How will we win the second Cold War?

Three candidates come to mind.

The first is nationalism. Since China’s leaders abandoned orthodox Marxism, nationalism has been one of the two pillars of the regime’s legitimacy (the other is the rising standard of living). Nationalism explains Beijing’s truculence when it comes to its maritime and territorial claims against its neighbors, its massive arms buildup, its escalating threats to Taiwan and its habit of wearing out its welcome even in countries it seeks to woo.

But the problem with assertive nationalism is how the neighbors react. Japan is engaged in a major military buildup, with China topmost in mind. Australia is moving, a little awkwardly, to curb Chinese influence. Vietnam keeps edging closer to the United States. Washington doesn’t have to encourage nationalism in order to benefit from it. But the best thing the administration could do to solidify this quiet containment is re-enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which the Trump administration so heedlessly trashed.

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