Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Yellow Peril and Long Green: The Sino-American Simmering

Here we go again.

The gaggle of goons now holding power in Washington have a decades-long history of over-hyping (or manufacturing) "dire threats to the national existence" as way of justifying their brutal policies of militarism, authoritarianism and cronyism. Year after year, for almost half a century, they have employed the same crude – but effective – methods: exaggeration, obfuscation, outright lies and fearmongering.

They did it with the Soviets – e.g., the infamous "Team B" of crackpot analysts set up by CIA Director George Bush, whose wild-eyed "repudiations" of actual intelligence data were used to justify Reagan's crony-glutting military builup – even though the B's were proven wrong on every single assertion they ever made about "the growing Soviet menace." These same cranks – and their pupils – surfaced again in the Bush II regime to run the same scam about Iraq. This time, the "Team B" was called the "Office of Special Plans." (For more, see Team Spirit: Bush's B-Siders Replay Their Greatest Hits.)

And they are doing it again, this time with China. For years, they've pounded a steady drumbeat about China's "growing" nuclear arsenal, the "great military threat" rising in the East. Over and over, they haul this out to justify their own push for more nuclear weapons, for their "missile defense" boondoggle (or the "Horn of Plenty" as its known around the defense industry), and for weaponizing the global commons of outer space.

But once again – as always – there is little fire behind their billowing clouds of smoke. As The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reports in the latest issue, China's nuclear arsenal has barely grown at all in the last 10 years. Here's an excerpt:

"…. it may come as a shock to learn that China's nuclear arsenal is about the same size it was a decade ago…Perhaps your anxiety about "improvements" to China's missile force would recede as you learned that China's 18 ICBMs, sitting unfueled in their silos, their nuclear warheads in storage, are essentially the same as they were the day China began deploying them in 1981. In fact, contrary to reports you might have recently read that Chinese nukes number in the hundreds--if not the thousands--the true size of the country's operationally deployed arsenal is probably about 80 nuclear weapons."

Ah, but such facts are only relevant in the "reality-based community." In the la-la land of BushWorld, there is no place for truth. Truth butters no parsnips – and, more importantly, stuffs no crony pockets with loot. Nor it does it provide the fear and terror required to keep the people cowed – and the militarists in power. And so, once again – exactly as with the Soviets and Iraq – the militarists have set up their own poison kitchen to cook intelligence data to their liking. Here's the BAS again:

"The true scope of China's nuclear capabilities are hidden in plain sight, among the myriad declassified assessments produced by the U.S. intelligence community. Yet, such analyses have run afoul of conservative legislators, who express dismay when threat assessments don't conform to their perceptions of reality. Congressional Republicans, for instance, in 2000 created the China Futures Panel, chaired by former Gen. John Tilelli, to examine charges of bias in the CIA assessments of China…."

Now of course, the cooks are in the White House itself. The entire intelligence apparatus is run by that eminent fabulist, John Negroponte, who as ambassador to Honduras somehow failed to see the Latin American death squads operating all around him – even as the blood they spilled was practically dripping from his own hands. The CIA itself is led by Bush placeman Porter Goss, who has been blatantly open in his politicizing of intelligence "to serve the president."

So we'll see more -- much more – about the "Yellow Peril" in years to come. However, it probably won't be as straightforward or relentless as the propaganda campaigns against the Soviet Union and Iraq; it will only be pulled out when necessary, to push some war pork bill or perhaps distract from yet another disaster in Bush's maladroit governance. The American elite will continue to have a schizophrenic relationship with China – because there's so much money to made there.

For the moment, China is a golden goose for corporations and the "investment class" (as we must now politely dub those who squeeze the blood out of American workers, then take their profits elsewhere, never looking back – or giving back). In fact, here's a fun game: look at any story about Sino-American relations in any mainstream media outlet and see how often they mention the fact that the point man for corporate America in China – the president of the American-China Chamber of Commerce – is the president's own uncle, Prescott Bush, Jr. You'll never see it. It's one of those many facts that simply don't exist in the media's echo chamber.

So as long as the Bushes and their fellow plutocrats are making oodles of boodle from the non-unionized sweatshops of China, it's not likely they'll try slay that goose with a shootin' war. But it's tricky; at some point – much sooner than later, probably – China's economy will become so powerful that it will inexorably overtake America's already-diminishing economic dominance over the world. And "dominance" is the lodestar, the ultimate value, the all-in-all of the militarists. They have spelled it out clearly: the idea that no nation, friend or foe, will be allowed to pursue even the hope of "surpassing or equalling the power of the United States" has now been enshrined as part of America's official National Security Strategy. And as Bush's published and proclaimed Strategy makes clear, this dominant position is to be enforced by "the path of action," by the doctrine of "pre-emptive" strikes, by "the unparalleled strength of the United States armed forces and their forward presence" around the world. (For more, see: Brothers in Arms: The Osamic Vision of George W. Bush.)

Thus one day, Chinese push will come to American shove. And then the Yellow Peril fearmongering – now being kept warm on a medium simmer – will be turned up to a blazing boil.