Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi declared on Tuesday in Canberra that a war between the United States and China was unthinkable because of the disastrous losses that conflict would bring to both sides. However, the very fact that Wang was questioned about the Trump administration’s belligerent stance toward Beijing is another indication of the growing fears of conflict between the two nuclear-armed powers.
Speaking at a joint press conference with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop, Wang was asked by an Australian journalist for his reaction to statements by the new US administration signalling “a stronger and even more aggressive posture towards China on a range of issues… How concerned are you really by the possibility of war between the US and China?”
The journalist specifically highlighted the comments of Trump’s top adviser Steve Bannon, predicting war between the US and China in five to ten years over the South China Sea. Bannon, who was speaking last March on the extreme right-wing web site Breibart, said:
“There is no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those.”
Wang was at pains to play down the danger of war, declaring that despite
“tough or sometimes even irrational failings on China-US relations” over the past four decades, the relationship had “defied all kinds of difficulties and has been moving forward continuously.”
Taking a shot at Bannon, Wang declared:
“Any sober-minded politician, they clearly recognise that there cannot be conflict between China and the United States because both will lose, and both sides cannot afford that.”
However, while continuing the confrontational stance of the previous Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” against China, the Trump administration represents a fundamental shift toward a no-holds barred assertion of the interests of American imperialism. Trump’s “America First” demagogy, which has been directed in particular against China, signifies a ruthless determination to halt the historic decline of the US in a struggle against rivals and allies alike through all, including military, means.
Moreover, while Yang is dismissive of Bannon, Trump has placed the fascistic, former editor of Breitbart News on the top tier of his National Security Council—that is, the body tasked with responding to emergencies and crises, as well as preparing and overseeing provocations, military interventions and wars.
It is no accident that Bannon focused on the South China Sea, which the Obama administration transformed into a dangerous international flash point through its destabilising interventions into China’s territorial disputes with its neighbours. Using China’s land reclamation activities on a handful of islets, Obama gave the green light for three “freedom of navigation” operations—that is, the dispatch of US navy destroyers within territorial waters claimed by China.
Trump and his advisers have been critical of the Obama administration’s actions for not being forceful enough in confronting Beijing over the South China Sea. In his confirmation hearing, Rex Tillerson, now US Secretary of State, said the Trump administration would “send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”
Sending US destroyers within the 12-nautical-mile limits around Chinese islets was a reckless and provocative course that risked a military clash. Tillerson’s threat to block Chinese access in its South China Sea could be implemented only by imposing a naval blockade in the disputed waters—a flagrant act of war.
Foreign Minister Wang suggested that the Trump administration in office was already moderating its hard-line, anti-China stance. He pointed out that James Mattis, the new US Defence Secretary, stressed the importance of diplomacy in relation to the South China Sea disputes.
Mattis, who visited South Korea and Japan in his first overseas trip, had already raised tensions with China by concluding an agreement with Seoul to deploy an anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea and threatening North Korea with “overwhelming” force if it attacked the US and its allies. In Japan, Mattis affirmed that the US would back Japan in any war with China over disputed islets in the East China Sea.
Having provoked angry reactions from Beijing on these two volatile flash-points, Mattiss’s comments on the South China Sea were relatively low-key. He declared that China’s land reclamation activities had “shredded the trust of nations in the region” but the US would exhaust diplomatic efforts to resolve the issues. “At this time, we do not see any need for dramatic military moves,” he added.
While publicly calling “at this time” for diplomacy before conflict, privately, according to several news sources, Mattis spoke of far more aggressive military measures to top Japanese officials.
The Nikkei Asian Review reported: “Mattis said America would no longer be that tolerant of China’s behaviour in the South China Sea. He pledged to take an active role in protecting freedom of navigation… Specifically, the US is set to increase the frequency of patrols within 12 nautical miles of man-made islands China has constructed in the sea.”
The newspaper also noted comments by the US defence secretary
“likening China’s expansion today to an effort to re-create the tributary system of the Ming Dynasty… In Mattis’s telling, Beijing could be trying to use its military and economic might to re-create a similar set-up today, though such efforts will not be tolerated in the modern world.”
Confronted with a bellicose US administration and the threat of war, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) veers between trying to appease Washington and engaging in an arms race that only heightens the danger of conflict. A senior official with China’s Central Military Commission, Liu Guoshun, warned last month that “a war within the [US] president’s term, war breaking out tonight, are not just slogans but the reality.”
The Chinese regime, which represents the interests of a tiny ultra-rich elite, is organically incapable of making any appeal to the only social force capable of halting the drive to war—the working class in China, the United States and internationally.
The threats by the Trump administration to implement trade war measures against China, to tear up alliances and multilateral arrangements if they are not in the immediate interests of American imperialism and, above all, to expand and use the US military to enforce American dominance are destabilising the entire region. The disputes in the South China Sea are just one of the triggers that could precipitate a catastrophic war.
Copyright © Peter Symonds, World Socialist Web Site, 2017
Syrian War Report: US Air Force Increases Airstrikes against ISIS-Daesh
The so-called “Democratic Forces” (SDF), backed by the US-led coalition, have retaken the vilalgles of Abu Dallah, Lubaydan and Abu Susah from ISIS in the northeastern countryside of the terrorist group’s self-proclaimed capital of al-Raqqah. Clashes are also ongoing in Mu’ayzilah.
