Decrepit US Resorts to the Viagra of Militarism
Finian CUNNINGHAM | 31.05.2015 | OPINION

Decrepit US Resorts to the Viagra of Militarism

The behaviour of the United States is the archetypal response of a tyrant whose days are numbered. Or an empire that is crumbling before its very eyes. In denial of demise, it wields a still formidable military power in a bid to compensate for impotence in all other spheres: culturally, morally, economically, politically, the once virile giant is but a shell of its former self.

Instead of bowing out gracefully to the realities of a changing world, Washington is using militarism like viagra to postpone the inevitable. 

Following the Second World War, American world leadership was indisputable. «Pax Americana» – a world order under US financial and political terms – appeared to reign supreme. But even in those halcyon days, trouble was in store for the more perceptive of American planners.

In a secret memo, PSS/23, written in 1948 and declassified in 1974, the eminent US State Department planner George Kennan had this to say of the emerging global order and in particular US relations with Asia:

«We must be very careful when we speak of exercising ‘leadership’ in Asia. We are deceiving ourselves and others when we pretend to have answers to the problems, which agitate many of these Asiatic peoples. Furthermore, we have about 50 per cent of the world's wealth but only 6.3 per cent of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia… In the face of this situation… We should cease to talk about vague — and for the Far East — unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratisation. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans, the better».

Note how Kennan, who also authored the Cold War policy of «containment» toward the Soviet Union, is encumbered with conceited notions of «American exceptionalism» – natural leadership, idealism and so on. 

Nevertheless the revealing apprehension in Kennan’s words is the realisation that American economic dominance was disproportionate and unsustainable. He admitted with refreshing candidness that such an inherent imbalance of resources and global human needs would have to increasingly rely on brute power in order to maintain the disparity.

To reiterate Kennan: «The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans, the better».

Indeed, that day seems to be have arrived. Almost in every continent, America is abandoning any semblance of diplomacy and instead is trying to use raw, unilateral, military force to assert its perceived – albeit unjustified – rights to dominance. 

Washington’s sanctioning and threatening of Venezuela, Iran, Russia – the latter through unprecedented NATO war manoeuvres – are prime examples. The arraignment of FIFA football officials in Switzerland last week over alleged corruption at the behest of American law enforcement authorities is another example of how Washington views itself as having the prerogative to impose its will regardless of foreign jurisdictions.  

US deteriorating relations with China are the latest manifestation of America’s self-declared «manifest destiny» to behave like a global hegemon.

Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter at the weekend stepped into the sensitive issue of territorial disputes between China and its Asian neighbours. Ashton’s steps were those of someone wearing hobnail boots. He «demanded» that China immediately cease all its land reclamation projects in the South China Sea. 

Only weeks before, US Secretary of State John Kerry made similar high-handed demands while visiting Beijing. Previously, US Admiral Harry Harris lambasted China for building «a great wall of sand» in the South China Sea – a strategically important global trade route.

Washington is increasingly and openly jettisoning its erstwhile image of «neutral broker» and adopting a provocative partisan position, accusing China of militarism and expansionism that is allegedly threatening American regional allies in the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan. Newly burnished «defence pacts» are giving the US the automatic «right» to go to war to «protect» partners if its «vital interests are threatened».

The increasing deployment of American navy, warplanes and missile systems – under the guise of «protecting its partners» – is fuelling militarisation of the territorial disputes. 

China, for its part, says that its own military presence in the region is to protect its voluminous trade routes. Beijing has pointedly refused to cease its maritime development projects, mainly land reclamation in shoals and reefs that it says are strictly within its territorial limits. 

In response to Washington’s latest ultimatums, Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the US, expressed his country’s alarm at the way Washington is «escalating» tensions in the region and making it «less stable».

Cui told the Wall Street Journal that US demands were «very surprising to us». The ambassador added that «the US has overreacted to the situation and is escalating the situation».

China’s perplexity is readily understandable. While Washington accuses Beijing of «militarism» in the region, it is the US that has recently encroached on China’s territory with warships and reconnaissance planes in what appears to be «an attempt to provoke and escalate the situation,» said Cui. 

The Chinese diplomat added: «And the US is also making a lot of statements, making false accusations against China and taking sides in the territorial disputes in the region. That will really make the situation in the region less stable. So we are worried about such overreaction from the United States».

The analogy here with Russia is salient. The US and its NATO allies are conducting numerous «war games» at ever-increasing scale and frequency around Russia’s territory – from the Baltic to the Black Sea and in between – and yet Washington upends this provocative reality by accusing Moscow of militarism and expansionism.

As Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said, central to Washington’s problem is that it cannot come to terms with the changing multipolar nature of the world. The rise of China as the world’s largest economy and its expanding economic presence in Africa, Asia and Latin America go hand in hand with the growing importance of Russia, India and other emerging nations. The new Silk Roads of global trade that China in particular is paving are a sign of America’s diminishing role as a global power centre. 

Unable to deal with its own demise, Washington is resorting to the viagra of militarism to effect an image of virility that it no longer possesses in practice. 

The multipolar world is being formed under legitimate relations and circumstances of trade and investment. It is only the decrepit US and its hanger-on European allies that view these changes as illegitimate. It is subjective and politicised. Rather than accepting the new global reality, Washington is seeking to postpone the inevitable by contriving confrontations with perceived rivals – China and Russia in particular. 

Or, as US planner George Kennan admitted back in 1948, Washington is dispensing with fictitious notions of democracy and human rights and is now, by necessity, having to deal in raw power concepts – that is militarism. 

However, the very real danger is that the senile old power that US capitalism has become might detonate a world war from reckless denial of its own demise. 

Somebody needs to take away the viagra and slip a sedative into its cup of coca.

Tags: Asia-Pacific  China  US 

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