Evidently, Glaser in his professional work has well read in the field of international relations. He cites the following to support his conclusion: Harvard Professor Graham Allison: “in 12 of 16 cases in the past 500 years when a rising power challenged a ruling power, the outcome was war.”
Chicago University scholar John Mearsheimer, a theorist on hegemony: “China cannot rise peacefully.” Political scientists Andrew Nathan and Andrew Scobell: “Beijing sees America as the most intrusive outside actor in China’s internal affairs.” Foreign Policy commentator, Robert Kagan: “US hegemony makes us safer and richer, but also that it bestows peace and prosperity on everybody else. If America doesn’t rule, goes his argument, the world becomes less free, less stable and less safe.” However, many political scientists dispute this claim. For example, in his book, Pathologies of Power, Christopher Fettweis wrote: “The international system, rather than cowering in obedience to American demands for peace, is far more “self-policing.” International relations theorist Robert Jervis has written: “the pursuit of primacy was what great power politics was all about in the past” but that, in a world of nuclear weapons with “low security threats and great common interests among the developed countries”, primacy does not have the strategic or economic benefits it once had.” Another International relations theorist Daniel Drezner contends: “the economic benefits from military predominance alone seem, at a minimum, to have been exaggerated”; that “There is little evidence that military primacy yields appreciable geoeconomic gains”; and that, therefore, “an overreliance on military preponderance is badly misguided.”
Glaser’s conclusion is that the struggle for military and economic primacy in Asia is not really about our core national security interests; rather, it’s about preserving status, prestige and America’s neurotic image of itself. – pretty dumb reasons for risking war. The dire predictions of a coming US-China conflict may be wrong; China’s economy may slow or even suffer crashes and the US’s economic and military advantage may remain intact for a few more decades. Both countries are armed with nuclear weapons. There’s little reason to think the mutually assured destruction paradigm that characterized the Cold War between the US and the USSR wouldn’t dominate this shift in power as well. So he concludes why take the risk, when maintaining US primacy just isn’t that important to the safety or prosperity of Americans? Knowing that should at least make the idea of giving up ‘empire’ a little easier. Glaser’s views are endorsed by a few commentators: ‘‘The US troops based abroad are not there to defend the U.S., they are there to keep the host countries to be pro-US.’’
After reading Glaser’s article, one comes away with the conclusion: It is not necessary to maintain an ‘empire’ and behave like an ‘empire’ in order to deal with a rising China! The U.S. military supremacy still leads China for decades, perhaps even longer if China could not maintain her rapid rise continuously for the next couple of decades. If we would examine this issue from the point of view of economics, the ‘empire’ strategy makes even less sense. Maintaining an ‘empire’ with military primacy is very costly. Under the ‘Pivot to Asia’ policy, rebalancing the U.S. presence in Asia calls for increasing more naval power to Asia Pacific, enhancing more military bases there and to sign up more military alliances with Asian nations. The U.S. has been relying on Japan to pay for the US troops stationed in Japan. This gives Japan a ‘leveraging right’ to act more on Japan’s interest rather than on the U.S. interest. For example, the U.S. maintains a neutral position on the sovereignty issue of the disputed Diaoyu Islands between China and Japan. The U.S. wishes Japan not to stir up the pot to provoke China by scheming to purchase those islands. However, Japan rather wishes to get her money’s worth by demanding the US-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty to cover those disputed islands specifically. Obviously, Japan’s behavior raises tension in the East China Sea and makes the U.S. ‘empire status’ strategy more offensive.
The local citizens’ opposition to the $8.6 billion relocation and renovation of a new US military base in Okinawa is another challenge to the ‘empire’ model. Insisting of maintaining a US military base against the Okinawans’ wishes in the name of Okinawan’s security concern is extremely difficult to justify. The recent pro-military expansion policy of the Abe Shinzo administration not only does not help the Okinawa military base issue, it also adds a dark cloud over the US ‘empire’ image. As far as Asians are concern, if the presence of American military were genuinely for maintaining Asia security, it would be welcomed. But it would not be accepted if the presence of the US troops would actually raise tension in Asia. This feeling is not only seen in the ASEAN nations but also shared by Australia. When the U.S. would shoulder all the cost of maintaining her ‘empire’ model, the hosting countries of US military bases and US military alliances perhaps would accept the model. But if the Asian nations were required to pay for those costs or coerced to purchase the second tier US military weapons, the ‘empire’ model became another matter. The good Asian political leaders would be under the guidance of their people to re-evaluate the Asian security issue.
China’s rise may be perceived to be posing a threat to her Asian neighbors, but her trade relations with them also tell them they need China as much as China needs them. China’s recent assertiveness in dealing with her sovereignty (in East and South China Seas) was to a large extent triggered by her neighbors’ own initiatives, be it by open provocation (arresting fishing boats for instance) or sneaky occupation and land reclaim on nearby islands. It is natural that all nations are mouth-watering over energy and fishery resources around those small islands and their surrounding sea areas. However, there is easier and simpler win-win solution for getting those resources by collaboration. As a large country with rapid development, China is in the position to lead such collaborations. China’s ‘One Belt and One Route’ economic development strategy seems to pave a mutually beneficial way for Asian countries to work with China. There is hardly any reason for the U.S. to oppose that approach. On the contrary, it would benefit the U.S. to take an advanced developed country position to offer technological and financial assistance needed for the Asian development. It would be a far better ‘empire state’ image than coercing small nations to purchase her weapons and/or support her troops.