Red Might Rising

Matt Gurney is a columnist and editor at Canada’s National Post. Follow him on Twitter: @mattgurney


Pages: 1 2

As if the remaining Iraqi commitments and ongoing heavy combat in Afghanistan aren’t enough, the U.S. military is finding itself increasingly aware that, while the United States has waged a costly war against Islamism across the globe, China has been rising. The Chinese have quietly but steadfastly developed their military forces and are asserting themselves in the Pacific Rim waters that America dominated for almost three generations. Even as America has canceled or curtailed costly military programs to free up funds for the ongoing wars in the Muslim world, China has been pushing ahead with its own military modernization. While it still lags behind the United States in certain technological areas, China has rapidly closed the gap and fields a largely modern military that is still catching up.

The rise of a competitor power is not inherently a bad thing for America, and might even have provided opportunities for the two powers to cooperate to bring stability to chaotic parts of the globe. Even if the two powers were to become vaguely antagonistic, the return to a world divided between two opposing, but stable, forces might itself have served a good purpose by restoring balance to an unstable geopolitical environment. But there are serious questions as to whether or not China is interested in a friendly, or even cordial, relationship with the United States. There are plainly some who view America not as a potential ally or merely an economic competitor, but as an enemy, plain and simple.

The toughest talk emanating out of Beijing comes not from the ruling Party itself, but from the armed forces. A whole new generation of military officers have spent their entire careers being taught that the United States is the primary enemy, the most likely force China would face in a conventional war. As reported in The New York Times, Huang Jing, an expert on the Chinese military, described the country’s military philosophy in regards to America in simple, stark terms: “All militaries need a straw man, a perceived enemy, for solidarity … Chinese military men, from the soldiers and platoon captains all the way up to the army commanders, were always taught that America would be their enemy.”

Professor Jing is mostly right. It was not always this way. Indeed, it was not all that long ago that China looked upon America as a natural ally. After the Sino-Soviet split, a particularly nasty spat between the communist states, the Chinese found comfort and security in an unofficial partnership with America. China was not then a military power capable of waging a war against either of the superpowers, but forced to choose between an ideologically hostile but distant United States or an ideologically compatible but threatening neighbor in the Soviet Union, China wisely chose America as the best bet in the event of a nuclear war. It has only been since the Soviet Union collapsed into a feeble, demoralized Russia that the United States has come to serve a purpose again as a useful “other” for the Chinese military to concern itself with.

There is no imminent risk of war; China has not spent decades and untold billions just to throw it all away in a short, violent techno-war with America that it would still lose (and even if it were to fight to draw, the American superiority in nuclear weapons would still loom over Beijing’s mind — unlike America, Beijing has no anti-ballistic missile defenses). But the challenge China’s rising power and increasing belligerence pose for the United States is very real. America’s military faces at least a decade, probably more, of constrained budgets, but no real hope of vastly diminished responsibilities.

Pages: 1 2

  • badaboo

    China rising ??? Gee ,ya think ? And more ironic , is that we are [and have been ] paying for that .
    We've sent jobs and ideas oer there for decades , NEVER considering the cost .That is not the cost to corporations who got CHEAP LABOR , [and shoddy goods for us to BUY ]so they could make higher PROFITS .
    We've IGNORED the tremendous TRADE DEFICIT , for the sake of those same corporations [and politico's in their pocket ].WE have given them the spending money , so that they have spent almost 30% of their GNP on military .
    They OWN US in the way of buying our debt via T-Bills etc.
    What ….did somebody just WAKE UP ?

  • Robert Lang

    If it wasn't for nuclear weapons, Europe and the U.S. would be speaking Chinese (or Russian).

    • John Beatty

      NEWS FLASH—CHINA HAS NUCLEAR WEAPONS! NEWS FLASH!!!!

      • Rifleman

        I believe he's talking about our nukes. They kill their own by the millions, they wouldn't waste half a second deciding our fate.

    • skepticsam

      Well, we will be speaking Arabic soon anyway if the mooslims get their way.

  • R/T

    Talk to ANYONE who has[ or had ] a new idea or product , their BUISINESS PLAN ALWAYS includes having that product , MADE IN CHINA and shipped back here . THIS is the MAIN REASON , that the MIDDLE CLASS is disappearing ., not the "strawman taxes argument " .
    But I guess all the wizards in this country have forgotten basic economic laws , like the Law of Diminishing Returns , exacerbated by jobs lost to overseas manufacturing , by which we became more of a services based economy rather than the worlds most powerfull manufacturing entity , that we have always been . So now who in the hell is going to buy all those shoddy goods produced overseas ?
    It's no wondder Unions are seen in such a bad light ….remember those MOSTLY UNION bumper stickers – "Buy American , the job you save may be your own " ? Well nits come to fruition but with a double-whammy .

    • John Beatty

      Talk to ANYONE who runs a business and their primary need is for skilled workers who show up past the first paycheck. Those are becoming increasingly hard to find in Buy America! because unemployment rewards bad behavior, all paid for by the taxes and fees every business pays but no indiviual does.

      There are plenty of jobs, but the schools aren't producing those who can fill them.

  • badaboo

    So dont go blaming this on the right or the left , blame it on the greedy corporations who have both in their pockets . Economic policy in this country , has been deterrmined by these corporations and their lobbies ."Free Market " my arse !!!