On Tuesday, the US-led coalition released a statement, claiming that its warplanes had destroyed 17 heavy equipment vehicles, 11 vehicles, four dump trucks, three front-end loaders, three VBIEDs and two tanks near Palmyra, Separately, the US-led coalition airpower reportedly destroyed three tunnels, a weapons facility, a vehicle, a VBIED and an oil well head in the province of al-Raqqah.
After a series of failures in Bzaah, Turkish forces changed the point of military efforts near al-Bab, targeting ISIS units in the western outskirts of the ISIS stronghold of the province of Aleppo.
The Turkish Army and a coalition of pro-Turkish militant groups branded as the Free Syrian Army took control of the Dalil Roundabout, the Al-Bab Hospital, Sheikh Aqil and Youth Housing Project. If they are able to hold the area, they will have a fire control over a notable part of the town.
Additionally to their gains near al-Bab, pro-government forces seized the Hawwart Jabbul hill, an important site which allows to control a road near the Jabbul Lake. This signs that the Syrian army is going to develop an advance south of the Kuweires Air base.
The Syrian army made another attempt to link up the airport area with the rest of the government-held pocket in the city of Deir Ezzor, but was not able to achieve a success in this effort. Especially heavy clashes took place in the cemetery area.
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Has the American Establishment Opted for Thermo-Nuclear War? “We’ve got a Lot of Killers. What do you think – Our Country’s so Innocent?”
If you want to be an American TV talking head or a Western presstitute, you are required to be braindead and integrity-challenged like Bill O’Reilly, CNN, MSNBC, and the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and all the rest.
In an interview with President Donald Trump, O’Reilly said: “Putin is a killer.”
O’Reilly is indifferent to the fact that thermo-nuclear war is a killer of planet Earth. For O’Reilly, President Trump’s desire to normalize relations with Russia is an indication that the President of the US is comfortable making deals with killers, as if America’s last three presidents have not been mass killers comfortable with their destruction in whole or part of many countries and millions of peoples.
President Trump’s response to O’Reilly’s was:
“We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think – our country’s so innocent?”
The only thing wrong with President Trump’s response is that it implicitly accepts that Putin is no different from Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Yet there is no evidence that Putin is a “killer.” This accusation is an assertion from those who prosper from having a “Russian threat” to keep the money and power flowing to themselves.
As Finian Cunningham shows, Trump should have reprimanded O’Reilly for his unsupported and undiplomatic accusation against the president of a country with which President Trump hopes to restore normal relations.
President Trump’s statement of an obvious fact was quickly branded “defense of a killer” by congressional Republicans, Hillary Democrats, the liberal, progressive, left-wing, and the Western presstitutes.
Even online sites, such as politico.com, jumped in to criticize “Donald Trump’s defense of Vladimir Putin’s homicidal history.” Allegations of “Putin’s homicidal history” are astonishing after 24 years of Washington’s genocide against Muslins in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, and Syria, and non-Muslims in Yugoslavia and the Russian regions of Ukraine. Washington ranks as one of the worst mass murderers in human history, but the Western presstitutes brand Putin as the one who is homicidal.
Listen to these members of Congress who represent Americans in Washington:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, Ky) said referring to the thrice elected President of Russia:
“He’s a thug.”
McConnell has gone along with Washington’s mass murder of peoples for 15 years, and this accomplice to mass murder said that Washington’s murder of countless millions, which have sent refugees all over the Western world, are not evidence against America. In his response to Trump’s statement, McConnell actually said:
“We don’t operate in any way the way the Russians do. I think there’s a clear distinction here that all Americans understand, and I would not have characterized it that way.”
The Republican senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, said: “We are not the same as Putin.” Of course we aren’t. We are mass murderers.
The Republican senator from Nebraska, Ben Sasse, said, and this is a level of ignorance hard to believe even for Americans, that “Putin is an enemy of political dissent. The U.S. celebrates political dissent and the right for people to argue free from violence about places or ideas that are in conflict [as at Cal Berkeley]. There is no moral equivalency between the United States of America, the greatest freedom loving nation in the history of the world, and the murderous thugs that are in Putin’s defense of his cronyism.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens said:
“Trump puts US on moral par with Putin’s Russia. Never in history has a President slandered his country like this.”
No Bret, you have it backwards. No US president has ever slandered Russia like this. There is no moral equivalency between Washington and Moscow. Washington is totally devoid of all morality. Russia is not. It is not Russia that has murdered, maimed, and displaced peoples in at least 9 countries in the last 15 years, sending refugees all over the Western world, some of whom no doubt bear legitimate grudges.
Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, rushed to tell NBC that Trump didn’t mean that Washington is not morally superior to Putin’s Russia. Of course the US is morally superior to everyone. The millions of peoples we kill and dislocate are proof of our unquestioned moral superiority. Every time we bomb a wedding, a funeral of the wedding guests, a children’s soccer game, innumerable hospitals and medical centers, schools, farms, public transportation, we exceptional and indispensable Americans are demonstrating our moral superiority over the Earth. Only the morally superior can commit vast crimes against humanity without being held accountable.
Normal relations with Russia do not seem to be in the cards. The demonization and lies will continue. The New Cold War is too important to the ruling establishment, and to the members of the House and Senate who are dependent on military/security campaign donations, for Trump to be allowed to normalize relations with Russia.
Everything that Reagan and Gorbachev achieved has been undone. The material interest of a few has again placed humanity at risk.
“The greatest freedom loving nation in the history of the world” can’t even have a debate about it, because a debate is Putin apologetics and moral equivalency.
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.