Is war with China inevitable?
Some Westerners fear China's rise but a strong China usually means less need for war, says David Kang, Professor of International Relations at USC.
David C. Kang is Maria Crutcher Professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California, with appointments in both the School of International Relations and the Marshall School of Business. At USC he is also director of the Korean Studies Institute. Kang's latest book is "American Grand Strategy and East Asian Security in the 21st Century," (2017, Cambridge University Press). He is also author of "East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute"; "China Rising: Peace, Power, and Order in East Asia"; "Crony Capitalism: Corruption and Development in South Korea and the Philippines"; and "Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies" (co-authored with Victor Cha). Kang has published numerous scholarly articles in journals such as International Organization and International Security, and his co-authored article “Testing Balance of Power Theory in World History" was awarded “Best article, 2007-2009," by the European Journal of International Relations. Kang has also written opinion pieces in the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as writing a monthly column for the Joongang Ilbo in
David Kang: One of the most interesting patterns in East Asian history—which is quite different from the European pattern—is that when China is strong and big there’s a lot less fighting.
And when China falls apart then there’s some vicious fighting as everybody jockeys for position.
So whether we go back to the transition of the Ming dynasty in the 17th century or we get to the collapse of the Qing dynasty in the 20th century, when China is weak there’s a lot of fighting. When China is strong, in many ways countries get along better.
Well, the rise of China in the last 20 years in many ways has been accompanied with increasing stability around the region.
If you go back 40 years ago to 1978, that’s the beginning of China’s economic reforms and its phenomenal economic growth. Before then, China was a poor country caught in the throes of a cultural revolution where maybe a million Chinese died; they were fomenting revolution and supporting revolutionary groups around the region.
Since that time over the last 40 years China’s economy has exploded. 400 million Chinese have gone out of poverty. It looks nothing like it was before.
So China’s domestic situation is far more stable than before. At the same time, what’s happening to trade in the region? Everybody is now trading with China. Countries may not like what China is doing politically, but they don’t fear invasion. Vietnam isn’t worried about invasion. Korea is not worried about invasion. But what do they do? They are trying to rapidly expand their economic links with China.
So the region now is getting knit together in a way that it used to look like before, and so there’s more interaction among these countries, not less.
One the things that’s not that surprising —but also really important—is how little we in the West, we in the United States know about East Asian history. Almost all of our theories in IR, almost all of the history we learn, whether it’s in high school or college or even graduate school, is about Europe. And that’s fine. Sure. I understand why it is.
But the fact is there’s a lot of East Asian history that doesn’t look anything like European history. And if we want to understand that reason it might help to actually understand East Asian history.
You know, I do think that there is an incredibly important role for area studies knowledge, for scholars who know the region who have spent their lifetime studying.
In many ways this Eurocentric focus really does put us at a disadvantage in making policy towards Asia, because in some ways we are talking ourselves into conflicts that I don’t think necessarily have to exist. And the perfect example is this whole Thucydides trap.
If you go to DC right now or if you read almost any foreign policy magazine—or even scholarly journals—that talk about East Asia it is essentially a conventional wisdom now. Essentially I would say scholars and policymakers from the left and from the right, almost everybody takes for granted in the United States that “China’s rise can be a threat,” that “we better be prepared to contain,” that “there’s going to be some kind of a titanic struggle.”
But most of this is based not on what China is doing but is based on a belief that “it must inevitably happen, so just wait. It may not be happening now, but it’s going to happen in the future.”
So even when, for example, I’ll do a talk and I’ll show evidence over the last 25 years that in many ways East Asia is more stable and defense spending is not a big as people think, I’m met with a wall of skepticism where people are like, “No, no, no, you don’t understand, just wait. It’s going to happen in the future.”
It’s not based on any knowledge, it’s not based on any evidence, it’s based on a belief about the world, but that belief about the world is informed from Europe and not East Asia.
And so having real knowledge about the informal rules and lessons and places to avoid is incredibly important.
And one thing that happens with U.S. businesses—this goes back decades—is that often American businesses will choose advisers—you need a guide. You absolutely need a guide from the inside.
