By Aaron Kliegman Despite residual resistance, it’s now widely accepted to refer to the competition between the US and China by its rightful name: the second Cold War. Critics will argue that invoking the American-Soviet conflict of the 20th century is needlessly provocative, even warmongering. But in this case, it’s simply descriptive. Indeed, as the prominent historian John Lewis Gaddis explains, the original Cold War was distinct from other cold wars, conflicts between two sides that never directly fight, because of its ideological aspect. The US wanted to defend democracy and capitalism; the Soviet Union wanted to spread totalitarian communism. Today, China similarly wants to supplant the US in a bid for global supremacy, overtaking the American-led international order and imposing its own form of communist authoritarianism. In the coming years, this contest will define the kind of world we inhabit and pass on to our children. The stakes couldn’t be higher. Fortunately for the US, it has something critically important that China doesn’t: friends. The US has a network of dozens of alliances around the world, including several in the Indo-Pacific region. China has North Korea. It’s true that China has several partnerships and is pursuing its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an ambitious Chinese enterprise to integrate Eurasia (and Africa) by building and financing roads, railways, and pipelines by land and ports by sea. But the BRI is crumbling, and China’s relationships are largely about money and influence. They aren’t enduring. As Winston Churchill said, there is only one thing worse than fighting with allies, and that is fighting without them. The same can be said of allies fighting a cold war with everything but guns and bombs. Which is why it’s important that, according to reports, President Joe Biden plans to meet this month with the leaders of Japan, India, and Australia in a virtual summit of the so-called Quad, a strategic forum among four of the Indo-Pacific’s biggest democracies. (Yes, the US is a Pacific power.) The Trump administration smartly embraced the Quad, and it’s encouraging to see the Biden administration follow suit. One just needs to look at a map to see the importance of Japan, India, and Australia as a group in countering China’s aggressive expansion. The three countries — all with large economies and potent militaries — broadly encircle China, giving the US a potentially advantageous strategic position. It’s no secret that Japan and China are historical rivals, even enemies. But in the recent past, India and Australia haven’t always been willing to antagonize China. Today, however, they are increasingly willing to confront the Chinese government. Australia has enraged China by probing the origins of the coronavirus and opposing Beijing’s egregious efforts to eliminate Hong Kong’s autonomy. But the key here is India, the world’s largest democracy and a behemoth with immense economic and military power — not to mention nuclear weapons. The current rivalry between China and India is one of the most consequential and too often overlooked global developments — a true geopolitical earthquake-in-waiting. Early last summer, Chinese and Indian soldiers clashed along both nations’ contested border in the remote Galwan Valley. India says 20 of its troops were killed, while China disclosed just last month that it lost four of its troops. Four months later and some 1,500 miles away from the battle, the Indian city of Mumbai experienced a major blackout. According to a new study by Recorded Future, a private intelligence firm, China was responsible as part of a larger Chinese cyber campaign against India. These are hardly isolated incidents. China is actively building and financing ports across the Indian Ocean, where the Chinese military also has submarines lurking. Meanwhile, India has ballistic missiles pointed at China. China’s imperialism and global ambitions have helped create an adversary in India, whose top military official said this week that a “belligerent” China will “continue to assert itself, seeking to establish dominance in states surrounding India.” The Indian government has been actively strengthening strategic relations with both the US and Japan in recent years. India is fiercely committed to its autonomy and will likely never enter a formal alliance with the US. But it can become an increasingly close partner of the US, working in close coordination with America’s formal allies to check Chinese expansion. The next meeting of the Quad is a perfect opportunity for the US to bolster these relationships, which are far more enduring than most of China’s partnerships. Indeed, the Biden administration should seek to create an informal coalition against China, with India being a crucial member. China poses a daunting challenge to the US, but Washington must remember that it is in the superior position. Friends, partners, allies — they’re all great to have in international relations, and America has plenty of them. China, however, has almost none and seems poised to make more enemies. India seems to be one, and the US must be ready to capitalize on that mistake. Newt hosts monthly virtual events in which he discusses news of the day and why it matters to you and your community. These Newt Live events are your opportunity to communicate directly with Newt. We hope you will join us next time and let Newt answer your questions and provide his insight on the issues that concern you most. JOIN TODAY to be a part of this special event and receive a BONUS GIFT. Click here to join Newt’s Inner Circle.