Under pressure from the Corona Virus and his beloved stock market, Trump has evidently lost it. In desperation, he may turn to war to salvage his rapidly dwindling re-election hopes. Historically, Americans tended to re-elect their wartime presidents. If he does, then China could be his target, as usual. However, a globally devastating war with China would be fundamentally different from previous World Wars. China won’t necessarily just aim at poor soldier boys dying for near-minimum wages, but those responsible as well. In this article I posted in January 2017, I explain why.
2016 was a black swan year to many. Fortunately, “realism” (interchangeably aka “cynicism” in our brave new world) helped me to anticipate Brexit (http://https://www.jamestam.net/post/2015/10/09/her-majesty-and-commies) and Trump (https://www.jamestam.net/post/2016/03/03/trump-for-president), thereby sparing me a couple of unpleasant surprises.
Amidst happy wishes, 2017 begins noisily with more frantic beating of the war drum by — well, who else? Though nothing new, the rhythm has become desperate and erratic. There are plenty of talks about a military showdown between the US and China, as if it were a much awaited new war-game app. Some analysts sound like hungry salesmen from the military industrial complex (MIC). Others, emboldened by the pivotal positions which they would soon hold, sound outright deranged.
Nearly all of these propositions envisage a military conflict with China through a predominantly Western lens. This bias is understandable, since most wars in the past century were choreographed by Western powers, according to their military traditions and objectives. But in a conflict with China, it would be prudent to include a little “common sense” with Chinese characteristics, in order to make the horrifying picture more complete.
First of all, why would there be a war? And what for?
The fact that few people ask these questions anymore doesn’t make them less critical. Even the most belligerent hawks in Washington have not suggested that China is an existential threat to the Empire. “Why then would there be a risk of war between the two countries? And over what would it be fought?” The honest answer is of course the preservation of the Empire’s dictatorship over the planet. (A bullshit answer would have something to do with freedom and democracy etc. etc. Please Google or search the NYT if interested.)
China is one of a few independent countries left on Earth, defiantly resisting subjugation of the moneyed oligarchs ruling the USA and others. More unforgivably, it’s prospering under a fundamentally different political model, and poised to overtake America economically. Even though China harbours no ambition or interest to run global affairs, it’s perceived to be a threat to the Empire, and must therefore be “contained”.
That being the case, conflict will have to be triggered by the US, or a vassal state such as Japan. Casus belli would be a minor matter of formality these days. Any perfunctory excuse repeated nonstop will suffice. But the US will be making a grave mistake to rearm Japan. To Japan, China is a big neighbour with which it shares a long history and many traditions. In the past, it had learnt much from China. Though this relation has been twisted and tainted by recent history, deep within Japan’s impenetrable psyche, it will never forget who nuked them. But ah, patience is a virtue, especially when facing no alternatives. One day, when the time comes… Oh well, it’d be a different president by then so, who cares.
Ideally, America would like to promote a proxy war, then sit back to watch, sell weapons, and offer encouragement. But China won’t let such a war drag on. Once clearly provoked, facing no peaceful solution, China will respond with all it has to end the conflict with decisive blows. History has demonstrated this Chinese war pattern. Would America then just step aside? or get sucked into direct participation? It’s anyone’s guess. During more rational times, the Empire would scream equivocally, then leave its vassal to bear the disastrous consequence alone. But rationality can no longer be taken for granted. Plus the Empire has a mind-boggling ability to miscalculate. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, are but a few recent examples of asymmetrical warfares gone haywire.
In a direct conflict with China, America’s political stakes are much higher.
If it won a battle, things won’t end there. If it lost a spectacular fight, such as China firing a dozen supersonic missiles at an aircraft carrier simultaneously, and one or two got through, then the Empire’s last facade — a supposedly invincible military — would collapse overnight. The repercussions will be shattering. Will the humiliated Empire snap, and resort to mutually annihilating measures? That insane outcome cannot be dismissed. After all, America has an extraordinary fascination with Armageddon.
Nearly everyone, warlike or otherwise, agree that a direct Sino-American war carries grave consequences. There’ll be no bystanders, only victims. Though warmongering pundits who can’t think out of their tanks have argued that China would be more hurt. Ha, you kill me once, I kill you twice! Nah nah! Who won, huh? Funny logic aside, they also overlook a fundamental difference between past US (or European) warfares, and a modern conflict with China.
Past colonial powers fought to control resources and people. They were capable small to medium nations with an oversized ambition (as well as an uncontrollable urge to manage other’s business). When they fought, peasant boys were sent to kill each other at the front line for minimum wage and a generous ration of grog. The instigators, jewel-hilted sword dangling from hip, cocktail and cigar in hand, talked haughtily of the psychopathically romanticised “glories” of war from a safe distance.
In a direct war between USA and China, there will be no clear front line... China won’t be interested in killing poor peasant boys conscripted through socioeconomic traps if it could strike directly at the instigators
In the highly unlikely event of a direct war between USA and China, there will be no clear front line. Nor will there be a rear to hide cocktail lounges. War means survival to the Chinese, nothing romantic. China won’t be interested in killing poor peasant boys conscripted through socioeconomic traps if it could strike directly at the instigators. Using a Kung Fu analogy, why hit the fist which punched you if you can hammer the aggressor over the head? He started the fight didn’t he? I tried my best to avoid but failed. Why should I restrict the battlefield to my home?
Targeting the masterminds is not only a more effective means to end the conflict, it’s also more fair, at least according to my Chinese common sense. Washington, Wall Street, the Pentagon, hearts of the MIC etc. are more important and deserving targets than a military base in Guam. War promoters and propagandists in New York and Washington should not be allowed to profit from yet another human catastrophe from comfortable offices. They would be given a direct taste of war themselves.
Let’s hope the warmongers understand the consequences, and these hypothetical situations will never be put to test. But hoping may not be enough to deal with an increasingly irrational and threatening global situation.
James Tam originally posted in Guo-du.blogspot.com 2017.01.18
Note: John Pilger’s documentary “The Coming War On China” （http://thecomingwarmovie.com/）provides an excellent historical summary of the American nuclear programme, and highlights the suicidal path onto which we’re all being pushed.