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John T. Reed’s review of The Hundred-Year Marathon by Michael Pillsbury

Posted by John Reed on

Reading further in The Hundred-Year Marathon subtitle China’s Secret Strategy To Replace America As the Global Super Power by Michael Pillsbury:
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The main point of the book is the mainland Chinese have a long-term plan to take over the world which they feel was unjustly taken away from their superior, more virtuous race by us barbarians and their plan is based on thousands of years of oriental mysticism wisdom which is far superior to the wisdom we barbarians accumulated in the same thousands of years. And the mainland Chinese are paranoid thinking we are trying to do the same to them but because we are barbarians we are not as good at it as them.
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For example, they think we defeated the USSR by tricking them into spending too much on defense and thereby bankrupting them.
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I think the USSR did that to themselves and the Democrats sure as hell were not trying to spend a lot on defense.
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1. If the mainland Chinese are so smart, why aren't they rich? Their per capita GDP is$16,842, 79th in the world. Who are they behind? Everybody. 78th is Iraq. 80th is the Maldives. The US is 13th at $59,928. Is per capita GDP the same as median income? Not per se but it seems to be pretty close to it.
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2. Pillsbury says the Mainland Chinese are big on extreme patience. Yeah, we heard that BS in the 1970s when Japan was said to be taking over the world. And we bozo Americans were myopically focused on a foolish quarterly-report time horizon. If you have a hundred-year perspective, you either did not take time value of money in business school or you flunked it.
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I think their extreme patience is really nothing more than they are extremely slow learners. It is a convenient sort of sour grapes excuse to explain why their master race has been living in poverty for 3,000 years while the West has exploded in wealth since the 1700s.
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As I often note, the Chinese written language is colossally stupid. Most of the civilized world uses a phonetic alphabet invented by the Greeks or Romans. 26 letters in English. Chinese has thousands of characters.
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It must take years more to achieve the same degree of literacy in Chinese as in a phonetic alphabet language. Why do they not do as the Vietnamese did and chuck the characters and adopt the phonetic alphabet?
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Because the Mainland Chinese suffer from the world's worst case of "not-invented-here" syndrome. Just plain stupid. I think they would die of mortification if they were to admit the characters are dopey and adopt a phonetic alphabet.
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Multiple Asia cultures have an aversion to losing face so powerful as to be a culture-wide psychiatric defect. The first words spoken to West Point cadets the first day when I was there were, “Mister, from now own you have three answers: Yes, sir; No, sir, and No excuse, sir.” And the answer to “Why did you screw up?” is always, ‘No excuse, sir.’”
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I cannot imagine an Asian military academy could say such a thing. We had to lose face twenty times a day at West Point. I thought it was one of the best things about the education there.
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3. There seems to be a notion in the East and the West that oriental mysticism sayings like those in fortune cookies are superior because they are mystical. Bull! The Karate Kid movie (Japanese not Chinese culture, but the same idea) has the famous "wax on wax off" scene. Basically, the way the learn how to punch somebody out is not by practicing punching people out but the loved-by-orientals indirect method of waxing a car with a cloth. Nah. The best way to learn how to punch people out is to practice punching people out.
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Pillsbury tells of some proverb about not asking how big the opposing emperor’s cauldrons are. What the hell is that about? Something like not asking your track opponent what his 100 meter timer is or asking the Pope how many divisions he has. You hide that you are competing with him at all times until you are ready to pull your ruthless Pearl Harbor on him.
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Pillsbury is not pushing that proverb, just telling the reader that the Mainland Chinese slavishly worship such goofy indirectness.
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4. The book that the Chinese need to read is Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. That is where one learns about "The Invisible Hand." That is even a bit oriental mystical now that I think about it.
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The reason China has been getting its ass kicked for three centuries is the animal spirits of capitalism are infinitely more efficient than ancient wisdom about millennia-old Chinese despot emperors using command peasant economies to compete with each other. Indeed, China's current claim to fame—economic growth—is entirely caused by Deng Xiaoping's free-market reforms. Xi, an idiot, is now reversing all that thereby killing the goose that has been laying China's recent economic-growth golden eggs.
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In the 20th century, various monarchies and dictatorships were sure they could kick democracies' asses because they could command their dictatorship economies to beat the seemingly disorganized, divided, consumer-oriented, preoccupied-with-fun Western nations.
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But the scoreboard tells a different story: Hitler, the Japanese Empire, USSR. Maybe the Mainland Chinese ought to study that a little bit.
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Mainland Chinese are enthralled with Sun Tsu's book the Art of War. So are thousands of Americans. I read it. I was not impressed. Antoine-Henri Jomini's book on that subject is better if you insist on believing that stuff written centuries ago about primitive wars is better than current writings about current wars. Pray tell what war did Sun win? Jomini was a Napoleon Bonaparte staff officer.
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5. In fact, the mainland Chinese are nowhere near as totally focused and disciplined on beating us as Pillsbury would have us believe. For example, they readily admit to being Marxists. And what part of China did HE come from?
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They are very big on stealing our intellectual property and trade and military secrets and regard being so clever as a high virtue. This is how they are going to vanquish us as leaders of the world. Yet they still have not “stolen” our phonetic alphabet.
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In WW II, one of our most advanced and secret weapons was the B-29. Some moron pilot with a mechanical problem decided to land in USSR which was neutral in the war against Japan.
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Stalin ordered his people to copy it identically. His famous aeronautical engineer said he could make a better version of it but Stalin said, “No. Copy it exactly.” And then USSR went on to lose the Cold War. So much for copying being the great secret formula to defeating America.
