[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Just a small reminder that signed, personalized copies of William deBuys’s remarkable new book, The Trail to Kanjiroba: Rediscovering Earth in an Age of Loss, are still available at the TomDispatch donation page for contributions of at least $100 ($125 if you live outside the U.S.A.). Of it, Dahr Jamail, someone TD readers will remember well, has said, “Written in the spirit of Mathiessen’s Snow Leopard, The Trail to Kanjiroba is a pilgrimage into the unknown of the inner realms. DeBuys’s heartfelt, raw, poetically written personal peregrination is a true service to life on an increasingly disrupted planet.” At the very least, make sure to get yourself a copy! Tom]
Let me make my own position on China all too clear. I’m distinctly “soft” on that country. I always have been. After all, it represents a remarkable civilization, one I studied in graduate school. Among my greatest regrets is never having visited there, never having made it to the Great Wall or any of its other memorable historical landmarks. China has indeed “risen” from the nightmare of the nineteenth and much of the twentieth centuries to become one of the two great powers on this planet, which is, I think, a remarkable accomplishment. Yes, of course, there are aspects of its governance that are deplorable (but it’s in good company there). Still, at this potentially calamitous moment on Planet Earth, working with, not preparing for war against, China should be the order of the day.
Unfortunately, I seem to be in the minority in a country where being soft on China is one of the worst insults around. Early in the 2020 election campaign, for instance, Joe Biden criticized Donald Trump for just that. He “rolled over for the Chinese” on Covid-19, claimed one Biden campaign ad. And, of course, the then-president returned the favor, tweeting, “China wants Sleepy Joe sooo badly… Joe is an easy mark, their DREAM CANDIDATE!”
As it happens, both were quite wrong about the other. Trump, of course, whacked the Chinese (and American consumers, as well) with those tariffs of his, which Sleepy Joe has adamantly kept in place since entering the Oval Office. Meanwhile, as with Washington’s new AUKUS pact in Asia that will provide Australia with nuclear-powered subs or the new CIA spy center that’s to focus on China alone, the Biden foreign-policy team has been hot to trot when it’s come to creating a new Cold War in Asia. As it turns out, both administrations stationed U.S. Marines and a special-operations unit on the island of Taiwan for the first time (without even notifying Congress) and both have sold that island’s government copious new weapons systems.
Both have been similarly intent on creating anti-Chinese alliances in the region, but the Biden administration has been doing all this far more coherently, as TomDispatch regular David Vine, author most recently of the all-too-aptly titled The United States of War: A Global History of America’s Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State, suggests today. Of course, for a land that spends more on its military-industrial complex than the Chinese could ever imagine, more than at least the next 11 countries combined (and hasn’t won a war of significance, including in Afghanistan, since 1945), an enemy remains sadly necessary. Despite the fact that the Chinese have, as Vine indicates, done remarkably little of an aggressive nature in the world in recent years, congressional majorities of Democrats and Republicans would never agree to fund the Pentagon at levels now almost beyond imagining without just such a foe.
Meanwhile, both countries continue to make war on the planet in an unprecedented manner in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and so on we go. Let Vine, an expert on this country as a war and garrison state, fill you in. Tom
The AUKUS Alliance Takes the World to the Brink
Before it's too late, we need to ask ourselves a crucial question: Do we really -- I mean truly -- want a new Cold War with China?
Because that's just where the Biden administration is clearly taking us. If you need proof, check out last month's announcement of an "AUKUS" (Australia, United Kingdom, U.S.) military alliance in Asia. Believe me, it's far scarier (and more racist) than the nuclear-powered submarine deal and the French diplomatic kerfuffle that dominated the media coverage of it. By focusing on the dramatically angry French reaction to losing their own agreement to sell non-nuclear subs to Australia, most of the media missed a much bigger story: that the U.S. government and its allies have all but formally declared a new Cold War by launching a coordinated military buildup in East Asia unmistakably aimed at China.Read More