did not compromise U.S. security and was directed against a Soviet Union that was an existential threat to its Communist rival. Today, however, while there is some territorial friction between China and Russia, leaders in Beijing and Moscow often work in tandem against international peace, freedom, and self-determination. Obama’s proclaimed “pivot” toward Asia has not dealt effectively with China’s extraordinary arms build-ups (much of it based on Russian arms trade), its general acceptance of North Korean repression and nuclear and missile programs, and China’s extensive territorial claims and militance against its southern and eastern neigh- bors, including India and in extended South China Sea air and naval “zones.”
The U.S. has not reacted strongly to China’s vigorous suppression of individual and regional rights includ- ing Tibetans, Uighurs, the people of Hong Kong, Christians, and a wide range of people who seek to make their own choices on how to practice their religion, culture, art, family life, and other fundamental aspects of individual human dignity and freedom. Tiananmen in 1989 and a series of serious crackdowns since then in Hong Kong and ethnic minority regions are not humane or forward-looking responses to the population’s widening demand for democratic changes. China’s leaders are likely to face serious future crises because they have not effectively reduced the Party’s and military’s privileges and corruption instead of devolving power and regional autonomy, permitting increasingly competitive elections, and respecting individual human rights and choices. China’s rapid arms buildups, diplomatic alignment with anti-democratic organizations, and growing influence operations through far-reaching business and intelligence efforts abroad requires substantial reform if flash points of discontent and dangerous national and international crises are to be avoided.
From Setbacks and Confusion to a Responsible Defense and Diplomacy. Increasing global areas and numbers of people, including in the United States and Europe, today face domestic and international threats from totalitarian “believe, convert, accept, or die” versions of sectarian religious faiths and their legal systems. These notably include radical Islamist extremist groups pushing variants of Sharia law and warfare that uti- lize extensive domestic and international terror against persons and societies with different pluralistic views and practices. This has been particularly evident in Afghanistan and Iraq where substantial gains achieved by combined national, U.S. and Allied resistance in meeting such threats have been jeopardized by precipitous withdrawals of U.S. forces and related loss of critical advisory, intelligence, and diplomatic capabilities and credibility required to sustain the gains previously achieved against a potent global extremist enemy. In Libya and Syria, confused U.S. policies have exacerbated difficulties. In Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, and central Africa, U.S. efforts to meet threats like Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram were faltering. America, her friends and allies face multiple ideological and military fronts ranging from acts of terror to a range of conventional, chemical/ biological, and nuclear forces in undemocratic countries.
Meanwhile, American defense investment and core combat forces and programs have been cut to inde- fensible pre-Pearl Harbor levels by “sequester” legislation and presidential decisions. U.S. border security has significant gaps (including regarding terrorists), national energy security strategy is weak, and trust in U.S. leadership has eroded. Politically correct phrases like “workplace violence,” “overseas contingency operations,” “no boots on the ground,” and “Islamo-phobia” have further confused issues of countering the Islamist ex- tremists’ global war on peace and freedom and on women’s and minorities’ rights. The confusion comes from neither understanding the ideological and military threat posed by Islamists nor having a comprehensive na- tional security strategy to work with moderate Islamic voices to counter, deter, defend against, and defeat the extremist terrorist movements.
Developing Strategies against Extremism, Terrorism, and Totalitarianism. In terms of lessons learned from the Cold War and more recent post-Cold War history, a particularly glaring and urgent current need is for responsible national security reassessment and leadership. Reagan demonstrated how presidential leader- ship is indispensable in work with diplomatic, military, Congressional, and Allied leaders and experts to devel- op a comprehensive, as bipartisan as possible, long-term U.S. national security strategy to secure paths to peace and freedom in the face of rising dangers. There must be a concerted effort by U.S. government and private sector organizations, including centers of learning, to study the truths about extremist terrorist dogmas, strat- egies, and threats and to encourage, support, and working together with others for human freedom, tolerance, and peaceful progress. The strategy must begin with being clear and confident about America’s principles and purpose and about an Allied anti-terrorist, anti-totalitarian strategy’s moral, diplomatic, military, arms control, economic, and intelligence and alliance components. It is particularly important to invigorate neglected “soft