Beware of Pandemic America

March 20, 2020 Topic: History Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: Donald TrumpPandemicCoronavirusRussiaChina

Beware of Pandemic America

Note to China and Russia: despite appearances, the time of coronavirus may not be an opportune time for you to chisel away at America’s global standing.

Jacksonians get their dander up after a sucker punch. They demand to muster overwhelming force, surge abroad to crush the attacker, and come back home to resume life as usual.

Jacksonians find their place in the sun in the aftermath of a Pearl Harbor or 9/11. It’s doubtful they would be cowed by coronavirus or other troubles if the United States or its vital interests came under assault. In fact, the appearance of treachery could do just the opposite, giving rise to an America that’s more Jacksonian than Old Hickory himself. According to Mead, the United States is a political organism with dominant and recessive traits. It’s hazardous to apply the stimulus manifest in a sudden attack, knowing you may recombine America’s strategic DNA in scary ways.

Take it from the classics, or for that matter from imperial Japan and al Qaeda: you may not be interested in Jacksonian America, but Jacksonian America may be interested in you!

James Holmes is J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy at the Naval War College and the author, most recently, of A Brief Guide to Maritime Strategy. The views voiced here are his alone.

Image: A U.S. flag flutters as the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered super carrier, departs for Yokosuka, Japan from Naval Station North Island in San Diego, California August 31, 2015. The Reagan is replacing the USS George Washington as part of a complicated three-carrier swap that exchanges crews for ships, saving the Navy millions in moving costs. REUTERS/Mike Blake