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NEWS & COMMENTARY: Ta-ta War on Terror, Cold War on China ciao!

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The fundamental political problem of the U.S. national security state in the aftermath of the demise of the Soviet Union has been how to justify the size and cost of its institutional apparatus during the lull before its looming confrontation with a China on the rise.  --  The solution to that problem was the War on Terror, conveniently enabled a decade ago by the attacks of Sept. 11.  --  Future historians are likely to see Barack Obama's November 2011 trip as the moment when the page turned.  --  Travelling in Asia, the American president sent his secretary of state to Burma to undercut a Chinese client state, to the Philippines to call the oil-rich South China Sea the "West Philippine Sea," and betook himself to Australia to announce that U.S. military forces will now stationed in northern Australia, a move that will be accompanied by  increased cooperation between the Royal Australian Air Force and the U.S. Air Force resulting in more U.S. aircraft passing through, Bloomberg reported.[1]  --  The move signals a strategic shift by the U.S. national security state "to counter China’s regional influence" in an area where sea lanes currently carry more than $5 trillion of commerce, about $1.2 trillion of it U.S. trade, Julianna Goldman and Jacob Greber said.  --  "China’s demand for natural resources, led by iron ore and coal, has made it Australia’s largest trading partner and fueled a record mining boom, much of it concentrated in the north of the country," Goldman and Greber noted.  --  So the introduction of U.S. marines in northern Australia, "which was attacked by the Japanese during World War II and symbolizes the historic U.S.-Australian alliance," is a noteworthy development.  --  In the aftermath of the announcement, officials were busy with making public statements to deny the obvious.  --  After exchanges between Australia and China on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Indonesia over the weekend, Australia "dismissed suggestions that China had been angered" by the announcement, AFP reported.[2]  --  Australian Gillard pretended that "this step forward in our defense cooperation is not aimed at any nation in our region."  --  But of course it is.  --  Amy Coopes noted "media reports that [Australia and the U.S.] were planning a joint Indian Ocean military base on remote Cocos Island, near Indonesia," and officials offered a non-denial of that, too:  "Down the track in the future, there may well be some possibility or prospect of greater utilization of Cocos Island, but that's well down the track," Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith said.  --  On Friday Tom Hayden said in an article on the Huffington Post that President Obama has begun "a new Cold War with China, one based on military encirclement on seat and land, costing unknown trillions in defense dollars, and shoring up cheap labor markets in a free trade zone excluding China."[3]  --  "An increased emphasis on China's systemic human rights violations will provide a liberal rationale for the new global competition."  --  The United States has behaved in this way for so long that Americans take for granted.  --  But, Hayden asked, "Could anyone imagine the Chinese government sending carriers and submarines to the California coast and announcing their intention to play a larger long-term role in shaping the western coasts of the Americas?"  --  "Viewed historically, this is a classic example of choosing the path of overseas expansion -- the 'Open Door' foreign policy described by William Appleman Williams in The Tragedy of American Diplomacy -- to channel attention and resources away from solving problems at home." ...


1.

Asia

U.S. MARINES TO BE STATIONED IN AUSTRALIA UNDER OBAMA-GILLARD DEFENSE PACT

By Julianna Goldman and Jacob Greber

Bloomberg
November 16, 2011

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-16/u-s-marines-to-be-stationed-in-australia-under-obama-gillard-defense-pact.html#

CANBERRA -- President Barack Obama said the U.S. is sending a “clear message” of its intent to lead in the Asia-Pacific region with an agreement he and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced to deploy American Marines on Australian bases next year.

Moving to counter China’s regional influence, the defense accord will anchor an American presence in the western Pacific that can help safeguard sea lanes that carry more than $5 trillion of commerce, about $1.2 trillion of it U.S. trade.

“The United States is stepping up its commitment to the entire Asia Pacific,” Obama said at a news conference yesterday with Gillard in the Australian capital of Canberra.  “This is a region of huge strategic importance to us.”

Gillard said “building on our alliance through this new initiative is about stability.”

