US military hedging
I’ve long felt that was somewhat counterproductive insofar as it doesn’t so much hedge against the possibility of a deterioration in US-Chinese relations as it does make such a deterioration more likely. But Ilan Goldbenberg uses the column I published this morning as the jumping off point for the more provocative point that spending so heavily now is likely to counterproductive even in terms of the military balance:
To me this is the computer game strategy - you always focus on building up economic power territory and population with almost no military capability - then when forced to you build up a overwhelming strike force with just the right sort of weapons to fulfill that specific purpose as fast as possible and crush the enemy quickly and fairly painlessly. then you demilitarize after you have suppressed resistance. Using that strategy I have won many a game in record time.
The economy acts as the base of military power. It can be transformed into immediate military power at any time but at a long-term cost of reducing your military power. A country can invest in its economy in the short-term causing long-term economic growth, which creates a bigger base from which it can invest in military power. Or, it can invest in military power in the short-term understanding that this will have a cost to it’s economy and thus long-term military effectiveness.
The problem right now with the Bush administration sreategy is that we are investing well over $500 billion per year in defense once you include Iraq and Afghanistan, while China, the country most likely to present a significant long-term strategic challenge to the U.S., invests only $60 billion. That is a pretty dramatic handicap that we are creating for ourselves, especially when most of the spending is for weapons programs that might be obselete by the time the Chinese really are ready to compete and the fact that we still hold a dramatic military advantage.