From John Copper at National Interest comes this interesting set-up:
In December 1890, the United States Army won a battle against American Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota. This battle marked the end of the Indian Wars and meant that the United States could focus on external matters since it had finally consolidated its territory in the west.
Within ten years of Wounded Knee, the United States was on the way to becoming a world power. In 1898, the U.S. Navy won the Spanish American War. It acquired the Philippines and Guam as a result. The same year, the U.S. incorporated Hawaii and signed a tripartite agreement on Samoa.
In 1900, America made Wake Island its territory. Shortly after the United States started building the Panama Canal.
The expansion of the U.S. Navy was vital to all of this happening. And it continued. By the end of WWI, the U.S. Navy was the world’s largest. It built aircraft carriers that were the game-changing weapon in the Pacific during World War II, and in 1945, the U.S. had a fleet of 1,600 ships; no other nation was close to competing with America.
I apologize for the long quote, but you’re now ready for the punch (in the gut) line:
China’s reunification of Taiwan will be its Wounded Knee. It will no longer need to focus on territorial matters and will doubtless look to realize power ambitions further from its shores.
So who will have their heart buried at this new Wounded Knee?
While our ability to predict the future with precision is generally lame, we can observe capabilities (if not intentions). Such capabilities are outlined in the DoD’s annual Report to Congress for 2011, Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.