by John Brian Shannon
It was fascinating to read the Project Syndicate article by Former US Secretary of Defense Harold Brown on America’s trouble with China discussing some of the history and modern-day challenges to Sino-American relations.
Although I have the greatest respect for former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, I respectfully disagree with his proposed solution to the present challenges. Starting a new Cold War to secure America’s future is a step backward — not a step forward.
Rather, as both Western and Chinese interests converge at so many levels in the modern paradigm, it is in our best interests to work on solutions together.
Instead of the “Win – Lose” thinking of the past, it is incumbent upon us to find ways to “Win – Win” as so much is at stake.
We survived the last Cold War, but that is no guarantee we would survive another one. It’s simply too big a risk to take — especially when there are better options available. And, there are.
The former Secretary of Defense states that; “China’s export-led economic model has reached its limits…” and I believe this is a most profound point.
IF China has reached it’s export-led model as he asserts, it has only done so because there are presently a lack of purchasers to purchase Chinese goods.
For years, China has manufactured products to sell around the world and as long as there has been plenty of disposable income in the West, there has been plenty of sales.
As the Western economies fell backwards — so did Chinese exports.
Funny how that works.
In case policy-makers haven’t yet reached the same conclusions as I, let me say the situation I describe above is easily verifiable and directly correlates with the economic events of the early 21st century.
Whether political leaders in the U.S. or China like it or not, the relationship has been, is, and must continue to be, a symbiotic one.
China NEEDS a healthy, stable and frankly, a wealthy Western world to sell it’s wares to — and the West needs a source of low priced goods to assist growth to continue at lower cost than otherwise would be the case.
The U.S. needs a large export market for its billions of tons of coal and millions of barrels of petroleum that it must sell every year to support those industries here.
By 2017 the U.S. will surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s #1 oil exporter — according to the IEA — but in actuality, this may occur in 2015.
Not only that, so many products are manufactured by American corporations in China at lower cost than they could be here — therefore personal happiness is enhanced on a massive scale by products Western consumers can afford. Thanks China!
And without a healthy China (and Japan) who will continue to buy all those T-Bills to float the American economy? Along with all of the other China-driven (and increasing yearly) investment and purchasing of American goods and services.
For the next few decades, the only politics that make over-arching sense will be the politics of economics. For now, more than ever, the politics of self-interest will be the politics of economics and the politics of economics will be the politics of self-interest.
The stronger the Chinese economy, the better the effect on Western economies and Western governments. The stronger the American and other Western economies, the better for Chinese exports.
Any other model will be a lesser model and will bring it’s own problems with it.
As for the long-range bomber advocated for by former Secretary Harold Brown. I too, want a strong, secure and freedom-loving North America — but let us hope the days of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) are over.
Instead of sabre-rattling and an ever-present nuclear threat, let us hope that our thinking as a species has moved on.
A Pentagon report laid it out in stark terms a couple of decades back, “it is not a case of if, but of when” a nuclear exchange will take place under the MAD paradigm.
If we can’t co-exist, if we can’t form and retain viable and symbiotic relationships with other nations — every one of us will be dead, eventually. And then, none of it will matter.
That’s not the goal I’m working for.
JOHN BRIAN SHANNON
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