It would appear so. No other nation appears as efficient, as well coordinated or as resourceful. None comes close to matching its growth rates. Yet those reasons do not suffice. We believe that China may well rule the World in the not very distant future because it shows aggressive intent with that aim.
Perhaps the aggression resulted from the lessons that the rulers of China learnt from history.
Chinese economy has been growing rather quickly for the last three decades, but the transition of that nation, from a seemingly benign power with a long history and ancient culture, into a bully that encroaches on smaller neighbors while challenging the sole superpower on Earth, has happened almost undetected, as if everyone else was sleeping.
Coming to the question in the title, let us make an attempt to find the force that may stop China from ruling the World. But before that, if the reader considers such an idea too far fetched, I remind her of history; of events that led to Great Britain losing the greatest empire ever. I remind the reader of military technologies that the best forces in the World were not ready for; remember the blitzkrieg. Of course, in the 1940s, Britain could seek the aid of the new World; but now, China is the new World.
Today’s sole superpower doesn’t have a very powerful ally to enlist even as it is a power in decline and to some extent, in disarray. In fact the President of the United States has never missed an opportunity to pick on the oldest allies that nation has. The EU has been careful not to blindly follow the US, at least since l’affaire General Soleimani and the subsequent posturing against Iran. Besides, this has pushed Iran into the arms of the Chinese. The United Kingdom has been a more faithful ally to the US, but it is not easy. China has made huge investments there that may make it difficult for Britain to take a tough stance.
Nations in the neighborhood of China; Japan, India, Philippines and Vietnam, Nepal and Myanmar are normally careful in their own actions not to challenge the dragon, even as they desperately desire deliverance from encroachments. India has bravely tried to stand up to the PLA, even at substantial cost. The quad grouping of US, Japan, India and Australia is aimed at the only tormentor in the neighborhood.
But any grouping needs direction and trust. Only a consistent, trustworthy and energetic leadership from the most powerful nation on Earth can unite the World and contain an aggressive China. Otherwise que sera sera.
The livable landmasses in today’s world are choked and even the seaways are extremely busy. Even as the members of NATO are not as well bonded together as they used to be in the last decade; China has been increasing in power and influence for a few decades now. New alliances may form as Russia sidles closer to China; North Korea and Pakistan, besides several countries of the African continent also look more towards Beijing for leadership. The political developments in the US in the last few years have led to a situation where a show of strength as well as a display of willingness to engage in combat has become essential as is shown by some recent events:
We need not wonder why Russian planes flew through the airspace over the disputed Dokdo/Takeshima islands. When you pass through sea or land, you are claiming your right and ability to do so. While the Americans have tried to carry out similar moves near South China sea and Taiwan, these do not seem to be having much impact as China continues to entrench itself by building and expanding its bases in the South China Sea.
Though the current US administration comes across as inconsistent and ungainly, with hardly a week passing without a senior officer handing in papers; it must be said that global trends and realignments were already evident under the previous presidency of president Obama, who perhaps saw it as a fact of life about which nothing much could be done. Every problem that you overlook has the potential to become a monster and eat you up. He concentrated on his priorities in righteous support of the Arab spring which ultimately led to the turmoil of an Islamist Arab winter. The longer term effects are still being revealed.
The present US administration began by being extremely friendly to Russian president Putin, which wasn’t such a bad thing, except President Putin continues to work more with China and also increasingly with Pakistan and at the same time noticeably less with India. To top it all here’s what a recent study by the National Defence Study Commission of the US says:
In order to bluster effectively, countries need to have the muscle to back it up. So whatever be the principles leaders mouth, nobody is a pariah anymore and countries are making bilateral arrangements in attempts to stay strong and safe. Even as Britain continues to be stuck in an isolationist Brexit, hoping for a golden age Boris Johnson is going to bring in.
