This past week’s announcement that the United States would station 2,500 Marines in Darwin, Australia is a positive development for American foreign policy. Incidentally, seven years ago I made this recommendation as part of a student group in a defense management class I took in graduate school.
My recommendation’s rationale was to ensure that the United States military could deploy a force anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours. In contrast, America’s arrangement with Australia likely is a hedge against an increasingly aggressive and expansionist China. That said, the ability to deploy forces quickly anywhere in the region is also probably an important factor.
Whatever the motivation, I commend the President on his strategic move.
“aggressive and expansionist China”
Thanks to the Western media, China appears to be aggressive and expansionist. However, if that is true the motivation has more to do with oil, food, consumerism/China’s expanding middle class, and a national interest in Beijing that says China has to keep the people satisfied or else.
Now, if one day China has as many aircraft carriers as the United States (instead of one used model bought from Russia after it sat around unfinished for more than two decades), then we may have something to worry about. If we added up all the aircraft carriers in the world, the US would have more than half of that fleet. Even India and Thailand have one aircraft carrier each so why can’t China have “one” too?
In addition, when China starts building and operating military bases worldwide outside China to match the 700 to 800 the United States maintains outside the US, then we would have cause to worry.
China’s history isn’t one of military aggression outside China. Mostly, Chinese merchants do the most expansion beyond China’s borders.
In fact, China is ranked third for military strength behind Russia and the United States, which is number one. Source: http://www.globalfirepower.com/
However, the job of several hundred thousand Chinese troops is to deal with environmental disasters in China, and maintain national roads & railways, etc. Those troops aren’t really focused on combat.
In my opinion, the belief that China is aggressive has more to do with the fact that no Western power has beaten China as totally as the West beat Japan and Germany at the close of World War II, which led to a total defeat of those two nations that are still occupied by US troops. The closest comparison I can think of is two dogs fighting until one dog rolls over on its back to expose its belly and throat to the victor. Japan and Germany rolled over but China has never done that. I suspect that many in the West will never trust China until it rolls over and admits defeat—totally, which may never happen.
“Thanks to the Western media, China appears to be aggressive and expansionist. ”
To be fair, the Chinese have embedded logic bombs in our electric grid, stolen Google’s source code, and hacked into major defense firms stealing the plans for American stealth technology. Several years ago, a Chinese pilot brought down an American surveillance aircraft by flying recklessly close to it. The Chinese have also stocked up on cheap missiles to threaten Taiwan across the Taiwan Strait. They have developed “carrier killer” missiles, and have destroyed one of their own satellites in space, creating an array of debris rotating at speeds that threaten to bring down any other foreign satellites in their path. They have also quietly been building fortifications in the Spratly Islands, even though 6 other countries lay claim to the oil and gas resources that exist there. So these claims are not without merit.
“However, if that is true the motivation has more to do with oil, food, consumerism/China’s expanding middle class, and a national interest in Beijing that says China has to keep the people satisfied or else.”
That said, I agree with you here, that this is primarily want is motivating Chinese actions. The Chinese must basically create 25 million jobs a year, or else. When the American Congress speaks of slapping on tariffs against the Chinese, I believe Congress fundamentally misses the point you raise here. If China must choose between internal security or satisfying WTO provisions, China will choose internal security 100% of the time. Why shouldn’t they?
“China’s history isn’t one of military aggression outside China.”
A fair point. The only real instances of Chinese aggression in the last sixty are so years have been limited forays abroad. These included Korea in the early 50s, India in the early 60s, and Vietnam in the late 70s.
“In fact, China is ranked third for military strength behind Russia and the United States, which is number one.”
I agree with this characterization, though they have more military manpower than either of the two.
“Japan and Germany rolled over but China has never done that.”
That depends. The Japanese certainly had their way with the Chinese until the United States intervened.
You said, “To be fair, the Chinese have embedded logic bombs in our electric grid, stolen Google’s source code, and hacked into major defense firms stealing the plans for American stealth technology.”
However, from what I’ve read, it is difficult to know if it was the Chinese government or a Chinese hacker (just a citizen similar to US citizens that have hacked into the defense department grid) that hacked into major US defense firms. In addition, the stealth technology that China is developing was bought from Russia, which was developing it during the Cold War before the Soviet Union collapsed. How much American stealth technology actually came from the US is questionable and even then this technology was not invented in the US.
