FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

An Anti-Interventionist Looks at China

Most discussion of China in the mainstream press, especially the left liberal press, focuses on China’s human rights record or freedom of press and speech or labor issues or family planning policies.  One may argue endlessly about those matters.  But they are China’s internal affairs, and for a genuine anti-interventionist they are none of our government’s business and have no place in setting foreign policy.  There is a world of difference between an anti-interventionist and an advocate for “humanitarian” imperialism, witting or not.   How does an anti-interventionist look at China?

Let us begin with some stubborn, cold hard facts about the US and China.  In very round numbers the world’s annual GDP is about $ 60 trillion.  That of the U.S. is $15 trillion, that of the EU is $15 trillion, that of China and Japan about $5 trillion each, with China about to pull a bit ahead of Japan this year.  The per capita GDP of the U.S. is about $46,000 and that of China is about $4000.  In sum, China is still a developing country although one with a very large aggregate GDP.  It is number two to the US but not a close number two, and it trails the developed world considerably in its standard of living.

What about trade?  Is China not the world’s largest exporter?  Yes, it is; but until last year, it was number two; Germany was number one ? and Germany has slipped now to number two.  So Germany with its high wages and generous social benefits was able to outdo both the U.S. and China in exports until recently.  How did Germany do this?  By exporting high quality, high tech and well-branded goods.  (Germany has not outsourced production to other countries as has the US.)  In fact as China came into the number one exporter spot, its leaders proclaimed that they were not really number one but number one only in quantity.  They said China’s goal was to follow in Germany’s path to become an exporter of “high tech, high quality, well-branded goods.”  Why cannot the U.S. do this instead of blaming China for its unemployment.

What about China as a military “threat” to the U.S.?   The US now spends about $1 trillion a year on “national security,” a staggering 1 dollar in 15 of our total GDP and 1 dollar in 60 of the world’s GDP, a colossal waste.  And that does not include the military spending forced upon our “allies,” the NATO countries, South Korea, Japan and now India.  Simply to equal US military spending alone China would have to spend 20 per cent of its GDP on the military, an impossibility unless development is forsaken.  Its navy is not powerful but soon it will at least be able to patrol and defend the nearby seas.  Most assuredly the US will not for long be able to sail aircraft carriers within sight of China’s shores ? and that is to the good.  It will make for less tension.  Consider how the US would react if a Chinese fleet were conducting maneuvers within sight of Los Angeles or Seattle.

Next let us consider U.S. military doctrine in the ways it might affect relations with China.  U.S. doctrine is clear and unchanging from one administration to the next since the end of the Cold War.  No country is to be allowed to come close to the U.S. in military might.  The most explicit statement of this came in the Defense Planning Guide for 1994-1999, a secret document prepared in 1992 and leaked to the NYT and Washington Post. “Our first objective,” the highly classified document stated, “is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union.”

From the outset Obama has left no doubt that the policy of permanent military superiority continues under him, proclaiming just after his election, on the occasion of appointing his “foreign policy team” of Clinton, Gates, and others: “?we all share the belief we have to maintain the strongest military on the planet.” Just last week Pentagon chief, Robert Gates, declared in a speech in Tokyo that the 47,000 troops in Japan were there to “keep China’s rising power in check” and so will remain for the indefinite future .  One must also conclude that the wars in Central Asia and the implantation of US bases there, right on China’s back doorstep, and the courting of India over the past ten years are also part of the “containment” policy, whatever other purposes those wars and bases may have. This dimension of the U.S. wars is rarely discussed in the mainstream or liberal press.

The implications of this doctrine are pernicious in the extreme.  First, the very threat encourages those who might want to be friends to arm themselves to preserve their independence and sovereignty.  Second and much more important, military might grows out of economic power, as we have known at least since Thucydides.  Thus the US is declaring that China cannot have a total GDP which comes close to that of the US.  Let us consider the consequences of that.  What would it mean for China if it achieved an aggregate GDP not larger that of the US but simply the same size? Quite simply, since China has four or five times our population, it would mean that China would have a per capita GDP one fourth of ours ? or about $10,000 a year.  That means unending poverty for the Chinese people. Thus China is forced to choose between poverty or provoking the ire of the U.S.   Such is the iron logic of US military policy.

The U.S. must either content itself to be eclipsed by China in the economic and therefore military sphere if indeed China continues to be successful in developing ? or prevent China from rising to the standard of living in Europe and the U.S.  That is the meaning of the policy of “containing China.”  Sadly this policy also forecloses a win-win outcome whereby China and the US and the entire globe prosper.  US policy dictates a win-lose outcome. Such is the bellicose strategy and dismal future dictated by US military policy. And in the sweet talk from Obama and Clinton leading up to the visit of President Hu Jintao of China, there has been no suggestion of a change in U.S. military policy, not even a hint of such a change.  It is long overdue.

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com

 

 

More articles by:

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com

December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail