Graham Allison’s much-heralded new book warns that China’s challenge to American strategic dominance sets us on a path to war. He calls this peril the “Thucydides Trap,” because he claims that it is similar to other great-power conflicts in history, above all Athens’ challenge to Sparta before the Peloponnesian War in 431-404 B.C. Expanding on a 2015 Atlantic essay admonishing American planners to avert a looming war with China, Destined for War urges Americans to accept China as a great power.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster distributed a dozen copies of Allison’s book to senior National Security Council staff earlier this year.
The Thucydides Trap thus demarcates a crucial turn in the thinking of America’s foreign policy Establishment. Through most of the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, conventional thinking held that America would promulgate the liberal international order in the Middle East and elsewhere, while China would struggle with the internal weaknesses inherent in a dictatorial regime.
Allison says China’s economy will continue to grow in breadth and depth to challenge America and America must accept it.
Allison notes that China’s economy has soared on a purchasing power parity basis from 10 percent the size of the US to 60 percent in 2007, 100 percent in 2014, and 115 percent today.
Nextbigfuture feels the good news is that neither the USA or China have global military dominance as a top priority
Those within China’s military and the US military have a similarity to Moriarty in the second Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes movie.
Moriarty – War in an industrial scale is inevitable; they’ll do it themselves within a few years. All I want to do is to own the bullets and the bandages.
I will discuss the non-global military focus of the USA and China. Fortunately peacetime and small wars are safer and more profitable than an actual major war.
The top priority of China’s military is party loyalty. The number one task is to maintain order within China and to keep Xi Jinping and the communist party in power.
Xi recently said “The military should be “unswervingly loyal” to the ruling Communist Party and “extend the battleground to wherever the party points towards”.”
In 2016, the People’s Liberation Army and the nation’s armed police are set to stop providing all paid services in a move to curb corruption and make the army more loyal and focused on combat. The reform, first announced by President Xi Jinping in November, is expected to be completed in three years, according to a recently released document by the Central Military Commission, the army’s official newspaper PLA Daily reported.
So IF this program succeeds then China’s military is to get out of the for profit businesses they have set up by around 2020.
The cut will end the military’s decades-long participation in business, marking the further modernization of the PLA and following the practice of most developed countries of banning their armed forces developing commercial interests, said Wu Ge, a Beijing-based military commentator.
Former president Jiang Zemin ordered a ban on military business operations in 1998, but paid services were allowed to support military spending and train technicians. In recent years, the provision of paid services had become a source of “regulation violation and corruption”, necessitating the ban, it said.
Some paid services offered by the military included health care and construction projects. Wu said banning such services would hurt the interest of many officers, who relied on them as a source of grey income.
China has no experience whatsoever in modern war. Its last experience of armed conflict was in 1979 when it abysmally failed to teach Vietnam a so-called ‘lesson’. Border scuffles with India and the USSR in the 1960s and sending peasant armies into the Korean War in the 1950s scarcely rate as modern combat.
At one military exercise in the summer of 2012, a strategic PLA unit, stressed out by the hard work of handling warheads in an underground bunker complex, actually had to take time out of a 15-day wartime simulation for movie nights and karaoke parties. In fact, by day nine of the exercise, a “cultural performance troupe” (common PLA euphemism for song-and-dance girls) had to be brought into the otherwise sealed facility to entertain the homesick soldiers.
Apparently becoming suspicious that men might not have the emotional fortitude to hack it in high-pressure situations, an experimental all-female unit was then brought in for the 2013 iteration of the war games, held in May, for an abbreviated 72-hour trial run. Unfortunately for the PLA, the results were even worse. By the end of the second day of the exercise, the hardened tunnel facility’s psychological counseling office was overrun with patients, many reportedly too upset to eat and one even suffering with severe nausea because of the unpleasant conditions.
US is the dominant Global Military power but is not really serious about it
A Navy investigation concluded that recent fatal collisions with commercial shipping was because of incompetence and lack of training. The Navy chose to handle budget limitations by reducing training and maintenance instead of procurement.
The US has been constantly involved in many small wars, but the Pentagon and Congress does not view them as serious or major wars or they have not had official war declarations and have not elevated any general to five star.
The Army rank of 5 Star General is only specifically handed out at wartime during the most extreme of circumstances as it was during both World War 2 and the Korean War (their awarding date follows their name). The last Five-Star rank was held by General Omar Bradley until his death in 1981. Bradley became five star Dec 20, 1950.
The evidence for higher importance being placed on the military industrial complex is the hundreds of billions being overpaid for the F35 fighter program and overall price inflation for submarines and other military equipment. $14 billion for an aircraft carrier and $5-6 billion for submarines.
In 2010, the defense industry spent $144 million on lobbying and donated over $22.6 million to congressional candidates. This does not account for the jobs that go to retired military officers.
Halliburton gained $39.5 billion in “federal contracts related to the Iraq war”.
In 2014, the Pentagon’s top-100 contractors had obligated contracts worth $177.6 billion and this fell slightly in 2015 to $175.1 billion, according to government figures.
In May 2008, there was a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing, “Defense Base Act Insurance: Are Taxpayers Paying Too Much?” There was also a series of congressional hearings in 2011 after the multiyear Commission on Wartime Contracting found that at least $31 billion, and as much as $60 billion, had been lost as a result of contract waste and fraud. However, for roughly a decade, there has not been a single hearing focused on the overall responsibilities borne by contractors in U.S. military activities.
The Defense Department continues to spend more than half its contracting dollars without legitimate competition between vendors, according to its Office of Procurement and Acquisition Policy.
A competition scorecard for the third quarter of fiscal 2016 released this week by the office shows that of $205 billion awarded in contract spending across DOD, only $101 billion was competed.
That compete percentage, about 49.7 percent of total contract spending, falls short of DOD’s stated 57 percent goal for fiscal 2016, and indicates a continuation of almost a decade of declining competition across the military space for everything including IT systems, professional services and weapons systems.
The mercenary army that began as Blackwater and is now known as Academi was a top recipient of Pentagon contracts for training Afghanistan’s security forces from 2002 to 2014.
The 2015 report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) also includes the surprising disclosure that IBM—a company not generally known as a defense contractor—was the largest beneficiary of a Pentagon program to stabilize Afghanistan by facilitating private investment in its vast mineral wealth.
Both findings were included in a SIGAR report that attempts to account for $66 billion appropriated by Congress to the Department of Defense for Afghanistan reconstruction. Altogether, the government spent $104 billion between 2002 and 2014 for the program. The Pentagon issued the bulk of the contracts, and the rest came from the Department of State and the US Agency for International Development.
Of the $66 billion spent by the Pentagon, however, SIGAR said DoD could only report on $21 billion, or less than one-third of its total. It accounted for the huge “discrepancy” to differences in executing contracts between “DoD and Federal accounting systems.” The Pentagon was also “unable to provide” contract data from the pre-2010 time, SIGAR said.
Virginia’s Loudoun County boasts an eye-popping median household income of $125,900, tops in the nation, according to 2015 Census Bureau estimates, the most recent available. Almost 10,000 Loudoun residents commute to D.C., but the vast majority of residents find plentiful well-paid job opportunities close to home – the top local employers are Dulles Airport, the Department of Homeland Security and the Loudoun County Public Schools.
Loudoun County also houses a large amount of technology companies and data centers — up to 70% of the world’s Internet traffic flows through Loudoun’s data centers each day.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.