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Monday 10 June 2024

Why China and others are Winning


The West has been dominant in the world for so long that many westerners can’t really comprehend that the dominance of the West is coming to an end in our day. Another problem that stems from this is that many westerns can’t see that the way that the West thinks and acts is no longer the superior course of action in many arenas, our intellectual elites are behind the curve ball, you could say. The reason that China is overcoming the United States and its allies is not just because they make everything, well almost everything, but because they think about this world in far superior way, and this includes how they think about war.

Here is an example of why China, and its allies, are winning,

“The same factors are all affecting the use of the means of war. It is becoming obsolete to automatically consider military action the dominant means and the other means supporting means in war. Perhaps, in the not too distant future, the military means will be only one of all the available means in wars such as one of fighting terrorist organizations of the bin Laden category. A more effective means that can strike at bin Laden in a destructive way is perhaps not the cruise missile, but a financial suffocation war carried out on the Internet…

…As the arena of war has expanded, encompassing the political, economic, diplomatic, cultural, and psychological spheres, in addition to the land, sea, air, space, and electronic spheres, the interactions among all factors have made it difficult for the military sphere to serve as the automatic dominant sphere in every war. War will be conducted in nonwar spheres. This notion sounds strange and is difficult to accept, but more and more signs indicate that this is the trend.”[1]

This was written by two Chinese Liberation Army Colonels in 1999 and it is immediately clear from these two short paragraphs why China is beating the US and its allies. For one, consider how prescient this observation is. These two Colonels are reflecting on why America was so dominant in the first Gulf war in the early 1990’s, and why that form of warfare had reached a peak in their day. They were predicting that the complete dominance of the United States in the military sphere would lead to a situation where other countries would be forced to adapt and fight very differently, but also that many non-state actors like bin Laden would become a force to be reckoned with in the near future because these nonstate actors would be able to exploit weaknesses in the United States military doctrine and strategy. They were predicting war would evolve in a way the US was not equipped to deal with. Note, again, this was written in 1999, two years before the Trade Towers came down and bin Laden became a household name.

The argument of these two Colonels is that rather than thinking of war in terms of the best military equipment wins, nations should think in terms of anything at hand in our world, like culture, or economics, or computer technology, can be weapons that can be brought to bear and used to achieve the kinds of victories that were once attained with jets, missiles, tanks and warships. But more than that, they are predicting that any state which thinks first in terms of military force being the dominant means of achieving victory will be left behind. In other words, they had identified one of the key weaknesses of the United States, and to a lesser degree the allies of the US; their outdated understanding of war. 

When America was attacked in 2001 by non-state forces, what was their immediate response: Who can we go to war with? It does not matter who you think was ultimately behind or working with bin Laden, they understood the psychology of the Americans and how they can be provoked into war. The entire American society, culture, media and political establishment is geared towards treating combatting enemies as something which the military exists to do, and therefore when they are provoked in any way, they immediately look at how they can wield their armed forces to combat that enemy, or in the case of Iraq, they used it as an excuse to launch a war that they wanted anyway. As the authors note earlier in their book, the US is like a big giant, that is easy to provoke but clumsy in its response.

The same is true for Israel. We are seeing this with the current war in Gaza. After being provoked, again it does not matter what is behind this attack, how did Israel respond: Where can we drop the bombs? Where can we point the tanks? Where can we send the troops? They think again, like their twin society in the US, about how they can bring their military to bear against the enemy on the battlefield. In a lot of ways the US and Israel are like national versions of the Hulk, who think in terms of “smash, smash, smash” whenever they are attacked, or provoked. Both nations can perform reasonably well against inferior forces on the battlefield, but if they are attacked by non-state forces in a cunning way, they both act like giants seeking to swat at gnats clumsily.

China, on the other hand, shows here why it is gaining so quickly on the United States and taking the place of world leadership. They have brilliant minds at work in their society, who are obviously influential, that recognize that the means of achieving victories over other nations are many, and immediately defaulting to wars and bombs is dinosaur thinking. To some degree American leadership grasps this, because they have used things like sanctions and trade wars to cripple nations that opposed them, this has been true from Iraq, to Libya, to North Korea and others. But the military industrial complex is so strong and powerful in the United States congress that still the US thinks first and foremost about how they can solve their problems with the best technological weapons. They may use sanctions to begin with, but they bring in the military as soon as they can. It's their go to response. And much of their economy is geared towards paying overs for the newest fancy weapon to achieve that job. 

This has been seen in Ukraine where we have seen various reports about how a certain United States, or allied, weapon system, will turn the tide of the war, and also how on every occasion these weapons systems have failed to achieve this lofty goal. In some ways this is reminiscent of how Adolf Hitler kept putting his hopes in some new technology which would give him the advantage over the allies in World War 2, when really he was destined to lose because he could not outproduce the United States, or Russia in men and military equipment. China obviously recognized this, because look at how much emphasis they have placed on turning their country into the industrial powerhouse of the world. China has won many wars without firing a shot, simply by placing so much of an emphasis on production. Any nation that can outproduce its potential enemies has the advantage in any conventional war, and in many other ways as well.

In fact, since 2001 the United States has continually gotten itself bogged down into expensive wars, or proxy wars, across the world. At the same time China has focused on building its industrial and technological base, using its Belt and Road initiative to sure up its alliances and access to resources across the world, and also to build itself a positive image, while America’s image is increasingly tarnished because of its aggressive stance towards a growing list of nations. China has out thought the United States in every way. Without having to fight it is beating the US in many arenas. 

When you consider that China has such great thinkers recognizing that there are many others means of winning a war, other than military force, it really makes you wonder how long they have been going about this. China is winning because it has out thought the West, the West is losing because it has gotten itself stuck in a rut of using old strategies of conquest and dominance that no longer work in our modern world. That does not mean that conventional military wars are a thing of the past, they are not, look at how Russia is winning now against the western supplied and backed Ukraine in a conventional state to state war. But consider how Russia spent a couple of decades shoring up its industrial base, a localized economy, military capacity, alliances with local nations, and more before it responded with military force in Ukraine. Has America being doing this? No, it has been off-shoring its industry, alienating allies, becoming increasingly aggressive both militarily and economically, all while allowing their culture to degrade. This is why China and its allies are getting ahead.

Those of us in the West who are used to being the dominant powers in the world, have a rude shock coming. Those with eyes to see can already observe how behind the eight-ball the West now is. 

List of References

[1] Col. Qiao Liang and Col. Wang Xiansui. 1991, Unrestricted Warfare, Echo Point Books and Media, LLC, pp. 143-144.

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