give it the largest carrier fleet in the eastern hemisphere, aside from the United States. India’s challenge will be to build the technological and military capabilities of great power without a clear goal or strategy. In conceiving such a strategy, India may align itself with the United States and the West, which it has avoided since independence. That choice will dramatically affect the worldwide geopolitical situation and likely increase tensions with China.

India is on the cusp of becoming a space power but spends only $1.2 billion on space.[73] The Indian space force is rudimentary. India’s first military application of space was surveillance of Pakistan.[74] This is potentially one of India’s most serious handicaps, not only in space but in geostrategy. She is a prisoner of her adversarial relations with Pakistan. India is forming a space force equivalent to its tri-service Defense Space Agency (DSA) of the Indian Armed Forces.[75] In April 2019, India formed the DSA to command its military space assets, including its anti-satellite capability.[76] The DSA is also in charge of formulating a strategy to protect India’s interests in space, including addressing space-based threats. India successfully tested an anti-satellite weapon in March 2019.[77]

The DSA’s integrated space cell uses the country’s space-based assets for military purposes and defends these assets from various threats.[78] India proclaims that it remains committed to the non-weaponization of space. Still, there is the emergence of offensive counter-space systems and anti-satellite weaponry seen as new threats to counter.[79]

India’s participation in the global space arena has primarily focused on making scientific advancements and discoveries, not on military development of space, as evident in the Chandrayaan project, which, so far, has sent two probes to the moon.[80] India strives to launch its astronauts into space by 2022, becoming just the fourth country behind the United States, China, and Russia.[81] It is also increasingly collaborating with the United States on lunar exploration.[82] India is also becoming more autonomous with its Indian Regional Navigation System and its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, launching satellites from India, the United States, and Brazil in 2021. Indian grand strategy needs cohesion and foundation and is attempting to straddle realism with Hindu nationalism.

Conclusion

Conflict is fully rooted in the international relations system because most great powers use realist theory. Religion, history, and cultural influences also shape some great powers’ realism.[83] Strategic culture is a product of grand historical strategy, and national security policies are both.

Space is an organic extension of great power conflict. All great powers are engaging in space force creation, and powers that have a thriving space strategy will, by definition, have a grand strategy for the future. Russian and Chinese grand strategies are on hostile trajectories with the United States and allied nations.

A multi-polar world and a less engaged United States will result in more chaos and instability on Earth and space. The creation of the U.S. Space Force in December 2019 signaled that the United States wants to retain strategic leadership in space. Whether the Space Force will be funded and manned to compete with the increasing ambitions of great power rivals is a critical concern with significant implications for the security, safety, and stability of space and the world.

This paper originally ran on The Space Force Journal on 20 July, 2021.

NOTES

[1] A great power is defined as a nation, rather than a state, with global reach and scale. It influences the international relations system as a whole, can exert hard power and aspects of soft power, and go beyond DIME (Diplomatic/Informational/Military/Economic) instruments of power to include cultural and religious influence.

[2] General Charles Q. Brown, Jr., “Accelerate Change or Lose,” U.S. Air Force, August 2020, https://www.af.mil/Portals/1/documents/2020SAF/ACOL_booklet_FINAL_13_Nov_1006_WEB.pdf.

[3] “Space Capstone Publication: Spacepower, Doctrine for Space Forces,” U.S. Space Force, June 2020, page vi, https://www.spaceforce.mil/Portals/1/Space%20Capstone%20Publication_10%20Aug%202020.pdf.

[4] “Space Capstone Publication: Spacepower, Doctrine for Space Forces,” U.S. Space Force, June 2020, page 27 https://www.spaceforce.mil/Portals/1/Space%20Capstone%20Publication_10%20Aug%202020.pdf.

[5] Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Free Press, 1992)

[6] Noah Rothman, “Flashback: In Russia, Obama Declared ‘great Power Conflict’ a Thing of the Past,” Mediaite, March 3, 2014, https://www.mediaite.com/online/flashback-in-russia-obama-declared-great-power-conflict-a-thing-of-the-past/; “Remarks by President Obama to the United Nations General Assembly,” The Obama White House, September 28, 2015, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/28/remarks-president-obama-united-nations-general-assembly.

