The United States has suddenly veered sharply in the direction of a military confrontation with China.
Nothing could be stupider. But stupid is happening right before our eyes.
On July 23 in The Dreyfuss Report, I wrote about the Obama administration’s announcement that it has decided to resume military support for Indonesia’s blood-soaked, genocidal Special Forces, Kopassus, in what the Washington Post reported as part of a strategy to "strengthen ties in East Asia as a hedge against China’s rise."
But President Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, aren’t stopping there. At a meeting of ASEAN, a group of Asian nations, in Hanoi, Vietnam, the United States suddenly discovered that it has an urgent interest in interfering in China’s claim to two strings of islands in the South China Sea in which China, Vietnam and several other nations—including, most explosively, Taiwan, which isn’t actually a nation—hold competing claims. Clinton’s move was seen as a direct challenge to China and to Beijing’s preeminence in East Asia, and it drew immediate fire from the Chinese and, of course, satisfied praise from American right-wing and neoconservative chatterers.
To make matters worse, against the backdrop of the dispute over the sinking of a South Korean vessel, allegedly torpedoed by North Korean saboteurs, then United States and South Korea have begun huge, joint military maneuvers in the sea east of Korea, involving 200 aircraft, twenty ships and an aircraft carrier. Originally, the provocative exercise was supposed to have taken place just off the coast of China, in the Yellow Sea, but at the last minute it was moved to its current locale. While slightly less in-your-face to China, the sea exercises are still a daunting and unnecessary action that can only worsen US-Chinese tension and boost the strength of Chinese hawks, the Chinese military and ultra-nationalists.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi of China expressed concern over the US actions. "What will be the consequences if this issue is turned into an international or multilateral one?" he said, speaking of the issue of the islets in the South China Sea. "It will only make matters worse and the resolution more difficult." As the New York Times pointed out, the official Chinese media were "far less diplomatic." The People’s Daily editorialized: America hopes to contain a China with growing military capabilities. And the Global Post, a People’s Daily edition, added: "China will never waive its right to protect its core interest with military means."
The Times also quoted a prominent Chinese foreign policy expert, Xu Liping, who said: "The U.S. feels like this is the time to play the political and military card since it’s very difficult for them to compete with China in the economic sphere."