On December 19, 2019, President Donald Trump delivered a sweeping speech on “national” security. It had a stark, simple message. Essentially, Trump said: We’re Dictator-in-Perpetuity on planet Earth, and everyone else must adopt our rules and values. Those who don’t — notably China and Russia –are revisionists working against us. We’ll deal with them. Ultimately, might makes right.
With that, the chief representative of the United States basically declared war on all nations and peoples that are not card-carrying members of the American imperium. Since his proclamations are the very antithesis of the values of democracy, America’s official ideology, those nations and peoples surely have a human right to ask a few questions.
Questions such as: Who gave you the divine right to rule the world, and on a perpetual basis? Why can’t you work with those with different ideas about political, economic and social organization, so as to create a better world for your people and theirs? Why should might make right — especially in the 21st century? And why zero-sum? Why not give win-win a chance?
Indeed, there is a popular Chinese saying: 惡人先告狀 — The Rogue is always the first to cry “Rogue!” In English, this well-known Chinese saying may be more idiomatically rendered as “The pot calls the kettle black.” It is an apt description of the Trump address. All the offenses he accused China, Russia and other parties of — military expansion, seeking international dominance, undermining others’ interests, bullying, etc. — are most flagrantly committed in today’s world by none other than the USA. But that is par for the course from the blindly hypocritical Exceptionalists in Washington.
Even so, in the past, spokesmen for the Empire — notably the POTUS — at least bothered to dress it all up in loftier, more benign rhetoric. Now, the gloves are off. The Washington hardliners who wrote Trump’s speech have signaled unequivocally their rejection of the best hope for sustained peace and prosperity in the 21st century: a sharing of power by the Empire with other rising nations and cooperation with them to build a better world.
On a more practical level, the boilerplate Neocon-militarist positions in the security address conspicuously reverse Trump’s own earlier efforts to improve ties with Moscow and Beijing. If they are implemented even half seriously, global tensions will intensify notably.
Not surprisingly, the international push-back has begun – led by China. Spokesperson Hua Chunying of the Chinese Foreign Ministry advised the US to “abandon its Cold War mentality and zero-sum game concept,” otherwise Washington “would only harm itself as well as others.” She went on: “China will resolutely safeguard its sovereignty, security and right to develop. No one should have the fantasy of expecting China to swallow the bitter fruit of harming its own interests.”
More direct was Beijing’s Global Times, widely read among Chinese intelligentsia. “This report is a manifestation of the Trump administration’s tough posture, which counts on US power instead of international rules,” editorialized the paper. “It showcases Washington’s indisputable insistence on its global hegemony. Neither Beijing nor Moscow will buy it.”
Look like we are headed into a worldwide winter of discontent.