by Lee Smith
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is at war with the United States, but the bulk of our political and military leadership doesn’t see it. According to (ret.) Gen. Robert Spalding, that’s because they’re not trained to understand how the CCP has combined its economic, military, diplomatic, technological, and communications capabilities to wage unrestricted warfare against us, its principal enemy.
I spoke with Spalding for the latest episode of “Over the Target Live” about why it’s so difficult to understand the nature and magnitude of the CCP threat.
“I had to educate myself to see these patterns, because it’s a completely different way of thinking, and our brains are not encoded to understand political warfare to the level that the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army are. That’s how they’re taught. I was taught a different type of warfare,” said the retired Air Force officer who flew B-2 stealth bombers.
Studying CCP political warfare, said Spalding, required him to “understand a new context for warfare that really had more to do with emotions and psychology, and control of the narrative.”
Spalding served as the military attaché in the U.S. embassy in Beijing at the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidential term and later moved to the White House, where he was senior director for strategic planning. After leaving the administration in 2018, he resolved to educate Americans about the CCP’s war against the West and expose the “main blueprint for China’s efforts to unseat America as the world’s economic, political, and ideological leader.”
According to Spalding, the crucial doctrine is outlined in a 1999 booklet written by two People’s Liberation Army colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, called “Unrestricted Warfare.” In Spalding’s recently published book, “War Without Rules,” he deciphers the difficult, dense, and often meandering CCP text that appears to have determined the course of Beijing’s relentless campaigns against America using every instrument at its disposal.
The colonels formulated their strategy, explains Spalding, in response to the 1996 crisis in the Taiwan Strait.
“The time period was when [Bill] Clinton sent in two aircraft carriers into the Taiwan Strait because the Chinese Communist Party was lobbing missiles into the strait, and Clinton wanted them to knock it off,” Spalding told “Over the Target Live.”
Because the Chinese were faced with “an incredible war machine,” the colonels, said Spalding, “were tasked with thinking how they come up with a doctrine for dealing with a very powerful United States.”
The crucial lesson that they drew was to avoid direct military conflict with America. Instead, the CCP drew on instruments made available by the United States and other Western democracies, such as trade and economic relations, and international institutions that they could turn to their advantage. The colonels saw that globalization and the vast information platform provided by the internet would further the CCP’s brand of warfare.
As Spalding writes in “War Without Rules,” unrestricted warfare uses “all means, including armed force or non-armed force, military and non-military, and lethal and non-lethal means to compel the enemy to accept one’s interest.” The only rule in unrestricted warfare, writes Spalding, “is that there are no rules.”
To date, the CCP’s most successful campaign is its use of COVID-19. In “War Without Rules,” Spalding distinguishes between speculation “that the Chinese had designed COVID-19 in a lab as a bioweapon” and “the less extreme but proven case: that the CCP took advantage of a surprise crisis to advance its own interests and hurt its adversaries.”
If you understand the nature of unrestricted warfare, Spalding said in his interview with “Over The Target Live,” “you can see what they’re doing with the coronavirus. It’s not about the virus, it’s about the fear that they were able to engender because the virus existed. … And because of their connection to the West, they were able to use those connections to help pipe the fear [into Western societies].”
To spread fear, the CCP used institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO), whose director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is reportedly influenced by the CCP. When China first locked down, said Spalding, the WHO “said this is unprecedented. This is not part of our pandemic protocol.”
And then the organization’s messaging changed course, directed it seems by its relationship with the CCP. The WHO, said Spalding, later claimed that “lockdowns stopped the virus in its tracks. And so this encouraged the rest of the free world to basically embrace lockdowns.”
Another institution Spalding cites is Imperial College London, which developed the predictive models that radically overstated the dangers of COVID-19 and then produced studies praising CCP lockdowns. Through various CCP outfits, said Spalding, Beijing “had been paying tens of millions of dollars to the Imperial College of London. Xi Jinping himself visited Imperial College of London in 2015.”
Using Western institutions as instruments of political warfare to spread fear, the CCP shaped decisions that would ultimately destroy economies, communities, families, and lives. Moreover, the tactics employed by Western officials—lockdowns, widespread press and social media censorship of medical opinion that challenged official COVID narratives, and forced vaccine injections—violated freedoms that are the bedrock of Western societies.
And that was precisely the point of the CCP’s political warfare campaign—to undermine the West’s status as the defender of freedom. Beijing, according to Spalding, “is at war with democratic principles.”
“They see … the idea of freedom as an existential threat to the Chinese Communist Party,” said Spalding. “They’re constantly concerned that their population may become awakened to these principles of freedom that are out there. And so they do everything in their power to make sure that they’re sealed off from the West. But the real way to ensure their long-term survival is to ensure the West doesn’t exist as a democracy.”
The question for America and the other Western democracies is how do they protect their own principles and peoples against a totalitarian regime that uses any instrument at its disposal, including ones we’ve developed for peaceful purposes, to lay siege to us? The problem is further complicated by the fact that much of the Western ruling class has been compromised by the CCP’s unrestricted warfare against us, or—worse yet—are willing collaborators in that campaign.
First published in the Epoch Times.