November 18, 2022

Taking on China and Russia

Meeting at the Madrid summit in June, NATO leaders issued their first new “strategic concept” in a decade. As expected, Russia took center stage in the document, and the heads of state declared Moscow a manifest threat to the transatlantic alliance. In a joint statement, they pledged their commitment to Ukraine “for as long as it takes” and committed to spend more on defense.

If it wants to succeed, the United States is going to have to pick its battles carefully.

Russia, however, was not the only major threat identified in the new strategy. For the first time, the allies said China posed “systemic challenges’’ to “Euro-Atlantic security,” and that its ambitions and policies challenge the alliance’s “interests, security and values.” To drive the point home, leaders from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea were on hand to demonstrate unity and resolve.

NATO’s new focus is just one of many indications that a new strategic era has begun. The Biden administration’s national security strategy, for instance, states that “the most pressing strategic challenge” is from “powers that layer authoritarian governance with a revisionist foreign policy.” The new U.S. strategy, which was released in October, labels Russia “an immediate threat to the free and open international system” and China as the only competitor with the intent and power to reshape that system. Today Washington has chosen, perhaps by default, to compete with—and if necessary, confront—both Russia and China simultaneously and indefinitely.

Read the full story from Foreign Affairs.

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