Most hawks have no military experience, much less in combat, and seem pathologically aggressive: Bolton, Pompeo, Biden, Nulan, Rubio. Like spoiled children whom they closely approximate, they will throw hissy fits if they don’t get their way. Here I am not calling names, or not merely calling names, but pointing to what seems a genuine character defect. What will they do if they have, again, misjudged circumstances and America suffers a stinging defeat? They lack the maturity to say, ok, that didn’t work, let’s negotiate the best deal we can. They would likely go to tactical nukes, or bomb the interior of the mainland, combine the two, or block the Strait of Malacca. The consequences would be unpredictable.
Yesterday, April 16, a Washington Post editorial ignored a global scientific community united in rejecting as counter to all available evidence Donald Trump’s warmongering smear that China manufactured COVID-19 in its Wuhan Institute of Virology. Today Andre Damon from WSWS penned an incisive piece on the what and why of so dangerous and ugly a lie. In doing so he nailed media promotion of Sinophobia, though without locating its drivers in business models which regardless of ownership patterns leave them systemically incapable of doing otherwise. 1
(Though most media did draw the line at WashPo’s egregiously ongoing fabrication – much as they did at The Guardian’s egregious fabrication, for which it has offered neither evidence nor retraction, that Julian met Paul Manafort in London’s Ecuador Embassy. 2 Both lies are useful – if they backfire they’re shelved and soon forgot – but not essential to power.)
Andre closes with this:
Where the interests of the ruling class and science conflict, the US media has made clear that scientific truth must be sacrificed on the altar of war.
Do read the piece. At under 1500 words it won’t take you long. Meanwhile let me stress for the umpteenth time how warped our understandings of the world cannot fail to be when our prime sources are media whose business models tie them – Bezos’s ownership of the WashPo, like Murdoch’s of News International, is only half the story – to ruling elites. Never more so than in their silence, in the face of oceans of evidence, on the existence and genocidal venality of the US Empire. Without acknowledging that reality we can no more understand the political world than get to grips with evolution while believing the earth 6,000 years old.
If your understanding of world events doesn’t account for the easily quantifiable fact that the US is the most tyrannical regime on earth by a massive margin, nothing else in your understanding of world events will be fact-based. Sure, you can name governments more oppressive toward their own citizenry, but none that are more oppressive when you zoom out and look at the big picture. 3
A culture of media omerta does not depend on most journalists being liars 4 but does leave too many of us buying – if we haven’t abandoned political thinking, period – a myth we can liken to the Genesis account of earth’s origins. This myth being that the coming showdown with China is NOT about shoring up the waning power of America’s rulers to subjugate the planet.
Going on alignment with known facts – starting with the above, digesting the doctrines of US exceptionalism, full spectrum dominance and PNAC, then proceeding to China’s February report on US hegemony – I’d say Genesis has the edge. Isn’t it time we left The Guardian and Economist, WashPo and CNN in the nursery and raised our game on the news intake front?
To that end I’m once more in the debt of steel city reader Dave Hansell. In a comment below my post of April 12 – WW3? A matter of
chips freedom – he linked to a March 21st piece, its author not known to me. As ever I have carps but, like my regrets, they’re too few to mention. Besides, this Fred Reed dude is one hell of a wordsmith.
Judging by statements from the Pentagon and Washington, the US is preparing the public for war with China. Why such a war? China is no threat to America and provides the low-cost goods on which America depends. Since the rest of the world also depends on Chinese goods, a war would wreck the global economy. Is this a good idea? Has anyone asked the rest of the world? Why does Washington want this?
Because China (and a rapidly growing Asia) threatens the American military empire. You, gentle reader, may not be interested in empire. You may want jobs, medical care, prosperity, good schools for your children. But Washington wants empire. Wants it badly, at any cost.
Thus we are being prepared. In particular we hear about Chinese aggression, which for some reason America must fix. But it doesn’t exist. China is not militarily aggressive. Look at the record. Choose a year– say, 1800 –and count unprovoked wars started by China against other countries. There was the annexation of Tibet, arguably a war, in 1950. China fought a short war with Vietnam after the American defeat, and took part in various border clashes with India. That’s about it. China has one overseas military base, at Djibouti. America has some 750.
By contrast, since that date America and its European parents have fought constantly against each other and invaded most of the world. Whether the aggressiveness of the European races is genetic is a question for those wiser than I.
China currently is at war with nobody and shows no sign of wanting to be. It is a commercial nation. By contrast, America has recently wrecked Iraq, spent twenty years killing in Afghanistan, wrecked Syria and Libya, bombs Somalia, runs a war against Russia in Ukraine which has killed some two hundred thousand Ukrainians and Russians, and wrecked Europe’s economy, prepares to provoke a war with China, and threatens to invade Mexico. Where in this do we see Chinese aggression?
The underlying cause for the aborning war fever is of course that the Asian economies will dwarf that of America. The proximate cause is Taiwan.
