Someone put angry pills into the New York Times’ editors’ cornflakes on Sunday morning. Or perhaps they were neo-cornflakes. In either case, the Times’ editorial on “China’s Naval Ambitions” sounded unhappily neocon-like.

Though the Times stipulates that “the Pentagon has a long history of hyping the Chinese threat to justify expensive weapons purchases,” it goes on to warn ominously of precisely that Chinese “threat.” The edit begins:

"Beijing’s drive to extend its military and territorial reach is making America’s close allies in the region nervous and raising legitimate questions about American diplomacy and future military procurement."

It then warns that China “seems increasingly intent on challenging United States naval supremacy in the Western Pacific,” and concludes:

“Dealing with a rising China could be Washington’s biggest challenge in the decades ahead. The United States has no interest in heightening tensions. A rapidly developing China has better uses for its new wealth than weapons. But when China pushes, as it is doing now, America needs to push back with a creative mix of diplomatic suppleness and military steadfastness.”

This is mostly baloney. Nowhere does the Times suggest that America’s own military budget, now equal to the rest of the world’s combined and about four or five times China’s entire defense budget, could be applied to those same “better uses” that it recommends for China. In fact, China is a rising world power, not merely a regional one, and its economic, political and yes, military power must be accommodated by a declining United States. Given America’s spiraling economic descent, we can no longer sustain global military dominance, and we’d better get used to the fact that rising powers such as China and India, along with regional powers such as Iran, will increasingly flex their muscle. Containing any of them, by a nation which can’t defeat a third-rate Islamist insurgency in Afghanistan, isn’t in the cards.

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