Peter Symonds / World Socialist Web Site & Bruce K. Gagnon / OpEdNews.com – 2014-02-04 01:13:12
The Danger of War in Asia
Peter Symonds / World Socialist Web Site
(January 30, 2014) — An editorial in the Financial Times last week, entitled “End drift to war in the East China Sea,” highlighted the growing alarm in ruling circles about the prospect of a conflict between Japan and China. “The possibility of war,” it declared, “is rapidly emerging as one of the biggest security risks facing the world,” and the two governments “are doing nothing to make conflict less likely.”
The FT focused on comments by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in which he explicitly drew the comparison between the current rivalry in East Asia and that between Britain and Germany prior to World War I. “For Japan’s prime minister to allow any comparison with 1914 in Europe is chilling and inflammatory,” it stated.
The immediate source of tensions is the territorial dispute over rocky outcrops in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. However, the chief responsibility for inflaming this dangerous flashpoint, along with others throughout the region, lies with the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” — a strategy aimed at isolating China economically and diplomatically, and encircling it militarily.
While hypocritically claiming to be “neutral” on the territorial dispute, Washington has repeatedly declared that, in the event of a war over the islands, the US would support its ally Japan. Moreover, as part of the “pivot,” the Obama administration has been restructuring its military bases in Japan and encouraging Japan to remilitarise.
Asia in 2014 does bear a chilling resemblance to Europe in 1914. World War I arose over the intractable competition for spheres of influence between the major powers. As Lenin and Trotsky, the great Marxists of that period explained, it marked the opening of the imperialist epoch — the epoch of the death agony of capitalism.
The global financial crisis that erupted in 2008, the worsening world economic slump and rising geo-political tensions make clear that capitalism has resolved none of the fundamental contradictions that produced the horrors of a century ago.
Over the past decade, US imperialism has plunged into one war of aggression after another — Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya — as well as numerous intrigues and provocations, in a desperate bid to offset its relative economic decline through its military predominance.
The installation of Obama as president and his “pivot” to Asia reflected deep concerns in the American establishment that the Bush administration’s focus on the Middle East undermined US hegemony in Asia, including over its cheap labour platforms, above all China, that had become central to corporate profit.
Under Obama, the US has encouraged allies such as Japan and the Philippines to take a more assertive stance in their disputes with China; begun to “rebalance” 60 percent of US air and naval forces to the Indo-Pacific; and is establishing new basing arrangements with Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries as part of its war preparations.
In Japan, the US “pivot” has helped foster the emergence of the right-wing Abe government that, in the space of a year, has increased military spending for the first time in a decade and moved to end constitutional restrictions on the Japanese armed forces. Last month, Abe provocatively visited the notorious Yasukuni Shrine to the country’s war dead — a potent symbol of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s.
Abe is being driven by the interests of Japanese imperialism, which is not prepared to relinquish its position as a leading power in Asia. In his speech at Davos, Abe dismissed pundits who “called Japan the land of the setting sun” and declared that “a new dawn” was breaking.
The two themes of his speech were equally aggressive — thinly-disguised criticisms of China, alongside cut-throat economic measures designed to undermine rivals and turn Japan into one of the “most business-friendly places in the world.”
By likening China to Germany in 1914, Abe is seeking to portray Beijing as a dangerous new menace. Unlike Germany, however, China is not an imperialist power.
Despite the size of its economy, it continues to function as a cheap labour platform, completely dependent on foreign corporate investment and technology, as well as the existing centres of finance capital. In the military sphere, the US has an overwhelming preponderance, and a global network of bases and alliances that can threaten Chinese interests anywhere in the world.
Backed into a corner by the US over the past four years, the Chinese leadership has responded by offering further economic concessions to the major powers, on the one hand, while boosting military spending and asserting its claims in waters immediately adjacent to the Chinese mainland, on the other.
The Beijing regime is whipping up anti-Japanese chauvinism both to justify its military build-up and to divert attention from the extreme social tensions produced by three decades of capitalist restoration.
