The U.S. and China

Photo by Brady Bellini on Unsplash

‘Leaders’ of nations often speak as though the course of events can be controlled sufficiently for a nation to ‘live up to its word’ in perpetuity. That is foolish nonsense.

The U.S. was being foolishly arrogant when it ‘guaranteed’ the independence of Taiwan forever. It’s a shame, but we have to accept that Taiwan’s fate will be that of Hong Kong. A peaceful transition is the best we could ever have hoped to achieve. Once this nation (the U.S.) made (and repeatedly reasserted) that ludicrous claim, all we accomplished was to ensure that one day the shame would be ours.

On a larger scale, since World War II the only power that could challenge the U.S. singly, the Soviet Union, never had a real ‘blue water’ navy, other than submarines armed with ballistic missiles. That limited in many ways its ability to project its power beyond its borders: the only card it had to play was the threat of nuclear annihilation. China is determined to have such a navy. We must accept that it will be a reality in the near future. We need to have already started accommodating that reality in our relations with China. The goal must be ‘freedom of the seas’ — which China has no reason to reject — not continued control of the seas by the U.S.

As a general approach, the more a nation that is ‘on top’ respects other nations and recognizes the legitimacy of their aspirations (which will expand and contract in various ways over time for various reasons), the better for the world and for it in the long run. We are now on the wrong course, but if we were to acknowledge forthrightly the changed circumstances of China — and therefore the basis of our relations with that nation — it is not too late for the U.S. (and Europe — and Russia) to be partners with China in a new global era of general (though in this world it basically will never be total) peace. If we could at least put an end to war based on ideology and differing systems of government among those nations, that would be a big start.

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Stephen Yearwood

unaffiliated, non-ideological, unpaid: M.A. in political economy (where philosophy and economics intersect) with a focus in money/distributive justice