Abroad, unless the president stops outsourcing America’s foreign policy to the UN, the Middle East will continue to unravel with America on the sidelines, especially if the hapless Susan Rice becomes the next Secretary of State. From Beijing’s perspective, with the decline of American power abroad, key energy opportunities are theirs for the taking in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Creating an enduring middle class in a country of 1.3 billion people is no small feat, and every instance where the Chinese can access energy without competition from the United States takes them ever closer to their goal of economic and military parity with the United States.
By most estimates, that goal is a few years off. But when it comes, President Obama’s defense “pivot” to Asia will, just like the Russia “reset,” be meaningless if the American economy cannot support the military resources needed to make the pivot more than another empty gesture.
Indeed, the two seem remarkably similar. President Obama resets with Russia while torpedoing plans for strategic missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. In the president’s hollow words, Russia sees only weakness. Likewise with Asia, President Obama’s reckless spending has brought the U.S. economy to its knees, (likely) resulting in crippling defense cuts that will reduce our nation’s ability to project anything more than presidential rhetoric.
Yet despite this seeming trend of American weakness, a further irony is that without strong American consumption, the Chinese economy suffers. The Chinese know this, as does Washington. Which brings us back to the fiscal cliff. The Chinese will tolerate the American president going to Myanmar as long as they can count on Washington’s continued withdrawals from the Bank of Beijing.
In Barack Obama, then, we have a president Americans cannot live with, and the Chinese cannot live without. The fiscal cliff is not just about American tax rates. It is also fundamentally about a world where rival nations like China are ready and willing to fill the void left by receding American influence, while simultaneously bankrolling our decline. Our leaders would do well to consider this reality when deciding whether a trillion dollar tax hike is in America’s best interest. The Chinese certainly have no qualms about lending us the money to fund our economic belly flop, with interest.