Een stelling verdedigd vanuit drie invalshoeken met voorafgaand een inleiding.
INTRODUCTION by Vijay Prashad
1 – WHAT IS PROPELLING THE UNITED STATES INTO INCREASING INTERNATIONAL MILITARY AGGRESSION? by John Ross (Luo Siyi)
2 – WHO IS LEADING THE UNITED STATES TO WAR? by Deborah Veneziale
3 – “NOTES ON EXTERMINISM” FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY ECOLOGY AND PEACE MOVEMENTS by John Bellamy Foster
THE UNITED STATES IS WAGING A NEW COLD WAR: A SOCIALIST PERSPECTIVE
What Is Propelling the United States into Increasing International Military Aggression?
The events leading to the Ukraine War represent a qualitative acceleration of a more than two-decade-long trend in which the United States has escalated its military aggression on an international level. Before the Ukraine War, the United States carried out military confrontations only against developing countries, which had far weaker armed forces and did not possess nuclear weapons: the bombing of Serbia in 1999, the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and of Iraq in 2003, and the bombing of Libya in 2011. However, the U.S. threat to extend the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into Ukraine, which is the main cause of the war, represents something fundamentally different. The United States was aware that extending NATO into Ukraine would directly confront the national interests of Russia, a country with large military forces and an enormous nuclear arsenal. Though it would cross Russia’s red lines, the United States was ready to take this risk.
The United States has not (yet) committed its own soldiers to the war in Ukraine, stating that this would threaten a world war and risk nuclear catastrophe. But it is, in fact, engaging in a proxy war against Russia. Not only has it insisted on leaving open the possibility that Ukraine could join NATO, but it trained Ukraine’s army in the lead up to the war and has now supplied massive amounts of military weapons and passed satellite and other intelligence information to the country. So far, U.S. aid to Ukraine has amounted to some $50 billion.
How the United States Pushed Ukraine into the War
The United States and its allies have been preparing Ukraine for war since at least 2014, such as by sending hundreds of instructors to train Ukraine’s military. This is similar to its approach during the Gulf War in Iraq in 1990, reflecting a model that Washington appears to be using to achieve its geopolitical goals. Russia was purposefully lured into the situation in Ukraine beginning with the 2014 coup, when anti-Russian forces took power in Kiev, backed by Ukrainian neo-Nazis as well as by the United States. At that time, the Ukrainian army was not a powerful military force, having suffered considerably following the “reforms” launched in 1991, after the collapse of the United Socialist Soviet Republic (U.S.S.R.). Decades of neglect and underfunding led to decaying military infrastructure and equipment, along with the depletion of morale among officers and soldiers. As Vyacheslav Tetekin, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (K.P.R.F.), puts it, “The Ukrainian army did not want [to] and could not fight.”
After the 2014 coup, state spending was diverted away from improving social welfare and redeployed toward building up the military. From 2015–2019, Ukraine’s military budget increased from $1.7 billion to $8.9 billion, constituting 6% of the country’s GDP in 2019. Measured as a percentage of its GDP, Ukraine spent three times more on its military than most developed countries in the West. Extensive funds were poured into restoring and modernizing the country’s military hardware, and ultimately re-establishing the military’s combat capability.
During the 2014–15 war against Donbass (the Russian-speaking region of eastern Ukraine), Ukraine had little air combat support, as nearly all combat aircraft were in need of repair. However, by February 2022, the Air Force was equipped with approximately 150 fighters, bombers, and attack aircraft. The size of the Ukrainian Armed Forces also expanded dramatically. It is important to note that, at the end of 2021, remuneration for soldiers increased three-fold, according to Tetekin’s data. This strengthening of military power alongside powerful fortifications erected near Donbass indicates the U.S. intention to initiate conflict in the region.
However, despite these preparations for war, the Ukrainian army was unable to seriously contest with Russia. The balance of forces was clearly not in favor of Kiev. This did not matter to the United States, which sought to use Ukraine as cannon fodder against Russia. According to Tetekin, “the United States planned two options for the new, militarized Ukraine… The first one was to conquer Donbass and invade Crimea. The second option was to provoke Russia’s armed intervention.”
