The Dragon | Wolf Warrior Diplomacy
Around 2017 the Chinese government, overwhelmed by relentless criticism on its domestic and foreign policies, decided to push back aggressively in the diplomatic arena with Wolf Warrior verbiage. The term “Wolf Warrior” comes from the highly successful movie series of that name that features a Rambo-like character who defends Chinese citizens and humanitarian projects worldwide.
Eschewing diplomatic niceties by turning the other cheek and figuring enough is enough, Chinese diplomats worldwide, with the tacit permission from Beijing, are responding in equal brusque measure. The Chinese government has been incensed over the double-standard and sometimes blatant racism when they establish commercial and military agreements worldwide which are viewed as economic enslavement while western commercial and military agreements are viewed as development.
The Eagle | Wolf Warrior Diplomacy
Interestingly the same year China initiated its Wolf Warrior diplomatic style, Trump began his blunt, aggressive Rambo-style verbiage against worldwide criticism of American decades-old policies which he inherited. Counter-intuitively, whether by design or default, despite almost four years of bombastic remarks Trump has kept the US out of military conflicts. Refreshingly America is the punching bag that punches back. Perhaps verbal salvos are just as effective as military salvos but with zero deaths and collateral damage
Trump is far more comfortable with corporate wars not military ones and has managed nicely to avoid the latter. The withdrawal or the reduction in military force has put the brakes on America’s creeping unsustainable overreach which is historically the economic kryptonite (bankruptcy) of empires past to support an over-stretched military.
Unlike his Chinese counterpart who has initiated a broad-based tactic, Trump has crafted America’s Wolf Warrior style around himself and a handful of high-ranking diplomats. This tactic generates public awareness to long-standing, economically draining uncompetitive policies and trade agreements under previous administrations which have badly hurt the American worker.
It’s not a question whether Trump is successful in his foreign policy initiatives rather how this aggressive tactic is one of necessity to engage in immediate dialogue to bring about change. Furthermore this “in-your-face” tactic not a sign of a dying empire, rather a transformative rebirth in which America will no longer be held politically and economically hostage by a collective of spoiled nations whose survival rely almost exclusively on our military umbrella.
The Europeans may think of Trump as uncouth and brutish, which indeed he is, but he’s breaking unwritten protocols and establishing a precedent for future American administrations regardless of party affiliation. This street talk on the world stage has psychologically shaken up the staid and often smug European establishment many of whom believe that there’s no urgency in halting Russian and Chinese encroachment everywhere particularly in cyber-space; or that the US will forever provide a robust military umbrella.
US and China | Kindred Yet Incompatible Spirits
The timing of how the US and China have implemented this new diplomatic style independently is telling. They are the largest economies in the world who are competing for hegemonic dominance everywhere. Because there’s no longer a sole source of economic power, the rest of the world are playing the US and China against each other.
There’s a thin yet distinct line between disrespect and critical discussion. China justifiably has a thinner skin than the US however everyone knows the location of those lines. Disrespect has it limits. This means that the US and China have more in common than originally imagined on every level: private, corporate and governmental.
Each one’s Wolf Warrior diplomacy tactics are running simultaneously but in parallel. Though even an informal collaboration between the two on this matter would be politically impossible, the spirit of “professional courtesy” is aligned with respect to soft-pedaling criticism of a mutual third party who has given them both unnecessary grief.
Future American Geopolitical Real Politik
If the Democrats win the upcoming elections it would behoove them to continue and refine Trump’s no-nonsense American diplomatic Warrior Wolf style otherwise the momentum will be lost with foreign slackers who revel in the US doing the heavy-lifting and avoiding real responsibility for decades. The hammer has been added to the diplomatic toolkit for purposes of rethinking and re-setting relationships.
One crisis to apply this tactic are the most insidious crisis such as climate change and related issues such as supply chains. The pandemic has exposed the fact that these global organizations were ill-equipped from an organizational and decision-making perspective to respond swiftly. For this reason withholding funding or membership withdrawal applied cleverly can be effective in motivating behavioral change in these international institutions to reorganize and become efficient and effective.
The usual diplomatic language has failed to meet the urgency for a robust and genuine global collaboration to tackle climate change which is why unvarnished tough talk at the highest levels is required.
Taming the Linguistic Taboo
This new 21st century governmental foreign policy public relations playbook practiced tactically at the highest levels can compel counter-parties to overhaul their sclerotic procedures and accelerate means to provide solutions to critical issues like climate change and other urgent matters.
As hyper-aggressive hedge fund owner Bobby Axelrod in the popular TV series “Billions” says, “No one walks away from a negotiation happy.” There will always be [back-door] political deals but reaching solutions can still be achieved by overcoming administrative and operational dysfunction.
In sum the pandemic represents a fresh start - a wake-up call – to be better prepared for the inevitable future crisis. Perhaps future crisis may not as daunting as the present-day one; insidiously they may be far less intense but diverse occurring in short-order creating a compounding effect.
Copyright 2020 Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC
Indo-Brazilian Associates LLC is a NYC-based think-tank and advisory service that provides prescient beyond-the-horizon contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on energy investments, geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.