[Marxism] Containing China

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Apr 19 07:19:05 MDT 2006


Containing China

By Michael T. Klare

Slowly but surely, the grand strategy of the Bush administration is being 
revealed. It is not aimed primarily at the defeat of global terrorism, the 
incapacitation of rogue states, or the spread of democracy in the Middle 
East. These may dominate the rhetorical arena and be the focus of immediate 
concern, but they do not govern key decisions regarding the allocation of 
long-term military resources. The truly commanding objective -- the 
underlying basis for budgets and troop deployments -- is the containment of 
China. This objective governed White House planning during the 
administration's first seven months in office, only to be set aside by the 
perceived obligation to highlight anti-terrorism after 9/11; but now, 
despite Bush's preoccupation with Iraq and Iran, the White House is also 
reemphasizing its paramount focus on China, risking a new Asian arms race 
with potentially catastrophic consequences.

President Bush and his top aides entered the White House in early 2001 with 
a clear strategic objective: to resurrect the permanent-dominance doctrine 
spelled out in the Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) for fiscal years 
1994-99, the first formal statement of U.S. strategic goals in the 
post-Soviet era. According to the initial official draft of this document, 
as leaked to the press in early 1992, the primary aim of U.S. strategy 
would be to bar the rise of any future competitor that might challenge 
America's overwhelming military superiority.

     "Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival... 
that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet 
Union," the document stated. Accordingly, "we [must] endeavor to prevent 
any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under 
consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power."

When initially made public, this doctrine was condemned by America's allies 
and many domestic leaders as being unacceptably imperial as well as 
imperious, forcing the first President Bush to water it down; but the goal 
of perpetuating America's sole-superpower status has never been rejected by 
administration strategists. In fact, it initially became the overarching 
principle for U.S. military policy when the younger Bush assumed the 
presidency in February 2001.

Target: China

When first enunciated in 1992, the permanent-dominancy doctrine was 
non-specific as to the identity of the future challengers whose rise was to 
be prevented through coercive action. At that time, U.S. strategists 
worried about a medley of potential rivals, including Russia, Germany, 
India, Japan, and China; any of these, it was thought, might emerge in 
decades to come as would-be superpowers, and so all would have to be 
deterred from moving in this direction. By the time the second Bush 
administration came into office, however, the pool of potential rivals had 
been narrowed in elite thinking to just one: the People's Republic of 
China. Only China, it was claimed, possessed the economic and military 
capacity to challenge the United States as an aspiring superpower; and so 
perpetuating U.S. global predominance meant containing Chinese power.

The imperative of containing China was first spelled out in a systematic 
way by Condoleezza Rice while serving as a foreign policy adviser to then 
Governor George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign. In a 
much-cited article in Foreign Affairs, she suggested that the PRC, as an 
ambitious rising power, would inevitably challenge vital U.S. interests. 
"China is a great power with unresolved vital interests, particularly 
concerning Taiwan," she wrote. "China also resents the role of the United 
States in the Asia-Pacific region."

For these reasons, she stated, "China is not a 'status quo' power but one 
that would like to alter Asia's balance of power in its own favor. That 
alone makes it a strategic competitor, not the 'strategic partner' the 
Clinton administration once called it." It was essential, she argued, to 
adopt a strategy that would prevent China's rise as regional power. In 
particular, "The United States must deepen its cooperation with Japan and 
South Korea and maintain its commitment to a robust military presence in 
the region." Washington should also "pay closer attention to India's role 
in the regional balance," and bring that country into an anti-Chinese 
alliance system.

full: http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=78021

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