Satellite image of Chinese islands under construction. Neoliberal globalists refer to the scene as "Mischief reef". (Obviously forgetting their own mischief with the TPP!)
Why is it that the U.S. Neoliberals are always out to teach other nations lessons? How about instead they plow through recent history and begin imparting lessons to themselves? Lessons about how too much secrecy (such as to do with full disclosure on the TPP, and JFK assassination files) impels distrust of the government. Lessons about how we already lost two "wars" and can't be serious about plowing more trillions down the drain when our bridges, roads are collapsing. Lessons about how our educational system is becoming the laughingstock of the world - indicated by the fact most middle or even HS kids couldn't locate the Spratly Islands if their lives depended on it.
Last year, of course, it was all about teaching those terrible, brutal Russkies lessons after they went in and took the Crimea - which they had every right to do after the U.S. and its NATO puppets instigated a coup in the Ukraine - deposing Viktor Yanukovych and installing a fascist -neo-Nazi gov't. See e .g.
Even as recently as a few weeks ago, the NATO Neoliberal Imperium was antagonizing the Russians with their jets when the former were simply probing NATO's expanding airspace. (As any nation would do - even the U.S. - if its sphere of influence was being undermined and usurped. Say with Russian-made anti-missile batteries installed in Cuba.) And please recall here, for those with short memories, that the deal (in 1991) was NO NATO expansion to the east in return for dissolution of the Soviet Union. But within two nanoseconds Bush Sr. broke that promise to Mikhail Gorbachev.
Now China has become the new "bad boy" to whom the big 'cop of the world' wants to teach lessons concerning geopolitical overreach (a hoot in itself, given U.S. actions in the Ukraine and deposing Yanukovych). Mind you - China is also the nation that holds or controls one -third of our debt, via bonds held. DO we really want to piss these guys off?
To show Chinese leaders “who’s the boss”, Defense Secretary Ash Carter has threatened to deploy US warships and surveillance aircraft to within twelve miles of the islands that China claims are within their territorial waters. But here's the ironic kicker: the US is challenging China under the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a document the US has stubbornly refused to ratify.
The inquiring mind must ask why all the huff and puff? Why does Washington care so much about a few miserable acres of sand piled up on reefs in the South China Sea? What danger does that pose to US national security? For a point of reference, haven’t Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines all engaged in similar “land reclamation” activities without raising hackles in DC? So why the visceral reaction to the Chinese?
Another interesting twist: While the U.S. has warned it will intervene in an East China Sea conflict if necessary - Washington has made no similar pledges to partners in the region including: the Philippines. So what gives? What's the reason for this inchoate rhetoric and saber rattling?
Well, because China is an actual rival power as well as a threat to the current Neoliberal unipolar world order (just as Russia is). You see, the Neoliberals want world domination - all nations living under one mega-market 'jackboot' and with corporations (actually multinational corporations) at the helm. And the passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership would be the nail in the coffin after NAFTA. SO no, China cannot be allowed to impose its own hegemony in the area - never mind that is its sphere of influence - just as the Caribbean Sea is for the U.S.
Strip away the fact the U.S. hasn't ratified the Sea treaty under which it purports to act, and the underlying Neoliberal dynamics, and the whole thing becomes a joke. In a symmetrical perspective, Carter’s claim that he’s defending the lofty principal of “freedom of navigation” is a joke. Why? China has never blocked shipping lanes or seized boats sailing in international waters. Never. The same cannot be said of the United States that just recently blocked an Iranian ship loaded with humanitarian relief–food, water and critical medical supplies–headed to starving refugees in Yemen. Of course, when the US does it, it’s okay.
Again, a double standard in the world - one for the Neoliberal superpower- the other for any nations bold or ballsy enough to challenge its perceived planetary dominion, whether the Russians or the Chinese.
The reality is that, leaving out the fulsome rhetoric, Washington doesn’t give two shits or an ounce of shinola about the Spratly Islands; it’s just a pretext to slap China around and show them who’s running the show in their own backyard. Carter even admitted as much in a statement when he insisted that the US plans to be “the principal security power in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come.”
