Channeling Gulliver in China

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

The rise of China presents a new emerging threat to U.S. national security, Dominic Tierney, a senior fellow from the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) argues in a recent essay distributed by FPRI.

As Tierney, an associate professor at Swathmore, puts it, it is now up to the U.S. to see and deal with China as a small Lilliputian threat through a giant “Brobdingnagian lens.” “China, after all, has recently expanded its diplomatic and economic activities in failed or failing states,” Tierney notes. “Since 2004, China has sent over 1,000 police to help stabilize Haiti, in part because Haiti is one of 23 countries that still recognize Taiwan.”

“The long-term goal may be to draw Haiti into China’s diplomatic orbit.” Tierney teaches political science at Swathmore.

“In 2007, China contributed engineering troops to a joint African Union- United Nations operation in the Darfur region of Sudan,” Tierney points out. “China has also made significant investments in oil, natural gas, and copper production in Afghanistan.”

“After 9/11, Washington welcomed Brobdingnagian help in dealing with the Lilliputian threat, by encouraging Chinese investment in Afghanistan. But if we move into a new era of enhanced great power rivalry, Americans may look at Afghanistan in a different light, favoring the country’s stability only if it aids U.S. interests, and competing with China over the control of Afghan resources.” Tierney is the author of the book How We Fight: Crusades, Quagmires, and the American Way of War.

“Fortunately, we live in a time of great power peace, and war with China is unlikely,” Tierney predicts. “But competition over failed states is one of the more plausible scenarios for military conflict.” Tierney is also an official correspondent for The Atlantic magazine.

“Jakub Grygiel described the potential for ‘vacuum wars’ where the absence of effective government in failed states lures in great powers, “ Tierney reminds us. “If Indonesia were to collapse, for instance, China might intervene to protect the Chinese minority, provoking military action by other regional powers.” Grygiel is the George H. W. Bush Associate Professor at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Spencer Irvine is a research assistant at Accuracy in Academia.

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