Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Is the US still Number One?

The Kokoda Foundation is a great Aussie think-tank dealing with Defence issues. But that doesn't make it infallible.

Was Paul speaking ex cathedra?

The estimable Professor Paul Dibb has just put out a Kokoda paper (reviewed by the equally estimable Cameron Stewart in the Oz) , in conjunction with John Lee, arguing that a great deal of hype accompanies the assertions that China is overtaking the US as a military power.

No argument there.

China's military does lack modern combat experience and have major deficiencies in doctrine.

My difficulty lies with his linking this to the assertion that therefore China "is not now or foreseeably a strategic peer of America". That's a big call.

And, as I'm sure the Professor would admit, this doesn't necessarily mean that Beijing couldn't (either) achieve local superiority or severely compromise Washington's ability to act as it chooses.

If Beijing thinks it's a big power, it will act as one. And who knows what might happen in future . . .

PS - Like Kokoda, here's another view of China's economy. The headline suggests China's soaring past the US, but if you read down you'll see the rise is not inexorable. Change is the only constant and nothing is certain . . . except that journo's love good headlines.


  1. Ah ha a new buzz term, Mr Stuart.... speaking with the authority of office...... the journos life is one of writing stories...... good, bad and in-between and that includes purely speculative ones which is why some become fiction novelists (and others were novelists to start with). But China with its vast size and population has had plenty of ill-fated ventures even with the preference for stability which the Communist Party prefers.

  2. Yes Sentinel, I agree, and I suspect that the issue you highlight lies behind much of the analysis in the Professor's piece (although Dibb doesn't directly address it). I'd still hesitate, however, to insist that internal issues will necessarily prevent China's growth to challenge the US. It will slow but I think there's still a new dynamic at work. The outcome can't be accurately predicted.