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Is the world of tomorrow stamped "Made In China?"
With the increased tension regarding North Korea, their missiles, and their potential nuclear weapons, a great deal of attention is being paid to that region of the world. And as Sherlock Holmes would point out, the truly fascinating element is the "dog that does not bark."
China is, for better or worse, the dominant player on the Asian front. It has the most people, a very powerful military, and a tremendous economy -- the three elements a nation needs to be considered a "superpower." Further, for over half a century, they have been North Korea's patron, to various degrees. In fact, at several points over that time, North Korea could have been considered a vassal state to China.
Right now, North Korea's conduct is serving China's interests. They are drawing attention to themselves, they are keeping the other Asian powers (mainly the United States and Japan) on edge, and they could provide very useful real-world intelligence on those nation's defensive systems, especially in regards to anti-missile systems.
For years, China has expressed great interest in American military secrets. During the Clinton administration, they went on a buying spree and helped themselves to some of our most sensitive
This has, if anything, intensified their efforts. They know who has the best weaponry, the most advanced and effective military technology, in the world, and they want to know how it works.
Likewise, China is pushing the hell out of its economy. Its economic ties to the West are almost uncalculable. With its nigh-infinite pool of skilled workers and cheap wages, it can freely undercut most other manufacturers and steal away tremendous amounts of business. One need only go as far as the nearest Wal-Mart to see shelf after shelf after shelf of merchandise that literally sailed around the world to sell for a fraction of what the plant down the street would have had to charge.
Now I'm no Sinologist, but I do know enough to see that China is playing a very different game than any we have played before. They see themselves as dominating first their region of the world, and then eventually the whole world. They see themselves not only as a superpower, but the logical and rightful heir to America's title as "hyperpower."
How badly do they want it? Badly enough to build up a huge military. Badly enough to embark on a plan that has taken them decades to reach this far. Badly enough to wait even more years to achieve it.
The question is not whether the United States and China will eventually have a showdown. That is inevitable. The questions are much simpler: when, how, and who will win.
Our conflict with China will be unlike any other. We may never fight them on the land, on the water, under the water, in the skies, among the stars, or in places we can't even imagine. It's already taking place in the stores. And they're winning.
So, what is the next move in the Chinese playbook towards domination? I haven't the slightest clue. But it is coming.
They intend to win, too. Can we say the same?
Posted by Jay Tea · 13 July 2006 04:30 AM
If the 'war' is really an economic one, then I think the best thing the United States can do is just continue as we are - our economy is enjoying stunning growth right now, with low unemployment, and rising tax revenues leading to a decreased budget deficit. We are running at a full tilt, economically.
China also faces the prospect of some really horrendous domestic problems that we don't have here. There is genuine class warfare going on there between the new rich and everyone else who has been left out, working in factories for pennies a day. With the Falun Gong movement, and active dissident movements, access to cutting edge communication technology makes another Tiananmen scenario quite likely.
We could expect that a fully democratized China that has removed the communists from power would be much less of a threat militarily.
Posted by: Ken McCracken at July 13, 2006 09:12 AM
Only problem I have with the China analogy is the old saying "when goods cross borders troops don't"
China is completely dependent on trade with the west. It would be economic suicide to go to war with us and risk their econmy collapsing. They may last a while, but in the end they will be bled dry. We control the sea, no question about it. We will control the air, no doubt about it. They will control the land for sure, but we don't want their land. We will just shut them down. and after the dust has settled, they will be even more impoverished then they are now.
Arming Japan and Taiwan will most certainly get the chinese in high gear to reel in "me so ronry" man. Just watch, when japan announces it is going to amend its constitution and build an army all of the sudden NK will be ready for 6 party talks and will go back in their hole and be quit. till a democrate is in office and sends tough as nails jimmy carter over there. scary thought.
