Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Asian Century: Delayed 100 years?

C'mon - you all know that you've used this phrase at least once. Googling it brings up approximately 8.91 million hits, most of which are speaking of the demise of the "American Century", and that the Asian economies (most notably China and India) will be overtaking us by 2050. In an earlier post, I mentioned that the population of the world by 2050 will be about 9.1 billion. Guess where between 3.5 to 4 billion of those people could be - that's right. China and India.

Now, we've seen what the Authoritarian dictatorship of China is willing to do to a tiny island wishing for Democracy (that would be Taiwan, peoples) - what happens, when 2050 rolls around, when the oppressed in China begin attempting to flee to a democratic nation en masse? What democratic nation would that be? Probably India.

So we're looking at a Democracy projected at about 1.75 to 2 billion people, and an authoritarian/totalitarian regime numbering just below or at that mark? I don't know about you, but a war involving two countries armed with nuclear materials, who are right next to each other, with a total population possibly exceeding 3.5 to 4 billion only brings one word to mind. (Warning: Foul Language) The word is cata-fucking-strophic.

Look at a map of Asia or two. If anybody is in the business of freeing Tibet, you should either A) make a move within the next 45 years, or B) Start selling nukes to India and hope they can do it. China will not sit back and watch democracy spread from India as its economy eventually overtakes China. This thing is going to be extremely ugly. If the 20th century was the Century of Totalitarian Genocide (except in Sudan), then the 21st century will have to receive a name all its own. At lowest estimates, I would guess the demise of 50 million people in a war like this, assuming Nepal hauls ass out of there and Tibet decides not to free itself. Somehow, the United States and Europe would have to create a "Mutually Assured Destruction" policy for these two nation-states, or it's going to be even uglier.

Time for some math:

In World War Two, the death total of Soviet Troops are unknown, but most estimates put the number of Russian dead at about 13.6 million. The population of the CCCP of that time was between 125 and 150 million. Let's average those out to 137.5 million. That's greater than the death toll by a factor just over 10, so let's say 9.89 (or 10) percent of the Soviet populace died.
Now let's take a Democratic country that fought in WW2 - say, Britain. Approximately 300,000 Brits died in military combat during WWII (source here). In 1940, the population of Britain was about 48.22 million (source here), so we have .62 percent of people's deaths' in a democratic country.

Extrapolating, worst case scenario
India: Populace: 1.85 billion * .0062 = 11,470,000 military deaths
China: Populace: 1.85 billion * .0989 = 182,965,000 military deaths. (!)
Sounds unlikely, doesn't it? I agree. Looking at any estimate of military dead between 50 million and 200 million(!) raises concerns of accuracy, but remember - these are best* and worst case scenarios. Another thing you should note: These are the totals of deaths from men and women in uniform killed in battle. I did not take disease or anything of the sort into account here.

Using WW2 estimates that about 1/2 as many people died out of battle as in battle, that would be placing a 17.21 million toll on India, and a preposterous 274.4 million total on the head of China. Don't those seem a little off? Wouldn't you expect that more Indians die than 17.21 million? I would too. Seeing as India's not separated by a body of water (the mountains can be bypassed from other routes), the total would be raised upwards.

The winner** of that war will then get to be the competitor for the United States, and we can finally begin truly speculating about an "Asian Century". The loser of that war... well - there's two ways to look at that.

India wins: Tibet is free (yay!), Taiwan gains independence (yay!), China's population is cut by 10 percent. India's is cut by 1 to 2. United States makes sure India doesn't go all Soviet-Union on us. That would suck.
China wins: Authoritarian dictatorship basically continues invading into India and takes it over, making Pol Pot look like a sissy man. Expect unbelievable death totals if this were to occur. (Think 250 million+ here) Mao never really appreciated the Hindu (or Sikh) religions, after all.

What will the United States be doing? Well, despite having a huge vested interest in making sure India wins that, we'll be down in Latin America and South America fixing the mess that Hugo Chavez and two following generations left us. Thanks, Hugo. Asshole.

That is assuming, you know, that we don't elect Democrats 7 times out of 10 leading up to 2050. In that case, we're screwed.

*-In this scenario, "Best Case" is really a misnomer
**-As is the word winner

Update, 3:00 AM - I was directed to this site during the course of my research (note that it's from 2001): It seems a tad optimistic, and I do believe that this will make the war of 1962 look like Child's Play. Seriously. Even if the US somehow does not outlast it, the Sino-Indian war is basically set in stone. There is no way that these two countries will be able to coexist forever. It may be pessimistic, but I believe that it's coming.

Post Script: For all you older bloggers: Be glad you won't be around to see this. In 2050, I'll be 64. (begins humming Beatles' music)