This Op-Ed by Karl Rove seems pretty ironic

“Other countries would not pay us the massive premiums that they do for our technology”

I disagree. First of all, you assume that the innovation in other countries will be in the same category as the US. For instance, a Chinese version of Google. This will not be the case. Innovation in other countries will involve technologies not seen in the US, not different versions of US technology. If China develops a new fuel technology that is 500% more efficient, everyone wins. The Chinese become rich and buy more Google ads. The US will use the new Chinese technology to lower their own costs. The Chinese will have developed a new industry altogether, just like the US has done with the internet.

The army argument is also not as important as you make it out to be. Right now, does China or India adopt US-dictated economic policy due to the threat of invasion? Of course not. China and India react to foreign aid and trade agreements. Productivity is far more important than military strength. For that matter, how has the US benefited from trying to control other countries with force? You cannot possibly argue that the Iraq war has positive NPV.

It does not matter if the US will not have the strongest military in the future. Canada’s army is small compared to the US, but they are not under any kind of military threat.

Your argument about innovation is self defeating. Innovation is the development of new technologies - things that no one has thought of yet. However, you depict innovation as a struggle for control of a limited pool of current markets and resources. Future productivity increases will come from industries that are currently in their infancy, not ideas that have been becoming more and more obsolete over the past 50 years.

I’ll throw in some thoughts.

If history is any guide, then the West would use the new fuel technology to power new, better war machines…see gunpowder. Maybe we could conquer Martians. And if China invents bioengineered super soldiers? I don’t even want to think about it.

Canada is not under military threat because the US is protecting them. This is also largely true for Europe. Military and economic strength have historically gone hand in hand. The bi-polar cold war world was born out of war (WW2) and the US subsequently became a hegemon principally due to economic strength (one could say the real cause was political system…chicken or egg). So, both military and economic might were necessary.

Now that all major nuclear powers have mutually assure destruction, it gets a lot more tricky and countries play out their conflicts through wars foreign (non-nuclear) lands and through diplomacy. In some ways, it’s similar to pitched battles from the middle ages with a chosen battleground, only a lot more f’d up because of the high collateral damage.

I am actually more concerned than most about the China slowdown. It has grown so fast and is so large and complex that I don’t think most pundits have any understanding, nor does anyone, including Chinese policymakers. It reminds me of a large company with an unanalyzable balance sheet that is starting to show some cracks…I want to run.

The US is not protecting the whole world. There is a complex system of diplomatic and economic relationships that maintains the current state of international politics. If, as you describe, countries are safe only because of US protection, why doesn’t the US just invade Mexico? Clearly, an act of imperialism by the US would negate any possibility of protection from the US. This scenario has not materialized because the US has a strong interest in political stability of other countries. A stable Mexico (or Canada, China, etc.) provides strong economic benefits to the US through trade. This far outweighs any possible benefit from war.

Similarly, an invasion of the rest of the world would be idiotic for China, no matter how strong their military becomes. Like the US, China wants the world to be safe and productive. The world is not the same as it was in the 1800s, when a few seafaring empires could go around stripping the resources from banana republics. Countries now cannot prosper without healthy international relationships. Instead of being an antagonizer, it is far more likely that a strong China will provide the international community with a new source of peacekeeping troops and technology, just like other countries are doing through NATO, the UN or other organizations.

I don’t see why China or India are being singled out here. Replace “China and India” with the European Union, and suddenly the argument changes. If the European Union outgrows the US, it’s ok. Yet, if China outgrows the US, it’s some kind of apocalyptic scenario.

Well the fear is obviously racial.

NATO protects Europe and the US dominates NATO.

So why doesn’t the US invade Europe? You can’t say that countries are safe because of US military dominance. First of all, that’s not true. Second, no one wants war, even countries like China with big militaries.

Other countries aren’t “safe” because of US protection, rather US “protection” entrenches US hegemony. This protection is not for the benefit of these nations, but for defense of US security interests. Furthermore, these US “protectorates” like Japan, or Israel or Korea or KSA or UAE can then go on to buy US equipment.

I did not say the US protected the who world. They essentially protect the Americas and Europe, though. The US actually antagonizes much of the rest of the world. The US would not invade Mexico because as a world hegemony legitimacy is very important…also there is no reason to do so. That is the primary function of the UNSC, to provide a forum to legitimize the decisions of the most powerful countries.

Tell that to Taiwan…they are not so sure. Also, US has 1.8 million sq. km of arable land with ~300 million population. China has 1.4 million sq. km of arable land (with a lot more irrigation and less water) and over four times the US population. Given this, I don’t think it’s that hard to envision a scenario where China’s military becomes a little more expansionary.

Yes. In addition, I believe people are afraid that the world order might change, even if such change is ultimately beneficial. People have a sense of security from knowing that the Western world (and the US in particular) is #1. The unfamiliarity of a world with a powerful China or India is interpreted as a threat. It’s an unobjective, exploitable fear. For instance, the US is not going to collapse if China makes more solar panels than us. Yet, Obama gains votes by arguing that we cannot let China “win” in solar panel production (for whatever reason). Fear of change is a natural response, but this does not mean that it is rational.

It’s not just racial, we’re not zimmerman shooting the black kid in the hoodie, Ohai. It’s about cultural differences and regional influence over political power and the global economy

The US, the UK and Europe are in it together. We already invaded in June 1945 and haven’t left. See Ramstein Airbase and NATO which effectively mean that all the countries touching the north atlantic are under the umbrella of the US military. But it’s bigger than Nato, and not just about White people ganging up on everybody. See Japan, also a partner in business and defense since 1945. Same with Kuwait and probably two dozen other countries which don’t have white people but more or less are in cahoots with the Western hegemony.