Posted by: christian at July 13, 2006 09:29 AM
Of course we can win. We need only to produce more individuals capable of invention, thought, and productivity such as: journalism majors, education majors, actors, politicians, and MBAs. Throw in some "progressive thought" to the mix, and we'll have the ultimate substance fully capable of stopping all folks with true creative ability in their tracks. Our only real hope is to export these types to China where they will completely destroy what the Chicoms have created. The only problem is: The Chineese would (quite properly) exterminate them.
Posted by: Da Coyote at July 13, 2006 10:37 AM
Posted by: lester at July 13, 2006 11:51 AM
China also faces the prospect of some really horrendous domestic problems that we don't have here. There is genuine class warfare going on there between the new rich and everyone else who has been left out, working in factories for pennies a day.
Let us not forget Three Gorges and the Chinese government's central control of the economy when put at odds against people's lives. Estimates of various damn project displacement have over 10M people already displaced by dams in the last few years. How is this equality--moving people from their homes that many had had for hundreds of years to flood the entire region to produce power for their Industrial Complex and for workers in Beijing, etc., to have less coal burning power plants to pollute the air. Workers in the major cities already live far better than farmers.
You hear all over the news about how China is modernizing. But very little of China is. Rural China feeds the big cities, but lives in total poverty. The big cities are ultramodern and relatively wealthy. The original idea of the revolution was equality. That is what Communism is all about. But this is not equality. This is the folks that enjoy the use of the tools of production living much better than those that don't and class disparity. I think I read about this once. It seems the guy that wrote about it had some ideas about conflict between the classes eventually leading to revolution where the agricultural workers took back the tools.
You see where I am going with this. And if not for the size of the chinese army and their ability to control large areas, and the ability to suppress news articles and information, we would hear a lot more about it.
Posted by: Justin B at July 13, 2006 12:04 PM
There could well be full scale agrarian social revolts in the coming years. It is hard to find places in Chinese history where such revolts weren't happening. Due to 'family planning' the population is skewing dangerously to the male side - which means there will be literally millions of disaffected men who can't find wives.
There has been muslim unrest and terrorism in Xinjiang for ages. China has more native minority groups than any other nation on earth.
There are just incredible centrifigul forces at work in China, it is amazing they have come along as far as they have.
Posted by: Ken McCracken at July 13, 2006 01:53 PM
china is in a honyemoon period. everyones happy about them embracing capitalism they are looking the other way on the human rights, environmental and imperialist moves. it won't last
Posted by: lester at July 13, 2006 02:10 PM
How right you are. We keep hoping that China will become more open and more democratic since they seem to be embracing Capitalism, but the reality is that Capitalism and Free Markets cannot exist without free speech, free movement, democracy, and choices. State planning of a Capitalist Society is an experiment that is ultimately going to fail.
Reality is that an internal revolt in China is a huge risk and could propel China either back to its Maoist roots or into a chaos like Russia has become. And ultimately Russia is now less Capitalist or Communist, but almost completely totalitarian. It is highly corrupt and run by what amounts to a mafia.
We keep hoping that "China will modernize" which means accepting Capitalism and Democracy without violent revolution, but that is a pipe dream. It cannot go on like this for much longer before some major changes happen.
Posted by: Justin B at July 13, 2006 02:20 PM
justin- well their roots go back far beyond Mao of course. check out the essay I linked, or rather pasted, earlier in this thread. China has a strategy that is paying off thusfar.
Posted by: lester at July 13, 2006 03:26 PM
Just read it. Pat is a little on the isolationist fringe of the far right.
China's military build up is not just to be antagonistic against the US, but moreso, to suppress dissent within. We are not China's enemy. Discontent Chinese citizens are their enemy.
And you are quite correct about the way a Marxist Utopia works and the fact that China is far from it. The leaders of China enjoy massive wealth. Business leaders in China rival the Capitalists that Communism was supposed to eliminate. It is a failed experiment in Communism, but as long as they retain the ability to suppress their people, they can maintain power. That is not an indefinite proposition though and sooner or later, they will lose control. No political or economic transition has ever been completely smooth.
Posted by: Justin B at July 13, 2006 04:42 PM
China also has an obsession: taiwan
Posted by: lester at July 13, 2006 06:42 PM