The challenge of China is a much subtler problem than that of the Soviet Union. The Soviet problem was largely strategic. This is a cultural issue: Can two civilizations that do not, at least as yet, think alike come to a coexistence formula that produces world order?
We refuse to learn from experience. Because it’s essentially done by an ahistorical people. In schools now, they don’t teach history anymore as a sequence of events. They deal with it in terms of themes without context.
I’m not really a weapons designer, but it’s only a small extrapolation from the DARPA FLA program (small high-speed quadcopters zooming in and out of buildings) and the CODE program (“hunting in packs like wolves”) to imagine dumping truckloads of flying microrobots the size of large insects, each carrying a 1g shaped charge to blow holes in peoples’ heads or a microrifle to shoot their eyes out. They might need some larger ones to blow holes in doors and walls and stop vehicles. They are totally expendable and very cheap. Planners also seem to be thinking about naval and air-to-air combat which would involve much more expensive assets, but the principle is the same — overwhelming numbers, cooperative behaviors, etc.
So we’re in a new era here. The obvious analogy is to the development of nuclear weapons. Oppenheimer and Szilard warned of an arms race and lost the argument to Teller, Von Neumann and others who wanted to go full speed ahead. The U.S. and Soviets built massive arsenals and placed each other under the threat of nuclear doomsday for decades. Arms control treaties have made the world safer, though. And scientists and engineers have often recognized that there are no-go zones. When gene-splicing became possible, everyone called time-out and held a big conference at Asilomar. More recently, scientists called for a ban on gene-editing with the “crispr” technique.
Enacting legislation, based on this legal precedent, still wouldn’t prevent “birth tourism” abuse; where, as a example, wealthy Chinese time their tourist visa to coincide with the birth of their baby.
The federal government, thereby, has implicitly acknowledged that it considers agricultural products both an asset and a weapon in a long-range geopolitical chess match with China, a resource of near-military value and importance, one that must be protected by all available means. By that logic, those Chinese nationals stealing corn are spies, no different—and, indeed, perhaps more important—than those who swipe plans for a new weapons system.
Today, it’s estimated that 92 percent of American corn and 94 percent of American soybeans are GMOs, almost all of it produced by Monsanto or DuPont Pioneer, and again, nearly half of the seed sold globally. The prosecution of Mo Hailong and his circle stands as a warning to the Chinese government, issued through its proxy companies.