The Irony of Empire

The United States Navy is concerned abour the recent increases in defense spending by the Chinese government. Admiral Donegan has claimed that a stronger Chinese military will result in “destabilizing” the Southeast Asian Region. This is interesting,  considering that this budget increase to $71 billion is still massively dwarfed by our own defense spending of over$680 billion.

This is the inevitable problem with building an empire. Once you’ve established yourself as the “policeman of the world” or the “sole remaining superpower,” you immediately create a competition to see which nation can dethrone you first. Sure, for ten or twenty years you may go largely unchallenged, but eventually somebody’s going to take the rug out from underneath you, especially if you’re the sort of superpower that meddles in everyone’s business. Then, not only are the people opposed to you motivated by nationalism, but also by vengeance and hatred.

Consider for a moment, the past 60 years of US foreign policy, and the possible effect this would have on Chinese-US relations. In 1950 the United States went to “war” with South Korea against North Korea. China perceived a threat to their national security and sent literally hundreds of thousands of soldiers, tanks, and aircraft to beat the South Korean-US advance. The end result of the war was stalemate, but US forces have never completely left the Korean peninsula alone. Even today, we still attempt to dictate North Korea’s military policy.

Vietnam was much the same story. After we invaded, China felt that her sovereignty was being threatened, so the Chinese Military sent fighter planes and pilots to help the North Vietnamese struggle against the Americans and the South Vietnamese. In the end, the US completely pulled out, eventually setting up a good trading relationship with Vietnam. However, again we see Chinese and US foreign policy interests directly collide.

Then there’s Taiwan, or as it terms itself, the Republic of China. Once again, America came to Taiwan’s “rescue” by establishing a trading relationship in which we provide arms and military protection against mainland China, whcih still claims Taiwan as part of its territory. This means that we maintain at least two carrier battle groups (the best measure of American military strength) in the South China Sea. It means that we steadily patrol the international waters around China, and basically get in China’s face any way we can. On top of this, we have forces stationed in the Middle East, conflicting with China’s strategic oil interests.

US Military Bases Around the World

This military interventionism essentially creates a large perimeter around China, giving the US a direct advantage militarily. Up and to this point, China has not had the economic success the US has had, but the times they are a-changing. China is specifically developing a military that can deter foreign interventionism — in other words, US interventionism. Is it really that surprising that, given our history, China would seek to be able to defend herself against us?

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