In December 2021, aware of the growing danger it faced from Ukraine under U.S. influence, Russia sought a set of security guarantees from NATO to defuse the crisis. In particular, Russia demanded that NATO end its eastward expansion, including membership of Ukraine. “The West… ignored these demands,” Tetekin writes, “knowing that preparations for the invasion of Donbass [were] in full swing. Most combat-ready units of the Ukrainian Army, numbering up to 150 thousand people, were concentrated close to Donbass. They could break the resistance of local troops within days, with the complete destruction of Donetsk and Lugansk and [the] death of thousands.” 1
Ukraine Is a Qualitative Escalation of Military Aggression by the United States
It is therefore clear from both the fundamental political facts—the U.S.’s insistence on Ukraine’s “right” to enter NATO—and the military facts—the U.S. build-up of Ukraine’s armed forces—that the United States was preparing a confrontation in Ukraine, even though this would inevitably involve a direct clash with Russia. Consequently, in assessing the Ukraine crisis, it is important to note that the United States was prepared to escalate its military threats from simply those against developing countries—always unjust but not directly risking military conflicts with great powers or world wars—to aggression against very strong states such as Russia, which do risk global military conflict. Therefore, it is crucial to analyze what creates this escalating U.S. military aggression. Is it temporary, after which the United States will resume a more conciliatory course, or is increasing military escalation a long-term trend in U.S. policy?
This is, of course, of utmost importance for all countries, but particularly for China, itself a powerful state. To take only one key example, in parallel with escalating U.S. aggression against Russia, the United States has not merely imposed tariffs against China’s economy and carried out a systematic international campaign to exploit the situation in Xinjiang for its own foreign policy agenda; it has also attempted to undermine the One China policy regarding Taiwan Province.
Among the United States’ actions regarding Taiwan Province:
- For the first time since the commencement of United States-China diplomatic relations, President Biden invited a representative of Taipei to the inauguration of a U.S. president.
- Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi—the third-highest ranking U.S. official in order of presidential succession—visited Taipei on August 2, 2022.
- The United States has called for Taipei’s participation in the UN.
- The United States has intensified sales of military armaments and equipment to the island.
- U.S. delegations visiting Taipei have increased.
- The United States has increased its military deployment in the South China Sea and has regularly sent U.S. warships through the Taiwan Strait.
- U.S. Special Operations Forces have trained Taiwanese ground troops as well as Taiwanese Navy sailors.
As is the case with Ukraine and Russia, the United States is fully conscious that the One China policy affects China’s most fundamental national interests, and it has been the basis of U.S.-China relations for the fifty years since Nixon’s 1972 visit to Beijing. To abandon it crosses China’s red lines. It is therefore crystal clear that the United States is attempting in a confrontational way to undermine the One China policy in the same way that it deliberately decided to cross Russia’s red lines in Ukraine.
Regarding the question of whether these U.S. provocations against both China and Russia are temporary, long term, or even permanent, the clear conclusion of this author is that the trend of U.S. military escalation will continue. However, given that such an issue, potentially involving wars, is of utmost seriousness and has extremely major practical consequences, exaggeration and mere propaganda are unacceptable. The aim here is therefore to present in a factual, objective, and calm way the reasons why the United States will attempt to further escalate its military aggression over the coming period. In addition, I will ascertain which trends may serve to counteract this dangerous U.S. policy and which may exacerbate it.
The Economic and Military Position of the United States during the “Old Cold War” and the “New Cold War”
Reduced to the most essential facts, the key forces that have driven this escalating U.S. policy of military aggression, which has now lasted more than two decades, are clear. They are, first, the permanent loss of the overwhelming weight of the U.S. economy in global production, and, second, the preponderance of U.S. military power and spending. This asymmetry creates a very dangerous period for humanity, one in which the U.S. may attempt to compensate for its relative economic decline through its use of military force. This helps explain U.S. military attacks on developing countries, as well as its escalating confrontation with Russia in Ukraine. An important question is whether this U.S. military aggression will increase further to include a growing confrontation with China, even to the point of a willingness to consider a world war. To answer this question, it is necessary to make an accurate analysis of the United States’ economic and military situation.
