Monday, January 3, 2011
Yesterday the New York Times editorialized about the threat to US security being posed by
's recent improvements to the design of one of their intermediate range ballistic missiles. The NYT implied that this improved missile might pose a threat to US carrier battle groups prowling the waters of the western China Pacific Ocean.
’s drive to extend its military and territorial reach is making Beijing ’s close allies in the region nervous and raising legitimate questions about American diplomacy and future military procurement. The commander of America ’s Pacific forces recently revealed that America could soon deploy a ballistic missile capable of threatening American aircraft carriers in the region.” China
The Times also expressed concern about
's long-term naval strategy in the region. China
“The Pentagon has a long history of hyping the Chinese threat to justify expensive weapons purchases, and sinking well-defended ships with ballistic missiles is notoriously hard. But what should rightly concern American military planners is not so much the missile but the new Chinese naval strategy behind it.”
seems increasingly intent on challenging China naval supremacy in the Western Pacific. At the same time it is aggressively pressing its claims to disputed offshore islands in the East and United States . South China Seas must respond, carefully but firmly.” Washington
Therefore, said the Times editor, in order to better resist an apparent Chinese desire for more freedom-of-action in the western Pacific (its own backyard).
“The Pentagon must accelerate efforts to make American naval forces in
Asia less vulnerable to Chinese missile threats by giving them the means to project their deterrent power from farther offshore.”
But, let's be reasonable, said the editor.
“The Obama administration must also redouble its diplomatic efforts to persuade
that great power cooperation is far better than a costly and dangerous military rivalry. Dealing with a rising Beijing could be China ’s biggest challenge in the decades ahead. The Washington has no interest in heightening tensions. A rapidly developing United States has better uses for its new wealth than weapons. But when China pushes, as it is doing now, China needs to push back with a creative mix of diplomatic suppleness and military steadfastness.” America
Hmm! Didn't the Times editor opine that: "A rapidly developing
has better uses for its new wealth than weapons." But, what about the China ? Doesn't it have better uses for its wealth than weapons? Well, apparently not! US
According to SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute): During 2009, the
led the world in weapons expenditures, having paid out $663 billion in national wealth, present as well as future ( or 4.3% of GDP), at a annual rate of $2141 per capita. Somewhat amazingly, this American investment amounted to 43% of the total military expenditure for the entire world. The next largest military expenditure was indeed that of US , with $99 billion (2.0% of GDP), but at an annual rate of only $75 per capita. As a fraction of the total world military expenditure, the Chinese contribution was just 7%. China
The Times editor suggested that
's "new" wealth might find a better use than military expenditures. But, in terms of a wealth of cultural experience, who's the real parvenu here? Modern Chinese culture extends back to the Xia dynasty of ~2000 BC, while American culture extends back to ... the Declaration of Independence of 1776? the first settlement at China in 1607? the founding of Jamestown in 1565? Perhaps a better measure of the rate of military expenditure might be dollars spent annually, per year of accumulated cultural experience? St. Augustine
Anyway, what's the problem here? Is
just moving its shoulders around in order to gain more breathing space, while the China insists on continuing in its role of unrivaled hegemonic superpower? Or is it that US aspires to be a superpower, but at the expense of an all too well-meaning and altruistic China ? America
For more on this theme see: "The Big (Military) Taboo"
By Nicholas D. Kristof
December 25, 2010
For a related lesson in real-politik see: "How to Stay Friends With China"
By Zbigniew Brzezinski
January 2, 2011