The Andrew W. Marshall Foundation
This paper critiques the U.S. foreign policy community’s approach to strategic competition with China and raises a crucial question: Is the U.S. government basing strategic competition with China on U.S. interests, or is it reacting in ways that advance the strategic goals of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)?
This paper argues that, because of its organizational culture, the U.S. foreign policy community approaches strategic competition in ways that disadvantage the United States. Through an analysis of the political, military, economic, and psychological condition of U.S. foreign policy, this paper posits that the United States has formed a reactive strategy toward China that leaves it vulnerable to China’s own competitive strategies. Through exploring historical examples and contemporary issues such as Taiwan and integrated deterrence, an underlying pattern emerges. Because it has ill-defined objectives and definitions of success, brought about largely by organizational factors, the United States is developing a reactionary foreign policy that is susceptible to CCP strategies, interests, and advantages. While this paper does not provide a definitive answer, it diagnoses American susceptibility to Chinese strategic manipulation and highlights the need for the United States to develop a more proactive and well-defined strategy to counter China’s competitive strategies effectively.