To start with the economy, in 1950, near the commencement of the first Cold War, the United States accounted for 27.3 percent of the world GDP. In comparison, the U.S.S.R., the largest socialist economy of that period, accounted for 9.6 percent of world GDP. In other words, the U.S. economy was nearly three times larger than the Soviet economy. 2 During the entire post-Second World War period (the first Cold War), the U.S.S.R. never came close to the U.S.’s GDP, equaling only 44.4 percent of it in 1975. That is, even at the peak of the U.S.S.R.’s relative economic achievement, the U.S. economy was still more than twice the size of the Soviet economy. Throughout the “Old Cold War,” the United States enjoyed a significant economic lead over the U.S.S.R., at least in terms of conventional measures of output.
Turning to the present situation, the United States accounts for considerably less of the global GDP than it did in 1950, ranging from roughly 15 to 25 percent depending on how it is measured. China, the main economic rival of the United States today, has gotten much closer to parity with the U.S. economy. Even at market exchange rates, which oscillate somewhat independently of actual outputs with currency fluctuations, China’s GDP is already 74 percent that of the United States’, a far higher level than the U.S.S.R. ever achieved. Furthermore, China’s economic growth rate has for some time been much faster than that of the United States, meaning that it will continue to close in on the latter.
Calculated in purchasing power parities (PPPs, which account for countries’ different price levels), the measure used by Angus Maddison and the IMF, by 2021, the United States accounted for only 16 percent of the world economy—that is, 84 percent of the world economy is outside of the United States. By the same measure, China’s economy is already 18 percent larger than that of the United States. By 2026, according to International Monetary Fund PPP projections, China’s economy will be at least 35 percent larger than that of the United States. The economic gap between China and the United States is far closer than anything the U.S.S.R. ever achieved.
Taking into account other factors, no matter how they are measured, China has become by far the world’s largest manufacturing power. In 2019, the latest available data point, China accounted for 28.7 percent of world manufacturing production, compared to 16.8 percent for the United States. In other words, China’s global share of manufacturing production was more than 70 percent higher than that of the United States. The U.S.S.R., on the other hand, never came close to overtaking the United States in manufacturing production.
Turning to trade in goods, the defeat of the United States by China in the trade war launched by Trump is even somewhat humiliating for him and the country. In 2018, China already traded more goods than any other country, though its trade in goods was only around 10 percent larger than that of the United States at that time. By 2021, China’s trade in goods outpaced the U.S. by 31 percent. The situation was even worse for the United States in terms of the export of goods: in 2018, China’s exports were 58 percent higher than those of the U.S., and, by 2021, China’s exports were 91 percent higher. In summary, not only has China become by far the world’s largest goods-trading nation, but the United States has suffered a clear defeat in the trade war launched by the Trump and Biden administrations.
Even more fundamental from a macroeconomic viewpoint is China’s lead in savings (household, business, and state), the source of real capital investment and the driving force of economic growth. According to the latest available data in 2019, China’s gross capital savings were, in absolute terms, 56 percent higher than those of the United States—the equivalent of $6.3 trillion, compared to $4.03 trillion. However, this figure greatly understates China’s lead: once depreciation is taken into account, China’s net annual capital creation was 635 percent higher than that of the United States—the equivalent of $3.9 trillion, compared to $0.6 trillion. In summary, China is greatly adding to its capital stock each year, while the United States, in comparative terms, is adding little.
The net result of these trends is that China has overwhelmingly outperformed the United States in terms of economic growth, not merely in the entire four-decade period since 1978, as is well known, but continuing into the recent period. In inflation adjusted prices, since 2007 (the year before the international financial crisis), the U.S. economy has grown by 24 percent, while China’s economy has grown by 177 percent—that is, China’s economy has grown more than seven times faster than the U.S. economy. On the terrain of relatively peaceful competition, China is winning. 3
The U.S. lead in productivity, technology, and company size means that, overall, its economy is still stronger than China’s, but the gap between the two countries is far narrower than was the case between the United States and the U.S.S.R. Furthermore, whatever one might say are the exact relative economic strengths of the two global giants, it clear that the United States has lost its global economic predominance. From a purely economic standpoint, we are already in a global era of multipolarity.
