Clyde Prestowitz at Foreign Policy explains the elephant in the room: that the recent militarism and aggressive rhetorical chest-beating coming from the highest reaches of America’s national security state towards Asia-Pacific is not about any sort of military threat. Rather, they are trying to “use military power (the only area in which the United States remains unquestionably competitive) to compensate for rapidly declining economic power.” What irony. As the US sows the seeds of its own economic collapse – ballooning the regulatory state and erasing the lines between public and private – it seeks to maintain global dominance not by reversing these trends, but by bullying successful economies with guns and bombs.
I wrote about the current attempts to fortify the empire in Asia-Pacific here.
Prestowitz urges us to make wealth, not war. I like it. Here’s an excerpt:
According to Panetta, the objective is to expand U.S. influence in the area (Asia). This comes in the wake of Secretary of State Clinton’s recent statements about America being “back” during her own recent swing through Asia.
But wait a minute, I never heard that we had left. I mean with six of our twelve carriers stationed in the Pacific and with close to the 100,000 troops that we have had in the Asia-Pacific region for the past forty years still stationed there, how can anyone think that we need to be “back” or that we lack influence, at least of the military variety?
…In fact, the reason for the plans for an increased military presence have nothing to do with any military threat emanating from China or anywhere else in Asia. The use of the terms “increase U.S. influence in the region” is a tipoff. It’s true that U.S. influence in the Asia-Pacific area has fallen dramatically over the past decade. But that is not for lack of troops or aircraft carriers in the region. It is because of the erosion of U.S. economic competitiveness. America makes little that Asians want to buy and is now also buying relatively less of what Asians make as well as providing less of the cutting edge technology they are focused on obtaining.
…It won’t work. Japan’s pre war Finance Minister Korekiyo Takahashi was correct when he long ago emphasized that “the consequences of an economic defeat are far more difficult to reverse than those of a military defeat.” America’s asian allies and friends want the United States to balance their growing economic reliance on China with U.S. military power. But military power will not for long offset economic power. Indeed, perversely, the effort to use U.S. military power to balance China’s economic power will only serve more rapidly to erode U.S. economic power which ultimately is the only power that counts.