What if they gave an arms race and only China came?

Posted: January 17, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , ,


Olympic events are not conducted for the purpose of letting the participating individuals achieve personal bests; rather they’re done in a competitive format to determine winners and losers. 

So if China is in an arms race with itself (yes, it’s an oxymoron when no one else is racing), the situation is much more analogous to training versus racing.  As such, what China is really doing is participating in a series of events designed to increase military fitness and readiness as opposed to creating single-event winners and losers.

(Note: this is about the point in the conversation where you can insert one of those Sun Tzu observations about how the real winner is the one who wins without even having to fire a shot.)

So while weapons don’t make war, it does take strategy (the connection between political purpose and military power) to make weapons.  And China has now made (and is making) an embarrassment — think embarrassment of riches — of modern, highly capable weapons.

But do China’s actions really reflect a military – politico connection?  By definition, yes as military power ultimately depends on a social construct (the economy, society, politics, etc.) as its source of enduring strength. 

Military power can help a society avoid the burdensome costs of war, as the presence of such power can deter an adversary’s actions that remove value from society.  However, military power cannot create value except through spoils of war events like the annexation of value-creating capabilities to include intellectual capital.

So why is China’s military doing what it’s doing?  The simplest explanation is that China’s civilian leadership doesn’t have its arms around how much its defense community is spending.  The Pentagon has been accused of being inauditable for some time; I’m sure accounting standards are even less rigorous in China.


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