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China has done tremendous damage to itself with the erstwhile one-child policy among other insanity. From whom did they copy that brilliant idea? Why did they not think through what that would mean? Why did they not wonder if it was such a good idea why no other country did that and succeeded with it?
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6. Before we conclude that China’s Oriental mysticism dooms us, we might note that China does not have a monopoly on Chinese people or wisdom.
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The “Old Countries,” i.e., the Eastern Hemisphere, know that America and the entire Western Hemisphere are nations and hemisphere of immigrants. But they seem oblivious to what it means.
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We are Chinese, and everything else. Furthermore, an argument can be made that in many ways, our Chinese are better than China’s Chinese. Our Chinese left that impoverished, oppressive, socialist, murderous dictatorship nation and came to ours or to Canada. America is an all-star team of the malcontents of all the nations in the world. We take the best from the whole world and worry not about losing face in the process.
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George Bernard Shaw famously said,
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“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
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America has almost all of China’s unreasonable men and we let them and all others self-actualize so they are being wisely made optimal use of by freedom and Adam Smith’s invisible hand—while China oppresses and locks down and imprisons and executes its unreasonable Chinese men.
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Not only are we likely to defeat the mainland Chinese plan to make us their serfs, we will do it in part because Xi and his countrymen are not the only Chinese on this planet. Hitler thought America was a nation of mutts—not pure bred like he imagined Germans were. Then he got his ass kicked in part by Eisenhower, Einstein, Spaatz (changed from the original Spatz by Mrs. Spaatz), Patton (mother’s side was German).
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I am not Spartacus. I am not even of Chinese ancestry. But like Spartacus’s peers all saying “I am Spartacus,” we Americans can say, “We are Chinese and German and Russian and everything else so a war between us and any other nation is that nation warring in part against its own sons and daughters.
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Huah!
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7. Pillsbury keeps saying the Chinese plan is working perfectly and we are oblivious to it, and they are absolute wizards, and we are falling for it hook, line, and sinker.
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Uh, I am now writing a review of Pillsbury’s book about it. I am reading it because I saw him on TV repeatedly talking about it. I have also seen Gordon Chang on TV many times saying similar things. (His wife and mine were co-workers before mine retired.)
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Peter Thiel bad mouths China. So does George Soros.Trump put 44 Chinese companies on a list to be kept off US stock markets. Biden increased the number to 59. Financial investor Jim Chanos has been bad-mouthing and shorting Chinese stocks not always successfully.
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Almost weekly yet another American company abandons China.
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In short, I think the secret is out. The Communist Party of China are a bunch of conniving, dishonest, ruthless, non-transparent, hostile, a**holes and they need to be cut off from benefitting from the West.
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8. Pillsbury make much of a Chinese word shi that he says is really a big deal to the Chinese reds. When I read it I thought that is like Tom Sawyer tricking his friends into white washing the fence. In the next paragraph, I read,
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“A simple way to think of shi is to recall how Tom Sawyer tricked his friends...”
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The fictional Tom Sawyer was a fictional a**hole when he did that. And the real Communist Chinese are real a**holes when THEY do it, or try to do it, daily to us.
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9. Having outed and mocked Mainland China’s Oriental mystical fortune cookie wisdom and strategems, I hereby offer some Occidental mystical Poor Richard’s Almanac sayings:
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• He who repeatedly lies and cheats and reneges will soon find he is no longer invited to nice parties.
• Honesty is the best policy.
• Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. [Apparently this along with other Christian concepts like the 10 Commandments, love thy neighbor, keep your promises, tell the truth, mean nothing to the Communist Chinese at least when they are dealing with one of us barbarian non-Chinese.]
• Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
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10. Communist China’s paranoia and thinking we are like them and doing the same as they are trying to do to us is, it seems to me, a great weakness of theirs. It BS. Assumption is the mother of all screw ups. With each passing day, more and more Americans see them for what they are—an implacable enemy who hates us and wants to destroy us. The words “Made in China” ought to become fatal to any product. (Sorry, Walmart.)
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11. Pillsbury kind of gives the impression mainland China invented trickery and are it's only practitioners. Bull! The US and UK went to great efforts to trick Hitler into thinking D-Day would be at Pas de Calais, including putting Patton in charge of a phony army across from Pas de Calais sending tons of fake radio messages from there, inflated fake tanks, and dumping a dead guy on the ocean off Spain with fake D-Day plans I a briefcase handcuffed to his risk. It worked, Hitler withheld his reserves for days.
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ALL militaries use feints and trickery at times. The only thing different about mainland China is they seem to have an excessive preoccupation with such things. It is actually one if those strengths that can be turned into a weakness. How Orientally mystical of me to say that. I wrote a book titled The Contrarian Edge for Football Offense. One of IRS principles was to turn opponent strengths into weaknesses. Example, the best high school team ever---De. La Salle in Concord, CA studies opponent offense film every day the week of a game. Normal is to look at the film once.
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So make all the keys their defense learns from that false keys by introducing plays where the first step or two are like the film they watched but the play goes to a different hole. Easier said than done but it would screw DLS all up if you could pull it off.
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Mainland China needs to put down their three thousand-year-old Chinese stratagem books and get out more. The West and ROW are not as ignorant as the mainland Chinese think.
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The appropriate policy toward Communist China is to end as much contact with them as possible. They hate our guts and want to enslave us and ROW. They are the worst racists on earth notwithstanding Democrats saying that the worst are those who wore MAGA hats. Let China sell stuff to Russia and all those who abstained on the condemnation of Ukraine at the UN.