Obama arrived in Canberra yesterday on his first visit to Australia as president, part of a nine-day trip that highlights the shift of U.S. economic and military focus to the Asia- Pacific region as it winds down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He will address Australia’s Parliament later today before heading to Darwin to speak to U.S. and Australian troops at an air force base.  Obama then flies to Bali, Indonesia, to attend a summit of east Asian nations.

The U.S.-Australia agreement was announced as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged in Manila to give the Philippines more military support as the Southeast Asian country presses China to back off claims in disputed waters rich in oil and gas.

ENERGY RESOURCES


Chinese studies cited by the U.S. Energy Information Agency in 2008 said the South China Sea could hold 213 billion barrels of oil.  While the sea borders several countries, China claims “indisputable sovereignty” over most of it.

The Marines will be stationed in Darwin and northern Australia under the agreement.  The troops will be deployed on a six-month rotation, starting with 250 personnel and eventually expanding to as many as 2,500, Gillard said.  The two nations also agreed to more cooperation between the Royal Australian Air Force and the U.S. Air Force, resulting in more U.S. aircraft passing through northern Australia.

Obama said the increased American presence is not meant to isolate China.

“The notion that we fear China is mistaken,” he said.  “The notion that we are looking to exclude China is mistaken.”

ENGAGEMENT WITH CHINA


Gillard said both nations are “deeply engaged” with China and want to see the world’s second-largest economy “rise into the global rules-based order.”

China’s foreign ministry said the agreements needed to be studied to assess their benefit for the region.

“To strengthen and enlarge a military alliance -- whether or not this is a kind of appropriate move, whether or not it is in accordance with a region’s or the international community’s common interest -- we feel that’s worth discussing and verifying,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters.

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, told reporters that the moves are being made “in response to demand from within the region.”

Rhodes said the South China Sea would be part of a discussion on maritime security at the East Asia Summit in Bali,

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said he hoped the agreement wouldn’t “provoke a reaction and counter-reaction precisely to create that vicious cycle of tensions and mistrust.”

“That’s why it’s very important when a decision of this type is taken there is transparency of what the scenarios being envisaged are, and that there is no misunderstanding as a result,” he said.

EAST ASIAN SUMMIT


Indonesia will call on the 18-member East Asia Summit to agree to a set of principles that include “renunciation of the use of force,” Natalegawa said.

Clinton said the Obama administration takes no position on the claims of various countries in the area and that any resolution must be peaceful.

While the U.S. move to beef up military relations with Australia has been planned for years, it’s significant that the message was delivered by Obama, said Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University’s Tokyo campus.

“What’s important is that it’s being highlighted by the president,” he said.  “Doing this with Gillard is a way to tell everyone in Asia ‘look, the U.S. is in town and the U.S. will back you up if you need to be backed up.’”

U.S. INFLUENCE


Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith said in an interview yesterday that there is “no proposal to have United States bases” in Australia.  Smith said the rise of China has led some to think “the U.S. is magically disappearing.”

“Well it’s not,” he said.  “The U.S. has made it crystal clear that it will continue its presence in the Asia Pacific.”

Obama will be the first U.S. president to visit Darwin, which was attacked by the Japanese during World War II and symbolizes the historic U.S.-Australian alliance.

Australia, which served alongside the U.S. in the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars, is a buyer of American military equipment, approving an initial purchase of 14 Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft at an estimated cost of A$3.2 billion.

China’s demand for natural resources, led by iron ore and coal, has made it Australia’s largest trading partner and fueled a record mining boom, much of it concentrated in the north of the country.

“It’s possible for Australia to have an alliance relationship with the U.S. and a comprehensive bilateral relationship with China,” said Smith, a federal lawmaker representing voters in Perth, where he has been the member since 1993.  “This is not a zero sum game.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Julianna Goldman in Canberra at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Jacob Greber in Canberra at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Mark Silva at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


2.

AUSTRALIA INSISTS CHINA 'MEASURED' ON U.S. MARINES

By Amy Coopes

Agence France-Presse
November 20, 2011

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ilf2ZJREfZY5U_biDGGfGacjy0pw?docId=CNG.b7a3fb3877d741433e577299eb0a35b6.541


SYDNEY -- Australia dismissed suggestions that China had been angered by plans for a U.S. troop build-up in Darwin, saying its response had been moderate and talks on the issue were "cordial."

