Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Empires like buffer states

I am only going to put in the title and subheading on this link.

Japan military 'needs marines and drones'
BBC News, 26 July 2013 (hat tip: NC)
Japan should bolster its marine force and introduce surveillance drones, a defence review paper says, highlighting concerns over China and North Korea.

Why would British and U.S. sources be so interested in the Japanese building up their military?  Didn't that kind of go wrong the last time?
Now from the Japanese point of view, there is some sense to it. A big military buildup is a perfectly fine sinkhole to through money at if you want to kick start an economy.  And unlike, digging and refilling ditches, you have shiny new ships and missles to show off after your done.  Granted, the upkeep on weapons is a little higher than on refilled ditches, but.....look how shiny they are!
The easiest comparison is to look at the British Empire when it began to get over extended.  Mind you it was not over extended because it was doing all that poorly, but was having problems with rising powers stretching their resources.
One of the British reponses was to pull out of some areas, and get new allies to help them in this area.  One primary area they pulled out of was the Far East.  And the ally was Japan.  And it worked very well in World War One.  At the cost of letting the Japanese take over some obscure German possessions, the British were able to concentrate their fleet against the more serious threat.  What would have been a slight edge over the Germans in home waters, became a major advantage.
Of course, as we know, this was not working very well for the British by World War 2.  Granted some of the problems with the Japanese were pushed by their Americans, but their weakness in Asia, and death match with the Nazi's left them far too vulnerable.
So, we have the United States, as the dominant world power, trying to reduce its fleet size, at the same time that you have a new competitor coming into place.  Fortunately the Chinese don't nearly have the aggressive history that the Japanese did, the Chinese already have their place in the sun to some degree, but competition is competition.
Supporting yourself with strengthened allies is an old strategy.  In this case it is even better because it involves a buffer state (Japan is between us and China to some degree) so we don't have them on some far off undefended flank.  Of course that strategy has had its problems in the past:  just ask the Romans about those barbarians, or for that matter the British about American Colonists.


PioneerPreppy said...

Arming Japan is smart for the reasons you mentioned of course but also for social reasons. China hates Japan and will over react to Japanese military build up. If the Japanese would do it we should put nukes there everytime N. Korea acts up add a few more. China would slap em down so fast the N.Korean's wouldn't know what hit em.

russell1200 said...

Pioneer: Maybe, but note how quick the Europeans back peddled on putting duties on imported solar panels. They were terrified of getting locked out of the Chinese market.