The Wall Street Journal, China, Power and Its Budget

Wall Street Journal ,China, American Power and Its Budget

The Op Ed section of the WSJ Friday, July 29,2011 includes a piece by George Melloan which is as graceful and well-written defense of a neocon position on the American military as one would want. It celebrates America. It presents the rational for American exceptionalism, the ability to go everywhere and do everything, in a wonderfully economic phrase:
“. . .the U.S. has been the primary architect of a global order that has fostered free commerce and political and social advances of great benefit to the U.S. and the world at large.”

He tells us that there is a problem however. The U.S. does not have the economic strength to continue this, well, hegemony. The problem isn’t that American overseas political ambitions have been excessive; no, the problem is that the poor people inside America want assets that could be better employed out there.  What is his ambition for America out there?

These are some of his enthusiasms, which to my mind would put him squarely in the neocon-con camp:

“America’s primary need since World War II has been to learn how to fight unconventional wars and thereby promote the spread of freedom and democracy in benighted places like the Middle East.”

“This is not an argument against ‘nation building.’ It is an argument for doing it smarter and with greater patience.”

He has other enthusiasms which, while not putting him in a direct collision with regular conservatives, suggest an “activist” role in other countries’ business. “Bringing officers from local forces to the U.S. for training and the experience of democratic rule also is a low-cost way to strengthen alliances.  If Egypt remains in the U.S. camp after Mubarak, the training given Egyptian officers . . . may be a more important factor than the billions of dollars of aid the U.S. has supplied that country.”

There is no major adjustment necessary in either thinking or strategy, in his opinion.  He quotes Ronald Reagan: “no nation has ever been attacked because it was too strong.”

To be sure that the reader gets the message, there is an excerpt  in a window in the body of the piece. “We can afford the big stick we need if we’re more careful about using it.”

It could be 1956 again: The piece concludes: “But if the U.S. is to survive the coming budget crises without severe damage to its political influence in the world, it will need a smarter foreign policy.”

Now any particular observation within the argument is unexceptional. For the past half century Americans have been reading and listening to precisely that argument produced with precisely that data and that tone. The tone fits with what America associates with The Greatest Generation,  the American Century: American Exceptionalism.

What is crucial isn’t what Mr. Melloan includes; it is what he leaves out. First, nuclear weapons. Second, Russia. Third, China.

An initial observation: What is said about the role of the U.S. being the “primary architect” of a world order that has advanced human progress and happiness, is precisely what white tall people who spoke English said about the British Empire. Indeed, they say it today. And, one of the reasons they say it with such conviction, is that much of it is correct. The problem however, is that unlike 1956, or 1856, or 1756; what the Russians and Chinese think about the same claims matters.

What they think matters because, finally, Russians and Chinese can engineer ovens for the white 3 year olds in Kansan City. That oven is hours closer, and orders of magnitude more dangerous than it was in 1956. Not to include any mention of nuclear weapons, IQ and the Chinese is to miss the story of the enormous vulnerability that, now, American children are going to grow old with for the next several generations.

If everything goes well.

Discussing “American Power” as if it were simply an accounting phenomena; a matter of budgetary priorities is to miss the central fact of military events in the last half century. America can now be blown to Kingdom Come. Now, America can similarly destroy Russia and China. But if one wishes to get some sense how long the Chinese will cling to nuclear weapons one has to see how this rough equivalency in the death business looks to the Russians and Chinese.

Simple. They have solved, for them, American Exceptionalism. It looks like deliverance.

How have they achieve this deliverance. This blog, unique to my knowledge, starts the story with a school system for all the boys. What happened to the Chinese boys 1970 to 2000, was what happened to Italian American boys, 1950 to 1970:



Native White Males of Native Parents

45-64             25-44

years old         years old


% classified as



managerial &

administrative       27.1              31.0


median school

years completed    11.4              12.5


% unemployed        2.6               2.7


% self-employed

workers                  15.2                 8.8


% institutionalized   1.1                .93


Family Income of Native White

Population of Native Parents


45-64             25-44

years old       years old


median income      $11,149        $10,559


% below

poverty level       6.8            7.3

U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1970, National Origin and Language.




Italian Males


45-64          25-44

years old       years old

foreign born    native of


born or



% classified as



managerial &

administrative        15.1             31.8


median school

years completed      8.4              12.4


% unemployed        3.3               2.4


% self


workers                  13.6               9.7


% institutionalized  .45               .51


Family Income of Italian Americans


45-64             25-44

years old        years old

foreign born       native of


born or



median  income     $11,360        $11,832

%  below

poverty level       4.6              4.6


U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1970 National Origin and Language.

What happened to second generation Italian American males between 1950 and 1970 is that they essentially caught up to the Native White population in earnings, education and occupational status. How to explain this, and what does it imply for nuclear weapons. Why bring it up here?

