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Colin Gray Gambling on 21st Century Great Power War

Eminent British-American strategist  Colin S. Gray gambles on the Sino-American War in the 21st century (hat tip SWJ Blog)

PARAMETERS –  The 21st Century Security Environment and the Future of War

How the two great powers are going to afford to fight each other, as war would destroy their interdependent economic condition, is left unsaid. As is the rationale for fighting such a war beyond “balancing” and “fear, honor, interest” or any explanation as to why nuclear weapons would not be a constraining factor on such a war breaking out though Gray does not appear to believe that Russia and the US aspire to nuclear armageddon.

Despite some nostalgia for the the halcyon days of the Sino-Soviet alliance, an interesting an often cautionary article by a noted scholar of war.

10 Responses to “Colin Gray Gambling on 21st Century Great Power War”

  1. Yours Truly Says:

    You’ve listed "war would destroy their interdependent economic condition" and "why nuclear weapons would not be a constraining factor on such a war breaking out" as credile reasons. Guess some scholars are just like ’em soothsayers propagatin’ self  – fulfillin’ prophecies of the end of the world due to a middle east conflict.

  2. ZeusIrae Says:

    "as war would destroy their interdependent economic condition,"

    Because it never mattered. The same argument has been made over and over since the beginning of the XIXth century and we have yet too see  the civilizing influence of trade. Why should believe it’s going to work now when it has so obviously failed in the past. I am getting tired of reading this argument. International politics cannot and never has been reduced to economics.

  3. zen Says:

    Hi Zeustrae,
    I didn’t say impossible I just asked how they are going to afford it when each country is a critical economic component for the other. Check the Sino-American stats, there is no comparison to the trade situation prior to WWI. Germany was not financing Great Britain’s budget deficit then, exports to Great Britain did not determine the rate of Germany’s GDP growth.
    What objective would be worth  so costly a price to both societies ?

  4. ZeusIrae Says:

    They were closely integrated anyway, you could move capital from one country to another easily. In fact, they were even more dependent on trade than today since the economy was mainly industrial. Export and import of raw materials were much more important in relative terms than today.

    What would be worth it? Well, the economic crisis is an opportunity to find out.If the economic and political situation in China gets so bad that the CCP’s survival is at stakes, there’s a good chance that you will have your war over Taiwan.

    My first message was little aggressive but the subject really annoys me. There’s a disturbing tendency these days to consider that economics are the primary driver of international politics(see Barnett’s popularity). It’s like a weird marxist flashback, the infrastructure determines the superstructure, but in reality there’s not a lot of conflict that were fought for economic reasons. Even today, the Iraq War is an absolutely splendid exemple of an ideological war which has no economic rational whatsoever.

    So why the focus on economics?What happened to fear and honnor?

  5. zen Says:

    Nothing is wrong with considerations of fear and honor but a total economic implosion that could bring down your regime or cause a nuclear war will give most statesmen pause.
    Capital could move but trade goods were under a protectionist regime that was gradually tightening – the US was the worst offender at the time – that worked to Imperial Germany’s significant disadvantage. Berlin needed to export to acquire oil, foodstuffs and key minerals and they could never export enough due to tariff schedules. While this period was one of "globalization", that’s relative to Europe’s mercantilist era and looks closed compared to today. The order of magnitude of integration isn’t there yet.
    No worries on the aggressiveness. Exchange of ideas are good. Economics is a driver. So is cultural identity. What matters more is who inside the country decides which is more important.

  6. Fear Honor and Interest « The Image Says:

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  7. joey Says:

    Well that was a long winded way of saying, be sensible and don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
    It doesn’t a genius to work out that Russia’s rise could cause friction with the west.
    Or that expanding powers and contracting powers tend to rub each other the wrong way.

    I bought "Another Bloody Century" when I finished it I realised that it is possible to make a living out of telling people what they already know.  The amount of this guff in circulation is truly mind boggling. 

  8. ComingAnarchy.com » Thinking about the future of war Says:

    […] note: I was originally was alerted to this article by zenpundit. Yes, it did take me six months to actually get around to read […]

  9. Rakeback Says:

    I never think this as a great gamble.But i am really surprised that he took this gamble.

  10. bed bugs pest Says:

    "Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia."The above quote was written by Charles Schultz, a U.S cartoonist. Why do people worry about the end of the world? Everybody is going to die one day or another. So why spend your time worrying about how the word is going to end and hoe your going to die. We have just one life to live. So stop worrying and live your life to its fullest….

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