“The U.S. is Sick”: How a Chinese Analyst Might View the United States – Forward Observer Shop

“The U.S. is Sick”: How a Chinese Analyst Might View the United States

Former deputy CIA director Mike Morrell recently wrote an article about the United States from the point of view of a Chinese intelligence analyst.  While it mainly pertains to the topics of geopolitics and war, it does mention some domestic issues, which support the idea that we’re either already in a low intensity conflict or one is growing more likely.  Here are the relevant points; these are the words of the imagined Chinese intelligence analyst:

The U.S. is sick – that is the word I use. The evidence for this judgment is compelling. Productivity growth, the lifeblood of any economy, has fallen sharply since the mid 1990s, and it has been weak since the late 1960s. Wealth and income inequality have increased substantially; the gap in wealth between the rich and poor is staggering… [M]any parents no longer believe that their children will have a better standard of living than them. These are all fundamental changes from the period after WWII…

Social divisions and social erosion have grown. Racial, ethnic, and religious tensions are on the rise…

Your political elite – your professional political class – has simply not dealt successfully with the country’s problems. As a group, they are, in short, incompetent. They have been so for at least a generation…

When I look at your country, I sense lost confidence. I see it in many of your citizens and politicians blaming other countries for your own problems. I saw it in the resonance of President Trump’s campaign slogan “Make American Great Again.” I saw it in President Obama’s statement that the U.S. would remain a global power for the next 100 years. Only someone not quite sure about that would need to say it…

Still, having said all that, I chose the word “sick” purposefully. Sick does not imply dying. The U.S. is still a strong and powerful country. It is still a global power without peer…

Many think that America is destined to decline, but the future is not preordained. The U.S. has faced similar periods of “sickness” in its history – the Civil War, the social and economic inequalities of the Gilded Age in the late 19th century, the Great Depression, and the national malaise that followed Vietnam. In each case, the U.S. found a way to revitalize itself…  [source]

Wealth and income inequality are important because they are perceived to be real by a great many Americans — whether one believes it exists or not is immaterial because of the perception that they are real.

Furthermore, there are three requirements for an insurgency:

  • a politicized social base;
  • a grievance with a solution pointing towards the removal of a governmental, social, ethnic/racial, or religious class, and;
  • armed training that grows into armed resistance.

How many of these three things, and in what quantities, do we see currently in America?

There are strong indications of requirement number one, and a growing case to be made for the existence of requirements two and three.  That’s why I believe that we’re already in a low-grade domestic conflict, and chances are good that requirements two and three will become stronger.  Worsening economic, social, and ethnic/racial conditions inflame these politicized social bases to adopt a strategy of violence aimed at removing one of their target classes.  And at a very basic level, that’s how insurgencies are born.

Follow all posts from the Low Intensity Conflict blog here.

Mike Shelby is a former military intelligence NCO and contract intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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