The man who is skilled at obtaining the support of the people is also the man who is skilled in using military force. Skillfully gaining the support of the people is the essence of military undertaking. It’s that simple.—Xunzi
The US-China War Began in 1944, Part III
(Part I and II are here and here).
As Alastair Crooke observed, China killed Western inflation by providing affordable goods (a US-made iPhone would cost $2200), which Russia complemented with cheap energy. Between them, they kept western economies (barely) competitive, and (almost) inflation free for two decades.
The descent from Paradise began when the US began treating its providers of energy and goods as enemies and has developed such momentum that severed trading blocs are breaking free of old hegemonies.
In this wobbly, unpredictable context, war with a Great Power like China, far from America’s shores, will be extremely expensive and require years of preparation – many times the $120 billion and eight years’ preparation the US and EU invested in the Ukraine War.
To fight China the US must double defense spending through 2030. Today’s USAF and USN fleets are aging and shrinking while China’s bigger, younger fleets are growing rapidly. The US must also contend with Russia’s powerful Atlantic and Pacific navies, armed with hypersonic anti-ship missiles against which the US has no defense.
To finance a China war, Washington must grow the economy five times faster. In order to grow at its 1.6% historic rate, the US borrows $3 trillion/year. The notion that the country could borrow three times more, $10 trillion/year, without triggering hyperinflation, is fanciful.
To decouple from China, the US must double manufacturing’s share of its economy from 12% to 24% (China’s is 27%). As TSMC has learned to its dismay, skilled workers are rare and expensive in the US.
To challenge China’s science lead the US must multiply its annual R&D investment tenfold through 2045. Nowadays, more research scientists move to China than to the US.
To compete in the world market with China, America must
Eliminate the health deficit that keeps its labor force participation at 62% (vs. China’s 72%).
Double literacy and numeracy. The US, #22 in world rankings, spends $14,000/child annually on education. #1 China spends $9,000 PPP and is doubling rural education spending.
Boost social wellbeing. The US is a shining example neither of democracy nor legitimacy: there are more hungry children, drug addicts, suicides, executions, and illiterate, incarcerated, poor, homeless people in America than in China.
Make up the $3 trillion infrastructure deficit and invest an additional $3 trillion to match China, whose 40,000 km. of high speed trains move entire armies across the country in hours.
Restore confidence in the dollar. Central banks saw Washington’s sanctions on 30% of the world's nations and its theft of Russia's reserves as portents of disaster. They are already finding alternatives to the dollar and demanding higher yields on US bonds.
Plan, coordinate and manage the additional $6 trillion of economic activity each year, with the additional energy, commodities, labor and infrastructure that it requires. Effective management of major, long-term projects is a national weakness, as the F-35 and the Navy’s LCS programs demonstrate.
Restore confidence in government. Barely 7% of Americans trust Congress, while 96% of Chinese are confident in their government. The world sees Chinese officials are smart, honest, and pacific – and sees with equal clarity that American officials are not.
Restore confidence in media. Only 28% trust the media, a vital element of war fighting. (80% of Chinese trust theirs).
Survive the lost war in Ukraine. Millions of Europeans are already demonstrating against the war. What will they do when they find that their sacrifices were in vain and they must pay 50% more for their energy forever?
Survive the new reserve currency that supports national development as much as the US dollar repressed it. BRICS and the EEU will launch it, with unpredictable effects on domestic inflation and stability.
US science and industry lag far behind China’s in scale, momentum, capitalization, breadth, depth, adaptability, speed and quality, so investors are moving their money to China.
Reversing that flow, and making up America’s military, economic, financial, diplomatic, manufacturing and scientific deficits after lost wars in Afghanistan and Ukraine – while adjusting to a new reserve currency – is not only beyond Washington’s capabilities, it’s beyond imagining (try it).
The US will not attack China because it cannot.
It can’t get there from here.
The US Navy’s fleet is older, smaller, and its weapons shorter-ranged with less explosive power; Recruiting healthy young Americans is becoming impossible; US planners lost the Ukraine war in one month – after 8 years’ preparation.
China borrows nothing to support its $1 trillion (5%) GDP growth and trade surplus.
I don't think the USA is looking for a real war, as you said, they can't carry it off. Rather, they'd like a proxy war, or failing that some act extreme enough that they can use their NGO operations to cut off relations between China and a sufficient trade block to both slow China's growth and to retain the neo-colonies to feed off of until Western Vampire (ie: finance/rentier) Capitalist find a new home for their coffins they sleep in at night.
The hero of the GDP in China are the engineers from either the military and civil sector. Meanwhile US's GDP hero is a cancer patient undergoing a costly divorce.
When the shipyard at Shanghai produced five Type-55 class Missile Cruisers within 3 months, US will matched the GDP produces simply with 50 law firms and hundreds of student debts.