The U.S. has successfully evolved in a short history (250 years) to establish a Democratic governing system based on voting rights. The voting rights was framed in the Declaration of Independence in 1776 but left to the states to define by constitution (1788). The American voting rights were very restrictive and discriminative full of barriers such as property ownership, race, gender, sex, and rules such as poll taxes and literacy tests. These restrictions were gradually removed (U.S. Born and naturalization,1868; black men vote, 1870; women vote, 1920; native Indian vote, 1924; Chinese exclusion-1882 Act removed, 1943; removing poll tax and other voting restrictions, 1964 - 2002). It is important to point out that In 2013 Supreme Court ruled: “states do not have to clear with federal government to make election changes.” which led to some state laws of requiring voter ID, restrictions on mail-in voting, limited voting hours and polling stations, etc. This potentially may move voting rights backward.
However, what worries political scholars are not how and when to reach ‘one person one vote’ but how the entire voting process can be controlled by the military industrial complex. Take the obvious, gun control issue as an example, numerous gun violence including the most recent Uvalde Massacre happened at the elementary school killing 19 children and 2 teachers prompted a public outcry for gun control. But no serious gun control law had been passed due to the lobbying effort of the gun manufacturers. This lobbying power is equally effective in influencing the U.S. defense budget, military weapon development, U.S. military base expansion, foreign policy leading to wars and supply of weaponry to support wars such as the on-going Russian-Ukraine war costing the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars. The above huge and complex lobbying process is simply accomplished by influencing the U.S. voters through campaign contribution to candidates for government, Congress and courts to become their preferred public servants. The term for describing the above U.S. democracy was called military industrial complex - a network of wealthy owners/controllers of corporations of military and industrial product manufacturers. This term was first used by President Eisenhower to warn the danger of U.S. democracy.
The U.S. has become the superpower after WW II and maintained her supreme military power ever since. The U.S. not only has the most advanced military weapons in all forces (Airforce, Navy, Army and Marines) including the recently established space force but also has the most military bases in the world (hundreds to thousands) and the greatest numbers of military Allies.The U.S. is the number one military exporter (40% of world weapon trade (WWT) - $0.8Trillion) with a defense budget of $778.2B - 3.7% of GDP. The next four are Russia (19% WWT, $61.7B - 4.3% of GDP), France (11% WWT, $52.7B of 2.1% of GDP), China (4.6% WWT, $252.3B of 1.7% of GDP) and Germany (4.5% WWT, $52.8B of 1.4% of GDP). From the above numbers, one wonders why the U.S. is targeting China as the most critical competitor. China’s surplus trade with the U.S. dwarfs so much in US WWT. The U.S. has a defense budget three times more than China’s who has to maintain a lot more soldiers along her borders with 14 neighbors. There is no threat from China to the U.S., not militarily nor commercially since China depends on imports of agriculture and energy products and the U.S. happened to be abundant in both. The stress the U.S. is facing comes from her military spending (3.7% of her GDP) and national debt (129% of GDP, 2022/3, China 1.7% and 73% respectively).
China’s military development is defense driven since she does not maintain hundreds of military bases abroad, rather she will rent one or two for supply purposes. In addition, she does not seem to focus her industrial technology development for military purposes. The author draws two recent news to corroborate with the above statement. First, Dan Parsons published an article in the Warzone on May 27, 2022, entitled, Navy’s 85-foot Orca Unmanned Submarine Will Be A Minelayer First. Orca is an Extra Large Unmanned Underwater Vessel (XLUUV) developed by the Navy with a primary role of carrying anti-ship mines in a 34-foot modular payload compartment. It’s first mission this summer will be laying sea mines in the ocean. At 80 tons, orca is too big for a submarine to carry and launch, so it must be put to sea from a pier or larger surface ship. It is basically an unmanned submarine with guidance and control, navigation, autonomy, situation awareness, core communications, power distribution, propulsion and maneuvering and mission sensors. It also has a raise-able mast for satellite connectivity when surfaced. It’s first front module is the 34-foot mine-carrying module. It is an impressive looking unmanned submarine, obviously designed for warfare.
Another news article published by Joseph Trevithick and Oliver Parken also in the Warzone, May 27, 2022, entitled, China Launches Drone Ship that Acts as A Mothership for More Drones, is equally impressive. Although Trevithick and Parken viewed it from military perspective (a hub for various unmanned weapons and surveillance), the development work first reported in the South China Morning Post on May 18 has a different emphasis. This difference (from Orca) is my main point of discussion. China’s huge drone ship is called Zhu Hai Yun, it is extensively (Trevithick and Parken used ostensibly) designed for marine research purpose. The vessel features an advanced artificial intelligence operating system allowing semi-autonomous operations and serving as a mother drone for various other drones or unmanned vessels to do ocean research. (The Warzone article implies possible aerial drones and submersible drones for military operations). The director of the Southern Marine Science and Engineering Lab of Sun Yat-Sen University, responsible for the development the ship’s AI system, called it the Intelligent Mobile Ocean Stereo Observing System (IMOSOS). The ship can undertake “3-D dynamic observations”. Its semi-autonomously operation means that a crew can take control of its navigation remotely or physically when it is in a busy port. That is, its control can be split between human operation and the AI autonomous system.
Based on past observations, we might venture to predict that the development of Orca would be very expensive with its function primarily for military use. (complying to Military Specs) On the other hand, the Zhu Hai Yun was designed with commercial application in mind, planned to be sell-able at affordable price and being able to be produced by rapid mass production at much lower cost. (using commercial specs) This difference in philosophy tells a lot about US-China competition. It is time for the U.S. to abandon the ‘target the enemy’ national security strategy and 'only win by military might' which benefits mainly the military industrial complex not the nation as a whole. In all honesty, at a memorial weekend we must reflect and accept the fact that national competitions, jusdt like Olympic competitions, must be fair. Win or lose, the end result is creating a record for the benefit of the entire human race, not 'just for me not for you' scenario.
Ifay Chang. Ph.D., Inventor, Author, TV Game Show Host and Columnist (www.us-chinaforum.org) as well as serving as Trustee, Somers Central School District.