Are you aware that steal technology was originally the spoils of war after the US defeated Nazi Germany ending World War II.
In fact, much of the advances of the US space program, including stealth technology, came from Nazi scientists that provided the US with cutting-edge technology, which still leads the way today…
The BBC says, “The range of Germany’s technical achievement astounded Allied scientific intelligence experts accompanying the invading forces in 1945.
“Supersonic rockets, nerve gas, jet aircraft, guided missiles, stealth technology and hardened armor were just some of the groundbreaking technologies developed in Nazi laboratories, workshops and factories, even as Germany was losing the war.”
Some of these German scientists should have been tried as war criminals due to their role in crimes against humanity during Hitler’s ethnic cleansing war in Europe but because of what they could contribute to the US defense effort during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, many were given a free pass and allowed to immigrate to the US and become American citizens.
It might be fair to claim that this technology is up for grabs since America cannot honestly claim it as an American innovation but as the spoils of war.
You said, “A fair point. The only real instances of Chinese aggression in the last sixty are so years have been limited forays abroad. These included Korea in the early 50s, India in the early 60s, and Vietnam in the late 70s.”
While mostly correct, since the brief conflicts in India and Vietnam were limited, I feel Korea does not fit that description. The Korean conflict was a major war that has never been resolved. Millions died and even more were displaced leading to one of the worst Draconian dictatorships in history—North Korea.
You said, “The Japanese certainly had their way with the Chinese until the United States intervened.”
It could be argued that the Japanese didn’t have their way with China.
Japan invaded China in 1937. The US didn’t enter the war until 1941. Nationalist and Chinese troops fought the Japanese for about five years—most of the pitched battles were fought by Nationalist armies under Chiang Kai-shek.
In fact, Hitler’s Germany supported China up to 1938 when Adolf Hitler wanted to form an alliance with Japan against the Soviet Union. Before then, Germany was supplying weapons and armaments to China in trade for raw materials and helped China modernize its industry and military.
Then the Soviet’s also wanted to keep China in the war to hinder the Japanese from invading Siberia. To achieve this, Soviet technicians upgraded and handle some of the Chinese war supply transport. In addition, the Japanese never conquered all of China and only occupied a small portion of the countries eastern seaboard and not even all of that.
This link will take you to a Wiki post that has a map showing the extent of Japanese control of China during the War. During World War II in China, the Chinese Nationalist Army had 1.3 million KIA while the Chinese Communist forces lost another 500,000.
Chinese Nationalist estimates claim that Japan lost 1.77 million troops with another 1.9 million wounded, so Japan wasn’t having an easy time of it, and the US only entered the picture after Pearl Harbor. Considering how much territory was still under Nationalist and/or Communist control, Japan having its way with much of China and paid a heavy price for what little territory they did hold.
On another point, China may have more military troops but hundreds of thousands of those troops are not equipped or trained to fight a major war and in fact are used for dealing with environmental disasters such as floods and earthquakes, and when they aren’t being rushed to disaster zones, most of them are out repairing and building roads and railroads—basically a infrastructure construction force wearing military uniforms more skilled at using picks and shovels and mixing concrete. In fact, it will take decades for China to even come close to matching America’s superior military technology and hardware. There is no way that China’s military could win a modern all out war against the US—at least not for the next few decades.
You said, “Several years ago, a Chinese pilot brought down an American surveillance aircraft by flying recklessly close to it.”
True, a Chinese pilot was careless and paid for his recklessness with his life while the US crew eventually all came home. To be fair to China, how would the US react if a powerful nation that was allies with one of our enemies (For China, the Nationalists in Taiwan) were flying spy planes close to our national borders and we didn’t have the capability to do the same thing.
If the situation were reversed, there is a good chance some hot dog of a US pilot would fly too close to a Chinese spy plane and might cause a collision. In fact, during the Cold War, it was common for both US and Soviet pilots to play this dangerous game to see who could come the closest before one or the other chickened out and swerved away.
The Chinese pilot was playing the same game and because his judgment was off, he lost his life.