Fear of encirclement


12. Apparently there is a popular board game in China where you win by encircling the opponent. According to Pillsbury, China is terrified of being encircled by the US. I remember the US Defense Secretary being in China when a China defense guy made a speech in China with our guy at the dais and he nearly screamed that “China will not be contained.”
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Well, international competition is not a board game.
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ALL nations ought to be contained within their current borders. The alternative is to steal someone else’s country like Putin is trying to do in Ukraine.
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There is a thing in military strategy called “interior lines.” If China were encircled by the US, China would have interior lines. That means, they can move to any part of the front lines by going in a straight line whereas the encircling Americans have to take the “great circle route” to move troops to the same point. Looked at in that way, being encircled is a good deal.
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Encirclement strikes me as something you do to to a relatively small group of soldiers, not to a huge country. China is tied with America for the third largest land area in the world. We would have to put troops in all the nations that border China. We cannot do that. Those include Russia, North Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, etc.
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We had a containment policy versus USSR. And they were the largest land area country. But that really only applied in Europe and NATO was unified. We have no such group of allies or prospective allies in the Pacific. That containment policy versus USSR WORKED. It has NOT worked against Russia in the 21st century.
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Maybe now, to borrow a phrase from the screenwriters of Tora! Tora! Tora!, “All Putin has done with his invasion of Ukraine is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
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Two pertinent facts: after Finland and Sweden join NATO, it has a population close to one billion people and a combined GDP of $45T. Russia has 144M people and $1.2T GDP.
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In 1941, Japan had run roughshod over China when Japan decided to attack us at Pearl Harbor. That did not go well for Japan. They won the first day in HI then again in the Philippines, then they tied in the Coral Sea, then they lost at Midway and never won another battle and were utterly defeated.
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If China is so smart, then they ought to be able to figure out that starting a war with the US has generally not been a great idea. As I have said elsewhere, the extremely suburbanized U.S. with its now hollowed out cities has become a lousy nuclear war target. China, on the other hand, HAS reorganized itself—massive movement from the countryside to monstrously large cities—8 to 23 M population in each. Those are choice nuclear targets. They have put themselves in a poor position to pick a nuclear war with America.

‘Drawing strength from the complacent American front-runner’

13. Pillsbury says Deng Xiaoping planned to obtain knowledge and skills and that China would eventually surpass us by “stealthily most of its energy from the complacent American front-runner.”

Boy, these Communist Chinese are so smart and clever compared to us stupid Americans! But I have one question. Exactly how does one “stealthily draw strength fro the complacent American front-runner?”

In racing, you can draft on the race car in front of you. 

“When cars draft, the leading car blocks the movement of air, creating low pressure behind it. The low-pressure air creates a vacuum, tugging the trailing car forward while reducing the leading car's drag.” Scholastic

But surpassing America economically is not a car race where Bernoulli’s principle applies. Pulling the Communist Chinese economy out of decades of Maoist insanity like back-yard steel smelters and killing all the sparrows requires becoming a capitalist country.

Deng sort of did that. But the formula is simply to get rid of communism and install the seven pillars of prosperity: free markets, property rights, rule of law, stable currency, minimal taxes. minimal regulations, and minimal artificial government caused uncertainty.

China is still communist. They cannot have the seven pillars. Therefore they cannot have prosperity. Indeed, lately, XI has bene attacking his successful capitalist like Jack Ma and his real estate developers.

Then there is the word “complacent.” That may apply to the US government, but unlike China, America is not where it is economically because of government. Rather, we lead the world in GDP—by almost double—because of the animal spirts of capitalism and Adam Smith’s invisible hand. 

And capitalist businessmen who are on top are not complacent. They are competing their asses off and paranoid about their American and foreign competition.

We found out after the Cold war ended that the Soviets were sure we had some great secret computer that made our economy so successful. They never got capitalism. If they were educated, between every paragraph of aeronautical engineering or whatever knowledge was a Communist paragraph.

Deng is the same. He thought America’s economic power was some secret trick or tricks that he could steal. Their notion that they can surpass us by “stealthily obtaining our knowledge and skills” is utterly wrong. 

What Deng did was allow some free markets and capitalism and they do a lot of lying like calling building millions of vacant apartments and offices that no one wants and calling it GDP growth. That is their secret of their “success.”


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