FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Encircling China

by ALICE SLATER

On UN Day, at a panel on Nuclear Disarmament, Secretary General Ban-ki Moon spoke about his 2008 five point proposal for nuclear disarmament, including the requirement for negotiations to ban the bomb.  It was dismaying  when the next speaker, a retired US Air Force General, Michal Mosley,  breezily assured  the audience and his fellow panelists that it certainly was now possible to rid the world of nuclear weapons, since atomic bomb technology is thoroughly out of date.  He boasted that today “we” have long range attack weapons of such “unbelievable precision and lethality” that we no longer need nuclear weapons in the US arsenal.  Our conventional weapons are ever so superior to those of any other nation.   He said this as his fellow co-panelists, the Russian and Chinese ambassadors, took in the full import of his braggadocio, to my extreme embarrassment as a US citizen.   Did the General consider for a moment the effect his words were having on the Ambassadors and the other non-US participants in the meeting?  His astonishing disregard for the effect of such provocative war talk on our fellow earth mates seems to be a major failure of our “tin ear” foreign policy.

Hillary Clinton proclaimed a similarly tone-deaf policy in an article in November’s Foreign Affairs, “America’s Pacific Century”,   remarking that now that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were winding down, we were at a “pivot point”   and that “one of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will be to lock in a substantially increased investment—diplomatic economic, strategic and otherwise—in the Asia-Pacific region.”  Calling for “forward-deployed” diplomacy, she defined it to include “forging a broad-based military presence” in Asia…that would be “as durable and as consistent with American interests and values as the web we have built across the Atlantic…capable of deterring provocation from the full spectrum of state and non-state actors” She added that just as our NATO alliance “has paid off many times over…the time has come to make similar investments as a Pacific power”.

Citing our Treaty alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines and Thailand as the “fulcrum for our strategic turn to the Asian-Pacific”, she also spoke of the need to expand our relationships to include India, Indonesia Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Mongolia Vietnam, and the Pacific Island countries.  While acknowledging “fears and misperceptions that “linger on both sides of the Pacific”, stating that “some in our country see China’s progress as a threat to the United States; some in China worry that America seeks to constrain China’s growth” she blithely asserted, “we reject both those views …a thriving America is good for China and a thriving China is good for America”.  This said as the United States aggressively lines up a host of new nations in an expanded Pacific military alliance, providing them with missile defenses, ships, and warplanes, encircling China.   What is she thinking?

Shortly after Clinton’s article appeared, Obama went to Australia to open up a new military base there with a token 250 US soldiers, and a promise of 2500 to come with plans for joint military training, promising that “we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.” He also adopted the “Manila Declaration”, pledging closer military ties with the Philippines and announced the sale of 24 F-16 fighter jets to Indonesia. Clinton just paid a visit to Myanmar, long allied with China, to re-establish relations there.

 

In her article’s conclusion Clinton bragged, “Our military is by far the strongest and our economy is by far the largest in the world.   Our workers are the most productive.   Our universities are renowned the world over.   So there should be no doubt that America has the capacity to secure and sustain our global leadership in this century as we did in the last.”  Didn’t anyone tell her that the number of Americans living below the official poverty line, 46.2 million people, was the highest in the 52 years the census bureau has been publishing those figures?  Or that the United States deteriorating transportation infrastructure will cost the economy more than 870,000 jobs and would suppress US economic growth by $3.1 trillion by 2020, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers?

 

The tone-deaf quality of US foreign policy pronouncements is like an infant who pulls the covers over his head to play peek-a-boo, thinking he can’t be seen so long as he can’t see out.   China has responded as would be expected.  A Pentagon report warned Congress that China was increasing its naval power and investing in high-tech weaponry to extend its reach in the Pacific and beyond. It ramped up efforts to produce anti-ship missiles to knock out aircraft carriers, improved targeting radar, expanding its fleet of nuclear-powered submarines and warships and  making advances in satellite technology and cyber warfare.  What did we expect?  And now, having provoked China to beef up its military assets, the warmongers in the US can frighten the public into supporting the next wild burgeoning arms race in the Pacific and what appears to be endless war.

 

This month, Mikhail Gorbachev , in The Nation , observed the US elite’s “winner’s complex”  after the end of the Cold War, and the references to the US as a “hyperpower”, capable of creating “a new kind of empire” .  He said, “[t]hinking in such terms in our time is a delusion.  No wonder that the imperial project failed and that it soon became clear that it was a mission impossible even for the United States.”  The opportunity to build a “truly new world order was lost.”  The US decision to expand NATO eastward “usurped the functions of the United Nations and thus weakened it. We are engulfed in global turmoil, “drifting in uncharted waters.   The global economic crisis of 2008 made that abundantly clear. “

 

Sadly, the powers in control of US public policy and their far-flung global allies appear to have learned nothing from the extraordinary opportunity we lost for a more peaceful world at the Cold War’s end.  We are now repeating those expansionary designs in Asia, and “thus we continue to drift towards unparalleled catastrophe” as Albert Einstein observed when we split the atom which “changed everything save man’s mode of thinking”.

Alice Slater is the New York Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and serves on the Advisory Board of the Global Network.


Alice Slater is a founder of Abolition 2000, which works for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. 

Weekend Edition
April 29-31, 2016
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail