In response to the Obama administration’s “pause” in U.S. military aid to Pakistan, China has slipped in to fill the gap. This is just the latest development in the passive aggressive power war between the U.S. and China; any new regional allies for China represents a threat to U.S. leverage in the region. Also in the news today was the visit to China by Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was sent to China “with a vow to maintain the U.S. military presence in Asia and a warning that recent incidents in the disputed waters of the South China Sea could escalate into conflict.” This was a response to China’s recent calls to the U.S. to stop holding military drills with our vassal states like “Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei,” as they are seen as a provocation. Mullen reportedly acknowledged China’s regional power, “but urged its military to ease regional concerns about its rapid modernization by playing a more cooperative, responsible and transparent role in the world.” Translation: stop threatening our military and technological hegemony; We Own the World, not you.
“The U.S. is not going away,” [Mullen] said. “Our enduring presence in this region has been important to our allies for decades and it will continue to be so.”
I wrote about this clash between the reigning U.S. empire and China’s rising ambitions to be the successor last month:
In Singapore last week, Defense Secretary Gates spoke at an International Institute for Strategic Studies meeting and argued for “sustaining a robust [U.S.] military presence in Asia.” He spoke of overcoming “anti-access and area denial scenarios” that the U.S. military faces in Asia, which threatens America’s access to strategic markets and resources. Predominantly, Gates explained, U.S. military presence in Asia-Pacific is important in “deterring, and if necessary defeating, potential adversaries.”
While perhaps more straightforward than reigning politicians and diplomats, Gates’ explanation of U.S. military strategy was nothing new. As was reiterated in the 2002 National Security Strategy, it was of foremost importance that “our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.”
[…Asia is] a region of emerging markets that the U.S. national security state wants command over. It’s also one where attempts to terrorize the world into deference to U.S. hegemony has failed to prevent a rising military rival like China.
America’s debt crisis has yet to incentivize Washington to cut the defense budget, and while a great deal of that is because the Afghan and Iraq wars are not drawing down, another primary reason is that maintaining U.S. military hegemony throughout the world is a major aim of the ruling elite. China’s audacious requests for less U.S. imperialism in the region, along with their increasing military budgets and capabilities, is likely to push America’s military budget still further. Any global competition is the Pentagon’s foremost concern. The potential for an arms race between the two is seen as likely by many experts, portending eventual insolvency for the U.S.
But the real concern is what may happen in the meantime. The U.S.-Soviet arms race not only empowered state war machines manifold, but it also became the pretext for numerous proxy wars (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Nicaragua among the most egregiously treacherous). This sort of military one-upsmanship is good for the state and for the glorification of war, bad for peace and liberty.