Great Challenges Are Ubiquitous but Americans Can Best Them

Wherever one looks, it seems that the U.S. is on the backfoot. In domestic U.S. politics, it seems that there is no bottom. The U.S. is in unchartered territory. The country is unmoored from its sources of political and economic stability. The country is drifting from a constitutional republic towards the one-party rule definitive of an authoritarian state. The consequences, if realized, will be permanent: Americans will lose their birthright of liberty, the country, and the Republic, which has brought more benefit to the world than any other form of government in human history.

The shared understanding of our political ideology, culture, history, principles, and norms is well under assault by the left. Many years in the making, this was evinced in the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid against President Trump in August 2022. It is shown daily in the efforts to prevent Trump’s election in November and his entry into office in January 2025. This includes four major criminal and civil court cases for which President Trump is the target of lawfare. Today, he faces 91 felony counts and more than 700 years in prison if convicted.

The relentlessness of this legal warfare is exemplified by the Trump organization being ordered to pay a $464 million bond with interest of $112,000 accruing daily, and if unable to post it, the state threatens to seize his property. Further, if Trump is elected and the Democrats were to gain control of the House of Representatives through the resignation of anti-Trump Republicans, then the Democrats have indicated they will enter a new phase of this political warfare to keep him from entering office by refusing to certify the 2024 election results.

The onslaught on the Republic took an even darker turn this past week as former White House top aide Peter Navarro was imprisoned for four months as the courts adjudicate the issue of executive privilege that had been established law, a first in American history. His emergency appeal to Chief Justice Roberts was denied in a cowardly act which revealed once again the two standards of justice that are in existence today in American jurisprudence. The actions against Trump and Navarro are a clear and unambiguous warning to all Americans that the Democrat Party will not tolerate opposition.

Deep economic instability matches the political. Inflation, the cost of living, housing, and great doubt about the health of the economy due in large measure to the U.S. debt are of great concern to Americans. Particularly as the $2 trillion budget deficit and the almost $35 trillion national debt grow at rates that are incomprehensible. That sword of Damocles is poised to fall, even as early as this year.

These are just a few of the signs of the profound ideological upheaval that is being faced by the U.S. today as traditional political liberalism and Marxism “with an American face,” that is, “progressivism,” vie for control of the American mind.

Profound social instability is multifaceted, from the collapse of civil society ramp crime to squatters taking property from legal homeowners, the hollowing out of American communities and the opioid crisis, to the attack on American identity. This instability is seen most acutely in the open borders of North and South America, which is a disastrous and lawless event that will change the country forever. The images of the Texas National Guard soldiers being overwhelmed at El Paso are archetypical, searing, and will be lasting. Those images will echo around the world to all global audiences. Like those images of the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, they are now a symbol of U.S. weakness, a weakness that has not gone unnoticed by U.S. allies and enemies, most importantly by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The trouble also extends to the U.S. military. Recruitment is down for the services. The personal changes and the change in military culture entail the risk of losing the professional military that won not just World War II but the Cold War and wars in the Middle East. The services need modern weaponry to deter the PRC and Russia, and this is under strain too. For the U.S. nuclear force posture, the new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, the Sentinel, which will replace the long-serving Minuteman III, and the USS Columbia, which will replace the USS Ohio-class SSBNs, are both beset with delays while the PRC’s nuclear arsenal expands at an alarming rate. Not all news is bad; there is some good, as the B-21 strategic bomber is entering production to add needed numbers to the U.S. strategic bomber force. But this is the rare exception.

The U.S. Army and Air Force are under stress, as are the Marines and the Space Force. Yet it is U.S. naval power that shows the deepest cleavages between what is needed for U.S. national security and what the U.S. possesses. U.S. naval power is not what it should be to meet the global threat of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), Chinese Coast Guard, and People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia, as well as threats from Russia, North Korea, Iran, and their Houthi proxies. The U.S. Navy is now fighting in the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb, and Gulf of Aden.

For example, the Department of Defense announced there is a one-year delay for the new USS Enterprise, now to be delivered to the Fleet in the fall of 2029. Moreover, the Navy also announced there would be a one-year delay in ordering the next nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. This follows the troubled start and ongoing problems with the electromagnetic aircraft launch system and advanced weapons elevators of the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78).

Worse still is the new defense budget for fiscal year 2025. While funding the creation of six new warships, the administration plans to decommission 19 ships and thus decrease the overall number of warships, well below the 292 currently in the Fleet—the lowest number since before WWII and a far cry from Ronald Reagan’s 600-ship Navy. In sum, the glide slope for U.S. naval warships is headed down, with no chance to even reach the stated and fluctuating, yet inadequate, goal of 350 warships in the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan. Also impacting the Navy’s FY 2025 budget is the recent news that our shipyards are not able to build the two nuclear attack submarines (SSN) as planned. Hardly surprising given the Office of Naval Intelligence assessment that the PRC’s shipbuilding capacity is 250 times greater than that of the USA. As a result of this strategic situation, there is now a six-year delay in the USS Boise SSN’s overhaul, which is a damning budgetary delay that jeopardizes readiness.

Deployments are adversely impacted too. For instance, NATO’s ongoing exercise “Steadfast Defender” (with over 90,000 personnel), the largest since the end of the Cold War, will only see one U.S. Navy large deck amphibious ship and one guided-missile destroyer deployed to this Northern European-focused exercise. This stands in stark contrast to previous such exercises when the U.S. Navy would lead NATO naval forces by deploying a Carrier Strike Group (CSG) and/or an Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG). At the time of writing, there are no CSGs or ESGs in the Mediterranean Sea, which is hard to comprehend when U.S. national security interests in Europe have worsened with the Russian war against Ukraine and the conflict in Gaza, where American hostages are still held and American soldiers and sailors are at risk as a port is constructed and, once finished, will be manned. Moreover, within the neighborhood, international shipping is under attack.

This list of crisis deficiencies is the result of a single party and their “progressive” policies, supported by the PRC, to hasten the demise of the United States. While these challenges are great, they can be reversed by strong leadership that empowers the American people to harness their energies of individualism and patriotism to get them back.

Throughout almost 250 years of history, Americans have had a belief and confidence in their country that can be harnessed again to reverse these poisonous and destructive policies that have placed the U.S. on the road to authoritarian rule. If you are reading this, then you have a duty to explain to a new generation of Americans the importance of freedom and liberty, the rule of law, and the principles of the American Revolution, that is, “the Spirit of 1776.”

Learning American history and culture, and thus comprehending why the Marxist left is truly anti-American, is essential. These differences must be stated directly and emphatically to our next generations in order to illuminate the choice they face as Americans. The future of the U.S. will be defined by its ideology of political liberalism or by the ideology of Marxism. Depending on the resolution of that issue, the U.S. will remain free or descend into tyranny. The country is now at a decision point—Americans must come together as before and save this nation from destruction, as we have done before.

James E. Fanell and Bradley A. Thayer are authors of Embracing Communist China: America’s Greatest Strategic Failure.


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About James E. Fanell and Bradley A. Thayer

James Fanell is a government fellow at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, a retired captain in the U.S. Navy and a former director of intelligence and information operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Bradley A. Thayer is a Founding Member of the Committee on Present Danger China and the coauthor with Lianchao Han of Understanding the China Threat.