Key general blasts government-run broadcasters for failing mission to promote U.S. values abroad

'They're supposed to be presenting the U.S. side, not the side of ... a murderous regime," retired Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding III says.

Last Updated:
May 28, 2020 - 9:36am

The retired general who helped craft President Trump's national security strategy is warning that America is losing the global battle for hearts and minds to authoritarian regimes because its government-run broadcasters like Voice of America have stopped "promoting American principles abroad."

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding III told Just the News that the government-run news agencies have tried to imitate the free press in America instead of fulfilling their mission to inject American values into non-Democratic countries.

Meanwhile, authoritarian regimes in China, Russia, Iran and North Korea have used technology developed in Silicon Valley to stifle democracy, worsening the equation, he added.

"What the Chinese Communist Party has become so adept at is adopting the technologies and business models of Silicon Valley, to promote their authoritarian-based, totalitarian system. And so they're deploying that, you know, in places like Iran and Russia, they're sharing that technology and that know-how, and so it is very difficult," Spalding said in an interview with the John Solomon Reports podcast.

"One of the things that prevents us from actually breaking through that is that we essentially in 1999, got rid of the U.S. Information Agency, which is really an organization designed to promote public diplomacy, you know, American principles and American values. And so Radio Free Asia. Radio-Free Europe, Voice of America have all been infiltrated and slowly been, you know, not promoting American principles abroad," he added. "In fact, when I was in the White House and we are having riots in Iran, our Voice of America and Radio Free Asia [were] essentially retweeting the Tehran regime's talking points.

"They're conflicted because they think that meeting journalistic standards means they have to give equal weight to what these totalitarian regimes say. That's not their job. They're not CNN, they're essentially an arm of U.S. public diplomacy, and they're supposed to be presenting the U.S. side, not the side of essentially a murderous regime."

Spalding is one of the military's most respected strategic thinkers, and a China expert. Early in the Trump administration, he was assigned to the National Security Council as its director of strategic planning and helped produce Trump's December 2017 National Security Strategy that sought to define the strategic American interest in each region of the world.

After retiring last year, he authored "Stealth War: How China Took Over While America's Elites Slept," a book detailing how China's rise was facilitated by American complacency dating to the Bill Clinton years. 

In the interview, Spalding said for more than two decades U.S. policymakers mistakenly believed creating free trade with China would move it toward democracy, but Beijing simply used America's good will and capital to build its authoritarian empire globally.

"A lot of political elites on both the right and the left, essentially, were co-opted by the Chinese Communist Party," he said. "And so we fed into this idea that openness, globalization, the internet would lead to the promotion of our economic system, and democracy globally. In fact, what's happened is [China is] trying to just use those three policy areas to essentially re-engineer the global economy so it benefits them."

Spalding laid out a five-point plan for the United States to regain the upper hand with Beijing that includes:

  • Building a nationwide, encrypted, industrial internet fortified against cyber war, and theft;
  • Making tariffs against Beijing permanent;
  • Starving China of U.S. capital by cutting off American investment in Chinese companies, stocks and bonds;
  • Encouraging U.S. companies to start re-investing in American manufacturing that brings critical supply chains back home; 
  • Diverting some military funds to increase U.S. capabilities in science, math and technology skills.

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