WA Delegate: None.
Founder: The Bamboo Palace of Kuan Yin
Last WA Update:
Embassies: Genesis Defense Project, Taoism, Buddhism, Angkor Wat, San Francisco, The Sea Of Love, Buddhist Region of Jambudvipan, Sufism, The Himalayas, Psychedelic, Sufi, The Woods, Space Jesus, The Zoo, Weed, Tibet, and 9 others.Zen Buddhism, Libcom, Ego, Buddha, Lhasa, Chiapas, Eswatini, Revolution, and Kashmir.
Construction of embassies with Akumal has commenced. Completion expected .
Today's World Census Report
The Most Rebellious Youth in Taiwan
World Census observers counted the number of times their car stereo was stolen from outside fast food stores to determine which nations have relatively high levels of youth-related crime.
As a region, Taiwan is ranked 1,778th in the world for Most Rebellious Youth.
|1.||The Bamboo Palace of Kuan Yin||Left-wing Utopia||“Namo Gwan Shi Yin Pu Sa”|
|2.||The Matriarchy of Xiao Meimei||Mother Knows Best State||“Lao pung yo, nee can chi lai hun yo jing shen.”|
|3.||The Wu Wei Brigade of Taoist Extremists||Left-wing Utopia||“No one rules if no one obeys”|
|4.||The Sea Shrine of Serpents||Left-wing Utopia||“Attempts to enslave may result in severe burns”|
|5.||The 36th Chamber of Shaolin of San Te||Left-wing Utopia||“Light the lantern of mind. Keep it bright every day.”|
|6.||The Wrath of Hayagriva||Left-wing Utopia||“Om Benzra Krodha Haya Griwa”|
|7.||The Most Serene Republic of Keep Your Eyes Open||Iron Fist Socialists||“Fkd up, got ambushed, zipped in”|
|8.||The Republic of Independent Formosa Taiwan||Civil Rights Lovefest||“Integrity, Diligence, Fidelity, and Compassion,”|
- : The Hot Buttered Toast of The Holy Ghost of the region Akumal agreed to construct embassies.
- : The Bamboo Palace of Kuan Yin proposed constructing embassies with Hinduism.
- : The Bamboo Palace of Kuan Yin proposed constructing embassies with Akumal.
- : The Bamboo Palace of Kuan Yin composed a new regional Welcome Telegram.
- : The Bamboo Palace of Kuan Yin canceled the region's Welcome Telegram.
- : The Bamboo Palace of Kuan Yin appointed The Most Serene Republic of Keep Your Eyes Open as Tank Man with authority over Appearance, Border Control, Communications, Embassies, and Polls in Taiwan.
- : The Bamboo Palace of Kuan Yin dismissed The Kingdom of Zanish islands as Zhejiangopterus of Taiwan.
- : The Most Serene Republic of Keep Your Eyes Open arrived from The Pacific.
- : Embassy established between Taiwan and Kashmir.
- : Embassy established between Revolution and Taiwan.
Taiwan Regional Message Board
It's a possibility that one day we will. It would be nice.
It is, but that is not a bad thing, we are a small place at present also.
Welcome, newcomers, and to all 迎春接福 Have a Happy Lunar New Year! Happy travels!
What are your plans? Whatever they are, enjoy.
Taiwan: Extinct leopard subspecies allegedly seen by rangers
by Erik Hoffner on 2 March 2019
Formosan clouded leopards were reportedly spotted by rangers in a remote part of Taiwan.
Declared extinct in 2013 after a years-long project to capture one on camera failed, community rangers say they saw the creatures twice last year.
Mongabay asked the IUCN about the reports, but their big cat experts could not comment officially due to the lack of verifiable info on the sightings.
“I believe this animal still does exist,” National Taitung University’s Department of Life Science professor Liu Chiung-hsi said.
This week news broke that a Formosan clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa brachyura) was spotted by rangers in a remote part of Taiwan. Officially declared extinct in 2013 after a years-long project to capture one on camera failed, community rangers now say that they saw the creatures twice last year while exploring locations in southeastern Taiwan.
The predator is a subspecies of clouded leopard only found on the island of Taiwan.
“I believe this animal still does exist,” National Taitung University’s Department of Life Science professor Liu Chiung-hsi told Focus Taiwan News Channel.
However, the last official sighting of the animal was in 1983, and when Mongabay contacted the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the agency that maintains the Red List of Threatened Species, a press officer responded that after polling their big cat experts that the general lack of available information about the sighting makes it difficult for them to give a conclusive answer as to whether this sighting could be accurate.
For his part, the professor told Yahoo News it was ‘no surprise’ that the animal had not been seen for a long time, since they are vigilant and avoid human contact.
The rangers claim to have seen the cats hunting goats on a cliff in Taitung County’s Daren Township.
A different group said they saw a leopard near their scooters, before it ran up a tree.
The Coming War on China
DECEMBER 2, 2016
by JOHN PILGER
When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open. At a quarter past eight on the morning of 6 August, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite. I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, unforgettably. When I returned many years later, it was gone: taken away, “disappeared”, a political embarrassment.
