Mark Helprin of the Claremont Institute contributed an opinion to the Wall Street Journal today about China’s rising prosperity and military capability, and how America should respond. It’s a little reactionary, but worth reading.
Like many of the Cassandras alarmed by the shifting balance of global power, Helprin sees the rise of potential threats to American dominance growing unimpeded, as though China and the rest of the world won’t face any problems in their ascent to parity with the United States (or regional competitors). But just like America is sometimes burdened with foolish leadership and buffeted by storm tides, so the rest of the world will experience problems of their own. Not least, in China’s case, a vast, restless, and still very poor population.
That said, it’s hard to argue with much of Helprin’s logic. China’s GDP has grown on average by 9% per year for twenty years. They are building nuclear subs, and are planning for both asymmetrical and conventional war. Without trying to be overly cynical, planning for a war with China – which would put this little police action against the terrorists in stark relief – seems prudent.
Knowing this, what should we do?
Naturally, Helprin suggests a military buildup; a thousand ships, 40 carriers, a thousand F-22s.
I am afraid to agree, but if I had to choose, I would probably do the same.
We just need to get our financial ship in order first (or simultaneously), or America truly will find itself in a bipolar (or worse, Chinese unipolar) world.
Here is a more optimistic view from Chris Patten, the former governor of Hong Kong.