Because it demonstrates what happens when a population moves from a peasant society to an industrial economy. A school system differentiates within the population. It identifies the more and the less intelligent. If Italian American IQ is essentially equal to the Native White IQ, what happened in terms of Italian American income and occupational status was predictable. I use the pass rate of Rhode Island AFQT, as well as SAT scores of Rhode Islanders to buttress my point that Italian American IQ is very similar to the IQ of native born whites of native born parents.

While every expert may not agree with me, some do,

SURVEY RESEARCH CENTRE                            University

667-3022 Area Code 416                          4700 Keele Street,

Downsview, Ontario M3j 1p3


December 4, 1980


Mr. Richard R. Peppe

25 Birch Street

Derry, New Hampshire

U.S.A.  03038


Dear Mr. Peppe:


Thank you for sending me a copy of your article on “Italian Emigration and Economic Productivity”.  I find your conclusions interesting and in no way incompatible with the Canadian experience of immigration from Italy and other southern European countries.


I enclose a reprint of a recent article which may be of interest to you. (Anthony H. Richmond and Ravi P. Verma, “Income Inequality in Canada: Ethnic and Generational Aspects,” Canadian Studies in Population 5, 1978.)  You would find further relevant materials in the following publications:


  1. H. Richmond and W. E. Kalbach, Factors in the Adjustment of Immigrants and their Descendants (Ottawa Statistics Canada 1980).


  1. H. Richmond, Ethnic Variation in Family Income and Poverty in Canada (Toronto:  York University, Ethnic Research Program, 1978).


I hope you will find these materials useful.

Yours sincerely,


  1. H. Richmond


York – IBR

What is interesting but not very important in the study of immigration, becomes both important and terrifying in any consideration of China and nuclear weaponry.  China now has a school system for all of its boys. How well Chinese boys do in math class has become visible to the world. The fact that the American economy is four or five times the size of the Chinese economy, and on a percapita basis, maybe 20 times larger, is not going to allow America to have a world where Americans are safe from nuclear weapons and the Chinese are vulnerable.

I have criticized the neocons because I think that they are advocating America try to achieve something that America just cannot achieve. I believe that Pat Buchanan, a conservative who can generally be counted on the flay the neocons, puts the issue just right. In a recent column: “Fiscal Hawks vs. Security Hawks” he says,

And this is only the beginning. For even after the debt-ceiling deal, projected deficits are so huge that a downgrade of the U.S. debt rating and eventual default, even if done through inflation and depreciation of the dollar, seem certain.
Thus, fiscal reality is about to force upon the neocons and national security Republicans like John McCain decisions they have been avoiding since the Cold War.
Eventually, this day had to come. Indeed, we put it off too long.
As far back as the 1950s, John Foster Dulles was recommending an “agonizing reappraisal” of all U.S. alliances. Dwight Eisenhower urged JFK to withdraw U.S. troops from Europe and let Europeans take over primary responsibility for their own defense.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur told JFK not to put his foot soldiers into Southeast Asia. President Nixon said that in future Asian wars, Asian boys, not American boys, must carry the burden of ground fighting.
Robert Gates said on his departure that any future defense secretary who pushed his president to fight another Asian war ought to have his head examined. Common sense, born of painful experience.
But if the Pentagon budget is to be cut, how and where do we cut?
The debate on the right, too long delayed, must begin, for the cuts are coming and the $1 trillion likely to be slashed this year and next is only the beginning.
Wisdom in making these decisions may be found in the Kennedy commitment of 1960 that Reagan copied into the book of notes he kept in his Oval Office desk. Kennedy demanded that in defense America remain first — not first when, or first if, but first, period.
Rather than slash weapons systems or R&D, the United States should begin by ending our three-and-a-half wars, terminating treaties to go to war for nations having nothing to do with U.S. vital interests, closing bases abroad, bringing troops home and staying out of unnecessary wars.

The interesting point from the perspective of this blog is the similarities between the neocon Mr. Melloan and the straight conservative Mr. Buchanan on the matter of hi tech R&D. Both columns make deep bows in the direction of President Reagan, and I suppose it was President Reagan who had the most enthusiasm for dealing with the nuclear threat with more and bigger hi tech: The ultimate answer, a defensive system could make Americans safe from the nuclear weapons threat.

If one accepts the fundamental premises of this blog, that hi tech nuclear weaponry are IQ scores, that enthusiasm is misplaced and has to lead to more vulnerability for everyone, including three year olds who look like President Reagan.

The past 50 years have demonstrated that the Chinese nuclear weapons program has been an enormous success because it has had been able to use the talents of millions of boys who only started attending school in the past 50 years. If the Chinese IQ distribution is as good as the distribution of Native Born Whites of Native Born Parents, (it may be better, at least on quantitative scales) there is no mystery to the fact that now Chinese engineers can slaughter American whites as quickly as American whites can slaughter them.
Sooner or later the American Right, conservative and neocon both, will have to ask themselves the question: Are Russian and Chinese engineers too smart to continue the nuclear arms race whether it is factored in terms of offensive systems or defensive systems?


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