The U.S. Military in a Moment of Economic Decline
These economic setbacks for the United States have led some, particularly in a few circles in the West, to believe that the defeat of the United States is inevitable or has already occurred. A similar view has been expressed by a small number of people in China who take the view that China’s comprehensive strength has already overtaken that of the United States. These views are incorrect. They forget, in V.I. Lenin’s famous words, that “politics must take precedence over economics, that is the ABC of Marxism,” and, regarding politics, that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun,” in the famous dictum of Chairman Mao. The fact that the United States is losing its economic superiority does not mean that it will simply allow this economic trend to peacefully continue: to presume that this is the case would be to make the mistake of placing economics before politics. On the contrary, the fact that the United States is losing ground economically both to China and to other countries is pushing it toward military and military-related political means to overcome the consequences of its economic defeats.
More precisely, the danger to all countries is that the United States has not lost military supremacy. In fact, U.S. military spending is greater than that of the next nine countries combined. Only in one area, nuclear weapons, is U.S. strength roughly equaled by another country, Russia, which is due to Russia’s inheritance of nuclear weapons from the U.S.S.R. The exact numbers of nuclear weapons held by countries in general are state secrets, but, as of 2022, according to a leading Western estimate by the Federation of American Scientists, Russia possesses 5,977 nuclear weapons, while the United States has 5,428. Russia and the United States each have about 1,600 active deployed strategic nuclear warheads (though the United States has far more nuclear weapons than China). 4 Meanwhile, in the field of conventional weapons, U.S. spending is far greater than that of any other country.
This divergence in the United States’ position in economic and military spheres underlies its aggressive policy and creates the distinction between its economic and military positions in the present “New Cold War” compared to the “Old Cold War” waged against the U.S.S.R. In the Old Cold War, U.S. and U.S.S.R. military strengths were approximately equal, but, as already noted, the U.S. economy was much larger. Therefore, in the Old Cold War, the U.S. strategy was to attempt to shift issues onto an economic terrain. Even Reagan’s military buildup in the 1980s was not intended to be used to wage war against the U.S.S.R., but rather to engage it in an arms race that would damage the Soviet economy. Consequently, despite tension, the Cold War never turned to a hot war. The U.S.’s present situation is the opposite: its relative economic position has weakened tremendously, but its military power is great. Therefore, it attempts to move issues to the military terrain, which explains its escalating military aggression and why this is a permanent trend.
This means that humanity has entered a very dangerous period. The United States might be losing in peaceful economic competition, but it still retains a military lead over China. The temptation is then for the United States to use “direct” and “indirect” military means to attempt to halt China’s development.
The Direct and Indirect Use of U.S. Military Strength
The U.S. employs both “direct” and “indirect” means to display its military strength, which are far more expansive than the most extreme “direct” possibility of a frontal war against China. Some of these approaches are already in use, while others are being discussed. The former includes, for example:
- subordinating other countries to the U.S. military and attempting to pressure these countries to adopt more hostile economic policies towards China, as is the case in relation to Germany and the European Union.
- attempting to overcome the multipolar economic character of the world, which has already been established, instead creating alliances dominated in a unilateral way by the United States. This is clearly the case with NATO, the Quad (United States, Japan, Australia, India), and in relation to some other nations.
- attempting to force countries that have good economic relations with China to weaken these relations. This is particularly evident with Australia and is now being attempted elsewhere.
Meanwhile, approaches that are being discussed include the possibility of waging wars against allies of China and Russia and attempting to draw China into a “limited” war with the United States regarding Taiwan Province.
An example of the U.S.’s integrated use of both direct and indirect military pressure was given by Financial Times chief U.S. political commentator, Janan Ganesh, following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, who explained how “America will be the ultimate ‘winner’ of the Ukrainian crisis.” Within three days of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, Ganesh writes, Germany expedited the construction of the country’s first two liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals. By 2026, the U.S. will likely become Germany’s top LNG supplier, as it is closer both geographically and politically, thereby eliminating German dependence on Russian energy imports. Ganesh also argues that Germany’s pledge to increase its defense budget will also benefit the U.S. because Germany would in turn “share more of NATO’s financial and logistical burden” that is currently held by the U.S. Lastly, he points to what could be a massive advance for the U.S.:
A Europe that is more tethered to America and at the same time less of a drain on it: no Kissinger could have schemed what the Kremlin is poised to achieve through accident. Far from ending the US turn to Asia, the war in Ukraine might be the event that enables it.
