On the Eternal Importance of Demographics and Allies

*Note: This essay was published at War on the Rocks on April 28, 2016. It can also be found online here (or PDF). 

Mea culpa.

In my last essay, “A Neflix Assessment of China’s Rise and America’s Advantage,” I used the word “never” to express a conviction — as in, China “will never dominate” the Indo-Asia Pacific “for one simple and unavoidable reason: everybody else.” In response, fellow War on the Rocks contributor Dean Cheng called this phrase into question, asserting I ought “never say never.” He argued strongly against such an absolute statement, which I must grudgingly admit is generally true. But Cheng went too far when he suggested “nevers should be reserved for changes in laws of physics – and even then, there are circumstances where it’s much more ‘extremely probable’ rather than ‘never.’” But there must some limits, right? Or is it possible the Black Flag of New Zealand might someday sit atop the fiery ashes of Beijing, following military (non-rugby) conquest?

Helpfully, Cheng’s rejoinder did chop down my essay’s errant tree. Yet he missed the argument’s forest: namely, that digital culture has led to a proliferation of think tank voyeurism, in which the visual is emphasized at the expense of the important. As such, I drew attention to America’s comparative advantage – demographics and allies – in a geostrategic net assessment.

Read the rest at War on the Rocks.

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