Since the 90s, American businesses have been funnelling massive amounts of money to China and its factories/workers. Microsoft, etc. have channeled a lot of work that was once done in the US to China, which has essentially shut down many of the factories that once made the US powerful, essentially transferring untold wealth and power to China. SO now that we are threatening to stop trade with China, it seems a little late – in all likelihood, China is more financially powerful than we are at this point in time. The time to make those feelings known was in 2000, not 2016 🙂
I’ve seen references lately that Rome suffered through a leader like Trump (Caligula), survived him and had several more centuries of power. Some thoughts about that:
- The world moved slower then. Empires lasted longer because the world moved at a slower pace before powered engines, flight and instant communication. So a few centuries then is a much shorter time frame than now.
- Rome did not “survive” Caligula — they assassinated him. Not saying we should assassinate anyone, but the Romans took matters into their own hands (i.e. Acted rather than waited).
- Rome was facing challenges, but not the same as today I dont’ think. They did not have a powerful China, an antagonist in Russia and small states with nuclear missiles to contend with. I feel like these are much more dangerous/lethal times for the US, than Rome was facing with Caligula. Stakes are higher — and more instantaneous — for us at this moment than Rome faced in 1st Century AD/CE.
It’s scary to think where the world might be today with Trump in office at the times that Abe Lincoln, FDR, Ike and JFK had to navigate scary times.
Anyway, my two cents.
Am reading the marvelous book “Silk Road,” so spent a couple of minutes reading about silk… Silk was developed in ancient China, and has been found in tombs dating back to 3630 BC. Originally, silk was reserved for emperors and its production steps kept secret to maintain a Chinese monopoly, but by 200 BC North Korea had acquired the ability to produce silk, and within 300 years several other cultures in Eurasia were also producing silk. It was incredibly valuable, and often used as currency since coins were difficult to produce and even more difficult to exchange between cultures.
For decades and centuries, the frontiers of China were the home to the Xiongnu, a confederacy/alliance of nomads who lived within the shelter of the towering Parmir Mountains. In the early days, the Xiongnu would emerge and attack border settlements in China, so the Han Dynasty began paying the nomads not to attack (a common theme in human history). Generally, the payment was in silk, and over time the payments grew quite substantial. Finally, the Han Dynasty had enough. New generals emphasized new strategies (such as increased calvary) to hunt the nomads in the mountains, and the Xiungnu were nuetralized. This secured the Hexi Corridor near modern Afghanistan, and set the stage for the beginnings of The Silk Road.
For many years, China consisted of 7 warring kingdoms. But one of these kingdoms, Qin, underwent a few changes. First, in 356 BCE, the statesman Shang Yang instituted polices and reforms that strengthen Qin. These included policies that set standards for weight and currency, favored the government over the individual, encouraged immigration to draw in more labor, and gave land based on merit (e.g. productive farms, military prowess). He was hated by nobility (who could no longer rest on their entitlements), but this did strengthen Qin. A century later, in 230 BC, an aggressive statesman (Fan Gui) drove Qin to conquer one kingdom at a time. By 221 BCE, Qin had conquered all the warring kingdoms, and King Zheng of Qin became ruler. Qin instituted a centralized and heavy-handed government, standards, and eliminated opposing view points, which helped keep a unified China.
I am sure I had more than one teacher talk about the Boxer Rebellion, but I recall nothing about it or even hearing about it (I probably skipped that section of the text book and tuned out that portion of lectures) until EB Sledge made mention of it in China Marine, so I looked it up.
The Boxer Rebellion — what I understand in my brief reading — was an uprising by 1000s of Chinese who grew tired of Christian influences. Basically, it was these folks (called Boxers) who rose up against Chinese Christians and foreigners to expel them. Eventually, the Chinese Empress of the time gave her support and diplomats, Chinese Christians and foreigners were besieged. “A state of war” existed between the Chinese forces and foreign armies, including nearly 500 US Marines and more than 1,000 US enlisted soldiers overall. There were periods of intense combat that left several US Soldiers killed and earned many Medals of Honor. I had no idea. I knew about The Roughriders charge during the Spanish American War of the 1890s, but not of our battles in the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.
1000s of people died over several years, before the rebellion was put down by a combination of internal forces and foreign soldiers. But the rebellion had long-term consequences in that foreign powers decided to focus more on the emperors and less on the people, to stop any attempts to colonize China, and to turn attensions elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Chinese turned inward and were less welcome to foreign influences.
Every time I read about Donald Trump’s America First policies, where his plan is to insulate America in the midst of a potentially dangerous global economy, I can’t help but think of The Lord of the Flies. The man clearly has led a sheltered and ignorant life.
(Oh my god, America, please elect *anyone* but him!!! The world will be an incredibly scary place led by a man who has lived his entire life in a Trump Tower surrounded by Miss USA contestants).