But I’ve seen this happen over and over again where an American business had a French consulting company help them do something in Europe, so they feel comfortable with a French company, and they will choose that company to help them go to China. And it never made any sense to me! They choose that because that’s who they know.
Or an American advisor who says, “Well, I helped you get into Costa Rica; I can help you go to China.”
There’s only one way to do it, which is to put the time in, do your due diligence, and find a guy on the inside.
I did a project once for a foreign company, and they came to me after they had had— this is in Korea, I helped a company go to Korea set up a business there, and they only came to me after they had hired a Singaporean consulting company to help then go to Korea!
And remember when we talked I was like, why would you hire the Singaporeans? They’re not Korean!
And yet companies often skimp on that, they skimp on the most important things, which are these local domestic knowledge that can help you really understand “don’t talk to that guy and that guy, because they both hate each other” kind of issues that is only available when you have the deep local knowledge.
I know these are generic points and they seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many companies just simply barge ahead without actually spending enough time and finding the right local fixers.
You can see this in the ways in which we have advisers to the U.S. government. The actual number of people who have deep knowledge of the region are easily outnumbered by those who have technical knowledge or nuclear weapons knowledge or arms control knowledge or regular, generic knowledge of international relations.
I just don’t think we’re even that aware of, much less supportive of, having people who actually know the region.
They only need one or two, and yet the number of people who expound on “this is what China is doing” who have no idea what China looks like but are IR scholars, IR theorists, or arms control theorists far outnumber those who are actually China experts—or East Asia experts or Vietnam experts.
And so in many ways I actually think this is an important thing that we need to start to rectify, both in scholarship and in effecting policy. We need better area studies knowledge.
Some Westerners fear China's rise but a strong China usually means less fighting, says David Kang, Professor of International Relations at USC. The conventional wisdom about East Asia is often wrong because it's too Eurocentric. Our governments and businesses hire people who think like them and don't really understand the history and the nuances of the region.
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
Yet 80 percent of respondents want to reduce their risk of dementia.
- A new MDVIP/Ipsos survey found that only 35 percent of Americans know the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
- Eighty percent of respondents said they want to reduce their risks.
- An estimated 7.1 million Americans over the age of 65 will suffer from Alzheimer's by 2025.
Credit: logika600 / Shutterstock<p>Remaining healthy requires regular screenings. Here again we see a disassociation between risk reduction and proactivity. Seventy-seven percent of respondents don't talk to their doctors about lifestyle habits that support brain health; 51 percent have never been screened for depression; 44 percent have never had a neurological exam; and 32 percent have never been screened for hearing problems. </p><p>Common early warning signs of dementia, <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/americans-worry-alzheimers-disease-survey-140644803.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">according to</a> Dr. Jason Karlawish, co-director of the Penn Memory Center, include repetitive questions and stories, difficulties with complex daily tasks, and trouble with orientation. </p><p>In terms of intervention, <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/does-lack-of-exercise-lead-to-dementia" target="_self">exercise</a>, <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/obesity-dementia" target="_self">diet</a>, building a <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/brain-reserve" target="_self">brain reserve</a>, and challenging your brain (such as learning a new language or musical instrument) are all proven methods for staving off the ravages of Alzheimer's. Oxytocin has also <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/alzheimers-oxytocin" target="_self">showed promise</a> in brain-addled mice, while researchers found positive results for a <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/intermittent-fasting" target="_self">group of intermittent fasters</a> in promoting neurogenesis. </p><p>Epidemiologist Bryan James says that dementia is <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/04/15/176920391/how-exercise-and-other-activities-beat-back-dementia" target="_blank">not an inevitable result</a> of aging. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It's simply not pre-destined for all human beings. Lots of people live into their 90s and even 100s with no symptoms of dementia." </p><p>Professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, Andrew Budson, <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/americans-worry-alzheimers-disease-survey-140644803.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recommends</a> aerobic exercise and the Mediterranean diet. As has long been known, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and healthy fasts like nuts and olive oil seem to have brain-boosting properties. </p><p>To learn more, take the <a href="https://www.mdvip.com/brain-health-iq-quiz" target="_blank">Brain Health IQ quiz</a>.</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>