Seriously? That's not even your goddamned territory! Check the map! That's China's domain, Roscoe! Are you really going to try to bully -boy the primary nation holding U.S. bond notes? Which if they wanted - could call them in and reduce this whole country to beggary without firing a freaking shot! (Besides, where do you suppose the money is coming from to spend on our defense, whether the F-35 or new aircraft carriers?)
Whether China or Russia, or everyone in between - we all know how this bellicose stance of the unipolar order translates: “This is our planet, so you’d better shape up or you’re going to find yourself in a world of hurt.”
But let us recall that it was John F. Kennedy who warned, in his June 1963 speech at American University, that the U.S. cannot and must not seek to be the cop of the entire world, imposing its will with American weapons of war. In that memorable speech, Kennedy proclaimed:
"What kind of peace do I mean and what kind "of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, and the kind that enables men and nations to grow, and to hope, and build a better life for their children -- not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace in all time"
Most poignant, Kennedy's words rejecting unipolar orders:
"Let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal."
Our primary long-range interest is general and complete disarmament- designed to take place by stages, permitting parallel political developments to build the new institutions of peace which would take the place of arms.
Doubtless, most of the eyes and ears of the then U.S. military establishment either disbelieved Kennedy’s words or thought he was simply playing to the audience of young, graduating Catholic idealists. However, barely two months later their cynical clocks were cleaned when Kennedy announced the agreement on the Nuclear Test Ban treaty with Nikita Khrushchev. This was also the final straw that most American conservatives couldn't take - and so began a 50+ years long media and PR war to try to denigrate Kennedy's achievements, or make him into one of them (the 'cold warrior' myth). Not to mention deflecting attention away from the national security state that conservatives like John McAdams prize - hence to peddle the "lone nut" myth ad infinitum.
Here’s the skinny: Washington has abandoned its China policy of “containment” and moved on to Plan B: Isolation, intimidation and confrontation. In the opinion of one blogger (Mike Whitney), this is why the powerbrokers (mainly neocons) behind Obama dumped Hagel:
"Hagel just wasn’t hawkish enough for the job. They wanted a died-in-the-wool, warmongering neocon, like Carter, who is, quite likely, the most dangerous man in the world."
I don't know about that "most dangerous" aspect, but parsed through the prism of Kennedy's words in his Pax Americana speech, he could be. Kennedy wasn't shy about nuclear weapons being the most serious threat to humanity - so any words, actions that increase the threat indicate maximal danger.
Whitney goes on with his surmise:
"Carter’s assignment is to implement the belligerent new policy of incitement and conflict. His actions will prove to the skeptics that Washington is no longer interested in integrating China into the US-led system. Rather, China has become the biggest threat to Washington’s plan to pivot to Asia."
To reinforce that take, he cites an Obama quote lifted up from blogger Tom Engelhardt’s post, “Superpower in Distress”:
“After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly, in blood and treasure, the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia Pacific region….As we end today’s wars, I have directed my national security team to make our presence and mission in the Asia Pacific a top priority.”
Whitney adds that the so called pivot is Washington’s “top priority”, which means that China’s unprecedented ascendency must be slowed and its regional influence curtailed. Thus, the dust up over the Spratly Islands
I would also add that this is why Obama is so recklessly pushing the TPP which nearly his entire party is opposed to. The TPP not only leaves China out (in many ways explainable since there's already massive trade with it) but more importantly to build up trade with partners in the region outside of China - which may also include funneling of military aid, such as the deals in eastern Europe that allowed NATO to expand.
Seen in a geopolitical sense, in terms of the Neoliberal imperative, all these moves make collective sense. For the Neoliberal idiom to rule the world all non-cooperative nation states must be subdued and brought to heel. Kennedy himself, if alive today, would be aghast, not only that his warnings about Pax Americana were ignored - but that the appeal to diversity was being ground under the ubiquitous Neoliberal jackboot. And he'd be turning over in his grave now on learning a "progressive" President has essentially torpedoed a treaty for nuclear non-proliferation.