I still believe that China will never be able to be a hegemon the way that the British were and the US still is today. I firmly believe that it’s possible for the world to survive the rise of China without World War III.
But that doesn’t mean that the rivalry won’t exist. China will be dominant in Asia by the end of the century, and it is very, very likely to be the richest and most powerful country in the world by that point as well. The question, as I’ve said before, is how we get there. Will it be peacefully, or after another war? I believe that continued growth in the United States is necessary to meet that peaceful result. China won’t be tempted to assert itself militarily if it doesn’t think it can win, so the US needs to fade slowly. Which means it needs to keep growing…
Video Transcript after the jump…
Hey there. So how has the United States managed to keep winning for so long? Whether or not you like the fact that the US has done so well for the past 200 years, it’s worth asking why. There are a million ways to look at this, and countless factors that are important, but today I would like to look at what is probably the most important factor: immigration.
In the year 1800 the United States was a tiny country, made up of a little over 5 million people. It was dwarfed and surrounded by the British, Spanish and French empires. The US barely even had a navy in 1800. If you had to choose the victor in the competition for hegemony in the Americas back then, you probably wouldn’t choose the US.
But the United States grew. By 1900 the US had 76 million people and it had won the battle for North America. It’s numbers gave it the ability to dominate South America as well. The question now was whether the United States would be able to be a big player in the world, not just on the continent it was on. It faced European Empires that were much more technologically advanced than they were 100 years earlier. They now had instantaneous communication and massive battleships. Those empires dwarfed the US population.
But the United States grew. By 1950 the US had 152 million people and most of those grand empires were falling apart. The question now was whether the US could prevail against its greatest threat ever, the massive Soviet Empire. The Soviets had over a hundred million more people than the US, and tens of millions more in countries they controlled. It didn’t look good for the US.
But the United States grew. By 2017 the US had 325 million people. Even if it hadn’t broken up, the United States would still be a larger country than the Soviet Union today. Continued immigration to the US has always given it the resources it has needed to overcome all rivals. But now we face a different challenge. China isn’t some flash in the pan European Empire. From long before the Romans down to the 1800s China’s population made it the most powerful country on Earth. It now expects to have that status renewed. Will it happen?
Well that’s up to US policy makers. This is why I get defensive about US immigration, and why I think its opponents are nuts. My support for immigration isn’t about the kumbaya virtues of multiculturalism, or feel good diversity nonsense. US history shows that all that stuff fades pretty quickly. Immigration is about power. And those who seek to end immigration to the United States are working to undermine US power.
Immigration to the US is already at historically low levels and elements of the Trump administration are working hard to get them even lower. Congress has been been able to block their worst ideas so far, but ambitious foreign students are all ready choosing to go elsewhere. I spend a lot of time mocking Washington, DC’s invented threats, but there is one threat that I don’t mock. The story of the twenty first century is likely to be the rivalry between the United States and China. The best way to keep that rivalry peaceful is to keep up with China’s growth, or at least not fall too far behind. The United States doesn’t need to be the size of China, though our continent sized country could easily support that. No, it’s just a question of keeping up, and staying in the game until China’s period of extreme growth ends. US immigration, is US power.