The entire domestic and international strategy of the Biden administration is based on the idea that the US can simultaneously prioritize limiting climate change and competing with China. The problem is that this assumption misinterprets the relative levels of threat China and climate change both present to the US and its allies, and exaggerates and misapplies limited US resources.
Climate change is already doing more damage to the US than anything China is doing or could do. If we fail to adequately limit climate change, the harm it causes will be irreversible and deadly. Unfortunately, all the evidence from this year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) indicates that we shall go on failing to address climate change effectively.
The imagined threat of China
The Chinese military threat to US global dominance does not really extend beyond East Asia; and even there, it is a great deal less than what most US analysis has stated. This is because the US position in East Asia and the Indian Ocean rests on alliances, partnerships, and military bases that China cannot remove or destroy without full-scale war and the likelihood of nuclear annihilation. Furthermore, neither Japan, South Korea, nor Australia are going to abandon their alliances with the US and expel US forces under Chinese pressure — and to believe that they would is to misunderstand the whole of these countries’ histories. Nor is India going to submit to Chinese domination. Nor can US bases in Guam, Diego Garcia, Bahrain, and Qatar be removed by China short of war. By standing pat, the US will retain an important role in East Asia and the Indian Ocean, simply because key states in the region want it to do so.
The days of unilateral US hegemony in East Asia are long over — though whether or not it ever existed is questionable. After all, the US failed to prevent the Chinese Revolution, was fought to a draw in Korea, and defeated in Vietnam. Today and for all foreseeable time, it must be obvious that China will play a leading role in the region alongside the US, which is dictated by China’s principal role in the regional economy, something the US cannot overthrow short of a catastrophic war that would also shatter America.
Read the full article on Inkstick Media.