From Washington we hear the usual about freedom, sovereignty, goodness, human rights, democracy, and niceness, about none of which Washington cares at all. The real cause is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, TSMC, which is the largest and most advanced microchip manufacturer in the world.
Until Trump began America’s attempt to strangle China technologically by cutting it off from supplies of advanced chips, TSMC was happily making semiconductors for all the world. Washington, grimly determined to maintain its imperial control of the world, is terrified that China might take over Taiwan and its chip fabs. This, not motherhood and human rights, explains the constant provocations of China.
The plan seems to be to arm Taiwan, as it did the Ukraine, and then provoke a war, as it did in the Ukraine, and let Taiwanese do the fighting as it did with the Ukrainians. To reasonable people, the solution might be to leave TSMC alone to sell chips to anyone who wants them, but that is not Washington’s way.
One should not underestimate the seriousness of the hostility to China. America cannot compete with the Chinese in normal international competition. The US seems to have realized this. America collapses internally, its education fails, it increasingly depends on Asians in matters technological, and its finances seem on the brink. The solution is war.
If you doubt Washington’s obsession with TSMC: China hawks say that if in a war, China seemed to be winning, America would destroy TSMC in a scorched-earth policy. That is, if it does not get its way it will destroy Taiwan’s most important industry and cause a catastrophic, years long shortage of chips for the entire world.
America starts its wars by overestimating itself, underestimating the enemy, and misunderstanding the kind of war it is getting into. The overconfidence arises because we are told from birth that America is the freest, most democratic, wisest, most scientifically virile, virtuous, and militarily astonishing country ever. Some of this was true, some almost true, but that was then. The economic, financial, and technological center of gravity shifts hard to the east. Note, for example, that Taiwan, not America, is the most advanced maker of semi-conductors.
What would happen in a war? We don’t know. Military men are remarkably poor at predicting outcomes of wars. Politicians are even worse. Martial expectations almost routinely turn out to be catastrophically wrong. This is another point worth considering carefully. Pardon the length of the following list of disastrous martial misjudgement. It may prove enlightening.
When Napoleon invaded Russia, he did not foresee Russian soldiers marching in Paris. Which is what happened. The American Civil War was expected to be over in an afternoon at First Manassas, wrong by four years and perhaps six hundred thirty thousand dead, equivalent to about six million in today’s population. When Germany launched WWI in 1914, it expected a short war of movement followed by victory. It got a four-year war of attrition followed by defeat. When the Japanese Army brought on WWII, its war aims did not include GIs diddling its daughters in the bars of Tokyo. Which is what happened.
When Germany attacked Poland in WWII, having Berlin divided between US and Russian soldiers was not intended. It happened. When the French went back into Vietnam after the war, their intentions did not include getting clobbered by les jaunes at Dienbienphu. When the Russians invaded Afghanistan, they were fought to a standstill by the Afghans and had to leave, which greatly surprised them. When the Americans invaded Vietnam, defeat and a panicked exit were not in their plans. When the Americans invaded Afghanistan, after seeing what happened to the Russians, they did not foresee defeat and route.
Is there a pattern here? Even cause for caution? Especially since the American military is short on experience?
The US military has not fought a serious enemy since 1973 and the American fleet, which would be crucial in a war over Taiwan, has not been in combat since 1945. Weaponry changes. We don’t know what a modern war would look like. We do know that China would prove a bruising, able, and powerful opponent. Various authoritative military sources, such as the Pentagon’s own Rand thinktank, predict an American military disaster. (See links at end.)
Americans have no idea of real war against a huge, technologically advanced military fighting with home advantage. The US is accustomed to bombing lightly armed peasants. Its forces take for granted protected bases and airfields which, in war with China, they would not have. Casualties would be quick and ugly. Carriers have crews of thousands. That is a lot of dead.
Unused militaries deteriorate. A common problem is personnel rot. America no longer has a hardy, physically fit rural population. Since few of today’s young want to enlist, and few of those who do meet minimum physical, mental, or police-record standards, the military now accepts candidates of low mental category and even with criminal records. In peacetime this doesn’t greatly matter. In war it will.
In prolonged peace, the officer corps also deteriorates. An officer’s chief interest becomes promotion. He gets promoted by agreeing with higher-ups and never making waves. In today’s military, avoiding offense to racial minorities and sexual curiosities is more important than serious training. The military has become a social-betterment laboratory primarily interested in notions of political faddism. The officer corps knows that this is disaster in the making. That they accept it does not bode well should war come. But a major who wants to retire as at least a lieutenant colonel cannot afford to let military considerations trip him up.
Interestingly, America would be attacking a country that makes a high proportion of almost everything that Americans use. How much of China’s trade with what countries would be stopped by a war is anybody’s guess. Suddenly-empty shelves at Walmart and everywhere else would be noticed by voters, of course. I would like to see a list of things from pharmaceuticals to electronic components that come from China and that America could not make for itself without years of building factories. Of course American factories in China would instantly become Chinese factories.
