The Thucydides trap

The White House is full of aficionados of Thucydides, the Greek historian and chronicler of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta.  In fact, Thucydides is very much in vogue today among lots of diplomats and foreign policy experts.  In the White House, Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security advisor H. R. McMaster, and Trump’s key advisor Steve Bannon are way into Thucydides.

Recently, international affairs scholar Graham Allison was invited to the White House to brief staffers on the subject of his new book:  Destined for War:  Can America and China Escape Thucydides’ Trap?

He applies Thucydides’ explanation of the Peloponnesian War:  “What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta.”

Established powers fear the rise of new powers.  Just as the United States fears the rise of China.  Or might come to fear the rise of China as it becomes more and more powerful and influential in the world.

Which raises the question:  At some point, will there be a war between China and the United States?

We think of fear as a deterrent, but, as Thucydides has shown and as history often bears out, fear can also motivate war.  Do you think that will happen with China and the United States?

Illustration:  “The Fall of the Athenian Army, ” by J.G.Vogt, Illustrierte Weltgeschichte, vol. 1, Leipzig (E.Wiest) 1893. (fonte) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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China pushing Communism to replace failing Democracy

3205545010_28e80765c7_zChina says Western democracy has reached its limits and has started to deteriorate (alluding to Donald Trump’s victory without saying so).  Global Communism will take its place, with China supplying new universal values.

When I have referred to “still-Communist China,” some readers have said, in effect, are you kidding?  China has become capitalist, what with all of their entrepreneurs and wealth-building.  But orthodox Marxism teaches that societies must go through a capitalist phase in order for socialism to emerge.  The problem with the Soviet Union and Mao’s China is that they attempted to go from a feudal economy straight to socialism, which can’t really work.  Capitalism and with it Western democracy will eventually fall from their internal contradictions.

China has come up with a style of Communism that is working, pragmatically.  It is centered on economic growth, but state ownership and, what is just as effective, state control of the means of production continues.

What’s new here is China’s plan to export not just its goods but its ideology around the world.  The Communists still think they will bury us. [Read more…]

Trump’s diplomacy

Taiwan_2009_HuaLien_City_Roadside_Cemetery_FRD_8181The diplomatic establishment is all atwitter about Donald Trump’s alleged gaffes, such as taking phone calls from the president of Taiwan and from the president of the Philippines.

Talking to the president of Taiwan is deeply offensive to China.  The phone call is a violation of our “one China” policy and constitutes a tacit recognition of the free democratic nation that China claims for its own.  Never mind that the U.S. gives military aid to the island nation, which is also a major trading partner.  Diplomatically, it doesn’t exist.

But Trump, in refusing to tip-toe around Chinese sensitivities, is simply signaling that he is going to get tough with China, which is what he promised to do in his campaign.

As for Rodrigo Duterte, the foul-mouthed president of the Philippines who is using extra-judicial death squads against drug dealers, he is a pariah. After personally insulting President Barack Obama, Duterte announced that he is cutting back on the long-term military relationship with the U.S. and is going to start favoring China.  Some say that Duterte and Trump are kindred spirits.  We must hope not, at least about the death squads, but Trump may have won over Duterte–who is glowing with the attention from the American president–and thus retained an important military ally.  Which will also torment China.

Read Marc Thiesen’s analysis of Trump’s diplomacy after the jump.

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How China is buying up Hollywood

During the Cold War, some Americans were worried that Communists were infiltrating the motion picture industry, so as to influence the West with their Marxist propaganda.  Today, Communists are taking an easier route.  They are just buying the industry.

Government-connected Chinese investors have recently bought AMC Entertainment, Legendary Entertainment studios, Carmike Cinemas, Dick Clark Productions, and have formed a partnership with SONY.  The Chinese are also buying up movie theater chains in Australia and Europe.

Chinese spokesmen are denying that anything nefarious is going on, but China, with its hybrid ideology of Communism plus money-making, is a heavy censor of its own film industry and already influences Hollywood by refusing access to its lucrative market for films that show China in a bad light.

Then again, the Left already dominates Hollywood, so maybe we won’t see so much change after all.

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Brewing crisis with China

China has been extending itself beyond its territorial waters in the South China Sea.  Japan and Vietnam have been affected, but the expansion is mostly at the expense of the Philippines.  China has gone so far as to build an artificial island in Philippine waters.  In doing so, it destroyed a coral reef, disrupted the Philippine’s fishing industry, and is interfering with its oil operations.

So the Philippines filed a complaint with an international tribunal.  China lost its case.  But it is refusing to comply with the ruling and is rattling its saber, blaming interference by the United States.

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Selling brides in China

Under China’s one-child policy, girl babies were routinely aborted so that the parents’ one child would be a son.  As a result, there are far more men than women in China.  This “woman shortage” means that many men can’t find anyone to marry.  So human traffickers are kidnapping women, particularly in Viet Nam, and selling them as brides in China.  This is becoming a big business, as CNN reports, after the jump.

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