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General News    H3'ed 10/21/21

Tomgram: David Vine, Biden Builds Back Worse (When It Comes to China)

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This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

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

Do You Want a New Cold War?
The AUKUS Alliance Takes the World to the Brink

By

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.

It's still not too late to choose a more peaceful path. Unfortunately, this all-Anglo alliance comes perilously close to locking the world into just such a conflict that could all too easily become a hot, even potentially nuclear, war between the two wealthiest, most powerful countries on the planet.

If you're too young to have lived through the original Cold War as I did, imagine going to sleep fearing that you might not wake up in the morning, thanks to a nuclear war between the world's two superpowers (in those days, the United States and the Soviet Union). Imagine walking past nuclear fallout shelters, doing "duck and cover" drills under your school desk, and experiencing other regular reminders that, at any moment, a great-power war could end life on Earth.

Do we really want a future of fear? Do we want the United States and its supposed enemy to once again squander untold trillions of dollars on military expenditures while neglecting basic human needs, including universal health care, education, food, and housing, not to mention failing to deal adequately with that other looming existential threat, climate change?

A U.S. Military Buildup in Asia

When President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared their all-too-awkwardly named AUKUS alliance, most of the media focused on a relatively small (though hardly insignificant) part of the deal: the U.S. sale of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia and that country's simultaneous cancellation of a 2016 contract to buy diesel-powered subs from France. Facing the loss of tens of billions of euros and being shut out of the Anglo Alliance, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the deal a "stab in the back." For the first time in history, France briefly recalled its ambassador from Washington. French officials even cancelled a gala meant to celebrate Franco-American partnership dating back to their defeat of Great Britain in the Revolutionary War.

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Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch (more...)
 

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