Tuesday, July 16, 2013

U.S. and China planning war?

By Doug Saunders, Globe and Mail, July 13, 2013

Both the Pentagon and the People’s Liberation Army are arming for an all-out war and pursuing enormously expensive master strategies that assume that such a war will occur.
In the case of the United States, this appears to be taking place without any authorization or approval from the White House or Congress. The Pentagon is now basing its global strategy on a detailed plan known as the AirSea Battle concept, in which the U.S. Army and Air Force defend the presence of 320,000 U.S. troops in the area by readying themselves for a full-scale land and air assault on China in the event of a threat in the South China Sea or its surroundings.
In a detailed analysis paper in this summer’s issue of the Yale Journal of International Affairs, the famed sociologist and military-policy expert Amitai Etzioni asks, “Who authorized preparations for war with China?” His answer is stark: Mr. Obama has spoken of a “pivot to Asia,” but there has been no political intent or desire to have such an active military confrontation with China – in fact, the politics and diplomacy have been moving in the opposite direction.
This is the epitome of geopolitical hypocrisy, when two super powers are publicly friendly, agreeing to joint measures to combat global warming and to make trade in both directions more feasible, through letting the Chinese currency rise, while at the same time, secretly planning for all-out military combat. And it is especially galling, not to mention frightening, that these two super powers would choose this moment in history, coming up on the 100th anniversary of World War I, in 2014, to even contemplate such a move.

It is not as if the U.S. government does not have enough perplexing questions to answer to its public already:

1. When will the U.S. end forced feeding of Guantanamo prisoners?

2. When will the U.S. establish a credible presence in Egypt?

3. When will the U.S. and her allies agree to a peace conference to end the civil conflict in Syria?

4. When will the U.S. finally grant a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants currently living, working and paying taxes in the U.S.?

5. When will the U.S. come to its senses on Edward Snowden, and while pursuing his extradition, also grant some form of clemency to the man who has initiated one of the most epic and long-overdue public debates about the U.S. counter-intelligence activities?

And the list could go on for many pages….so it is not as if the White House needs to look for issues in which to become engaged; their plate is full to overflowing and will remain that way until the end of the current administration.
However, there is now, and has been for many decades, an undercurrent to American political life: that it is driven by American economics and that American economics are driven, when the economics is moving in a favourable trend line, by military engagements.
As George Carlin reminds us, “America is a nation of war!”
Pure and simple, while some may judge Carlin’s judgement as juvenile, there is little doubt that military contracts, both for the production of hardware and increasingly software for the defence systems, and for the hiring either through contract or through direct recruiting fuel the economy is many parts of the country. And this fuel is especially required as the country tries vainly to emerge from one of the worst economic downturns in the last century.
So the policy at the Pentagon and the White House may not be “war absolutely” but rather “war if necessary but not necessarily war” there has never been a time in American history when the engines of war have not been either undergoing retrofit, or preparing for new technologies, or actually machining the weapons, planes, ships and missiles that will bear the U.S. coat of arms into the other side of the world, whenever called upon.
Etzione is right to ask, “Who has authorized this AirSea Battle plan?” And furthermore, “Who is going to reign it in once unleashed on a Pentagon whose appetite for a war waged with drones from desks back home has never been more rabid?”
Let’s hope that the piece in the Yale Journal of International Affairs is enough to spark a public debate, both inside the U.S. and around the world, about how relations between China and the U.S. can be cooled, moderated, mediated and if not reconciled, at least pushed into long-term negotiations. Clearly, Russia would be very interested in the Yale piece, if they were not already familiar with the plans of both countries, as we suspect they are.
Let’s not build another “successful economic upswing” on the back of the military-industrial-now –technological establishment. Rather, let’s put American and global ingenuity toward new ways to combat collective and shared problems like global warming, finding jobs and housing, education and health care, clean water, land and air for all our people….and build a stable economy on the back of those initiatives, not again on war or the prospect of war.

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