The plan to post up to 2,500 Marines in northern Australia by 2016-17 was unveiled by U.S. President Barack Obama during a visit to Canberra last week and immediately labelled inappropriate by Beijing.

But Prime Minister Julia Gillard met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Indonesia over the weekend and said they had constructive discussions on the issue.

"Our meeting was a cordial one, it was a constructive one.  We were looking to the future, it was a forward-looking meeting," Gillard told reporters in Bali.

"On the attitude of the Chinese government to these questions, I think that's best taken from the official statements of the Chinese government through its foreign ministry indicating that they've got a focus on peace and stability in the region, and so do we."

Jakarta also expressed concern over the troop expansion, with Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa warning it could inflame relations and create a "vicious circle of tensions and mistrust."

But while Southeast Asian nations fret over being squeezed between the competing interests of China and the United States, Indonesia at the same time is building up its own military cooperation with U.S. forces.

Gillard said she had also discussed the issue with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during bilateral talks in Bali over the weekend.

"President Yudhoyono certainly understands that this is step forward in our defense cooperation with the United States, (that) we are a long-term ally of the United States, that this step forward in our defense cooperation is not aimed at any nation in our region," she said.

They had also discussed how the new arrangement would boost the capacity to meet "regional contingencies including natural disasters" as part of broader discussions about improving disaster readiness and responses, she added.

Defense Minister Stephen Smith earlier described China's response to the troop boost as "quite measured", moderate and appropriate.

"China, for a long time, has said that it doesn't believe there should be military alliances, but it understands that Australia has a military alliance with the United States," Smith told Australian television.

"My own judgement is that the response -- official response from China -- has frankly been a measured one.  It hasn't been over the top.

"We continue to make the point publicly and privately to China that there's no inconsistency between a military alliance... with the United States and a comprehensive bilateral relationship with China."

Smith said it was very important to divorce commentary on the issue from official responses and that it was "really what they say at the top level" that mattered, not bellicose editorials in state-owned media outlets.

Smith said the deal unveiled by Obama included greater access for U.S. military aircraft to northern Australia and "in the longer term" expanded ship and submarine visits to the nation's west coast.

But he dismissed media reports that the two countries were planning a joint Indian Ocean military base on remote Cocos Island, near Indonesia, saying "that discussion has not occurred".

"Down the track in the future, there may well be some possibility or prospect of greater utilisation of Cocos Island, but that's well down the track," he said.

"In the first instance, our Indian Ocean arrangement will be, in my view, greater naval access to our premier Indian Ocean naval base -- Sterling Base in Western Australia."

3.

AMERICA'S NEW COLD WAR WITH CHINA

By Tom Hayden

Huffington Post
November 18, 2011

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-hayden/america-china-foreign-policy_b_1100748.html


By declaring that he will dispatch 2,500 Marines to Australia, President Obama has crossed a line, beginning a new Cold War with China, one based on military encirclement on sea and land, costing unknown trillions in defense dollars, and shoring up cheap labor markets in a free trade zone excluding China.  An increased emphasis on China's systemic human rights violations will provide a liberal rationale for the new global competition.

Just as some might wonder what the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is doing in Afghanistan, one might wonder what the United States Navy is doing in the China Sea.  Call it imperialism, globalization, or great power politics; the new strategy is a replica of the eighty-year Cold War against the Soviet Union.  That conflict resulted in the implosion of the Soviet Union and much rhetoric about America becoming the "sole superpower," but has done little to advance the U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan; end the American isolation in Latin America; or prevent the rise of China as the emerging economic power.  Along the way, millions of people died, were wounded or displaced in a series of hot wars with the Cold War as backdrop and rationale.  By analogy, the new Cold War is based on the historic Soviet model of squeezing China's budget through military encirclement, while hoping for internal uprisings by Chinese workers and intellectuals against austerity and repression.