As for that part of the world, if the Chinese aim is to exorcise at least the Pacific Rim of US influence, the past six weeks have been an education in the size of the task. Japan could hardly be doing more to side with Kyiv, and therefore with Washington. 5
In short, the United States used its military pressure to increase the economic subordination of Germany and Japan. Though many other variants can be envisaged, their common feature is that the United States uses its military strength to attempt to compensate for its weakened economic position. Understood in this way, it is clear that the United States has already embarked on this fundamental policy of directly and indirectly using its military strength.
Since China is experiencing more rapid economic development than the United States, it is likely that its military strength will eventually become its equal. However, it would take years for China to build a nuclear arsenal equivalent to that of the United States, even if China decided to embark on such a policy. It would likely take even longer to create conventional armaments equivalent to those of the United States given the enormous technological development and training of personnel required for such advanced air and naval forces and much else. Therefore, the United States will have stronger armed forces than China for a very significant number of years, creating the permanent temptation for the United States to attempt to use military means to compensate for its declining economic position.
The Significance of the War in Ukraine
Two fundamental lessons can be drawn from the events leading to the war in Ukraine.
First, it confirms that it is pointless to ask the United States for compassion. After the U.S.S.R.’s dissolution in 1991, for seventeen years Russia pursued a policy of attempting to have friendly relations with the United States. Under Boris Yeltsin, Russia was humiliatingly subordinated to the United States. During the early period of Putin’s presidency, Russia gave direct assistance to the United States in its so-called war on terror and in the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. response was to violate every promise it had made that NATO would not advance “by an inch” towards Russia, all while aggressively increasing military pressure on Russia.
Second, this dynamic makes it clear that the outcome of the war in Ukraine is crucial not only for Russia, but also for China and for the entire world. Russia is the only country which is the United States’ equal in terms of nuclear weapons, and the good relations between China and Russia are a major deterrent for the U.S. not to adopt any policy of a direct attack on China. The aim of the U.S. in Ukraine is precisely to attempt to bring about a fundamental change in Russia’s policy and install a government in Moscow which no longer defends Russia’s national interests—and one which is hostile to China and subordinate to the U.S. If that were achieved, not only would China face a greatly increased military threat from the U.S., but its long northern border with Russia would become a strategic threat; China would be surrounded from the north. In other words, both Russia and China’s national interests would be undermined. In the words of Sergei Glazyev, a Russian commissioner on the executive body of the Eurasian Economic Union: “After failing to weaken China head-on through a trade war, the Americans shifted the main blow to Russia, which they see as a weak link in the global geopolitics and economy. The Anglo-Saxons are trying to implement their eternal Russophobic ideas to destroy our country, and at the same time to weaken China, because the strategic alliance of the Russian Federation and the PRC is too tough for the United States.” 6
U.S. Military Actions and the Constraints They Face
As the United States is pushed both by its declining economic position and by its military strength, there is no limit on an “internal” (domestic) level to the scope of U.S. aggression. History clearly shows that the U.S. has been prepared to carry out the most extremely violent military aggression to the point of being willing to destroy entire countries. In one of many examples, in the Korean War, the U.S. destroyed nearly all of North Korea’s cities and towns, including an estimated 85 percent of its buildings.
