US In the Pacific: Permanent Democracy

The United States currently has two problems. The first is fairly objective: the American economy needs to undergo a systemwide restructuring. It cannot be said that the Anglo-Saxon model has stopped working. There is a subtle point to be made. The model is now working against the United States. Delaying a solution to the problem only aggravates it.

The second problem is the country’s extravagant military expenditures. This problem is largely a subjective one. The reluctance of the US ruling class to accept certain limits in the economy induces it to embark on the only possible alternative course of action, i.e., an attempt to solve domestic economic problems through foreign aggression. Like any other economic undertaking, aggression requires investments. Investments, in turn, require profits, and profits require aggression. As Ivan Solonevich once wrote (about Hitler, not Bush): “Everything is all tangled up: when countries acquire weapons they tend to become expansionist, and expansion requires weapons. The first step is difficult, then it becomes automatic. And the most frightening thing is that it is unavoidable.”

It is a vicious circle, but each new cycle requires more funds because it is impossible to stop; otherwise, everyone that the United States has bombed, crushed with tanks and shot will fall on the former aggressor in order to destroy it.

It cannot be said that the White House has failed to understand the consequences of unbridled expansionism and equally rampant military spending. The Japanese news agency NHK reported (on January 6, 2012) that President Barack Obama has announced a new US defense strategy which includes cuts to the military. His strategy aims to reduce defense spending by about $450 billion over the next decade. It is a reasonable solution. Still, there is one “however.”

President Obama is undeniably showing good sense, but his common sense does not strike a responsive chord in the brains of the Washington “hawks,” and his opportunities are limited by the inertia of political decisions made during George W. Bush’s time, and perhaps even earlier. Therefore, NHK says that although the new defense strategy does not call for the United States to be capable of fighting two large-scale ground operations simultaneously, it nevertheless assumes that they could, for example, prevail both in a ground conflict on the Korean Peninsula and in operations against Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. Thus, Obama does not have enough political clout to convince the US ruling class to give up its opportunistic attitude.

The current changes to military doctrine represent a compromise, and like all compromises they are half measures and suggest that the United States is experiencing a crisis of government.

The administration’s calculation that it can successfully wage wars on two fronts is another indication of the crisis of government. Even for a country as powerful as the United States, no good can come of spreading its forces.

What will the White House’s future foreign policy efforts—or rather its future military efforts—entail? The next milestone for Washington is obviously Iran.

In late December 2011, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta said in an interview with CBS that the United States could a launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities if they got intelligence showing that Iran is “proceeding in developing a nuclear weapon.” It goes without saying Washington does not want Iran to join the “nuclear club” because that would put a damper on the aggressive plans of the United States in the Near East. There are some subtle aspects to the situation, however. First, the administration’s hysteria over Iran’s nuclear program may be nothing more than a cover for aggression. The United States did something similar against Iraq. The utterly bogus claims that Saddam Hussein’s regime possessed weapons of mass destruction was the formal pretext for the invasion.

Second, sad as it is, Iran’s leadership has no choice but to accelerate development of nuclear weapons to prevent US aggression. President Ahmadinejad’s possession of nuclear weapons and the means for their delivery could actually scare off American “hawks.”

An armed conflict, or, more accurately, US aggression against Iran, is inevitable. When will it happen? Barring something extraordinary, an Iranian nuclear weapons test, for example, the United States will probably attack Iran during 2012. That follows from the current US Defense Secretary’s statement quoted above.

Would Iran be able to offer at least some real resistance to an American assault? What we have seen this past decade shows that the combat capabilities of the Islamic states are extremely low. And there is more to it than just the availability of modern weapon systems. For example, Vietnam fought the United States for almost 10 years and suffered huge losses, but the Vietnamese were very determined for that entire time. Senator McCain can attest to that.

A US invasion of Iran will follow a familiar pattern. “The Iranian people will revolt and the US military will step in to help.” Does Iran have a basis for a “democratic revolution?” Yes, it does. The turmoil in June 2009 after Ahmadinejad won the presidential election and the demonstrations in February 2011 during the so-called “Arab spring” demonstrated that. By and large, the pro-American opposition to Iran is weak and does not carry enough weight in the country, but if supported by US aircraft carriers and groups hired to do the dirty work of militants, it is fully capable of making a play for power.

What are Washington’s future, “post-Iran” plans? Do they exist at all? They undoubtedly do. First of all, the US administration’s follow-on objectives include Russia, and it may even be a current objective. Consider the presidential election coming up this March. Its outcome can be expected to give rise to routine accusations of fraud by Mrs. Clinton and attempts to organize riots in Moscow.

Second, we should anticipate another “wave of revolutions” (following the Arab wave) in East Asia. For that, let us consult the opinions of our Chinese comrades as the newspaper Renmin Ribao wrote about them in October 2010.

The Chinese comrades point out that Wall Street speculation produced the most serious global economic crisis since World War II. The crisis revealed the tremendous role played by the East Asian economies, especially China, which are based on manufacturing and not financial wheeling and dealing. East Asia has become the center of world economic development. According to Renmin Ribao, in 2010 seven of the ten most profitable economies of the world—other than Germany, Russia and Brazil—were concentrated in Asia. They are China, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, the South Korea and India.

The Chinese comrades also say that by 2010 China and Japan had become the United States’ largest creditor countries, and trade volumes across the Pacific had exceeded volumes across the Atlantic. By 2007, the US trade volume in the Pacific had reached $1 trillion, and a quarter of US trade was with East Asia. This trend is currently proceeding apace. Therefore, it is quite clear why President Obama recently announced a “return to Asia,” as though anyone thought the United States had ever left it.

The Chinese comrades say the United States has chosen to “return to Asia” in force, and that is quite understandable.

President Obama demonstrated that his administration is serious about East Asia by boosting its military presence in Australia. Last November, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that 2500 US Marines will be deployed in Australia beginning in 2012. A US military base focused on operations in South Asia and located close to other sea lanes will be built in Darwin by 2016. American air bases on the Australian islands in the eastern Indian Ocean are also a possibility.

In his address to the Australian parliament, President Obama said he “made a deliberate and strategic decision—as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future,” and he stressed that the action is not aimed at isolating China. That last is a very interesting statement, isn’t it?

Source: New Eastern Outlook

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