Fighting the Real Enemy



Lauren Westfall

September 2007



          ?As The Grand Alliance says, the United States has become “too small to maintain its role as global governor.?While a Grand Alliance is a feasible solution to this problem, there are hurdles to overcome before the United States would agree to join the alliance. One such hurdle is the visualization of China as an enemy. The union of global democracies would contain China, as the Chinese are not playing by the rules of the global market. If they continue to act out, the global market can fall into disrepair. Yet if the United States relinquishes some of its sovereignty and joins the alliance, the problem can be diminished. So, why would America not join the alliance? Americans enjoy their status as most powerful country in the world. They do not realize that though America is still powerful, the world has outgrown its reach and influence. Therefore, they do not see the problems associated with not joining the alliance.


China is fast becoming an economic superpower, and the United States does a great deal of business with them. Many Americans who do not know any better would say, “Why should we be worried about China?? At surface level, this is a credible question. Many nations in the world cannot support themselves, and international institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have to assist them in functioning. It hardly seems like China should be a concern when they appear to be blossoming economically, unlike these other countries. Additionally, American businesses profit from Chinese success, so on the outside it looks like China is the last place the United States should concern themselves with.


Not only does America not see China as much of a threat, but also it perceives a much bigger threat in the Middle East. A recent rash of terrorist attacks against the United States has made Americans wary of Islam and terrorism. They see terrorism as the biggest threat to their safety, and therefore the enemy that they want their country to focus its energy on.


How can we convince the American public that they should be more concerned with China? It will be difficult. Terrorism is seen as an imminent problem because its effects are more easily seen. The economic issues in China are not widely known, but the effects of terrorism are more obvious. An average American feels vulnerable, because at any given moment they believe they can be attacked, on their own soil and without warning. Economic problems may not be so sudden, and so they may consider them to be less concerning. To get around this, Americans need to be able to see the value in fearing China also.

Islamic fundamentalism is certainly an issue to be worried about, and The Grand Alliance proposes that the democracies of the world pressure (in a non-militarized way) the Middle Eastern countries that have not democratized to do so in order to curb terrorism. This may not work, however, as democracy may have trouble succeeding in the region. The authoritarian regimes that exist have little motivation to become a democracy. Those in power control the oil, and therefore the economy in their state, so they have little reason to open themselves up to public opinion or give up their stronghold on the state. Any incentive that was provided to them to get them to democratize would have to outweigh the benefits they get from having pretty much absolute power. Short of military action, which would be more of a hindrance than a help, one possible way to impose democracy in the Middle East could involve economic sanctions. It is possible to hope for some uprising for democracy, but the rulers many times put these down brutally. Some nations like Lebanon and Egypt have actually moved towards democracy, and even hold elections, but freedoms are still routinely denied in the form of suppressed protests and regular assassinations of political leaders.


Another key element in helping the Middle East towards democracy is secularizing. This would possibly be the hardest barrier to break down. Humans identify themselves in different ways with regard to culture. For most Americans, they are Americans first, Christians (or whatever religion) second, and so on. However, many Middle Easterners may not identify with their country as strongly as they do with their faith. Therefore, if their primary focus is not the state, but religion, it becomes difficult to convince them to do anything. Religion is not based on fact, but belief, and you cannot change beliefs by force. Incentives provided by the international community may not have any effect on the population, in regards to mobilizing them towards a call for democracy or pressure on their leader, because they are more loyal to the Muslim community as a whole. Democracy does little to affect their religious beliefs, so why become a democracy? Further, it calls for separation of church and state, and that would not sit well with many Muslims. In addition, many may fear that democratization may bring with it Christianity that would attempt to undermine Islam.


What can be done to solve these problems of democratization and secularization? The Grand Alliance has it right when it says that the Middle East needs to do these things. Nevertheless, incentives to make them do so are few and far between because they operate on different cultural standards. A better way to go about this may be to form the Grand Alliance, and let strength in numbers do the talking. A large alliance of democracies could withstand a broad nuclear attack from terrorists, and the more countries in the alliance, the easier it will be to recoup if that were to happen. Terrorism is so effective because it plays on people’s vulnerability, but if the Grand Alliance were to stand up to terrorists by not being so afraid of attacks since it could withstand them, that would remove the only strength they have against us. Removing terrorist threats would then help the Middle East move towards democracy.


Not only would dealing with the Middle East in this way help them, but it would also help the acceptance of the Grand Alliance in America. Once Americans see that the threat of terrorism has been reduced, they will need to focus their attention on another enemy. This paves the way for the realization of China’s danger. A simple way to do this is to present the effect China’s behavior has on the average American. China is not following the rules of the global market, and so they are hurting the American middle class. Their refusal to keep equilibrium in the market will create suffering for the many richer countries around the world. Any domestic economic issues would collapse the world market because there are so many who have invested a great deal in the Chinese market. The economy in China is not transparent and they keep their currency at an unfair level, leading to a hollow economy. This is problematic for America especially because it has so many investments there. Such a collapse as mentioned before would infringe upon the average American’s personal purse, thereby making China’s behavior a huge concern. If Americans could be introduced to this idea, it would likely be accepted as personal finances have a more immediate and believable effect on them than the possibility that another terrorist attack would happen to them.


The Grand Alliance is a good solution for the many threats that face the world. It could help fight terrorism, contain China, and stabilize the world market. However, one of the key ingredients of the alliance is the participation of the United States. This participation is unlikely, however, if it means that Americans have to give up their powerful status and a little sovereignty. The only way they could be convinced to do so is if they were provided with enough incentive to do so. Most Americans perceive their safety as paramount, and so if fighting terrorism was presented as a key component to being a member of the Grand Alliance, they might be persuaded to join. Once they are in the Grand Alliance with other strong democracies, they could realize whom they really should have been fighting against all along: China. Basically, in order to get the United States on board with fighting the real enemy instead of Islam and terrorism, they need to be convinced to join the Grand Alliance first. Once they join under the guise of fighting terrorism, they will then see who the enemy truly is. They will see that the practices of the Chinese government in keeping a closed economy that is on very shaky ground are detrimental, not only to the United States, but to the entire global market. Any instability could cause a collapse in China, which could then lead to a world market collapse and quite possibly a depression. A global market that was based on a combination of the American dollar, the Euro, and the Yen would be much stronger, and would provide for a much healthier market.