There’s a school of thought that says the Reagan administration brought down the Soviet Union by conducting an arms race that the USSR couldn’t sustain.
A smart writer named Mike Whitney thinks Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter plans to use the same strategy against China.
China is on track to become the world’s largest economy in less than 10 years. But the thinking is that this could change if China is forced to devote significant resources to defending its position in the South China Sea.
This is a perverse idea—that a peaceful China is a greater threat to American global supremacy than a militaristic China would be. It shows the wrongheadedness of world military supremacy as a goal.
And there’s a question as to whether it would even work.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates that the USA’s military budget for 2014 was $581 billion, while China’s was $129 billion.
American military spending was estimated at 3.3 percent of the total US economy (gross domestic product) while China’s was 1.2 percent. Russia’s military spending was an estimated 3.7 percent of GDP.
The Chinese might well be capable of quadrupling their military spending while sustaining economic growth.
They have other options. They could embargo vital electronic components that we Americans no longer produce. They could stop buying U.S. Treasury bonds, which would add to cost of financing the U.S. budget deficit.
And while the burden of the Cold War may have brought the Soviet Union to the brink of collapse, it was an endurance contest that also sapped the strength of the United States.
We Americans would do well to follow the example of the Chinese and build up our own nation rather than dissipating our strength in undermining others.
Seven Days in May? Carter Takes Over by Mike Whitney on the Unz Review.