China = Future Ally?

24.04.08

Categorie: Alliances, Asia |

China1 “China will not be our biggest future enemy but our most important ally,” Thomas Barnett, he of “Pentagon’s New Map” fame, writes in the latest GOOD Magazine:

A significant portion of our national-security establishment wants desperately to cast China as an inevitable long-term threat. Why? Part of it is simply habit, as most who argue this line spent the bulk of their professional lives in the Cold War and just can’t imagine a world that doesn’t feature a superpower rivalry. For those who need to fill that hole, China is the best show in town, because its military buildup allows these hawks to argue that America must buy and maintain a huge, high-tech military force for potential large-scale war with the Chinese.

My counter is this: China’s military buildup is not historically odd. America did the same as it became a global economic power in the late decades of the 19th century. Remember Teddy Roosevelt and the Great White Fleet? It’s the same logic we see with China today.

But won’t events put China and the United States at odds — say, over the strategic issues of fostering stability in the Persian Gulf? Hardly. Right now the United States imports only about one-tenth of the Persian Gulf’s oil exports, with the vast bulk heading east to Asia. Frankly, there’s no sense in the strategic equation “American blood (spilled) for Chinese oil (imports secured).” As China’s oil imports skyrocket in coming years, unlike ours, do you think that’s a politically sustainable situation?

My larger, more long-term fear is that by keeping China our preferred threat, we deny ourselves access to its significant military manpower and growing budget. With Europe and Japan both aging dramatically and China’s strategic interests ballooning in unstable regions, this makes no sense. Better to lock in China as soon as possible as the land-power anchor of an East-Asian version of NATO. The sooner we achieve that, along with Korea’s reunification, the sooner we can draw down our military in the region and better employ it in hotter spots around the world, eventually with Chinese (and Indian) troops helping out.

Tom’s posits nine other reasons why we shouldn’t fear China. Check ‘em out.

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6 Responses to “China = Future Ally?”

  1. Keith says:

    Now this is good sense

  2. Michael says:

    We are already in bed with China. 80% of everything on Wal-Mart’s shelves has some nexus to China and our monthly trade deficit with them is in the Billions. In fact we are less like allies and more like an economic hand puppet to the Chinese.

    Nice site by the way…found you via Blogrush

  3. barebones says:

    excuse me? ALLIES with the ChiComs? I’d rather see China turned into a glow-in-the-dark parking lot, if you get my drift.

  4. UnknownTarget says:

    May I ask why? Granted, China’s human rights violations are quite atrocious, but these days we’re not much better morally. Strapping in with China as an ally could either usher in a new US/China hegemony (bad), or set up the world for an era of peace and cooperation (good).

    Why would you want to nuke the country that pretty much has kept the US afloat for the past couple years?

  5. Mir says:

    Even in view of the human rigths violations, it is tactically not sane to assume that the US can keep up with Chinese military.
    As the Iraq war has shown, toy-sized low-tech equipment (China’s specility!) are very powerful against million-dollar equipment …
    Why waste resources? There are more urgent issues in Africa!

  6. eric says:

    Finally someone is speaking with some cool-headed objectivity. The US needs to stop behaving insecurely and casting China as villain, which leads to subconscious acts to undermine China (such as helping WWII Aggressor Japan to occupy Chinese territory even today.) If you act as if someone is your enemy, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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