The new Cold War may be intended to be more economic, political, and diplomatic than military.  But bloody wars might erupt between North and South Korea, China and Taiwan, or through proxy wars involving Pakistan and India.  The U.S. network of emerging military alliances could obligate the U.S. to enter such conflicts.

America's leading foreign policy guru, Henry Kissinger, who has visited China more than seventy times, signals in his book, On China, the strategic challenge of China to the American global agenda, recommending a cautious path of coexistence with the new superpower.  On the right, of course, are those with longstanding demands to "roll back" China, abetted by many seeking to impose trade sanctions.  Hillary Clinton, in a November Foreign Policy article, called for a "more broadly-distributed military presence" combined with "forward-deployed diplomacy," and warned -- above all -- against a post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan domestic desire to "come home."  (Ironically, "America, come home," was the cry of George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign, which both Clintons supported.)

At precisely the moment that our country is convulsed with historic protests against grinding poverty, foreclosures, and unemployment, the U.S. foreign policy élite seems more intent on occupying military bases abroad than answering Occupy Wall Street at home.

Viewed historically, this is a classic example of choosing the path of overseas expansion -- the "Open Door" foreign policy described by William Appleman Williams in The Tragedy of American Diplomacy -- to channel attention and resources away from solving problems at home.

Obama's new Cold War approach includes an emphasis on continued bilateral cooperation with China while adopting a more aggressive and confrontational policy.  Obama asserts that the United States is a "Pacific nation," which intends to play "a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future."

Could anyone imagine the Chinese government sending carriers and submarines to the California coast and announcing their intention to play a larger long-term role in shaping the western coasts of the Americas?

Instead of denouncing "coming home" as a new "isolationism," the question should be whether America is being committed to an over-extension of resources that should be invested in jobs at home.

If Obama rules out any defense cutbacks in the Asian Pacific region, where will the funding for our cities come from?  If China chooses to respond aggressively, for example over Taiwan, will the U.S. respond in kind, or be forced into backing down?  Why should the U.S. emphasize hard power against a nation that cannot be defeated militarily?  Why not a nonviolent "soft power" strategy, through a relentless defense of human rights, civil liberties, Internet access, and the elimination of sweatshop labor conditions based on collusion between Chinese authorities and global Western corporations?  Why not a primary emphasis on nonviolent cooperation with China on energy efficiency and green jobs?

In Machiavellian terms, is the new American deployment a cover for the pending withdrawal of American combat forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the real rationale for the Long War?

The neo-conservative thinker Robert Kaplan writes, "stabilizing Afghanistan is about much more than just the anti-terrorist war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban; it is about securing the future prosperity of the whole of southern Eurasia, as well as easing India and Pakistan towards peaceful coexistence through the sharing of energy resources" (Robert Kaplan, Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power [2010], p. 14).

That expansionist goal of Afghan policy has never been officially articulated.

As Kaplan notes, U.S. navy ships already have bombed Iraq and Afghanistan from the Indian Ocean, while the Air Force tries to secure Iraq and Afghanistan from bases in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.  "Any American strike against Iran -- and its aftershocks regarding the flow of oil -- will have an Indian Ocean address," he adds.

The U.S. Marines "Vision and Strategy" paper (June 2008) predicts that the Indian Ocean will be a central theater of conflict and competition in next decade, while the 2007 U.S. naval strategy called for a "sustained forward presence" in the same region.

"Herein lies the entire arc of Islam, from the eastern fringe of the Sahara Desert to the Indonesia archipelago," Kaplan goes on, the epicenter of al-Qaeda, terrorism, and anarchy.  Here lie, he says, are the principle oil shipping lanes and "choke points of world commerce."  "Forty percent of seaborne crude oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz at one end of the ocean, and 50 percent of the world's merchant fleet capacity is hosted at the Strait of Malacca."  He concludes, "The Indian Ocean rimland from the Middle East to the Pacific accounts for 70 percent of the traffic of petroleum products for the entire world" (Kaplan, p. 7).

Without public debate, without Congressional consent, without any cost projections, Americans are being herded into the dawn of a new era.

 

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 November 2011 18:25  

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