The U.S. bombing in Indochina during the Vietnam War was even greater in scale, using both explosive devices and chemical weapons, such as the notorious Agent Orange, which produces horrifying deformities. From 1964 to August 15, 1973, the United States Air Force dropped over six million tons of bombs and other ordnance in Indochina, while U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft expended another 1.5 million tons in Southeast Asia. As Micheal Clodfelter notes in The Limits of Air Power:
This tonnage far exceeded that expended in World War II and in the Korean War. The U.S. Air Force consumed 2,150,000 tons of munitions in World War II and in the Korean War—1,613,000 tons in the European theater and 537,000 tons in the Pacific theater—and 454,000 tons in the Korean War. 7
Edward Miguel and Gerard Roland expand upon the same point in their study on the long-term impact of bombing in Vietnam, noting that:
Vietnam War bombing thus represented at least three times as much (by weight) as both European and Pacific theater World War II bombing combined, and about fifteen times the total tonnage in the Korean War. Given the prewar Vietnamese population of approximately 32 million, U.S. bombing translates into hundreds of kilograms of explosives per capita during the conflict. For another comparison, the atomic bombs dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki had the power of roughly 15,000 and 20,000 tons of TNT. … U.S. bombing in Indochina represents 100 times the combined impact of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs. 8
In the invasion of Iraq, the United States was prepared to (and did) devastate the country, using horrific weapons such as depleted uranium, which is still producing terrible birth defects many years after the U.S. attack. In its bombing of Libya in 2011, the United States reduced what had been one of the richest income per capita countries in Africa, with a developed welfare state, to a society in which tribal conflicts exist and in which slaves are openly sold. The list goes on.
In short, the evidence shows that there is no level of crime or atrocity to which the United States is not prepared to descend. If the United States were to posit that it could eliminate the economic challenge from China by launching an atomic war, there is no evidence that it would not do so. Furthermore, while there are certainly anti-war movements in the United States, they are nowhere near strong enough to prevent the United States from using nuclear weapons if it were to decide to do so. There are no adequate internal constraints in the U.S. that could prevent it from launching a war against China.
But if there are no fundamental internal constraints on U.S. aggression, there are certainly great external constraints. The first is other countries’ possession of nuclear weapons. That is why the explosion of China’s first nuclear bomb in 1964 is rightly regarded as a great national achievement. China’s possession of nuclear weapons is a fundamental deterrent to a nuclear attack by the United States. Nevertheless, unlike its adversary, China has a No First Use nuclear weapons policy, showing its restraint and defensive military posture.
A full-scale nuclear war involving the United States, China, and Russia would be a military catastrophe without precedent in human history. In such a war, at a minimum hundreds of millions would die. It would be infinitely preferable to prevent the escalation of U.S. military aggression before it reached that point, but what are the chances of doing so?
The overall trend of United States policy since the Second World War shows a clear and logical pattern. When the United States feels that it is in a strong position, its policy is aggressive; when it feels weakened, it becomes more conciliatory. This was shown most dramatically before, during, and after the Vietnam War, but also in other periods.
Immediately after the Second World War, the United States considered itself to be—and was—in a strong position and was therefore prepared to carry out a war against Korea. Even after the U.S. failed to win the Korean War, it still felt confident enough to attempt to diplomatically isolate China during the 1950s and 1960s, depriving the country of a seat at the UN, blocking direct diplomatic relations, and so on. However, the United States suffered severe defeats due to the failure of its war on Vietnam, in which it sought to defeat the Vietnamese people’s national liberation struggle and the large-scale military support they received from China and the U.S.S.R. The weakening of the United States’ global position as a result of its defeat in Vietnam (beginning even before the official end of the war in 1975) led it to adopt a more conciliatory policy, symbolized by Nixon’s 1972 visit to Beijing and followed by the establishment of full diplomatic relations with China. Soon after 1972, the United States opened a policy of détente with the U.S.S.R. However, by the 1980s, having regrouped and recovered from defeat in Vietnam, the United States returned to a more aggressive policy towards the U.S.S.R. under then President Ronald Reagan.
This same pattern of U.S. aggression in moments of strength or a more conciliatory attitude in moments of weakness can also be seen around the international financial crisis that began in 2007/8. This crisis dealt a severe blow to the U.S. economy, as a result of which the United States began to emphasize international cooperation. Though the G20, which includes the world’s largest economies and two-thirds of its population, was established in 1999, it only began to hold yearly meetings after the 2007/8 economic crisis. In 2009, the G20 group pledged itself as the major force for international economic and financial cooperation, with the United States playing a major role. In particular, as it felt weakened, the United States displayed a more cooperative attitude toward China in these areas.
As the United States recovered from the international financial crisis, its posture with respect to China became increasingly aggressive, culminating in the launch of Trump’s trade war against the country. That is, as soon as the United States felt itself stronger, it became aggressive.
