China a Natural Ally
Thomas Barnett argues that a little strategic vision is all that’s needed to turn China from a potential adversary to a key ally in spreading globalism.
Loaded with excess bodies willing to scour the world for economic opportunity, China is America’s natural ally in extending globalization’s reach and absorbing those off-grid regions where rogue regimes, failed states, and transnational terrorism thrive.
A smart America co-opts China’s rise just as Britain shaped ours a century ago. Instead of containing China, we should steer its rise to suit our strategic purposes. And what China must do is what America did back then: build its military and rebrand it as a force for global stability.
A good place to start is Africa. The Pentagon has recently established a dedicated Africa Command to thwart radical Islam’s penetration of the continent. That military unit should work hand-in-glove with China, which has already flooded Africa with 80,000 nationals engaged in pre-emptive nation building. In this alliance, America focuses on governance and security while China focuses on infrastructure and markets to accelerate Africa’s integration into the global economy.
Barnett is generally more optimistic than I am about the ability of the United States to spread “good” in the world and this case is no exception. He’s right, though, that both powers have a shared interest in spreading the norms of globalism, if nothing else because we have so many comparative advantages.
A wealthy China is arguably less dangerous, as the incentives for military conflict with a major trading partner are generally outweighed by the costs. Then again, becoming wealthier is the only way China can carve out regional hegemony. And the disincentives game works in both directions: The United States would be similarly constrained in its options for reigning in Chinese militarism vis-a-vis Taiwan and Tibet.
via Sean Meade