While drawing attention to the rising danger of war, the Financial Times editorial offered no solution, other than an impotent appeal for “both sides to stop rattling sabres and start talking to one another.” Ignoring the fact that the US “pivot” has stoked the present confrontation, the editorial appealed for Washington to intervene as the voice of peace and reason. Both Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping “should look for a route away from Armageddon before it is too late,” it concluded.
However, as in 1914, the drive to war is being fuelled by the inherent contradictions of capitalism — between global economy and the outmoded nation state system, and private ownership of the means of production and socialised production — that have erupted with full force in the wake of the 2008 global breakdown.
The only means of averting the catastrophe being prepared for humanity is the abolition of the bankrupt profit system and the socialist reorganisation of society to meet the social needs of vast majority, not the super-profits of a tiny wealthy elite.
The dangers of another world war underscore the necessity of rejecting all forms of nationalism and patriotism and building a unified international anti-war movement of workers and youth in China, Japan, the US and around the world to carry out this urgent task.
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Pushing the Next Pretext
New Chinese aircraft carrier was recently challenged by US Aegis cruiser
Bruce K. Gagnon / OpEdNews.com
(December 19, 2013) — Sometimes I just shake my head in disbelief…. the recent US-China military near hit (the second time in recent months) indicates that our nation is pushing this power trip thing way too hard. This game is being ramped up to create “China fear” in the hearts and minds of the people (here and around the world).
China says it is not rolling over. Someone or something eventually has to give wayâ€¦.
Foreign Policy reports on the recent naval warship “near collision” between the US and China:
On Dec. 5, the US missile-carrying cruiser Cowpens almost collided with a Chinese ship in international waters. The Cowpens was observing the maiden voyage of China’s new aircraft carrier, the Liaoning (pictured above), when a vessel accompanying it cut across the Cowpens’ bow less than 200 yards away, forcing it to change course.
Chinese and US sources agreed that this was the most serious incident between the two countries’ navies since 2009, when Chinese ships harassed a US vessel about 75 miles away from southern China’s Hainan island — but Chinese officials are speaking louder about it than their US counterparts.
After the story was first reported on Dec. 13, an unnamed senior US defense official told the New York Times that the Chinese ship had been “particularly aggressive” and “unhelpful in trying to increase cooperation between the two navies;” other major US media reports cite unnamed officials as well. But Chinese were willing to go on-record with their side of the story: Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo told the state-run People’s Daily that the Cowpens had provoked the confrontation.
As I write this, I am listening to a recent interview with filmmaker Oliver Stone. He’s was talking about those inside the Pentagon, during the JFK administration, who wanted the US to push toward war with Russia because at the moment the Pentagon was confident they could “win the war”. Stone named Navy Admiral Arleigh Albert ’31-knot’ Burke as one of those key players who wanted war.
Today the Navy has named an entire class of Navy destroyers after Burke. These destroyers, outfitted with ‘missile defense’ systems, are being used to encircle and provoke Russia and China. The admiral would be proud – his blitzkrieg strategy still on the verge of being implemented by the Nobel Peace Prize president.
The cost of this enormously aggressive strategy is being felt in communities across the nation. Here in Bath high percentages of children in school come from poor families. Jobs are scarce, people are losing their homes, the homeless population is expanding rapidly, people can’t afford to heat their homes, and our right-wing Gov. LePage keeps talking about the need to reform welfare.
Kick the cheats off the dole! Studies show that the “cheats” are few and far between but that tens of millions of dollars in corporate welfare are handed out in Maine. We are waiting for the Democrats to take that one on…. if they wish to defend the poor and struggling families they must take on the corporations.
But they must be pushed to do so. A coalition rally to this end will be held in Augusta, Maine inside the capital Hall of Flags on January 9 at 1:00pm.
The Rally of Unity is a collaborative demonstration by the Alliance for Common Good, an ad-hoc coalition of over 20 environmental and social justice groups assembling as a unified front to give voice to ordinary Maine people and to push back against corporate dominance in government, with hopes to organize into the future. We recognize that our democracy has been abandoned, so we must work together to tell to our elected officials that we want:
Maine Money and Resources for People, Not Corporations!
A Maine Economy that Protects the Environment
Money Out of Politics
Bruce Gagnon is the Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.