We live in the days of a powerful but waning Empire. Domestically, things are unraveling fast. Unless I miss my guess, or Human Nature changed in the last few minutes, those running the show will require a Big Distraction to rally (pacify) the People, who must be made to live in a constant state of fear of an External Enemy so they don't notice that their lives have turned to crap.
This is also the thesis of Gerald Celente, who stated it my recent post Society Is Breaking Down. The power of 9/11 and the ongoing War on "Terrorism" to keep us sufficiently fearful is waning, despite National Propaganda Radio's assiduous, unflagging efforts to keep us mired in that 10-year old event and report on various terrorism threats around the world. Something new is required. The size of the distraction must be commensurate with the grim reality at home the distraction obscures. Should this lead to World War III, then I guess we'd all be off the hook, right? And as Paul Krugman likes to remind you, World War II led America out of the Great Depression
Is war with China, now America's biggest global rival, inevitable?
In The Empire At Dusk, which recently appeared in Foreign Policy, Stephen Glain documents the historical relationship between the Empire and its enormous military. I will quote his excellent article at length today, but I urge you to read the whole thing.
In its scramble to avoid another legislative gang war over the nation's debt ceiling, Washington is preparing to shake down the Defense Department in the name of deficit reduction. While budget cutters preoccupy themselves with line-item expenditures, they overlook the Pentagon's biggest cost center: Empire. The burden of global hegemony, the commitment to project force across every strategic waterway, air corridor, and land bridge, has exhausted the U.S. military and will be even harder to sustain as budget cuts force strategists and logisticians to do more with less. A national discussion about the logic of maintaining huge forward bases, to say nothing of their financial and human costs, is long overdue.
American relations with the world, and increasingly America's security policy at home, have become thoroughly and all but irreparably militarized. The culprits are not the nation's military leaders, though they can be aggressive and cunning interagency operators, but civilian elites who have seen to it that the nation is engaged in a self-perpetuating cycle of low-grade conflict. They have been hiding in plain sight, hyping threats and exaggerating the capabilities and resources of adversaries. They have convinced a plurality of citizens that their best guarantee of security is not peace but war, and they did so with the help of a supine or complicit Congress. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, U.S. presidents have ordered troops into battle 22 times, compared with 14 times during the Cold War. Not once did they appeal to lawmakers for a declaration of war.
The legacy of American militarism is a national security complex that thrives on fraud, falsehood, and deception. In the 1950s, Americans were told the Soviets had not only the means to destroy the United States but the desire to do so. In reality, Moscow lacked the former and so gave little thought to the latter, while Washington squandered billions of dollars on needless weaponry...
At this point Glain describes the historical fraud, corruption and malfeasance of those in the national security complex and those who set policy. The costs of Empire are enormous, but "in ancient times, empires exacted tribute from their dependencies. In the age of American hegemony, just the opposite is the case... a great majority of Americans are easily manipulated into backing a militarized response to challenges more suited to diplomacy... The price of this deception is vast. If the Pentagon were a corporation, it would be the largest in the world as well as the most sloppily run." Glain cites a report that found $1 trillion in unsupported account entries in fiscal years 2004-2008. No doubt you remember that those years span W's second term in office.
Let's get back to the original thesis. Glain describes how America's diplomatic core has been gutted, while the military has grown more and more powerful, its finger in every pie. What will happen now?
In 2001, the Defense Department produced a study called "Asia 2025," which identified China as a "persistent competitor of the United States," bent on "foreign military adventurism." A U.S. base realignment plan made public in 2004 called for a new chain of bases to be erected in Central Asia and the Middle East, in part to box in China. A 2008 deal between the United States and India that would allow New Delhi to greatly expand its nuclear weapons capability was established very much with China, their mutual rival, in mind. At the same time, the Pentagon is well into a multiyear effort to transform its military base on Guam into its primary hub for operations in the Pacific. While the QDR [Quadrennial Defense Review] drily refers to "the Guam buildup" as a means to "deter and defeat" regional aggressors, John Pike of the Washington, D.C. based Globalsecurity.org has speculated that the Pentagon wants to "run the planet from Guam and Diego Garcia by 2015."
In March 2011, Inside the Navy reported how the U.S. government was deep in the planning stages of a major military buildup in Asia. In response, China is expanding its fleet of diesel-powered subs at a base on Hainan Island and is developing the capacity to attack and destroy satellites as well as aircraft carriers. It has also laid a provocative marker down on a cluster of islands in the South China Sea that are the subject of a simmering territorial row between it and Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, and Indonesia. In 2010, Beijing identified the South China Sea as a "core interest," a term it previously applied only to Tibet and Taiwan, a move that was seized upon in Washington as a de facto declaration of sovereignty over the region and an augur of Chinese bullying to come. If a Sino-American war is inevitable, it is now generally assumed that a hotly contested South China Sea may be its epicenter.
There is nothing inevitable about an American war with China, however, and even Chinese security planners believe the U.S.-Chinese rivalry will be economic, rather than military, in character.
Here is the key passage, which ends Glain's article. He describes how the build-up to war would proceed.
There is, however, an emerging rhythm to Sino-U.S. affairs: The Pentagon, still clinging to the spirit, if not the letter, of the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance, reflexively interprets an emerging regional power or political movement as a strategic threat. It gathers allies and punishes neutrals in an undeclared policy to isolate it. Defense analysts exaggerate the threat's military might while discounting the historical factors that inform and motivate it. Politicians in Washington convene hearings and, briefed as to the nation's ill-preparedness, demand an immediate military buildup. Pundits condemn the commander in chief for being soft on America's adversaries even as diplomats and intelligence experts overseas assure the White House that the danger is largely in the minds of those peddling it back home. Such admonitions, however, are obscured or ignored in what is now a key election-year issue. Surveillance is met with countersurveillance. Heightened alert status provokes the same. An incident occurs, either by accident or by design.
It is war.
The Daily Ticker's Aaron Task interviewed Glain in story called U.S. War with China “Inevitable,” Author Glain Says. Here's how the interview ends.
... without an admission by the United States of its limitations, both fiscal and military, with regards to a country [China] which is the most populated in the world, absent that recognition, that acknowledgement, that concession, I think some kind of conflict with China, between the U.S and China, is inevitable, probably in our lifetime.