FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why is Obama Goading China?

by

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is willing to risk a war with China in order to defend  “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea. Speaking in Honolulu, Hawaii on Wednesday, Carter issued his “most forceful” warning yet, demanding “an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation” by China in the disputed Spratly Islands.

Carter said:   “There should be no mistake: The United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world.” He also added that the United States intended to remain “the principal security power in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come.”

In order to show Chinese leaders “who’s the boss”, Carter has threatened to deploy US warships and surveillance aircraft to within twelve miles of the islands that China claims are within their territorial waters. Not surprisingly, the US is challenging China under the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,  a document the US has stubbornly refused to ratify.  But that’s neither here nor there for the bellicose Carter whose insatiable appetite for confrontation makes him the most reckless Sec-Def since Donald Rumsfeld.

So what’s this really all about?  Why does Washington care so much about a couple hundred yards of sand piled up on reefs reefs in the South China Sea? What danger does that pose to US national security? And, haven’t Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines all engaged in similar “land reclamation” activities without raising hackles in DC?

Of course, they have. The whole thing is a joke. Just like Carter’s claim that he’s defending the lofty principal of “freedom of navigation” is a joke. China has never blocked shipping lanes or seized boats sailing in international waters. Never.  The same cannot be said of the United States that just  recently blocked an Iranian ship loaded with humanitarian relief–food, water and critical medical supplies–headed to starving refugees in Yemen. Of course, when the US does it, it’s okay.

The point is, Washington doesn’t give a hoot about the Spratly Islands; it’s just a pretext to slap China around and show them who’s running the show in their own backyard. Carter even admits as much in his statement above when he says that the US plans to be “the principal security power in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come.” China knows what that means. It means “This is our planet, so you’d better shape up or you’re going to find yourself in a world of hurt.” That’s exactly what it means.

So let’s cut to the chase and try to explain what’s really going on, because pretty soon no one is going to be talking about Ukraine, Syria or Yemen because all eyes are going to be focused on China where our madhatter Secretary of Defense is trying to start a third world war.

Here’s the scoop: Washington has abandoned its China policy of “containment” and moved on to Plan B:  Isolation, intimidation and confrontation. In my opinion, this is why the powerbrokers behind Obama dumped Hagel. Hagel just wasn’t hawkish enough for the job. They wanted a died-in-the-wool, warmongering neocon, like Carter, who is, quite likely, the most dangerous man in the world.

Carter’s assignment is to implement the belligerent new policy of incitement and conflict. His actions will prove to the skeptics that Washington is no longer interested in integrating China into the US-led system. Rather, China has become a the biggest threat to Washington’s plan to pivot to Asia. And, just to remind readers how important the pivot is to America’s future, here’s an Obama quote I lifted up from Tom Engelhardt’s latest titled “Superpower in Distress”:

“After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly, in blood and treasure, the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia Pacific region….As we end today’s wars, I have directed my national security team to make our presence and mission in the Asia Pacific a top priority.”

The so called pivot is Washington’s “top priority”, which means that China’s unprecedented ascendency must be slowed and its regional influence curtailed. Thus, the dust up over the Spratly Islands will be used in the same way the US has used other incidents, that is, by demonizing China’s leaders in the media, by assembling a coalition that will publicly oppose China’s activities, by implementing harsh economic sanctions, by launching asymmetrical attacks on China’s currency and financial markets, by excluding China from critical trade agreements, and by inciting social unrest (color-coded revolution) through the support of dissidents living in China. These are the all-too-familiar signs of US meddling directed at “emerging rivals” who threaten US global hegemony. China now finds itself at the top of the list.

US powerbrokers know that bullying China involves significant risks for themselves and the world. Even so, they have decided to pursue this new policy and force a confrontation. Why? Why would they embark on a strategy so fraught with danger?

The answer is: They don’t see any way around it. They’ve tried containment and it hasn’t worked.  China’s growing like crazy and its regional influence threatens to leave the US on the outside looking in. Carter even admitted as much in a recent speech he gave at the McCain Institute at Arizona State University. He said: “We already see countries in the region trying to carve up these markets…forging many separate trade agreements in recent years, some based on pressure and special arrangements…. Agreements that…..leave us on the sidelines.  That risks America’s access to these growing markets. We must all decide if we are going to let that happen.  If we’re going to help boost our exports and our economy…and cement our influence and leadership in the fastest-growing region in the world; or if, instead, we’re going to take ourselves out of the game.”

See? It’s all about markets. It’s all about money. Here’s more from Carter’s speech:  (The) ” Asia-Pacific…is the defining region for our nation’s future”… “Half of humanity will live there by 2050″ and that “more than half of the global middle class and its accompanying consumption will come from that region.”….”There are already more than 525 million middle class consumers in Asia, and we expect there to be 3.2 billion in the region by 2030…President Obama and I want to ensure that… businesses can successfully compete for all these potential customers. ….Over the next century, no region will matter more… for American prosperity.”

This is why the Obama administration is making a general nuisance of itself in the South China Sea. It’s so the big US mega-corporations will have new customers for their IPADs and toaster ovens.

For that, they are willing to risk a nuclear war.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump. It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail