Is a war be­tween China and Amer­ica in­evitable? BY

As trump and the us con­tinue to pro­voke Beijing...

Irish Daily Mirror - - COMMENT -

DUR­ING his US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign, Don­ald Trump threat­ened China.

He ac­cused the world’s sec­ond big­gest eco­nomic power of “rap­ing” the Amer­i­can econ­omy and “steal­ing” Amer­i­can jobs.

He said: “It’s time Amer­ica had a vic­tory again.”

What kind of “vic­tory”? Trump did not say. And China is armed with nu­clear weapons.

In the past week, the Pres­i­den­t­elect has gone fur­ther. He has ac­cused Beijing of de­valu­ing its cur­rency to gain an un­fair ad­van­tage in trade with the US and “build­ing a mas­sive mil­i­tary com­plex in the South China Sea”.

More se­ri­ously, he has spo­ken di­rectly with the Pres­i­dent of Tai­wan, which China re­gards as a rene­gade prov­ince of the Chi­nese main­land. Since the Cold War, Tai­wan has been a flash­point of war be­tween Beijing and Wash­ing­ton.

tar­get

Trump’s rhetoric ac­cel­er­ates a pro­pa­ganda cam­paign by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to cast China as a threat to “free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion” in the South China Sea. But who is re­ally the threat?

In 2011, Obama an­nounced that al­most two-thirds of US naval forces would be trans­ferred to Asia and the Pa­cific. This rep­re­sented the great­est build-up of Amer­i­can mil­i­tary forces since the Sec­ond World War. The tar­get was China.

In the mean­time, the US has en­cir­cled China with 400 mil­i­tary bases armed with bombers, war­ships and mis­siles ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing nu­clear weapons. These bases ex­tend all the way from Aus­tralia to the Pa­cific is­lands, through Asia to Korea and Ja­pan and across Eura­sia to Afghanista­n. The is­land of Ok­i­nawa is an “air­craft car­rier” of US mil­i­tary bases, their bombers aimed at China less than 500 miles away.

Last year, in high se­crecy, the US staged its big­gest sin­gle mil­i­tary ex­er­cise since the Cold War. This was Tal­is­man Sabre – an ar­mada of ships and long-range bombers re­hearsed an “Air-sea Bat­tle Con­cept for China”, block­ing sea lanes in the Straits of Malacca and cut­ting off China’s ac­cess to oil, gas and other raw ma­te­ri­als from the Mid­dle East and Africa. It is such a provo­ca­tion, and the fear of a mas­sive US Navy block­ade, that has seen China fever­ishly build­ing strate­gic airstrips on reefs in the Spratly Is­lands in the South China Sea, the choke­point through which its life­lines run.

The cur­rent Sec­re­tary of De­fense, Ash­ton Carter, says US pol­icy is to con­front those “who see Amer­ica’s dom­i­nance and want to take that away from us”. Like the re­newal of post-soviet Rus­sia, the rise of China as an eco­nomic power has been de­clared an “ex­is­ten­tial threat” to the di­vine right of the United States to rule and dom­i­nate hu­man af­fairs. The top dog is feel­ing in­se­cure and reach­ing, as it of­ten does, for its mis­siles to rat­tle.

In mat­ters of war, Trump is not a phe­nom­e­non. Un­der Obama, nu­clear war­head spend­ing rose higher than un­der any US Pres­i­dent since the end of the Cold War. A mini nu­clear weapon is planned. Known as the B61 Model 12, go­ing smaller will mean, says Gen­eral James Cartwright, for­mer vicedis­puted chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that its use is “more think­able”.

A study by think-tank the RAND Cor­po­ra­tion – which, since Viet­nam, has planned Amer­ica’s wars – is en­ti­tled, War with China: Think­ing Through the Un­think­able. Com­mis­sioned by the US Army, the au­thors evoke the Cold War when RAND made no­to­ri­ous the catch cry of its chief strate­gist, Her­man Kahn – “think­ing the un­think­able”.

Ac­cord­ing to Ami­tai Etzioni, pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional af­fairs at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity, “the US is pre­par­ing for a war with China, a mo­men­tous de­ci­sion that so far has failed to re­ceive a thor­ough re­view from elected of­fi­cials, namely the White House and Con­gress.” This would be­gin with a “blind­ing at­tack against Chi­nese anti-ac­cess fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing land and sea-based mis­sile launch­ers… satel­lite and anti-satel­lite weapons”.

The risk is that “deep in­land strikes could be mis­tak­enly per­ceived by the Chi­nese as pre­emp­tive at­tempts to take out its nu­clear weapons, cor­ner­ing them into ‘a use-it-or-lose-it dilemma’ [that would] lead to nu­clear war.”

TOUGH

In China, a strate­gist told me: “We are not your en­emy, but if you de­cide we are, we must pre­pare with­out de­lay.” China’s mil­i­tary spend­ing has risen to €142bil­lion – small com­pared with Amer­ica’s €590bil­lion. How­ever, “for the first time,” wrote Gre­gory Ku­lacki of non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion the Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists: “China is dis­cussing putting its nu­clear mis­siles on high alert so that they can be launched quickly on warn­ing of an at­tack .”

Pro­fes­sor Ted Pos­tol was sci­en­tific ad­viser to the head of US naval op­er­a­tions. An author­ity on nu­clear weapons, he told me: “Every­body here wants to look like they’re tough. See I got to be tough… I’m not afraid of do­ing any­thing mil­i­tary, I’m a hairy-chested go­rilla. And the United States has got­ten into a sit­u­a­tion where there’s a lot of sabre-rat­tling.”

I said: “This seems in­cred­i­bly dan­ger­ous.” He replied: “That is an un­der­state­ment.”

I in­ter­viewed Con­gress­man Dana Rohrabache­r, a fron­trun­ner to be Trump’s sec­re­tary of state. A con­tra­dic­tory fig­ure, he wants to make peace with Rus­sia, yet de­scribes the Chi­nese as “gang­sters”.

What about the risk of nu­clear war? I asked, at which he con­tin­ued with his “gang­sters” speech. He con­cluded by reach­ing for his gui­tar and singing God Bless Amer­ica.

John Pil­ger’s doc­u­men­tary, The Com­ing War on China, is on UTV tonight at 10.40pm.

www.john­pil­ger.com

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