A BBC News report says that the Iran Nuclear deal, which was a major achievement of the previous Obama administration, was scrapped by the Trump led administration due to personal reasons that were quite arbitrary. The scrapping of the deal was probably done without working out an alternate strategy, and has since led to a number of countries being pressurized to suspend trade relations with Iran. The pressure brought on by the US and its allies has resulted in uncertainty throughout the globe but especially for countries which depend upon Iran for Oil. As we remember, most of the western democracies were in favor of saving the Iran nuclear deal, but as always were resigned to the final decision by America. The allies of the United States are very much behind the US even in matters where they are ideologically opposed to it. What do we call such people? Insecure is a word that comes to mind. Insecurity comes from Russian, Chinese, North Korean threats, real or imagined. Insecurity comes from history and from knowing that might is needed to save what we think is right.
What is the understanding that those who are following the incumbent POTUS can glean from this? The takeaway is that his personal likes and dislikes can control his decision making, as they appear to have done in this instance. Is his unpredictable behavior, that helps put adversaries on the back-foot, just the arbitrary impulse of a man used to having his own way? This is obviously not his strength and actually it subtracts from his strengths that we have enumerated below, but it does make him appear to be the biggest bully in the world. Will it take a person like him to keep the world safe from existential threats?
Actually the British Ambassador resigned saying it was impossible for him to continue, but the trigger for the resignation was that the American President refused to do business with him.
Continuing with our study of the current US President (below), we can see a pattern emerging that may force us to modify our previous assumption about his unpredictability. On careful observation, his behavior in the face of public criticism appears quite predictable.
The problem is that Sir Kim Darroch never published his observations but merely made them in the course of performing his duty to his sovereign. Perhaps half the world has something to say privately about Mr Trump and Sir Kim Darroch definitely isn’t the first, or the last to make sincere observations about his presidency.
Observe and learn to negotiate from the best and the toughest negotiator as he negotiates in full public view. The following appear to be the main points to pick up from the President’s style:
Start from a position of strength; When you are the POTUS, you are already at the strongest possible position. Don’t give up your advantage by trying to be politically correct just to create an international image of suaveness. Plough right into the opposite party and let them back down a bit. For this you have to lose some scruples and consciously try to be ruthless.
This may not be easy for those of you brought up on stories by Enid Blighton or the cartoon characters created by her.
Be Totally Unpredictable; For those just starting down this path, don’t do the first thing that comes naturally, rather do the totally opposite thing. For example, as soon as you begin to feel guilty about something and perhaps are about to say sorry; turn right around and blame the party that first brought up the issue. They have to be guilty for pointing it out.
Predict and Preempt challenges; Tough folks do not spend “all” their time working out ways of trying to help people and create a better world. Fighters are also trying to anticipate the coming attack. You have to know yourself and your adversaries, monitor their movements, monitor their verbal expressions, try not to miss even a facial twitch. Interpret these actions and create a model of where this can lead. Anticipate and forestall.
Don’t Delay your Defense and Counterattack, (or DDDC); Soon as you notice a coming attack, use the best tool for a counterattack aka twitter. Lets say you just found out that one of your own staff may be about to resign; immediately go to the computer and fire them in such a way that the whole world knows about it.
Do not believe or defend something that you do not understand; Like global warming, there is so much talk about it and, let us face it, there is almost no real action except perhaps at the fringes. Mostly it is groups or individuals taking selfies with placards who have driven to a conference or taken a flight who will sleep in air-conditioning tonight. Do not join this party without being sure of it. Do not try to understand it either, at least not till it is too hot under the collar for you.
Believe that any position can be defended; So long as you have powerful groups with you. You can defend the right to bear arms including the semi-automatic rifles with high capacity magazines; you can lobby to arm teachers with handguns.
Some of us may be too weak to learn the above characters and social skills but with determination perhaps a few of us can. Perhaps this book can help:
Of course our study is a continuing one and we can draw more conclusions as events play out on the world stage and I am sure we shall have plenty more points to add to the above. If you think we can already add some to the above list, do write in,