Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, August 28, 2021

America & China: Life, Death & the Long Game



Comparing Strategic Philosophies

(This is just part of a larger article - click on the link just above for the whole deal) 

By Michael Wong

China historically has always been the largest nation in East Asia, and due to its size and central location has generally been the dominant nation.  During roughly 5,000 years of history, China has had a cycle of strong periods such as the Han and Tang dynasties, followed by a gradual decline and collapse, a period of chaos and warring states, and finally a new dynasty and a return to a strong period.  During China’s strong periods, it usually expanded to what Han Chinese considered China’s natural borders.  During weak periods, other nations or peoples often conquered parts or all of China, diminishing its size and borders.  

China today is more or less at it’s strong size borders now, thus based on history no major expansion beyond this would be expected, with the sole exception of Taiwan. Taiwan rejoining the rest of China would augment China’s power but would not diminish the territory of any other Asian nations.  There is a border dispute with India, issues with Vietnam and several other nations around the South China Sea, and island disputes with Japan and the Philippines, but regardless of who might prevail in these disputes there likely would be no major change in any nations’ relative size or power.  Historically, China has sometimes fought wars with neighbors on it’s immediate borders, but never pursued world conquest in the manner of the Mongols, the Romans, the Western powers during the colonial period, or other major imperial powers of history.

This lack of global imperial ambition was not due to a lack of means.  China invented gunpowder over a thousand years ago, during the Song dynasty, a powerful period. This was over 400 years before anyone else, and the Chinese fully understood how to use it in war.  Yet, unlike the European powers from about the 16th Century onward, China never set out to conquer the rest of the world.  Consider that England, a small island nation, once truthfully said, “The sun never sets on the British Empire.”  Indeed, little England had conquered large parts of the world through the use of gunpowder, military skill, and organizational discipline.  Yet China had all of these four centuries before the West, plus a large land mass, an advanced culture and technology, good natural resources, a quarter of the world’s population, and the 400 year monopoly on gunpowder.  Why is it that China never had a period of world conquest?  

The reason is simple but central to Chinese civilization – it’s strategic philosophy.  While it is impossible to fully cover all of China’s 5,000 years of philosophical thought in one short article, there are two elementary concepts which are absolutely essential to understand if America is to survive and thrive as China has.  These are very simple concepts, but they will provide at least a starting point for a journey of 5,000 years.  From earliest times the Chinese have always had a fundamental philosophy of (1) a long term view of life, and (2) a balance of aspects in society and in life.  They viewed expanding beyond China’s natural borders as a critical overreach that would stretch Chinese supply lines, require endless wars and constant trouble with people native to other regions, create internal and external imbalance, and would in the long term result in the exhaustion, decline, and collapse of China.  China was physically and emotionally self-sufficient; it had no need — material or psychological — to be a world empire.  It was enough to be the central nation in Asia.  

Indeed, true world history bears out the wisdom of the Chinese philosophy.  In the 5,000 years that China has existed, the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and various European empires have come and gone.  China remains.  Why?  The reasons are many and complex, but China’s basic strategic philosophy remains central and premised on the same concepts: a long term view, and a balance of aspects.  The Chinese did not overextend themselves by far flung wars of foreign conquest.  Given their history and their observation of the West’s fate, the Chinese have no reason to change that now.  

What the Chinese are likely to do is develop their cultural, political, and economic connections to the rest of the world. As they did with the ancient Silk Road, they will seek trade and prosperity, and political influence sufficient to promote stability and safety for Chinese commerce and security.  The West is not in any military danger from China, but there may be a steady influx of Tai Chi teachers advocating health, calm, balance, and relaxation.   

~ Michael Wong is the Vice President of Veterans For Peace, Chapter 69, San Francisco, and a retired social worker with a Master of Social Work degree. He appeared in the documentary "Sir! No Sir!" about the GI resistance to the Vietnam War. 


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