US Already at War with China and Russia: The Rest of Us Are Collateral Damage

Saturday, March 2, 2019
By Paul Martin

James ONeill

At the end of World War 2 the United States was the strongest economy and military force on the planet. It used that position to impose itself upon the world for the next 60 years. Potential threats to that hegemony were crushed, through persuasion, economic blackmail via the dominant position of the US dollar, regime change of recalcitrant governments, and in many cases invasions and occupations. Tens of millions died and social structures were devastated.

The lack of any serious challenger during those decades bred a mentality of exceptionalism: that the ordinary rules of civilised conduct did not apply; that their way was the only acceptable way; and that their hegemonic monopoly would last forever.

Despite the constant propaganda, the Soviet Union was never a serious threat, and China was too preoccupied with internal convulsions to have much influence beyond its own national borders or those countries immediately adjoining.

The past two decades however, have seen significant changes, the pace of which is accelerating. After the Yeltsin era of the 1990s, Russia began a steady rejuvenation off its economy and political status. China began its true Great Leap Forward following the reform and opening up of its economy and society under Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s. The results are unparalleled in modern history. Per capita income in China is 25 times what it was when Deng’s reforms began. Poverty levels, as measured by the World Bank have shrunk from more than 90 percent of the population in 1978 to less than 2 percent today.

China’s GDP growth rate has been sustained at a level about three times the rate of most developed economies, and has done so for several decades. On a parity purchasing power basis, China is now the world’s largest economy, and that superior economic position will continue and grow for the foreseeable future.

Not the least of the reasons for China’s dynamic growth is their investment in education and in particular science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). About one quarter of all STEM workers in the world today are Chinese. The expectation is that by 2025 (a key date in Chinese planning) there will be more Chinese STEM workers than in the whole of the OECD combined.

Although on a vastly smaller scale, Russia has similarly invested heavily in promoting educational excellence in STEM subjects. The contrast with the US could not be greater. Since 2001 the US has spent approximately $6 trillion in foreign wars, while deferring about $4 trillion in necessary infrastructure expenditure.

The military industrial complex has flourished, while the rest of the US has not. According to UN statistics, the US is now 42nd in the world in life expectancy. This is a very sensitive indicator pointing to a range of deficiencies in education, health care, nutritional standards and social infrastructure.

Vast sums are required each year to maintain a network of more than 800 military bases around the world. This empire of bases is needed to maintain control over vassal states and “contain” both Russia and China. Neither of those countries, massive propaganda notwithstanding , has shown the least interest in expanding beyond its existing borders.

Both Russia and China have however, despite military budgets a fraction of US levels, developed a range of high tech weaponry that is significantly superior to that of the US and its allies. Putin’s revelations in his March 2018 speech to the Russian Federal Assembly about Russia’s hypersonic weapons capabilities was a profound shock to the US establishment. After initial denials, they acknowledged the truth of Putin’s claims and immediately sought even greater military funding in an effort to catch up. That expenditure will come at the expense of investment in civilian infrastructure, leading to a further deterioration in the facilities for ordinary people.

There is very good reason to believe that China’s military capabilities, while not up to Russian standards yet, are nonetheless formidable in their own right. The Dong Feng missile series for example, gives China both a defensive and offensive capability that is unmatched by the Americans.

That is the context in which the present situation of sanctions, trade wars and other forms of warfare needs to be assessed.

The Trump administration is in fact waging war on both China and Russia. Because it does not (yet) involve a shooting war that does not make it any less a war. That war takes many forms.

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