“Float like a butterfly; sting like a bee.” ~ Mohammad Ali’s strategy for defeating a more powerful opponent in the boxing ring.
Ali’s strategy can be used by weaker nations which want to destroy a powerful empire. If they got into a military confrontation with the empire, they would risk annihilation. So they should adopt the strategy of floating like a butterfly and pretending to be harmless. At the right moment, they should sting like a bee. If the empire is inflicted with a thousand bee-like stings, then it could fall and die. History tells us that most empires were brought down by rivals who used the strategy of floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee.
China can be held as the example of a nation that has used Mohammad Ali’s strategy to outfox its Western and Asian rivals. In its rivalry with America, China seems to float like a butterfly and, whenever it sees an opportunity, it stings America like a bee. Without getting into a single major military conflict since 1977 (this is China's unique achievement: it is the only nation in history that has risen so fast without fighting major wars), China has captured a slice of the American economy; it has surpassed America in manufacturing, and is now a much feared world power.
In 1960, China’s economy was smaller than India’s economy, while the American economy was close to half of the world economy. Now America’s share in the world economy has declined by 80 percent, while the Chinese economy is second largest in the world. China could not have grown so fast if it was not more farther-seeing than America.
America has never floated like a butterfly. It does not sting like a bee either. It follows the policy of regime change. In the 110 year period, between 1893, when the Hawaii monarchy was overthrown, and 2003, when Saddam Hussain’s government in Iraq was overthrown, America has been continuously engaged in toppling governments through wars and by orchestrating coups and insurgencies. From the vantage point of history, it is clear that these regime change operations have weakened the American economy and security.