The Grand Alliance: Making China the Global Enemy

By Seung J. Yim

September, 2007

sjyim111@uga.edu

 

With the emergence of powerful nations like China and India in the 21st century, the Unites States is facing a difficult task of keeping a global order and provide global stability both economically and militarily. Especially, the emergence of China as a major power in todayís global world is a serious threat to the stability of the global order since China is a non-democratic country with a great size and economic power to destabilize the current world order. The proposed Grand Alliance by Professor Carlo Pelanda in The Grand Alliance, in which an alliance between democratic regional blocks strong enough to deter any actor from instigating a conflict in the global governance, is needed to stop the unstable and undemocratic China from being the leader of the new world order. But how feasible is the three headed Grand Alliance between the U.S., Europe, and Russia and Asian Democracies? It is highly unlikely that a multilateral alliance that strong can be established between the above mentioned groups. Although there are many valid reasons for the unlikelihood of the Grand Alliance, the biggest reason will be that Americans will not allow a multilateral alliance where they will have a shared leadership with other regional blocks. Even if an alliance could develop between the democracies, it will not last long before Americans will reject it in favor of autonomy in foreign policy making and governance of the world. Americans will try to hold on to their perceived supremacy in the world. The only way a multilateral alliance like the Grand Alliance being established is facing a strong common enemy that poses a serious immediate threat to all the democracies. With unlikelihood of China making a mistake of threatening all the democracies in the world and alienating their economic partners, we must paint China as the common global enemy that needs to be contained.

The recent trend in world politics suggests that the new world order in the post-Cold War era will consist of regional blocks or meganations that establish a sphere of influence in different regions. China is a dangerous actor in the world governance because it is a meganation who refuses to play by the rules of the current global order. Their selfish way of promoting economic growth in their country destabilizes the entire global economy. The lack of human rights as well as lack of actions to limit the pollution generated in China shows their refusal to be restricted by the global order. With China as the most likely candidate to disrupt the current structure of world order headed by the U.S., the containment of China becomes necessary. The United States is without a doubt the most powerful nation in the world today. However, recent events show that the U.S. might not be powerful enough or big enough to effectively govern the world.

The task of global governance by the United States, which has been continuing since 1945, has taken a toll on the superpower over the years. It has been increasingly difficult to manage the complex nature of the global politics ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union. With the Soviet Union no longer playing the role of a global governor in their half of the world, the burden of the global governance fell solely on the U.S. The U.S. saw the limits of their power and resources to govern the world order in the early 1970s. The U.S. made an attempt to share the responsibility of providing global security and managing global economy by dividing the responsibilities with its allies. That was the first attempt at the Grand Alliance. With its allies in Europe and Asia unable to gain support for providing global security, this attempt failed although it established a group led to the current G8 group.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. became the only superpower in the world whose powers are unmatched both economically and militarily. As a hegemon, the U.S. has enjoyed a great power and respect from the rest of the world. With this status, a sense of American superiority over other nations has been developed. This American supremacy in the world was, for the most part, has been justified with its power and influence in the world politics. Professor Pelanda does not dispute that America has the most important role in the global economy with its huge market, and that America has absolutely the most powerful military capabilities in the world. This perceived supremacy over other countries have fueled a nation that already believed that it is morally good and somehow special. History has provided Americans with a proof that they are in fact superior to the rest of the world as the American model has been successful in economic, military, and scientific innovations.

American supremacy is a concept that is deeply embedded in the American society. It is also a driving force behind the strong nationalism of the American people. When the events of September 11 occurred, many people called for an immediate retaliation by sending troops to show their military strength. This sentiment by many Americans arose from their sense of supremacy. People were shocked because they couldnít believe that someone was challenging them when they are so powerful. In the book, The Arrogance of American Power, Nancy Snow points out that the Americans donít understand why people outside the U.S. often dislike the Americans because they were always taught that they are basically good, if not superior people who make only unintentional mistakes in terms of foreign relations (Snow 46). Snow also argues that the U.S. government manipulates the people with propaganda techniques and the media to project a better image of the U.S. She believes that people have in their mind that the U.S. is the ďnumber-one country.?This sense of American supremacy often leads to unilateral decision in foreign policy making. American tendency to be unilateral in decisions regarding foreign policy further adds to reasons why the Grand Alliance will be difficult to achieve. Professor Pelanda noted that the American unilateralism often fails to respect the needs of their allies (Pelanda 36). No American politician will be able to favor an alliance where the U.S. will sacrifice their autonomy over foreign policy because of the Americans will not allow it (Pelanda 111). Also, American politicians tend to view proposals by its allies inferior and would not follow the initiatives of their allies. That is because American supremacy has Americans believing that only things ďmade in USA?is the best. Professor Pelanda and I share this belief with one difference. While he believes that American supremacy is a feature that makes it problematic for formation of alliances, I believe that it is not only problematic, but it will make any multilateral matrix alliance virtually impossible to achieve in the U.S. Americans trusts no one but themselves.