    BTW , badaboo and R/T are both ME . {badaboo already got bounced frlom Anti.war blog ] So this is no attempt at deception , but just an oversight ]

  • Robert Lang

    The commenters on this site seem to blame our problems on China. OK, so would they ban all Chinese products, or products that have parts made in China? You would have riots by the American public who would be deprived of cheap (and often quality) products. The question to ask is, why can't Americans produce quality goods at cheap prices. The answer can't be totally that Chinese work for less money, because Chinese have to buy housing, food, health care, etc. etc. just like we do. We have to ask why is labor so expensive in the U.S.. And why do companies move operations off shore. Its not always because of cheap labor. Its because of a hostile business environment. In fact, go ask the companies that stampede out of California to cheaper states in THIS country just why they are doing that. And ask the middle class why it is abandoning California (and New York State). There is a lot we can do to make at least some jobs stay here, without banning Chinese products. (I would add though that China does have slave labor camps, and no unions, which is amusing, because I remember when Chinese students formed a union in a local college in the U.S. and complained of discrimination).

    • Wesley69

      I agree with most of what you say. We don’t want to start a trade war with China so banning products is out. Not to mention they still hold much of our debt. Doing want them dumping it or we are up s###‘s creek. Much of our manufacturing has departed for countries paying their workers much less than our minimum wage. NAFTA has been blamed for our job loss, yet we have Mexicans crossing the border to do jobs Americans think are beneath them. Unemployment compensation is a better solution for them. The Chinese people do not have near the standard of living we have enjoyed. Riots may occur here as that standard deteriorates. Labor costs and government regulations have made the cost of business here in the US expensive. If the Progressives have their way, Cap & Trade will stick it to business. The present administration’s attitude is anti-business as it tries to further its social justice agenda, certainly unlike China, whose priorities are reversed. The thing that has hurt US business when it tries to compete with China is that China subsidizes many industries with government money, so that they have a leg up on the competition.

  • John Beatty

    There's a fundamental flaw here, and a complete falsood in the first paragraph. The primary enemy for China has been since 1949, TAIWAN, not the US. The US dosen't even appear in the top five of the Chinese list of threats; India, Russia, North Korea and Vietnam are much more concerning for them.

    Further, China lacks bases and seagoing support. Mahan would tell you that without overseas bases no naval power can maintain a presence beyond the horizon of their weapons and the range of their fuel and capacity to make fresh water. China as a serious, long-term strategic naval threat is laughable, bordering on the ludicrous. They are a far more serious economic threat to the US than they are naval or military.

    • Rifleman

      Good points, but we are the primary enemy of communism, and they are still communist. Not only are they a threat, they are the greatest threat the USA faces. They would likely be free and an ally now, if it wasn't for bill clinton and the dp.

    • Chezwick_Mac

      Codswallop! China is in the process of building their first aircraft carrier, which means force projection anywhere they want (I have little doubt a second carrier will be started upon completion of the first).

      The idea that Vietnam or North Korea are more of a perceived threat to China than the USA beggars belief. Geo-politics is obviously not your strong suit.

    • Rock Nelson

      Sorry China doesn't need bases to attacj Japan or Taiwan. The Chinese navy is perfectly capable of underway replenishment and water production. The problem is the US 7th fleet, The sailors are barely trained, cannot fix their own equipment and spend most of their time engaged diversity training or ponbdering qaulity of life issues. I don't fault the sailor , I fault the moronic leadership of Roughhead and Mullen. I am paid a large salary as a civilian to do what I used to do as a junior NCO years ago.

  • Jack

    With our manufacturing base shifting oversaes many of the components to our best weapon systems are not manufactured here. Much of the high-tech tachnology is manufactured in Asia.

  • William_Z

    The island dispute between Chins and Japan, ultimately over oil reserves, is not over and is a taste of the (our) future.
    http://www.euronews.net/2010/10/16/island-dispute
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/

  • flamefront

    This all starts with Kissinger.

    • Wesley69

      And it worked at that time. Nixon recognized reality by acknowledging that the Communist government in Beijing ruled China, not the Nationalists on Taiwan. Too bad he didn't recognize China's claim in return for Chinese intervention against the North Vietnamese.

  • Wesley69

    As long as China holds our debt and we continue to buy Chinese products, China, its economy, its military will grow. With the many trade, mineral agreements, China is making in Africa, South America and the Mideast, China's interests are no longer inward, but outward. Why is an aircraft carrier needed, but to project power. Bases in friendly countries may soon follow. Even in the Panama Canal, a subsidiary of a Hong Kong-based company with Beijing ties, runs port operations at both ends of the canal.

  • Wesley69

    The time will come when China will demand the immediate reunification of Taiwan with the Mainland. The question for us becomes is it war or appeasement? War isn’t in either country’s interest. But does Munich follow? If we appease China, how will Japan, S. Korea, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand react? Will they ask whether American guarantees are worth anything? If Taiwan is handed over, where do we establish a new defensive perimeter? The only way to stop aggression is to convince the other side you are willing to go to war to stop him. In the past, it was called brinkmanship. For this administration, it is probably a strategy best forgotten.

  • anon

    For a view on why the Chinese are antagonistic, look here: http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/globlogization/201

  • badaboo

    To the Chinese , economics IS a form of warfare , and they approach it the same way .