Fresh Off Russia, the U.S. Just Can’t Stop Provoking China

Photograph Source: davitydave – CC BY 2.0

In a blindingly dizzying act of hypocrisy, the U.S. recently indicated it will invade the Solomon Islands, if that country’s new pact with Beijing leads to a Chinese military base there. This, after months of our politicos hollering like raving lunatics about the supposedly nonpareil, never-before-witnessed evil of Russia invading Ukraine, replete with comparisons between Putin and Hitler. Well, if Biden invades the Solomon Islands, is he Hitler? For that matter, what about George Bush, who invaded Iraq and Afghanistan? Is he Hitler? And Britain’s Tony Blair – is he Hitler?

In addition, are the hundreds if not thousands of rulers in human history who invaded foreign countries – are they all Hitler? And I guess we’ve just forgotten about the part where Hitler exterminated six million Jews along with millions of Slavs, Roma, communists and other so-called undesirables. That apparently is no longer considered a defining characteristic of Hitler’s unique evil. How else to explain that accusations of being Hitler are a dime a dozen these days? Such cheap rhetoric does nothing to help ordinary, suffering Ukrainian people. But it sure helps corporate war-mongers get richer. That’s the point.

“But, but,” Washington’s power-drunk denizens stammer, as defense company stocks soar through the roof, over 60 percent since Russia’s invasion, “the rules-based order!” That’s the humbug by which the U.S. empire evades international law to claim its “rules” apply to everybody else but Washington. Except lately, the civilized world, namely the Global South, doesn’t buy this baloney. The trick ain’t working anyplace outside of Europe.

China is Washington’s Enemy Number One. Though you wouldn’t know this from the ferocious hullaballoo over Russia’s quite deliberately provoked (by the west) and dreadful invasion of Ukraine. In late April, U.S. lapdog Britain, represented by the forgettable Liz Truss, yapped that NATO should be more involved in the Far East. God help us. NATO already made enough trouble in Ukraine for an entire generation. Maybe it made so much trouble it will END all future generations. We’ll find out. But Washington warmongers agree with Truss. Indeed, they even nightmarishly propose arming Japan with nukes, feeling frustrated, as they do, that they can’t surround China with missiles the way they did Russia. That encirclement provoked the Ukraine war, which, all indications are, Washington regards as a smashing propaganda success.

Meanwhile, underreported in Western media was China’s April 29 warning to the U.S. against sending weapons to Taiwan.  China announced it will respond to foreign intervention. This angry retort to Washington came in a fraught context: On April 26, to threaten China and show off its muscle, the USS Sampson transited the Taiwan Strait, which the Seventh Fleet said “demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.” Ho, ho. What it demonstrates is the United States,’ specifically Biden’s, commitment to go to war should China do what it has said for decades it will do and which the U.S. tacitly accepted, namely, slowly, osmotically to absorb Taiwan into the mainland. But China got the U.S. navy’s bellicose message. On May 6, 18 Peoples Liberation Army air force jets buzzed Taiwan.

Roughly once a month a U.S. navy ship transits the Taiwan Strait. It happened again just this past week. On May 10 the USS Port Royal maneuvered into these troubled waters, showing that no matter how many air force jets China counters with, the U.S. will keep sending its ships where they don’t belong. The U.S. has a knack for creating lousy situations and then, as historian John Mearsheimer said of its response to the catastrophe it provoked between Russia and Ukraine, Washington refuses to reconsider its own ghastly policy and instead doubles down. We saw where doubling down got us in Iraq and Afghanistan, but don’t worry, no lessons were learned.

Also dedicated to making a bad situation worse were China-hawk senators Bob Menendez and Lindsay Graham, who alighted on Taiwan in mid-April to encourage the island to stand up to China. House leader Nancy Pelosi’s proposed but cancelled sojourn there didn’t help either: all these congressional busybodies are urging Taiwan on to catastrophic imprudence. Because either way you look at it, this is an invitation to mass suicide. It’s only a matter of how big the mass – either U.S. political hacks egg Taiwan on to declare itself an independent nation, thus provoking a Chinese military invasion, and then, as often happens, those U.S. blowhards break their promises and do nothing, leaving Taiwan to twist in the wind or, what’s worse, keep those vows and we have a blow-up between nuclear-armed Beijing and nuclear-armed Washington, a horror even a fourth grader can fully comprehend. In fact, your average nine-year-old sees well ahead of many congress members, traipsing down a path of incitement to atomic Armageddon. White house dimwits travel that path too. I believe it’s a primrose one.

As secretary of state Antony Blinken pontificated to Congress: “When it comes to Taiwan itself, we are determined to make sure that it has all the necessary means to defend itself against any potential aggression, including unilateral action by China to disrupt the status quo that’s been in place for many decades.” Ho, ho again. As commentator Arnaud Bertrand tweeted: “The irony is that arming Taiwan to the teeth IS a major disruption to ‘the status quo that’s been in place for many decades.’” That status quo is the One China policy, which posits Taiwan is part of China. Since the Nixon years, a period of relative sanity vis a vis Beijing, the U.S. accepted that. Blinken wraps history into a pretzel to justify new U.S. incitement, aggression and, very lucratively, sinking the island under a mammoth pile of weaponry.