Letís assume that the Grand Alliance is established to contain China. Although it will be extremely difficult to achieve, assume that the Grand Alliance is achieved through collective effort from the U.S., Europe, and Russia and Asian Democracies to build a coalition against China. If the Grand Alliance is achieved, China will be contained and its influence will be limited. But how long will it take to build a Grand Alliance? By the time the Grand Alliance is achieved, China may be too strong to be contained easily. Achieving the Grand Alliance takes a lot of time on negotiations and sacrifices by the members of the alliance. Not only is it difficult to achieve an agreement on the terms of the alliance, it will be difficult and time consuming to build up necessary support from the populations of the members of the alliance. An argument can be made that while the Grand Alliance is achieved, China will not stand still and watch the coalition against them formed. The time it takes to build a strong alliance between the democracies may provide time to China to build an alliance of its own. They will try to form a coalition of their own where, anti-western countries and non-democratic countries might join China to fight against the imperial democratic alliance. China will seek an alliance with the Islamic nations where strong anti-American sentiments are growing, as well as African countries with energy resources available. In fact, China is already building a strong influence in African countries with oil. With a strong coalition of their own, China could resist the influences of the Grand Alliance. With the Nation of Islam and Africa, China could also form a large and powerful enough of a coalition to deter any democracies to limit their power. The end result might be that of the Cold War era when there were two super powerful alliances against one another.

Maintaining a multilateral alliance will be difficult in the long term. Even if the Grand alliance is achieved successfully, it will likely be for a short term. There are too many things that have to go right for a large multilateral alliance to be achieved: economic convergence between America and Europe, co-optation of Russia into Euro-American economy, self co-optation by Japan, and etc. One of the strengths of democracy is the political representation of the people. Although having a political representation is so important in democratic process, sometimes it can hurt the governmentís ability to do what is in the best interest of the people. Often people donít have the expertise to make correct decisions on the political issues and sometimes issues are too complicated for them to make good decisions. That is why Americans can simply believe permanent alliances are bad without any sound reasoning. Maintaining the Grand Alliance will be difficult because the countries each have their agenda. Once China is contained by the Grand Alliance, there is no doubt that Americans will call for a return to the old ways where America determines its own foreign policy without outside factors to consider. Americans would allow the multilateral matrix alliance only temporarily to fight off a problem. As long as Americans believe in American supremacy, they will resist long term alliances of this nature. Even if China is contained, when another regional block like the Nation of Islam or Russia rises to challenge the global order, the difficult process of building an alliance against a new enemy may have to be repeated.

Another reason why it would be difficult to get a support for the Grand Alliance in the U.S. is that the U.S. has been a reactionary government reacting only when certain events occur. Democratic nations tend to be reactionary nations that react to events when they occur. Instead of being the initiators, democracies are usually very reactionary to everything they do. Policy makers in the U.S. react to what the public opinion says more often than initiating their own policy changes. One example of this is the September 11 attacks. The U.S. did not view al Qaeda as a serious threat to the national security until the attacks occurred. The U.S. government reacted to this terrorist attack on the U.S. soil by improving national security measures and sought after Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda, as well as other terrorist organizations. Democracies often have to be reactionary because they would have to have a valid reason before they can initiate any sort of campaign to eliminate terrorists like the al Qaeda. Because of this reactionary nature of the democracy, it would be difficult to gain the public support for building an alliance against China, especially when China is so closely tied to the U.S. economically. Unless there is an immediate threat from the China that undermines the U.S. security or an attack against Americans, the Grand Alliance will be difficult to justify in the eyes of the public.