Emerging Chindia are really the only long term threats to this hegemony of Western Nations. The West used to worry about Russia but no longer do for some reason or other. This is why I have singled them out, not because I was racially profiling anyone. You do look suspicious in your hoodie.

If the US does not have power, can it influence the Saudi’s the way it does? The Kuwaiti’s? Can it stop Iran from blocking the straight of hormuz? Nope. That power is very important to trade and the price of oil which of course is important to the economy. I don’t know why oil is so cheap in the US compared to the rest of the world, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this had something to do with it. If anyone wants to shed light on this I’d be curious to learn something about it.

This global power has some effect, and I am no economist, but I think losing it would really hurt the United States. It might be better for the world in general perhaps, but I can’t see how its a win-win for America. Just look at British sea power in the 18th and 19th century as an example of a country that had influence and power undeniably stronger than the rest of the world and subsequentally lost it. When Britain was on top they could literally just invade a place, install a new government, and take whatever they wanted. That’s the original economic model perfected by Alexander the Great, The Romans, the Khans, and pretty much anybody else who was dominant. I argue that the US does this now but in less bloody economic ways through superior brands, strong multinational presence, superpior technology and by having the implicit threat of force as a bargaining chip.

When the romans got too lazy to keep a decent army together because they were living the good life with wine and cheese and literature they got sacked by barbarians, despite having better technology. What followed was the dark ages. Might is right.

I think the US, if it gets too lazy and happy with its iphones and liberal millenial passiveness will suffer a similar fate. Nobody will invade the US, but most will probably stop taking the US seriously as a threat. We have one big trump card. We’re still the only country to use an atomic weapon on another country. As deplorable as this sounds, that shows that the US is just crazy enough that you don’t want to mess with them.

The fear is not “obviously racial,” although those who do see the world through a racial lens will think it is.

The fear is really about “enlightenment values,” or things like individual liberty, which underlies the principles of market economies, free trade, and democratic politics. Democratic politics can be justified on a numer of grounds, my own preferred justification being that it is the political system most (albeit not 100%) compatible with the protection of individual liberties. There are also arguments about how information and knowledge is disseminated in democratic systems vs authoritarian regimes and how this contributes to things like technological and economic innovation, as well as more fair and just socieities (by making it possible to identify failings and therefore take action to correct them).

Democracy is by no means perfect in this way, and in some sense, civil liberties are probably more important than the more traditional democratic elements of elections and accountability, but not more important than rule-of-law. The stuff that came up in the thread on Chinese executions is very interesting in this regard, because it does suggest that China has come a long way to improving the rule-of-law so that judgments are not completely arbitrary and based on the whims of the governing elite (corruption is still a problem, though).

So the real question is whether things like individual liberties and economic openness are likely to continue as the US declines in power. And of course the problem is as much internal to the US as external, because when power and wealth get excessively concentrated, then the representativeness of representative democracy starts to go down the toilet. The US has had times in its history when representativeness was as bad or worse than it is now (the guilded age, the 1920s-30s, the pre-civil rights era in the racial sphere). So there are threats from within and without.

The US doesn’t maintain most of its political influence through military means. It’s through economic action. If country X gives US unfavorable trade terms, the US doesn’t respond by sending troops - they increase levies on that country’s exports. Plus, even if the US isn’t the most powerful economy in the future, second biggest is still really, really big. Other countries will still need to suck up to the US as a major “customer”. Just because Apple is biggest doesn’t mean Foxconn can say “fuck you” to Dell.

I don’t get this “in cahoots” argument. What does that even mean? The US dropped atomic bombs on Japan, but then we are suddenly their buddies since 1945? Kuwait is “in cahoots” with the US because, again, the US is a big customer (they have economic bargaining power) and pays Kuwait money (through foreign aid). Not because they have a big military. If you take a survey of every country in the world and ask why they care about the US, 99.99% will say it’s for economic reasons, not because “they might nuke us”.

Re: bchadwick. For many people, China/India evokes a racial, or at least culturist reaction. Why is China different on an international level due to their different standard for civil liberties? Is the US democratic when it comes to foreign relations? Does the lack of “execution vans” in the US determine the price of agricultural imports? Does an authoritarian country mean that they will not value free trade? What about Singapore? Or Hong Kong (part of China), for that matter?

Ohai, those are good questions. I have responses to them, but they will take pages and pages to write, and they deal with how democracies tend to relate to each other; how conflicts originte and are resolved internationally; the challenges of acting within democratic frameworks internationally; how state-state, state-nonstate, and nonstate-nonstate interactions happen in the international sphere; how the size of the economy and hegemonic security guarantees affect the feasibility of an economically liberal but politically authoritarian regime that is stable; how democracies tend to prefer to interact with democracies and authoritarians with authoritarians (though there are circumstances where dems like to work with auths (like cold war US and developing countries) and auths like to work with dems (like Nazi Germany at the Munich conference)).

You cannot be serious…

Not only racial, there is also a significant religious component to it as well. In the case of China and India, not only are the nations racially different, but religiously don’t follow an Abrahamic faith, and I think the rise of brown/yellow skinned men, previously seen as inferior (and to some extent effeminate), who are now militarily assertive and expansionist strikes deep into the Western psyche. Keep in mind, how have “Abrahamic” cultures historically dealt with those who don’t follow an “Abrahamic” faith?