A Comparison of Today’s Reality and the Pre-Second World War Period
Turning to an historical comparison, we can juxtapose the present situation with the period leading up to the Second World War. The immediate path to that war began with the strengthening of Japanese militarism and the resulting invasion of Northeast China in 1931, followed by Hitler’s ascension to power in Germany in 1933. Yet, despite these ominous events, the war was not inevitable. The first victories of Japanese militarism and German fascism escalated to world war as a result of a series of the Allied powers’ defeats and capitulations between 1931 and 1939 as well as their failure to confront the Japanese militarists and German Nazis.
The ruling political party in China, the Kuomintang, concentrated its efforts for most of the 1930s not on repelling Japan but on fighting the communists. Meanwhile, the United States failed to intervene to stop Japan until it was itself attacked at Pearl Harbor in 1941. In Europe, Britain and France failed to stop the remilitarization of Nazi Germany even when they had the right to do so under the Treaty of Versailles. Further, they did not support the legitimate government of Spain in 1936 against the fascist coup and civil war launched by Francisco Franco, who was supported by Hitler. Then, they directly capitulated to Hitler’s dismemberment of Czechoslovakia under the notorious Munich Pact of 1938.
Today, we see a pattern similar to 1931, which marked the beginning of the lead up to the Second World War. Though support for an aggressive world war certainly does not have majority support in the United States, such support does exist among a small and, so far, fringe element within the U.S. foreign policy/military establishment. If the United States suffers political defeats, it will not move directly to frontal war with China or Russia. Nonetheless, the medium-term danger exists that—as was the case following Japan’s invasion of China in 1931 and Hitler’s coming to power in 1933—if the United States achieves victories in more limited struggles, it will likely be encouraged to move towards a major global military conflict. The decisive struggle must be to prevent such a global conflict. This means that it is of utmost importance that the United States does not win immediate struggles, such as the war it provoked in Ukraine, its attempt to undermine the One China policy with regard to Taiwan, and its economic wars against many other countries.
The Main Forces Opposing U.S. Military Aggression
There are two powerful forces that oppose U.S. military aggression. The first, and most powerful, is China, whose economic development is not merely crucial for improving the living standards of its population, but also for eventually allowing the country to put its military forces more on par with those of the United States. This will very likely be the ultimate deterrent to U.S. military aggression. The second powerful force is the opposition of a large number of countries to U.S. aggression—including many in the Global South, comprising the majority of the world’s people—not merely from a moral viewpoint but from direct self-interest. The U.S.’s attempt to overcome the consequences of its economic failures by military and political means inevitably leads it to take actions against numerous other countries’ interests.
One among many examples of the impacts of these actions is that the U.S. provocation of the war in Ukraine has helped create a massive increase in world food prices because Russia and Ukraine are the world’s largest international suppliers of wheat and fertilizer. Meanwhile, banning the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei from participation in 5G telecommunications development means that the inhabitants of every country that agrees to the U.S. ban pays more for their telecommunications. U.S. pressure to force Germany to buy U.S. liquified natural gas, instead of Russian natural gas, raises energy prices in Germany. In Latin America, the United States attempts to prevent countries from pursuing policies of national independence. U.S. tariffs on China’s exports raises the cost of living for U.S. households. The fact that, in practice, other countries’ populations are being forced to finance aggressive U.S. militarism is bound to generate opposition to such policies and their outcomes.
These two mutually reinforcing forces—China’s own development and the fact that U.S. policy is against the interests of the overwhelming majority of the world’s population—constitute the main obstacles to U.S. aggression. Integrating China’s development with the international forces that are opposed to the U.S.’s attacks against them is therefore the most crucial task for the majority of the global population. While those of us outside of the country cannot fully grasp the complexities facing China’s leaders, we can say that they shoulder a great responsibility not only to push the world toward peace and a sustainable planet, but also to make good on the promises of their revolution and to justify the great sacrifices of peasants and workers—the very sacrifices that made China’s current standing in the world possible.
The Choices Facing the United States
The U.S. turn to escalating military aggression alongside its loss of economic supremacy has already begun. In Ukraine, the United States is directly and forcefully challenging Russia, a state with powerful atomic weapons, thereby raising a potential risk of a nuclear war. Simultaneously, it is applying maximum pressure on its allies, such as Germany, to damage their own interests by subordinating themselves to U.S. policy.
