A century ago, the world was dominated by the great naval powers—Great Britain, above all, plus other western European countries, the USA and Japan.
But in 1904 a geographer named Sir Halford Mackinder warned that this was going to change. He said the advent of the railroad made it possible to unify the interior of Eurasia—what he called the Heartland—and create a base of power that the British, American or other navies could not reach.
Today the leaders of China are making that vision come true. As the second map above shows, they are extending their access to the resources and markets of Central Asia, Russia and Europe.
Unlike the USA, the Chinese leaders don’t seek military dominance except in their immediate geographical area. Overseas military colonization and conquest is not the historic Chinese way. The historic Chinese expectation is that the rest of the world will come to them, and pay tribute.
The Chinese strategy has a military component, but it is based mainly on investing in infrastructure. Step-by-step, this investment adds to their power. American projection of military force drains our power.
I think we Americans should learn from the example of the Chinese. Instead of trying to dictate the politics of the Middle East and encircle Russia and China with military alliances, our government would do better to build up our own long-range strength, by investing in infrastructure, education, scientific research and industrial development.
It should go without saying that we need to protect ourselves from military attack, espionage, cyber-warfare and economic penetration, but that is different from going around the world looking for trouble.
The United States is well able to flourish in a world of other strong countries, but we don’t make ourselves strong by a futile effort to undermine China’s strength.
The Geopolitics of America’s Global Decline by Alfred McCoy for TomDispatch (via the Unz Review) I disagree that China’s rise is a necessarily a problem for the United States, but this is an excellent article.
U.S. wakes up to New (Silk) World Order by Pepe Escobar for Asia Times. Pepe Escobar has been writing about the economic integration of Eurasia for years now, with great insight.
Why China has the upper hand in the South China Sea by Barry C. Lynn for Reuters. The reason China has the upper hand is that the USA depends on China for vital manufactured goods, while China has no need of U.S. goods.
“One Belt, One Road” May Be China’s One Chance To Save Collapsing Economy by Tyler Durden for Zero Hedge.
For American pundits, China isn’t a country, it’s a fantasyland by James Palmer for the Washington Post. I guess I’m one of those pundits, since I have no first-hand knowledge of China. James Palmer points out that China has serious problems, and its grandiose plans may fail. Just because something is drawn on a map doesn’t guarantee it will happen. But if China fails, that doesn’t in and of itself make us Americans any better off.
Click on the maps to enlarge them.