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We’re In A New Cold War, This Time With China

When the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union dissolved, the Western world thought, with considerable justification, that the generational struggle with communism had ended. But in our exultation, we forgot to finish the job. Communism lived on in mainland China and is once again challenging the free world for dominance.

This time, they’re doing it with our money. As we have begun to realize these past few years, and as the coronavirus outbreak has made even clearer, China has used our free markets and open-mindedness against us, running an economy based on the bizarre fusion of communism and mercantilism while cracking down ever more on its people’s natural rights and freedoms. It is time for the free world to rejoin the fight.

Harsh in War, Generous in Peace

Historically, the United States has been generous in victory. As the Civil War drew to a close, President Abraham Lincoln resisted calls for vengeance against the conquered South, famously saying after the fall of Richmond that he would prefer to “let ’em up easy.”

 After the First World War, President Woodrow Wilson declined the territorial concessions America’s allies were demanding, focusing instead on an ultimately misguided plan for permanent peace. Likewise, after the Second World War, presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman did not look to conquer territory, as Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union did, but to rebuild the shattered lands of Europe and Japan, making former fascist enemies into democratic friends.
That spirit of magnanimity was likely in President George H.W. Bush’s heart at the end of the Cold War. As the Iron Curtain in Europe fell and the Soviet Union collapsed, Bush was right to reach out to our former adversaries to help with their transitions to liberal democracy and a market economy. His error, though, was in extending that same hand to Communist China, a nation that had not thrown off the shackles of socialism and had only recently suppressed the first glimmers of democratic sentiment in the Tiananmen Square of 1989.

Mercy in victory is good, but it does no good to let ‘em up easy when you haven’t knocked ‘em down yet. Bush struck the perfect tone with the Soviet Union’s premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, rewarding political concessions by the communists with economic concessions on our side. The result was a gradual and mostly peaceful winding down of what Ronald Reagan had rightly called an “evil empire.”

Read Complete Editorial Here:
The Federalist
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