All the while, the Biden administration goes out of its way to offend China. On April 28, Washington invited a Taiwanese official to an event on the future of the internet for 60 nations – so the U.S. officially recognizes Taiwan as an independent country now? Washington dropped formal recognition of Taiwan in 1979; are we to conclude Biden’s changing that? At this confab those 60 nations made various promises about digital technology and the internet. Did Taiwan really have to attend? This follows on a bill that passed the House of Representatives April 27, directing the state department to arrange for observer status for Taiwan at the World Health Organization. Back in December, Taiwan was invited to Biden’s democracy summit.

Then to crown all this ballyhoo promoting Taiwan, which Beijing surely sourly regards as provocations, on May 8 the state department rewrote the part of their website that deals with the territory. Gone is their recognition of the island as part of mainland China. Also disappeared is that the U.S. doesn’t support Taiwan independence. You see where all this is going – encouraging and acclimating the world to treat Taiwan as an independent nation, the better to rally a coalition of the willing when Taiwan makes the fatal mistake of declaring itself such and China reacts to what it will doubtless regard as open rebellion by a territory that it has long called a renegade province.

Wouldn’t it be better for the U.S. to try the approach it haughtily turned up its nose to with Russia, namely negotiation? Or deploying members of that endangered species, currently nearly extinct with regard to Washington and Moscow, that is, diplomats? Instead of threats and insults aimed at China, you’d think U.S. rulers might consider sitting down with their counterparts in Beijing and trying to hammer out benefits and protections for Taiwan, as it moves closer to reintegrating with the mainland. But that assumes Washington rulers are decent people, a delusion of which their behavior vis a vis Ukraine and Russia should have permanently disabused all observers.

So no. Biden and his ilk have a domestic audience to play to, that means rile up by using war to distract from skyrocketing prices and thus, they dream on, to win elections; and as these politicos showed with Russia, standing tall for the rubes back home, even if it means flirting with atomic annihilation, trumps common sense every time. Even if it means skipping out on opportunities to avert or end a war. Even if it means actively, wickedly prolonging a war. So the U.S. empire continues in its insane quest to cast Taiwan as a fledging independent nation in the court of world opinion, thus laying the groundwork for the type of propaganda blitz that currently bombards Russia, provided by our compliant and utterly hysterical corporate media. Who thinks back now to Moscow’s written requests for security guarantees, amid lurid charges of war crimes and the genuine horror of war? Similarly, the current object is to remove memory from the public’s mind that for most of the world Taiwan is not an independent nation.

Only 13 countries, most small Caribbean Islands or historically right-wing Central American nations, recognize Taiwan as sovereign. The UN considers the island a territory, not a country. This presents difficulties for the warmongers in the U.S. congress and white house – or it used to. Now, apparently, the mood is, “Aw hell, chuck it! Let’s just arm Taiwan and go to war if China makes a move.” This madness flirts with nuclear winter, but apparently our very own depraved morons in congress think starving billions of people is not too high a price to pay to stand tall to the Asiatic enemy numero uno, only recently a friend and respected U.S. trading partner, now demonized as a communist menace bent on brainwashing God-fearing Americans into becoming critical race theorists.

Despite Obama’s infamously slick, pernicious and fatuous pivot to Asia, U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan didn’t really snowball until Trump got the “let’s provoke China” ball rolling. So in recent years, Washington sold Taiwan billions of dollars worth of weapons. In early April, the U.S. approved a Patriot missile deal worth $95 million. China protested. Surprise! Its complaints fell on deaf ears.

Always eager to whip up any deadly political confection, Trump team bigwig Mike Pompeo demanded diplomatic recognition of Taiwan as a sovereign country back in March. After promiscuously arming the Taiwanese, that would be the icing on the poisoned cake. But don’t think Washington limits itself to Taiwan in its confrontation with China. Oh no. As the Solomon Islands fracas shows, the U.S. has big, big plans: it intends to counter China globally.

“U.S. Blatant Threat to Solomon Islands Exposes Its Hegemony and Bullying,” headlined a Global Times article April 24. That’s how Beijing regards Washington. And common wisdom has it that there’s nothing worse than an insecure hegemon. Indeed, wherever the imperial eye casts its arrogant, finicky gaze, it sees dangers, traps, humiliations. China staked economic outposts all over the world, as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. Does Washington intend to attack Beijing over all of these? We shall see, because even though that would be a losing battle for the U.S., as we’ve noted all too often in recent decades from Vietnam to Afghanistan to Iraq, that doesn’t mean it’s not the plan.

Eve Ottenberg is a novelist and journalist. Her latest book is Hope Deferred. She can be reached at her website.