[7] The list includes the Euro-Russian frontier, the Baltics, the South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula, the Sea of Japan, the Indian Ocean, the Sino-Indian Border, the Taiwan and Korea/Tsushima straits, and the Middle East, specifically Syria and Iraq.

[8] “U.S. Military Spending/Defense Budget 1960-2021,” Macrotrends, accessed March 23, 2021, https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/USA/united-states/military-spending-defense-budget.

[9] Charles Kupchan, “America First Means a Retreat from Foreign Conflicts,” Foreign Affairs, Septemgber 2019, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2019-09-26/america-first-means-retreat-foreign-conflicts.

[10] Robin Niblett, “Liberalism in Retreat-The Demise of a Dream,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2017. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2016-12-12/liberalism-retreat.

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[12] Simon Seminari, “Op-Ed | Global Government Space Budgets Continues Multiyear Rebound,” SpaceNews, November 24, 2019, https://spacenews.com/op-ed-global-government-space-budgets-continues-multiyear-rebound/.

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[52] Peter B. de Selding, “Japanese Government Seeks to Reorient Space Spending,” SpaceNews, September 28, 2010, https://spacenews.com/japanese-government-seeks-reorient-space-spending/#:~:text=The%20Japanese%20space%20budget%20totals%20about%20%244%20billion,directed%20toward%20JAXA%2C%20and%20the%20remaining%20one-third%20.

[53]Emma Chanlett-Avery, Caitlin Campbell, and Joshua A. Williams, “The U.S.-Japan Alliance,” Congressional Research Service, June 13, 2019, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33740.pdf.

[54] He was the longest serving of the post war era. In a short time frame, he has pivoted Japanese strategic thinking back to some of its pre-contemporary underpinnings like no other before him.

[55] Christopher Hughes, “Japan’s Grand Strategic Shift From the Yoshida Doctrine to and Abe Doctrine?,” Power, Ideas, And Military Strategy in the Asia-Pacific, Strategic Asia, 2017-2018.

[56] “National Security Strategy,” Office of the Prime Minister of Japan, December 13, 2013, http://japan.kantei.go.jp/96_abe/documents/2013/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2013/12/17/NSS.pdf

[57] “National Security Strategy,” Office of the Prime Minister of Japan, December 13, 2013, page 5 http://japan.kantei.go.jp/96_abe/documents/2013/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2013/12/17/NSS.pdf

[58] Matignon, Louis, “All About Japanese Space Law”, Space Legal Issues, June 5, 2020, https://www.spacelegalissues.com/all-about-the-japanese-space-law/.

[59] “Japan Launches New Squadron to Step up Defense in Outer Space,” Japan Times, May 18, 2020, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/05/18/national/sdf-launches-space-operations-unit/.

[60] “Japan Launches New Squadron to Step up Defense in Outer Space,” Japan Times, May 18, 2020, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/05/18/national/sdf-launches-space-operations-unit/.

[61] “Japan Launches New Squadron to Step up Defense in Outer Space,” Japan Times, May 18, 2020, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/05/18/national/sdf-launches-space-operations-unit/.

[62]“Japan to Assign 100 Personnel to New Satellite Monitoring Unit,” Japan Times, May 14, 2019, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/05/14/national/science-health/japan-assign-100-personnel-new-satellite-monitoring-unit/.

[63] Miriam Kramer, “Japan’s Military to Track Space Junk by 2019: Report,” Space.com, August 5, 2014, https://www.space.com/26737-japan-military-space-force.html.

[64] Mari Yamaguchi, “Japan Launches New Unit to Boost Defense in Space,” DefenseNews, May 18, 2020, https://www.defensenews.com/global/asia-pacific/2020/05/18/japan-launches-new-unit-to-boost-defense-in-space/; Junnosuke Kobara, “US and Japan Join to Tidy up Space-junk-cluttered Orbit,” Nikkei, September 10, 2019, https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/US-and-Japan-join-to-tidy-up-space-junk-cluttered-orbit.