I have spent two years making a documentary film, The Coming War on China, in which the evidence and witnesses warn that nuclear war is no longer a shadow, but a contingency. The greatest build-up of American-led military forces since the Second World War is well under way. They are in the northern hemisphere, on the western borders of Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, confronting China.
View 'The Coming War on China' here: https://vimeo.com/277068625 (Viewer discretion is advised)
The great danger this beckons is not news, or it is buried and distorted: a drumbeat of mainstream fake news that echoes the psychopathic fear embedded in public consciousness during much of the 20th century.
Like the renewal of post-Soviet Russia, the rise of China as an economic power is declared an “existential threat” to the divine right of the United States to rule and dominate human affairs.
To counter this, in 2011 President Obama announced a “pivot to Asia”, which meant that almost two-thirds of US naval forces would be transferred to Asia and the Pacific by 2020. Today, more than 400 American military bases encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and, above all, nuclear weapons. From Australia north through the Pacific to Japan, Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India, the bases form, says one US strategist, “the perfect noose”.
A study by the RAND Corporation – which, since Vietnam, has planned America’s wars – is entitled, War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable. Commissioned by the US Army, the authors evoke the cold war when RAND made notorious the catch cry of its chief strategist, Herman Kahn — “thinking the unthinkable”. Kahn’s book, On Thermonuclear War, elaborated a plan for a “winnable” nuclear war against the Soviet Union.
Today, his apocalyptic view is shared by those holding real power in the United States: the militarists and neo-conservatives in the executive, the Pentagon, the intelligence and “national security” establishment and Congress.
The current Secretary of Defense, Ashley Carter, a verbose provocateur, says US policy is to confront those “who see America’s dominance and want to take that away from us”.
For all the attempts to detect a departure in foreign policy, this is almost certainly the view of Donald Trump, whose abuse of China during the election campaign included that of “rapist” of the American economy. On 2 December, in a direct provocation of China, President-elect Trump spoke to the President of Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province of the mainland. Armed with American missiles, Taiwan is an enduring flashpoint between Washington and Beijing.
“The United States,” wrote Amitai Etzioni, professor of international Affairs at George Washington University, “is preparing for a war with China, a momentous decision that so far has failed to receive a thorough review from elected officials, namely the White House and Congress.” This war would begin with a “blinding attack against Chinese anti-access facilities, including land and sea-based missile launchers … satellite and anti-satellite weapons”.
The incalculable risk is that “deep inland strikes could be mistakenly perceived by the Chinese as pre-emptive attempts to take out its nuclear weapons, thus cornering them into ‘a terrible use-it-or-lose-it dilemma’ [that would] lead to nuclear war.”
In 2015, the Pentagon released its Law of War Manual. “The United States,” it says, “has not accepted a treaty rule that prohibits the use of nuclear weapons per se, and thus nuclear weapons are lawful weapons for the United States.”
In China, a strategist told me, “We are not your enemy, but if you [in the West] decide we are, we must prepare without delay.” China’s military and arsenal are small compared to America’s. However, “for the first time,” wrote Gregory Kulacki of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “China is discussing putting its nuclear missiles on high alert so that they can be launched quickly on warning of an attack … This would be a significant and dangerous change in Chinese policy … Indeed, the nuclear weapon policies of the United States are the most prominent external factor influencing Chinese advocates for raising the alert level of China’s nuclear forces.”
Professor Ted Postol was scientific adviser to the head of US naval operations. An authority on nuclear weapons, he told me, “Everybody here wants to look like they’re tough. See I got to be tough … I’m not afraid of doing anything military, I’m not afraid of threatening; I’m a hairy-chested gorilla. And we have gotten into a state, the United States has gotten into a situation where there’s a lot of sabre-rattling, and it’s really being orchestrated from the top.”
I said, “This seems incredibly dangerous.”
“That’s an understatement.”
In 2015, in considerable secrecy, the US staged its biggest single military exercise since the Cold War. This was Talisman Sabre; an armada of ships and long-range bombers rehearsed an “Air-Sea Battle Concept for China” – ASB — blocking sea lanes in the Straits of Malacca and cutting off China’s access to oil, gas and other raw materials from the Middle East and Africa.
It is such a provocation, and the fear of a US Navy blockade, that has seen China feverishly building strategic airstrips on disputed reefs and islets in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Last July, the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against China’s claim of sovereignty over these islands. Although the action was brought by the Philippines, it was presented by leading American and British lawyers and could be traced to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In 2010, Clinton flew to Manila. She demanded that America’s former colony reopen the US military bases closed down in the 1990s following a popular campaign against the violence they generated, especially against Filipino women. She declared China’s claim on the Spratly Islands – which lie more than 7,500 miles from the United States – a threat to US “national security” and to “freedom of navigation”.
Handed millions of dollars in arms and military equipment, the then government of President Benigno Aquino broke off bilateral talks with China and signed a secretive Enhanced Defense Co-operation Agreement with the US. This established five rotating US bases and restored a hated colonial provision that American forces and contractors were immune from Philippine law.
