The military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, Beijing, China, September 3, 2015 © Reuters / Damir Sagolj
Just last week, Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma made the allegation that China’s military was preparing for World War III.
“It’s like you’re preparing for World War III,” he said during a Senate hearing focused on the so-called challenges presented by Russia and China. “You’re talking to our allies over there and you wonder whose side they’re going to be on.”
According to Inhofe, the US has sat back and watched as China has built its military presence in the South China Sea, turning artificial islands into potential launch pads for its military.
The idea that the US has sat back and watched anything, ever, in the history of the world, is somewhat laughable. Even under the Obama administration, the president had an explicit containment strategy which was supposed to enclose and encircle China from all angles. The so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) was also designed for this purpose (yet for some reason Donald Trump, who is overtly anti-Chinese, thought the agreement was a bad idea).
Inhofe also said he was “concerned” that “our message” was “not getting across.”
China getting the “message” loud and clear
I don’t mean to be base, but perhaps the problem in the China-US relationship is that the message is getting across – loud and clear. The US has pushed the expansion of NATO up to and around Russia’s borders. It has invaded and bombed Iraq, Syria (miraculously occupying one-third of Syrian territory, including its most oil-rich region), Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and even the Philippines.
On top of it, this superpower has also threatened war with Iran, North Korea and Venezuela, all of whom share a cosy relationship with China. Washington supplies lethal arms to and backs known neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine; and a leaked phone call even saw then-secretary of state Victoria Nuland discuss who she proposed putting inside Ukraine’s government after Viktor Yanukovych was successfully ousted from power.
Under Trump, the US has started a potentially disastrous trade war with China and has openly flirted with the idea of dropping its support for the One-China policy (not to mention weighing up substantive support for Taiwan).
Come on, the message is getting across. If you are a lesser nation without a nuclear supply or the backing of a major nuclear power, you will find the US military right on your doorstep. If you are more of a handful and require a less upfront approach, you will find the US military right next door, peering in the window, all the while American sanctions wreak havoc on your economy.
In that context, if China was indeed preparing for World War III, we really shouldn’t be all that surprised. There has to be a reason that, at the beginning of the year, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first order to his country’s military was to prepare for battle (aka a “comprehensive military struggle from a new starting point”), stating further that “all military units must correctly understand major national security and development trends, and strengthen their sense of unexpected hardship, crisis and battle.”
Furthermore, joining Inhofe at the Senate hearing was the director of studies at the think-tank Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Ely Ratner. Approximately a year ago, our good friend Victoria Nuland (mentioned above regarding regime change and support for neo-nazism archives) was named as the new CEO of the CNAS. It also has the support of the drone-king himself, General David Petraeus, and its experts have helped contribute their opinions to foreign policy, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Fox News, CNN, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), and NPR. It openly warns against the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, for example, because such a move would embolden Iran.
I think it’s fair to say then, that when it comes to a discussion on China, CNAS must be a top-notch source. The company that Inhofe keeps is evidently therefore a reliable one.
China as the scapegoat for US failures
In all fairness, the US has been sounding the alarm on China for some time now.
In November last year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave China a direct and clear warning that it must behave like a “normal nation” (on commerce) and “with respect to the rules of international law.”
If the charges against China are that it does not act like a normal nation and is acting in contravention of international law, it sounds like the US and China would have a lot in common. This would be true even under the Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations, but the US under Trump is openly disregarding international law and eroding confidence in any of the existing UN institutions that are left, making even the slightest mention of international law hypocritical and nonsensical.
Just days ago, US intelligence agencies were warning that China was using student spies to steal secrets from the US. At the end of last year, a bipartisan group of 12 senators wrote a letter to senior members of the Trump administration, urgingthem to counter covert Chinese interference in “democracies” around the world.
In October last year, retired Lt. General Ben Hodges warned that an all-out war between the United States and China was highly likely within the next 15 years. While the warning is one that should be heeded, the blame again, according to mainstream pundits, seems to wholly lay at China’s feet, with the retired general stating that the US “does not have the capacity to do everything it has to do in Europe and in the Pacific to deal with the ‘Chinese threat.’”
Even if Washington’s and its allies’ fear of China were justified, it pays to remind that, officially, Beijing has one overseas military base which is located in Djibouti in the horn of Africa. The corporate media is now even catching on to the fact that, when it comes to Africa, the US has itstroops scattered across the entire continent. In total, the US hasabout 800 bases located all over the planet, and it shows no signs ofdownsizing its military or its nuclear supply.
You would have to have an immense insecurity complex to preside over 800 military bases, yet fear a nation that only boasts one.
Furthermore, last month, Donald Trump revealed a revised US missile-defense strategy which was more-or-less obsessed with China. The man is basically preparing for a space war with China and Russia, developing space-based sensors to detect incoming enemy missiles, as well as exploring space-based weapons to shoot down missiles fired at the American homeland (again, from Russia and/or China).
Perhaps China really is preparing for World War III in the South China Sea, but at the end of the day, the body of water is just that – the South China Sea. If the US refuses to accept Beijing’s claim to its island-building project in the sea and fear the potential for China to project its military prowess into the ocean, then it must equally reject its own claim over the waterways of most of the planet and send its military bases packing back to where they came from.
Everything else is just blatant hypocrisy (something we are all starting to get used to).