As our Secretary of State Anthony Blinken kowtows and Treasury Secretary Yellen bows on state visits to China, we see China as the number one threat to world security. The great wealth China has amassed in the last 60 years is why this is the case. The Chinese CCP has stated goals to surpass the United States in the most essential measures between now and 2050. History is littered with Imperial corpses following a similar path. Let us explore a few of these in hopes of explaining the past and looking toward the future. China's current financial wealth is like a gold mine. The communist leadership has brilliantly taken advantage of the capitalist world through various means. For example, thru the influence peddling of the Biden Family, Chinese government shell companies have been listed on the US Stock exchanges since 2013. This access to capital markets, even though these firms are unaudited and, in many cases, do not follow generally accepted accounting principles, has generated a gold mine of wealth for the CCP to build its military and put many nations under its thrall thru the Belt and Road initiative.
Henry Kissinger, President Richard Nixon's Secretary of State, initiated an opening in the 1970s that opened the door for not just peace but capitalistic endeavor for a China hungry to recover from the devastation caused by CCP Chairman Mao Tse Tung's Great Leap Forward and subsequent Cultural Revolution. The Communist Chinese, reticent at first, gradually grew to see that by capturing the manufacturing of capitalist goods, they would control the world supply chain, where they could ultimately strangle the Western world by excelling at propaganda and mass populace manipulation. Where Soviet communism failed economically, the CCP learned its lesson and decided to make money to spread its version of totalitarianism and communism.
China has crawled into governments worldwide through pseudo-diplomacy, lending, and control and manipulation of education and media as their economic juggernaut has completely enthralled the financial markets Worldwide. Only recently, many are beginning to realize the danger lurking in China. The wealth China has amassed allows the CCP to expand its clout on all cultural issues, including its military. China's military is now even surpassing the US military in many aspects. This militarism is primarily due to the wealth created in the last few decades and has all been completely visible to the rest of the world, which stares on in glaring ineptitude. Let's look at three examples from history where wealth was used similarly.
At its peak during the Athenian Empire, Athens is one such example. The wise Athenian military leader Themistocles was fortunate in convincing the Greek democracy to utilize the silver discovery in the Laurion mines in the peninsula of Attica to build a great fleet. This great fleet of 200 triremes became the backbone of a small city-state and created an Athenian Empire after defeating the combined Persian Fleet at the battle of Salamis(480BC). Following this great victory, Athenians were innervated and empowered to expand their control over the Mediterranean world due to their fortune in the War versus Persia and the wealth created by their sea trade and silver trade, among other things. Short-lived though this empire was, it took the 30-year Peloponnesian War to end Athen's dominance. Based on the wealth of trade and silver, the Athenian Empire was ultimately strangled by the laconic Spartans. The Spartans understood that where their superior phalanx could not scale the walls of Athens or the seaport of Piraeus, the constant drain of money, manpower, and, most notably, the trade elements that kept Athens coffers full of silver and foodstuffs would ultimately secure their victory. The point I would like to emphasize here is that the wealth created by the small city-state of Athens launched the quest for Empire expansion and control, and the loss of that wealth brought about its imperial demise.
A bit later in Greece, a neighbor by the name of Macedonia under Philip II of Macedon picked up the reins of imperial lust primarily because of the great wealth created by the gold mines of Amphipolis on Mt. Pangeo in Macedonia and Krinides (Philippi)in Thrace. These gold mines fueled the unbeatable Macedonian phalanx and siegecraft for War and empire. Seeing the Persian Empire's weakness, the Macedonians built a war machine that conquered Greece and the Balkan peninsula up to the Danube River. After his assassination, Philip's son, Alexander the Great, wholly capitalized on the wealth created by his father and the power of the conquest of the Greek mainland to launch the most remarkable expansion, imperial expansion in the Classical Period. Gold and tax revenues from newly conquered territories filled the Macedonian coffers. The Macedonians, by conquering the territory from Illyria and the Adriatic Sea to the Indus River, changed the course of history in a matter of one decade. Wealth fueled War; War begot empire. The tremendous wealth created by Alexander's conquests initiated the Hellenistic Period lasting for a century and a half, only to be terminated by a wealthier and militarily stronger competitor, the Roman Republic.
