Friday, May 18, 2018

People Keep Writing America Off

Will China's economic and military rise and assumed replacement of America as the largest power lead to war with America in the manner of Athens and Sparta, which has been called the Thucydides trap?

This author fears it could:

The ultimate result was that Britain and Germany followed the ancient example of Sparta and Athens: the incumbent power and the rising power ended up going to war. The Harvard political scientist Graham Allison calls it the “Thucydides trap,” after the historian of the Peloponnesian War.

Are the United States and China on the way to repeating this classic historical mistake? Having just spent a fascinating week in Beijing and Shanghai, I fear they may be.

China’s economy has already, by at least one measure, overtaken that of the United States.

I don't think so.

I don't know if China will pass us by in power--other than granting them the handicap of Purchasing Power Parity to bolster their statistics; I don't know if China can hold the lead; America will retain a geographic edge in deployable power; and I think the sheer distance between China and America is a factor that lessens the fear caused by a power transition.

Also, remember that both the Athens-Sparta and later British-German examples of this trap involved a power strong in land sea power versus a power strong in land power.

Right now, American military power is stronger than China's across the board.

As for the New Silk Road China is building across the interior of Asia as a means to help China pass America by?

Go for it! I think that will divide China's growing power between a naval focus and a ground focus--just as the Kaiser unwisely sapped his ground power to build a large fleet still unable to challenge the British.

I just wouldn't be so eager to come to terms with China in an effort to salvage something on the incorrect assumption that China is destined to be the dominant power.

People wrote off America in the face of a rising USSR, a rising Japan, and even a rising European Union. America held off those challenges.

Now China is to be the challenger that replaces us? Maybe. But it might not happen. And it might not matter if it does.