With many reasons why the Grand Alliance will not get the public support it needs from the American public, building a strong multilateral alliance between the United States, the Europe, and Russia and Asian Democracies to deter Chinaís ambition to become the largest regional block in the new world order seems unlikely. Although he sees improvements in chances of the Grand Alliance forming between the democratic nations, Professor Pelanda realizes that right now it is still an unlikely proposal. So what can be done to improve the chances of achieving the Grand Alliance? A proposal for achieving the Grand Alliance can be made to the policy makers in the countries of the proposed allies that will bring increased support for the alliance from the public. That proposal is the use of propaganda to promote the alliance as a strong reaction to the threat of dangerous China. In other words, paint an image of China to the public as an evil, dangerous, and a serious threat to the national securities of the allies.

By creating an evil and dangerous image of China, policy makers can create a public panic. When the public panics it can have serious consequences as sometimes they make irrational decisions due to their state of panic. However, if this sense of public panic is used correctly, then policy makers can maneuver them to push for support of their policies. To make people of all the proposed allies support a multilateral alliance at their expense is creating a common enemy. The only way a multilateral alliance like the Grand Alliance being established is facing a strong common enemy that poses a serious immediate threat to all the democracies. Of course, China wonít cooperate by committing actions that can be used to depict them as an evil nation. China will appear to be gentle and non-threatening on the outside. Itís the responsibility of the policy makers in the proposed allies to paint China as an enemy. It requires creativity, and sometimes false accusations must be made against China to make the public genuinely be scared of China. History has shown the effectiveness of propagandas. The propagandas used by both the communists in Soviet Union and the democratic Americans during the Cold War to spread their ideology to the rest of the world were quite successful. The American propaganda against communists was also successful in creating fear amongst the American public to enable the U.S. government to successfully battle the Soviets. Even the American supremacy will not be able to stop Americans from supporting the Grand Alliance if they genuinely feel threatened by China. Salem witch-hunt is an example of how powerful public panic can be in the U.S.

As a realist, I realize that sometimes you have to be flexible when engaging in a battle against an enemy that does not play by the rules. People might criticize the idea of using propaganda to make China a villain in the eyes of the public to gain support for a policy, but you have to weigh in all the advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes an end can justify the means, especially if the outcome yields more good than bad. People may criticize the idea, but this method of propaganda is often used to bring support for a cause. Media is an excellent source to spread the idea that China poses a great security thereat to the nation if something isnít done to fix it. Since media can be used to spread propaganda to project a better image of the U.S., it can also be used to project a worse image of China. With unlikelihood of China making a mistake of threatening all the democracies in the world and alienating their economic partners, we must paint China as the common global enemy that needs to be contained. If the Grand Alliance can be formed through propagandas, China can be contained. The U.S. will continue to play an important role as a superpower, now it just shares the responsibility of global governance with its allies.

In conclusion, the Grand Alliance, in which an alliance between democratic regional blocks strong enough to deter any actor from instigating a conflict in the global governance, is needed to stop the unstable and undemocratic China from being the leader of the new world order. But it is highly unlikely that a strong multilateral alliance between the three headed Grand Alliance between the U.S., Europe, and Russia and Asian Democracies can occur. The main reason why the Grand Alliance in unlikely is that the Americans will not allow a multilateral alliance where they will have a shared leadership with other regional blocks. Perceived American supremacy makes America unlikely to participate in multilateral matrix alliance. Even if an alliance could develop between the democracies, it will not last long before Americans will reject it in favor of autonomy in foreign policy making and governance of the world. China could also try to form an alliance of their own with the Islamic nations and African nations. The only way a multilateral alliance like the Grand Alliance being established is facing a strong common enemy that poses a serious immediate threat to all the democracies. Policy makers in the proposed allies should use propaganda to paint China as an immediate threat to the national security to create a public panic that can garner support for the Grand Alliance.

 

 

Works Cited

 

Pelanda, Carlo. The Grand Alliance: The Global Integration of Democracies. Milano, Italy: FrancoAmgeli, 2007.

 

Snow, Nancy. The Arrogance of American Power. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2007.