The Final segment in this trilogy of Wealth and War is ancient Carthage. In the Classical period, Carthage, located in modern-day Tunisia, was a Phoenician colony that had become extremely wealthy over the early centuries of the first millennium BC thru sea trade. The Carthaginians came directly into conflict with the expanding Roman Republic. Carthage purchased mercenaries through its trade wealth or enrolled trade allies as its primary war machine. The amount of wealth expended during the three Punic Wars over the course of a century is astounding to even us in the modern era. Comparing the first two world wars of the 20th century, sea battles between the Romans and the Carthaginians incorporated hundreds of vessels that matched the size of the 20th-century and 21st-century vessels period. The amount of required wealth was stupendous to conduct these conflicts as hundreds of oar-powered vessels housing hundreds of Roman marines and sailors is frankly mind-shattering. In one battle alone during the First Punic War, approximately 500 vessels faced each other in the waters between Sicily and Tunisia. It compares well to the Pacific campaigns of World War Two between the Japanese and Americans. These vessels of ancient hard and softwoods were the size of modern Naval destroyers or even cruisers, as some exceeded ten levels of manned rowers and weighed hundreds of tons.
The point here is that wealth was the driver of these conflicts. Without resources, an offensive war of conquest would be inconceivable. And the battles to control the wealth of the world would never occur. The silver mines of Spanish Murcia fueled the Second Punic War. After their defeat in the first War, Hannibal Barca's father, Hamilcar Barca, expanded the battle to control the Mediterranean world through a flanking maneuver to Spain which was rich in silver and well-armed Spaniard Celt-Iberians. Hamilcar was the most successful general against the Romans in their debut in the First Punic War(264-241 BC). Hamilcar and his son Hannibal plotted and grew their power in Spain, founding New Carthage, modern Cartagena, in the area of the great silver mines of Murcia in Spain. These silver mines were so rich that it was estimated that 40,000 miners were at work continuously during the Roman Imperial period. This silver for the Carthaginians and then the Roman conquerors provided a tremendous economic boom resource that built armies, bought mercenaries, and armed them. Hannibal successfully built upon the army formed by his father, Hamilcar Barca; with the wealth of Spain, Hannibal harnessed the wealth of the Carthaginian empire, crossed the Alps, and marched to the gates and walls of Rome. He slaughtered tens of thousands of Roman legionaries and allies in the process. Scipio Africanus' conquest of Cartagena, or new Carthage, and the Murcian silver mines was the turning point of the decades-long Conflict with Carthage that almost completely extinguished the Roman Republic and ended with Roman supremacy of the known Western world. Control of those silver mines deprived the Carthaginians of great wealth and manpower. This point in history was the launching point of Scipio Africanus' career, culminating with successfully defeating Carthage at the Battle of Zama at the gates of Carthage. Rome became the master of the Western world for the next seven centuries. The point of discussing these three data points in history is relevant to today's conflict with China. In all three cases, the great wealth at the command of the ruling classes enabled them to wage warfare on an ever-expanding scale.
Today, we have not yet had a military conflict with China since the Korean War, although the possibility that that happens is imminent. Our leaders have stated the goal of defending Taiwan, and China flexes its military muscle across the Straight of Taiwan from Mainland China. China Blatantly violated treaties by incorporating Hong Kong and eliminating the democratic light of Hong Kong. We also find this interesting how quickly the world forgets this violation, and no one hears of Hong Kong democracy mentioned in the media on both sides anymore.
The solution lies in the fact of wealth or the deprivation of wealth. The only logical way to stabilize the world political scene is to remove wealth from the hands and power of the few, such as the Communist Chinese Party. Not through direct military means unless that becomes ultimately necessary. World War Three, in today's terms, would be more devastating than the Peloponnesian War, Persian War, or Punic War today. The weapons we have could mean the elimination of a massive percentage of the world's population. The War must be economic, diplomatic, and propaganda based before military might is used. Warfare must be the last means, and we must build the American military into a powerful force as we did in the Reagan era. The Cold War ended because the Soviets could no longer compete economically with the US and not just the military might, but the economic, diplomatic, and propaganda might. The Western world, primarily the American democracy, must take all means necessary to reduce the American trade deficit with China. We need to bring home manufacturing. We need to isolate the underhanded diplomatic efforts of China, not just in America but in all nations of the world. The Chinese economy, which has been growing at double digits, must be cooled to slow growth through whatever means necessary. And the world needs to wake up to the threats of totalitarianism before the lights of democracy go out.