A danger, almost a prediction, is that in war with China, Washington will have no Plan B, no idea what to do if things go badly. In official Washington there broods a mix of imperial arrogance, misinformation, and a sense of entitlement. This has to be experienced to be grasped. The hawks in Washington really do believe, viscerally, that America has both the right and the military and economic power to dominate the rest of the world. Most hawks have no military experience, much less in combat, and seem pathologically aggressive: Bolton, Pompeo, Biden, Nulan, Rubio. Like spoiled children, whom they closely approximate, they will throw hissy fits if they don’t get their way. Here I am not calling names, or not merely calling names, but pointing to what seems a genuine character defect. 5 What will they do if they have, again, misjudged circumstances and America suffers a stinging defeat? They lack the maturity to say, ok, that didn’t work, let’s negotiate the best deal we can. They would likely go to tactical nukes, or bomb the mainland, combine the two, or block the Strait of Malacca. The consequences would be unpredictable.
Even at a glance, the idea that America can defeat China in its home waters is doubtful. (See links below.) To begin with, the Chinese are excellent engineers. They dominate America’s elite scientific high schools and technical universities. They make Mars landers, dominate in Five G are neck and neck with American in various fields and are gaining in others. Lightweights they are not. They have focused hard on the wherewithal specifically to defeat the US in nearby seas. They have hypersonic missiles, a technology in which they are currently ahead of America, that outrange carrier aviation, and they have the satellite guidance to hit moving targets.
Briefly—again, see links—modern warships are fragile. They are not the armored behemoths of WWII. A single missile hit would take a Tico class or Arleigh Burke destroyer out of the war. It is probably true that one plunging terminally-guided ballistic missile, punching through the flight deck and exploding in the hangar deck, would disable a carrier.
Maybe, just for once Washington should think before deploying.
The first link is well worth reading. The others make the point that China is progressing in military technology, though details of technology and confirmed reports of effectiveness are lacking.
Worth adding to Fred Reed’s assessment of US armed forces is an assessment of its bloated military industrial complex. I wouldn’t want to be unduly reductive. There are more reasons than one for Russia’s and China’s superiority, despite far smaller arms-spend, in hypersonic missile technologies. With no evidence that either has imperial ambitions (whatever The Guardian and sections of the Marxist Left may say) both have focused their defence budgets on neutralising US ability to launch with impunity a first nuclear strike. As I put it in footnote 10 of the second of the two posts linked in this paragraph:
Russia having focused her deterrence efforts on surface-to-air and other missile systems (as has China) removes US capacity to launch a first strike, aimed at taking out most of her response capability, secure in the knowledge it could deal with the remnants through ‘star wars’ shields. There is currently no answer to incoming missiles at Mach 10 or higher. To which I add only this. It is a habit with bullies to see any diminution of their power to abuse as an act of aggression by the abused.
But there’s another reason why the two Eurasian powers are ahead in such critical arenas. The overriding goal of Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics etc is not deterrence or even aggression. It is to enrich the shareholders to whom they are first and foremost answerable. 6
Coming soon. Three discussions which progressively widen the focus: from Alex Mercouris on Kiev’s much heralded spring counter-offensive, through Brian Berletic on strategic aspects of Washington’s war on Russia, to Michael Hudson and Radhika Desai on the momentous import of Moscow’s decisive turning away from the West.
* * *
- “Regardless of ownership patterns …” I’m making the point (again!) that Guardian Media Group has – for reasons set out here – been no less active in its reckless promotion of Sinophobia than the billionaire owned media it loves to distance itself from. See, inter alia, The whataboutery of Simon Tisdall.
- This Guardian lie – specifically, Luke Harding’s, backed by Editor in Chief Katharine Viner – had twin aims. One was to promote the now discredited but then powerful ‘Russiagate’ narrative on Trump. The other, in tandem with the rape smears, was to ensure that Julian and Wikileaks lost support within a credulous liberal intelligentsia.
- “If your understanding … look at the big picture.” This quote is an amalgam. The words are all Caitlin Johnstone’s, but from two separate posts.
- “A culture of media omerta does not depend on most journalists being liars …” Media distortion is less by outright lie than careful omission, reliant less on mendacity than self-serving credulity. Journalists please editors. Editors please proprietors. Proprietors need advertisers. Ergo, even before we get to direct state curbs on, and state disinfo fed to, ‘our’ media on matters of
ruling class interestsnational security, independent media is what we do not have. Since consent is meaningless when not informed, the same goes for democracy.
- “Bolton, Pompeo, Biden, Nulan[d], Rubio …” For a view from the belly of the beast of how such moral and intellectual midgets could seize the reins in the Beltway, see the Andrei Raevsky piece featured in Did the crazies capture the USA? How?
- Of course Russia’s arms sector, like China’s, is capitalist. But in those dirigiste economies the state remains in control. The revolving door between high office and huge corporate interests in the USA – in ‘defense’ as in energy and banking – is a licence for bloated abuse.