[65] Elizabeth Shim, “Shinzo Abe Meets with u.s. Space Commander After Hospital Visit,” United Press International, August 27, 2020, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2020/08/27/Shinzo-Abe-meets-with-US-space-commander-after-hospital-visit/3271598545563/.

[66] John Wright, “Where No Alliance Has Gone Before: US-Japan Military Cooperation in Space,” The Diplomat, February 4, 2020, https://thediplomat.com/2020/02/where-no-alliance-has-gone-before-us-japan-military-cooperation-in-space/.

[67] “2021 India Military Strength,” Global Firepower, accessed March 23, 2021, https://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.php?country_id=india

[68] International Institute for Strategic Studies, February 14, 2020, https://www.iiss.org/blogs/military-balance/2020/02/global-defence-spending.

[69] Namrata Goswami and Peter A. Garretson, Scramble for the Skies: The Great Power Competition to Control the Resources of Outer Space (Lexington Books, 2020), 258.

[70] Nitin Gokhale, “India’s Doctrinal Shift?,” The Diplomat, January 25, 2011, https://thediplomat.com/2011/01/indias-doctrinal-shift/; Sushant Singh, “Can India Transcend Its Two-Front Challenge?,” War on the Rocks, September 14, 2020, https://warontherocks.com/2020/09/can-india-transcend-its-two-front-challenge/.

[71] Meia Nouwens, “India treats the Indian Ocean Region as its ‘own lake’, but China has different plans,” The Print, April 25, 2018, https://theprint.in/opinion/for-india-indian-ocean-region-is-its-own-lake-this-conflicts-with-chinas-belt-and-road-initiative/52676/.

[72] “Indian Navy Seeks Third Aircraft Carrier with 57 Fighter Planes Worth $25 Billion,” Defense World, January 16, 2018, https://www.defenseworld.net/news/21763#.YFouP4lKiCS.

[73] K.S. Jayaraman, “India Allocates $1.2 Billion for Space Activities,” SpaceNews, March 9, 2015, https://spacenews.com/india-allocates-1-2-billion-for-space-activities/.

[74] Dinshaw Mistry, “The Geostrategic Implications of India’s Space Program,” Asian Survey, November/December 2001, https://online.ucpress.edu/as/article-abstract/41/6/1023/91794/The-Geostrategic-Implications-of-India-s-Space?redirectedFrom=fulltext.

[75] Namrata Goswami and Peter A. Garretson, Scramble for the Skies: The Great Power Competition to Control the Resources of Outer Space (Lexington Books, 2020), 258.

[76] Vivek Raghuvanshi, “India to Launch a Defense-Based Space Research Agency,” DefenseNews, June 12, 2019, https://www.defensenews.com/space/2019/06/12/india-to-launch-a-defense-based-space-research-agency/.

[77] Doris Elin Urrutia, “India’s anti-satellite missile test is a big deal. Here’s why.,” Space.com, March 30, 2019, https://www.space.com/india-anti-satellite-test-significance.html.

[78]Amit Saksena, “India and Space Defense,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs, March 23, 2014, https://mea.gov.in/articles-in-foreign-media.htm?dtl/23139/India+and+Space+Defense.

[79] Vivek Raghuvanshi, “India to Launch a Defense-Based Space Research Agency,” DefenseNews, June 12, 2019, https://www.defensenews.com/space/2019/06/12/india-to-launch-a-defense-based-space-research-agency/.

[80] Manveena Suri and Swati Gupta, “India’s Polar Moon Mission Puts Chandrayaan-2 in the History Books,” CNN, September 5, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/04/world/india-moon-lunar-chandrayaan-2-explainer-scn/index.html.

[81] Meghan Bartels, “India Will Launch Its Own Astronauts to Space by 2022, Government Says,” Space.com, August 29, 2018, https://www.space.com/41657-india-will-launch-astronauts-in-2022.html.

