Like most Americans, I once believed the U.S. was the superpower, who ruled the world with its free-market dollar, Navy fleets and ballistic nuclear missiles. Japan and Korea were child-states that needed our protection. Israel, too. When certain of our children misbehaved in the Middle East the U.S. military set them straight.
We have a simpleton President who still believes that.
The simple truth is that, in the past decade, the U.S. has lost control of the Middle East. It hasn’t seemed to register to my family and friends. The simple fact that Russia now controls more territory (Crimea) has been yawned over. The fact that most Asian countries now have economies dependent on the health of China’s markets (China is Japan’s number one export destination), well, that’s doesn’t calculate either.
That China once had the largest navy armada in history is never mentioned. That no European country was able to keep its colonies through navel power, which should be obvious to anyone, well that too, is conveniently ignored because the changes rarely happen in one’s lifetime; though they are now.
It is no coincidence that the past two Presidents of the United States (Obama and Trump) have focused inward while Russia and China have grown both economically and militarily. Even Obama, in an uncharacteristically mean-spirited comment said Russia’s economy “doesn’t produce anything that anybody wants to buy,” except oil, gas and arms. The only way Russia can affect the U.S., he said, is “if we lose track of who we are” and “abandon our values.”
That’s false. Russia and China are weakening us because we have ignored the strength of their “values” while the rest of the world hasn’t.
First, like the historical dissipation of Chinese, European or Russian naval power, the U.S. faces the same problems that ultimately destroyed them all — they’re just to dang expensive to operate and don’t make money themselves. Every gallon of oil or seaman’s paycheck the U.S. spends to patrol the South China Seas, China spends on economic growth.
What do you call someone who questions the economic cost of American defense-spending? A “libtard”. We’ll see. That our Navy is so overstretched that sailors fall asleep and crash into other ships is a truth stranger than fiction.
The “values” Obama talks about, where our military creates free trade which benefits the dollar and U.S. creativity, only works if everyone buys in. That is, if Japan and the rest of Asia believes our control of the South China Seas allows it to sell cars and cameras to us, then it will ultimately support it.
The question most Americans don’t ask themselves is, from a purely selfish economic point of view, does any country care who keeps trade open, The U.S., Russia or China? Is the U.S. military really necessary for global trade in this day and age?
Historically, China and Japan have been enemies because China believes, and has always believed, all Asian countries should bow before it. Okay, so the U.S. is protecting Japan from China? What does the U.S. get out of it? Simple. After WWII the U.S. wanted to protect itself from future attacks from Asia. It’s a cold-war political sleight of hand that the U.S. is protecting Japan from others in Asia.
The realpolitik has always been that the U.S. can protect itself from Asia, at large, if it protects Japan and South Korea (and other Asian countries) from China, Russia and Europe.
After WWII the U.S. never expected that China would become the power it has. The rest of Asia had a clue.
What happens when China’s economic might eclipses the U.S. (which I, for one, believe it has)? It brings us back to the question what makes any nation strong. History teaches that the economy is the horse; the military is the wagon. China learned centuries ago that letting the wagon pull the horse is bad government. Where China erred is believing their society, no matter how superior in thought, can avoid problems when other nations innovate better weapons.
China may have invented gunpowders. But it didn’t invent advanced artillery, radar or super-sonic aircraft technology. In the World Wars, it was caught flat-footed. Anyone who believes China will make this mistake in the next few centuries is, if I may joke, smoking opium.
The U.S. can no longer protect Japan or South Korea because it simply doesn’t have the economic might to do so. At this rate, Asia will formally kowtow before it in the next twenty years. The Philippines have already fallen in line.
Trump’s tariffs against steel and aluminum, mostly directed against China, is the move of a President who has probably never read a single book about China, economics or anything else for that matter. Worse, the American manufacturing lobby, who is bending the President’s ear, live in the past. China could stop selling steel to the U.S. entirely and it wouldn’t affect its economic growth; China produces more steel than it needs. We’ll see if the same can be said for our consumption when steel prices rise.
To the leaders of Asian countries the tariffs are a clear sign that the U.S. is just plain stupid. If the U.S. was serious about China it would stop intellectual property theft. It might stop the Chinese from building military bases in the South China Seas. That said, we’re probably past the point of no-return to American isolationism.
If China were able to negotiate an alliance with Vietnam, South Korea and other Asian countries, only Japan would remain. Japan, a country with kids masturbating into plastic tubes while playing video games and a geriatric population. Sorry to be so crude.
The bottom line is that China means what it says, that is isn’t looking to exercise military might. It’s success and growth is based on business administration. A case can be made that China has been a land of MBAs for millenia. Anyway, low-cost manufacturing and piggy-backing on others R&D has worked just fine, as it did for Europeans and Americans centuries before!
That brings me to Israel. Russia and China are dividing up the Middle East and Africa. Russia has developed defensive missile technology to equalize against American air-superiority. Both Russia and China have strong militaries and satellites. I’ll cut out all the interesting details. If Russia wants to prevent Israel from creating a buffer zone between it, and the rest of the Middle East, through its air-force, it can do so.
If China or Russia want to help anyone blow an American ship or plane out of the sky, they now have the technology to do so. Obviously, they’re very careful to keep that close to their vest. For anyone who cares to look, there’s evidence from the 1980s-era Falklands War that the age of Navy superpower ended right then. Like the Russians today, the French worked with Argentina close enough to prove their capabilities of their hardware, but not so much to drag the U.S. into the conflict.
Like China, Russia just wants trade and money. It’s not into the soft-and-fuzzy “values” of the West where the public can freely debate old statues, transgenders and collecting guns. Most people in the world just want more money in their pocket. America, of all places, should appreciate that they once wrote the book on that!
If Russia, China and the U.S. get into a proxy war at the end, it may be Israel where the battle will be fought. Or maybe Japan. Israel jets are already being shot down. North Korea fires ballistic missiles over Japan while the Chinese chuckle in private.
Don’t get me wrong. Israel and Japan can defend themselves and more.
The question few Americans can be bothered to ask is the following. Leaving aside the question of America defending Israel or Japan. For their own preservation, will Israel or Japan ultimately side with Russia/China or the U.S.? And if they accept Russia/Chinese tutelage, what will America be left with? (Hint, people who work in the defense industry have pensions).
Freedom of ideas. Which will win again, in the end. Not winning now. Tariffs? Anti-immigration? Going the wrong direction. Laughably so, for now.