How the U.S. Can Deter and Defeat the Axis of Autocracy

“The United States once again finds itself locked in a great-power competition with hostile revisionist powers. Like the first iteration, Cold War II is at its core an ideological clash over the future of the global order. Does Washington want a world in which the balance of power tilts toward freedom and individual liberty, or a world dominated by brutal autocrats oppressing their own people and terrorizing their neighbors?

“There is no question that Washington will need to make tradeoffs and that American resources and political capital are finite. But any serious conversation about strategy must start with a clear understanding of the challenges facing the free world and how they are linked.

“The reality is that China, Russia, and Iran pose a connected threat and must be addressed collectively. Accepting this premise does not then require dividing American resources and capital equally across the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. However, it does mean that Washington cannot simply ignore or withdraw from any of these theaters. Consider how the abandonment of Afghanistan emboldened Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine, which if successful is likely to trigger a Chinese assault on Taiwan. Authoritarian aggressors connect the dots, even if not all Western strategists do. ‘Pivoting’ away from one region only invites aggression, as the U.S. has now seen in both Europe and the Middle East. …”

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