Today, the US sees China
as its only real rival. It fears to be outflanked economically. Energy and
valuable minerals played an important role in the Iraq
and Afghanistan wars,
commodities which the US
wants to keep under its exclusive control. Japan
has acquired a tremendous foothold in China that will prompt Japan in
the long term to opt for China.
The future of Japan is in
Asia, not least of all in Siberia. In contrast to China, Japan has the means to ensure economic
development there. With the growth of a domestic market in China, Japan will gradually forsake its more Western orientation. The arrival of the Hatoyama administration signaled new Japanese self-confidence. Of the 700 US military bases abroad, 90 are located in Japan. With 35
on Okinawa, near-panic broke out in the United States when Hatoyama wanted
to close one of these bases. This is very indicative of the concerns of the US in the
Obama era. To safeguard its
world domination, the US
is expanding its army even further.
Early this year, US-China relations deteriorated strongly following the sale of sophisticated weaponry to Taiwan, including 200 Patriot missiles. The header "US Arms for Taiwan Send Beijing a Message" in the New York Times was telling. China responded with the suspension of military ties with the US and continues to cause bad blood even today. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates canceled a visit to Beijing, and both the White House and the Pentagon sent unambiguous messages to China. The US confronted China before. The newly appointed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced: "The Government is working on improving the relationship with a number of Latin American countries in response to the growing influence in the Western hemisphere of Iran, China and Russia." Tensions increased when the US sent three of its most modern submarines to South Korea, the Philippines, and Diego Garcia, and finalized the move of 60% of its 53 attack submarines to the Pacific Ocean. China perceived the move as display of power unrivalled since the Cold War, amounting to a siege of China and proving Washington's determination to safeguard its military dominance in Asia.
The US keeps China tightly encircled with US forces settled in Japan and South Korea, back in the Philippines, and military agreements with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mongolia, Taiwan, and India. With the Afghanistan war in its tenth year, China sees no sign of the departure of foreign troops from its backyard. The US has 60% of its Tomahawk cruise missiles in waters that China considers its sphere of interest. And the US jumped on the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan to increase the pressure. China should adopt a tougher stand on the issue of the North Korean nuclear arms. What the press now describes as "messages" was once called gun boat diplomacy. No country, coalition, or international organization has ever arrogated the right to divide the world into operational military zones. The US is doing just that. The Pacific Command consistutes the largest of these. It covers 50% of the world, 36 countries, 60% of the world's population, and has 300,000 US troops deployed within its borders. This dominance is further reinforced by treaties with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Phlippines, and South Korea.
The fact that the US uses the Cheonan incident to put pressure on North Korea is indicative of how vulnerable the US feels in the face of a changing geopolitical landscape. The claim that the disaster was caused by a North Korean torpedo has been challenged. The enquiry was carried out by a consortium led by South Korea, while North Korea and China were excluded. The report was not signed by the experts. Questions arise: why did the Cheonan not detect a North Korean submarine, why would the 58 survivors not make an official statement? A Russian enquiry shows that there were no North Korean submarines near the Cheonan. The ship lies at the bottom of the sea, with fishing nets around the screw. It is likely that it sank after hitting a mine. The eagerness with which the United States jumped on the incident reminds of the war rhetoric aimed at Iraq at the time, and at Iran today. The U.S. does not tolerate a nuclear power neither in the Middle East in competition with its ally Israel, nor on the Korean peninsula.
The Western way of war seems to be out of date. However destructive the weapons systems, they provide no victory. There are just two countries in the world which have not yet understood this message: the US and Israel. Both continue to believe in military superiority. In their political language "peace" is a code word for "permanent subjugation of the opponent." Military dominance no longer translates in concrete political advantage. Force incites resistance. Resistance movements will no longer be intimidated, self-confident countries will protect themselves with nuclear arms against attacks with conventional weapons. Today, the term "victory" is a chimera. The future belongs to "soft power." Twenty years ago, Madeleine Albright asked: "Why do we have this superior military power if we cannot use it?" Today, the West must wonder: What is the point of the continuous deployment of our superior military, if that simply does not work? Any avoidance of this question argues the corruption and dishonesty of our political class.
Paul Lookman is a political activist. He writes a blog on international politics in Dutch and English called "Geopolitiek in perspectief"
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