The lost art of ideological warfare
By: Mike Gallagher
July 10, 2019
In our strategic competition with China, Americans have focused up until now on economic and military contests — at the expense of one of the most important tools in our arsenal. The 2017 National Security Strategy argues that the United States is locked in “fundamentally political contests between those who favor repressive systems and those who favor free societies.” But we are ignoring this important insight. If the United States fails to emphasize the ideological dimension of its competition with China, it will ignore one of the primary lessons of President Ronald Reagan’s twilight struggle with the Soviet Union.
Reagan understood the primacy of the political. While his ideological offensive was less heralded than his military buildup, it was no less important. It targeted the foundation of Soviet identity: Marxist-Leninism. As the United States again grapples with a challenge to its principles and its power, it will have to relearn the lost art of ideological warfare. Only by challenging the basic legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party can the United States win this competition, and thereby ensure the survival of the free, open and prosperous world that Reagan did so much to foster.
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