Conventional wisdom says that while the emerging world has expanded rapidly in economic terms, it still lags far behind the developed world when it comes to the firepower at its disposal.
Conventional wisdom also says that the U.S. has little to worry about when it comes to the question of whether it has enough arms and soldiers to meet any threats that might arise.
Finally, conventional wisdom suggests the geopolitical up-and-comers still have a long way to go before they might be able to take on their developed peers.
After reading the following Reuters report, "East-West Military Gap Rapidly Shrinking-Report," I reckon many of you will be wondering why they call it conventional wisdom.
* Think-tank sees "global redistribution of military power"
* State-on-state conflict could rise in Asia
* China could match US military power in 10-15 years
Western cuts and swiftly rising defence spending in emerging economies are redrawing the global strategic map, a leading think-tank said on Tuesday, with the danger of conflicts between states also rising.
In its annual Global Military Balance report, the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said the shift in economic power was already beginning to have a real military effect and closing any strategic gap.
"Western states' defence budgets are under pressure and their military procurement is constrained," said IISS director general John Chipman. "But in other regions -- notably Asia and the Middle East -- military spending and arms acquisitions are booming. There is persuasive evidence that a global redistribution of military power is under way."
Asian Pacific nations particularly China were increasing defence spending by double digits annually, he said, with growing evidence Western states were losing their technological edge in areas such as stealth technology and cyber warfare.
Most estimates suggest Washington still accounts for roughly half of all global defence spending each year, much of it spent on conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Estimates of Chinese defence spending vary wildly, with many analysts suspecting it dramatically underreports.
"HALF A GENERATION"
According to the report, the United States spent $693 billion on defence in 2010 -- 4.7 percent of its GDP -- compared to China's $76 billion (1.3 percent/GDP) and Britain's 57 billion dollars (2.5 percent/GDP).
Speaking to Reuters after the report launch, Chipman said if current trends were continued it would still take 15-20 years for China to achieve military parity with the U.S.
"We're talking about half a generation," he said. "The United States has always said it would never let another power get to parity so in the next few years it is going to have to make some very significant decisions on what it does."