However, the United States is still hesitant to utilize full military force, evidently weighing the gains and risks of escalating its military aggression. Though the United States provoked the Ukraine War by threatening to extend NATO into the country, thereby giving it access to ever more deadly weaponry and intelligence, it has not yet dared to directly commit its military forces to this war, showing that there is still considerable uncertainty at work at the highest levels of the U.S. state machinery.
All of this directly affects Russia and China’s relations with each other, and it makes the outcome of the war in Ukraine crucial for the entire world. Because friendly Sino-Russian relations pose a formidable economic and military obstacle to U.S. threats of war, the central strategic goal of U.S. policy is to separate Russia and China. If this can be achieved, then the United States will have a greater capacity to attack them individually, including through the use of its military strength.
The United States will increase its aggressive actions towards China, as well as towards other countries, not only in the economic field but in particular through the direct and indirect use of U.S. military power, hesitating only when it suffers defeats. Naturally, every opening to develop a conciliatory approach by the United States must be taken advantage of, but it is essential to be clear that U.S. policy during such periods, when it has suffered defeats, will attempt to regroup its forces to launch a new aggressive policy.
Defeating U.S. aggression depends in large part on the overall domestic development of China in the economic, military, and all other fields, which is also in the interests of other countries suffering from U.S. aggression. After China’s own domestic development, the most important force blocking U.S. aggression is the opposition of the majority of the world’s population and countries whose position is worsened by U.S. policy. The degree to which U.S. military-based aggression, both direct and indirect, will intensify depends on how much the United States is defeated in individual struggles. The more it is successful, the more aggressive it will become; the more it is weakened, the more conciliatory it will become.
In the short term, the outcome of the war in Ukraine will therefore be crucial for the broader geopolitical reality. While the details of U.S. aggressive foreign policy cannot be seen with a crystal ball, the overall escalation of U.S. aggression clearly follows from its combination of economic weakening and military strength unless it suffers significant defeats.
1. Vyacheslav Tetekin, “How the US Pushed Ukraine into the War,” Communist Party of the Russian Federation, April 4, 2022, https://cprf.ru/2022/04/how-the-us-pushed-ukraine-into-the-war/. The quotes and analysis in this section are from this source.
2. See Angus Maddison, The World Economy: A Global Perspective (Paris: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2001). Note that other sources give the U.S. economy a much greater share of global GDP in 1950, with estimates in excess of 40 percent.
3. The data comparing the economic performance of the United states and China are taken from the IMF’s database published accompanying the April 2022 World Economic Outlook, https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WEO/weo-database/2022/April; U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, International Data, https://apps.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?ReqID=62&step=1#reqid=62&step=9&isuri=1&6210=4; Trading Economics, https://tradingeconomics.com/; World Bank, World Development Indicators, https://databank.worldbank.org/reports.aspx?source=world-development-indicators.
4. Federation of American Scientists, “Status of World Nuclear Forces,” 2022, https://fas.org/issues/nuclear-weapons/status-world-nuclear-forces/.
5. Janan Ganesh, “The US will be the ultimate winner of Ukraine’s crisis,” Financial Times, April 5, 2022, https://www.ft.com/content/cd7270a6-f72b-4b40-8195-1a796f748c23.
6. “Events like This Happen Once a Century”: Sergey Glazyev on the breakdown of epochs and changing ways of life, The Saker, 28 March 2022, https://thesaker.is/events-like-this-happen-once-a-century-sergey-glazyev-on-the-breakdown-of-epochs-and-changing-ways-of-life/.
7. Micheal Clodfelter quoted in Edward Miguel and Gerard Roland, “The Long-run Impact of Bombing Vietnam,” Journal of Development Economics 96 (1), 2011: 1-15. https://eml.berkeley.edu/~groland/pubs/vietnam-bombs_19oct05.pdf.
8. Edward Miguel and Gerard Roland, “The Long-run Impact of Bombing Vietnam,” Journal of Development Economics 96 (1), 2011: 1–15. https://eml.berkeley.edu/~groland/pubs/vietnam-bombs_19oct05.pdf.
This publication is issued under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) license. The human-readable summary of the license is available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Uitgelichte foto: bron