[82] Elizabeth Howell, “Trump Hails India’s ‘impressive strides’ On Moon Exploration, Pledges Greater Cooperation On Space,” Space.com, February 27, 2020, https://www.space.com/trump-hails-india-moon-missions-us-space-cooperation.html.

[83] Such as Pan Slavism for Russia, neo-Maoism for China, and Hindu Nationalism for India.

Newsmax: Free Trade Is More Than Trade

Lost in the desert that is now called public discourse regarding trade are the nontrade benefits of free trade arrangements.

Like so much that is polarized about American politics, the extreme camps dominate the public discourse. We have taken the complex universe of trade and attempted to box all positions into either “Free traders” or “Protectionists.”

It is granted that extremists on both ends usually can be revealed easily since their positions on economics supersede the nation’s needs. Free trade extremists, acolytes of the religion of globalization, would sacrifice national security interests for profit. At the other end of the spectrum, extreme protectionists would ensure that failing industries, that would eventually hurt the nation, continue under government largesse.

Often lost in this swamp is one of the principal benefits of actual free trade, which increases security and diplomatic power. The common-sense approach realizes that free trade, which is based on mutual benefit, secured against government corruption, predatory pricing and lending, dumping and over-regulation, is a net positive.

Needless to say, China engages in all of those harmful practices, making it the most flawed example of free trade on the planet.

One free trade agreement that would knit together economic, security, diplomatic and cultural alliance is the one between the U.S. and the U.K.

One of the potential positive outcomes of Brexit is to reignite the need for this economic union. What comes to mind is Winston Churchill’s famous quote of 1940, “We must be united, we must be undaunted, we must be inflexible. Our qualities and deeds must burn and glow through the gloom of Europe until they become the veritable beacon of its salvation.”

Many economists have focused on the failed attempt from 2013 to 2016 to create a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), which failed primarily due to the EU overregulation and protectionist practices in areas such as agriculture and automobiles.

Prior to Brexit, any free trade arrangement with Great Britain would have had to be under an EU umbrella. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was vilified by many on the U.S./U.K. leftwing for supporting Brexit, though few would trade the U.K.’s response to the COVID pandemic with that of the E.U.

As a result of Brexit, President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Johnson engaged in five negotiation sessions which started on May 5, 2020, to hammer out a U.S./U.K. FTA.

The Trump administration envisioned the benefits of such an agreement to expand economic opportunities in all sectors, create better-paying jobs for Americans and eliminate tariffs and nontariff barriers between the two. In addition, the U.K. felt that such an agreement would enliven British GDP and consumer choice.

Although there are many more positives than negatives, there are hurdles to overcome. For example, British food standards that oppose particular GMOs, chemical, antibiotic and hormone use by U.S. producers are a clear issue on their side of the Atlantic, while Americans view the British National Health Service (NHS) effectively undercuts American pharmaceuticals through government support. There are also sticking points over digital service taxes.

This U.S./U.K. FTA would join the world’s first- and sixth-largest economies and promote military and defense sales and technology exchange when anti-Western adversaries are growing in strength. More importantly and beyond the scope of any economic calculation, such an FTA would strengthen the Anglo-American special relationship at a time when Churchill’s dream of the destiny of the “English-speaking peoples” is needed more than ever.

It would fulfill the fifth clause of the 1940 Atlantic Charter between President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill: “Fifth, they desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the object of securing, for all, improved labor standards, economic advancement and social security;”.

This is not merely the concrete military and diplomatic link which is the strongest between two nations, perhaps in history, but a bond of history, law, culture, religion and society.

Such an agreement is the natural and organic outgrowth of the Anglosphere as the center of gravity of western democratic and Judeo-Christian values whose influence over democracy promotion, human rights, the rule of law, the free flow of goods, services and ideas are the very cornerstones needed for a bright 21st century.

This piece originally ran on Newsmax on 6 May, 2021.

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.

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.