Washington's gambit in the Spratly's is an attempt to reverse the tide, derail China's current trajectory and insert the US as the regional kingpin who writes the rules and picks the winners. As Sec-Def Carter said in an earlier speech at the McCain Institute in Arizona, "There are already more than 525 million middle class consumers in Asia, and there will be 3.2 billion in the region by 2030." US corporations want the lion's-share of those customers so they can peddle their widgets, goose their stock prices and pump up their quarterly profits. Carter's job is to help them achieve that objective.
Another threat to US global rule is the aforementioned Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The danger of the AIIB is not simply that it will fund many of the infrastructure projects that will be needed to integrate Europe, Asia and Africa into one giant free trade zone, but that the bank will replace key US-backed financial institutions (The IMF and World Bank) which have helped maintain Washington's iron-grip on the global system. As that grip progressively loosens, there will be less need for cross-border transactions to be carried out in US dollars which, in turn, will threaten the dollar's role as the world's reserve currency. As author Bart Gruzalski notes in his excellent article at Counterpunch, "China and Russia are creating alternatives that threaten the dollar's status as the sole dominant international currency. By instituting trade alternatives to the dollar, they challenge the value of the dollar and so threaten the US economy." ("An Economic Reason for the US vs. China Conflict", Bart Gruzalski, CounterPunch)
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers offered a particularly bleak assessment of the AIIB flap in an editorial that appeared in April in the Washington Post. He said:
"This past month may be remembered as the moment the United States lost its role as the underwriter of the global economic system. True, there have been any number of periods of frustration for the United States before and multiple times when U.S. behavior was hardly multilateralist, such as the 1971 Nixon shock ending the convertibility of the dollar into gold. But I can think of no event since Bretton Woods comparable to the combination of China's effort to establish a major new institution and the failure of the United States to persuade dozens of its traditional allies, starting with Britain, to stay out. (Washington Post)
Summers goes on to acknowledge the threat that political dysfunction (on Capitol Hill) poses to "the dollar's primary role in the international system." It's clear that Summers grasps the gravity of what has unfolded and the challenge the AIIB poses to US hegemony. Readers should note that Summers' ominous warnings were delivered just months before Washington dramatically revamped its China policy which suggests that the announcement of the AIIB was the straw that broke the camel's back. Shortly after, the Obama administration made "crucial changes" to the existing policy. Containment and integration were replaced with the current policy of intimidation, incitement and confrontation. Beijing was elevated to Public Enemy Number 1, America's primary strategic rival.
What happens next, should be fairly obvious to anyone who has followed US meddling in recent years. The US is now at war with China, which means that it will use all of its resources and capabilities, except its military assets, to defeat the enemy. The United States will not militarily engage an enemy that can fight back or inflict pain on the US. That's the cardinal rule of US military policy. While that precludes a nuclear conflagration, it does not exclude a hyperbolic propaganda campaign demonizing China and its leaders in the media (Sadly, the comparisons to Hitler and the Kaiser have already started), asymmetrical attacks on Chinese markets and currency, excruciating economic sanctions, US-NGO funding for Chinese dissidents, foreign agents and fifth columnists, intrusions into China's territorial waters and airspace, strategic denial of critical energy supplies, (80 percent of China's oil supplies are delivered via the Malacca Strait to the South China Sea) and, finally, covert support for "moderate" jihadis who are committed to toppling the Chinese government and replacing it with an Islamic Caliphate. All of these means and proxies will be employed to defeat Beijing, to derail its ambitious Silk Roads strategy, to curtail its explosive growth, and to sabotage its plan to be the preeminent power in Asia.
Washington has thrown down the gauntlet in the South China Sea. If Beijing wants to preserve its independence and surpass the US as the world's biggest economy, it's going to have to meet the challenge, prepare for a long struggle, and beat Uncle Sam at his own game.
It won't be easy, but it can be done.
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