The election of Rodrigo Duterte in April has unnerved Washington. Calling himself a socialist, he declared, “In our relations with the world, the Philippines will pursue an independent foreign policy” and noted that the United States had not apologized for its colonial atrocities. “I will break up with America,” he said, and promised to expel US troops. But the US remains in the Philippines; and joint military exercises continue.
In 2014, under the rubric of “information dominance” – the jargon for media manipulation, or fake news, on which the Pentagon spends more than $4 billion – the Obama administration launched a propaganda campaign that cast China, the world’s greatest trading nation, as a threat to “freedom of navigation”.
CNN led the way, its “national security reporter” reporting excitedly from on board a US Navy surveillance flight over the Spratlys. The BBC persuaded frightened Filipino pilots to fly a single-engine Cessna over the disputed islands “to see how the Chinese would react”. None of these reporters questioned why the Chinese were building airstrips off their own coastline, or why American military forces were massing on China’s doorstep.
The designated chief propagandist is Admiral Harry Harris, the US military commander in Asia and the Pacific. “My responsibilities,” he told the New York Times, “cover Bollywood to Hollywood, from polar bears to penguins.” Never was imperial domination described as pithily.
Harris is one of a brace of Pentagon admirals and generals briefing selected, malleable journalists and broadcasters, with the aim of justifying a threat as specious as that with which George W Bush and Tony Blair justified the destruction of Iraq and much of the Middle East.
In Los Angeles in September, Harris declared he was “ready to confront a revanchist Russia and an assertive China …If we have to fight tonight, I don’t want it to be a fair fight. If it’s a knife fight, I want to bring a gun. If it’s a gun fight, I want to bring in the artillery … and all our partners with their artillery.”
These “partners” include South Korea, the launch pad for the Pentagon’s Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system, known as THAAD, ostensibly aimed at North Korea. As Professor Postol points out, it targets China.
In Sydney, Australia, Harris called on China to “tear down its Great Wall in the South China Sea”. The imagery was front page news. Australia is America’s most obsequious “partner”; its political elite, military, intelligence agencies and the media are integrated into what is known as the “alliance”. Closing the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the motorcade of a visiting American government “dignitary” is not uncommon. The war criminal Dick Cheney was afforded this honour.
Although China is Australia’s biggest trader, on which much of the national economy relies, “confronting China” is the diktat from Washington. The few political dissenters in Canberra risk McCarthyite smears in the Murdoch press. “You in Australia are with us come what may,” said one of the architects of the Vietnam war, McGeorge Bundy. One of the most important US bases is Pine Gap near Alice Springs. Founded by the CIA, it spies on China and all of Asia, and is a vital contributor to Washington’s murderous war by drone in the Middle East.
In October, Richard Marles, the defence spokesman of the main Australian opposition party, the Labor Party, demanded that “operational decisions” in provocative acts against China be left to military commanders in the South China Sea. In other words, a decision that could mean war with a nuclear power should not be taken by an elected leader or a parliament but by an admiral or a general.
This is the Pentagon line, a historic departure for any state calling itself a democracy. The ascendancy of the Pentagon in Washington – which Daniel Ellsberg has called a silent coup — is reflected in the record $5 trillion America has spent on aggressive wars since 9/11, according to a study by Brown University. The million dead in Iraq and the flight of 12 million refugees from at least four countries are the consequence.
The Japanese island of Okinawa has 32 military installations, from which Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq have been attacked by the United States. Today, the principal target is China, with whom Okinawans have close cultural and trade ties.
There are military aircraft constantly in the sky over Okinawa; they sometimes crash into homes and schools. People cannot sleep, teachers cannot teach. Wherever they go in their own country, they are fenced in and told to keep out.
A popular Okinawan anti-base movement has been growing since a 12-year-old girl was gang-raped by US troops in 1995. It was one of hundreds of such crimes, many of them never prosecuted. Barely acknowledged in the wider world, the resistance has seen the election of Japan’s first anti-base governor, Takeshi Onaga, and presented an unfamiliar hurdle to the Tokyo government and the ultra-nationalist prime minister Shinzo Abe’s plans to repeal Japan’s “peace constitution”.
The resistance includes Fumiko Shimabukuro, aged 87, a survivor of the Second World War when a quarter of Okinawans died in the American invasion. Fumiko and hundreds of others took refuge in beautiful Henoko Bay, which she is now fighting to save. The US wants to destroy the bay in order to extend runways for its bombers. “We have a choice,” she said, “silence or life.” As we gathered peacefully outside the US base, Camp Schwab, giant Sea Stallion helicopters hovered over us for no reason other than to intimidate.
Across the East China Sea lies the Korean island of Jeju, a semi- tropical sanctuary and World Heritage Site declared “an island of world peace”. On this island of world peace has been built one of the most provocative military bases in the world, less than 400 miles from Shanghai. The fishing village of Gangjeong is dominated by a South Korean naval base purpose-built for US aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and destroyers equipped with the Aegis missile system, aimed at China.
A people’s resistance to these war preparations has been a presence on Jeju for almost a decade. Every day, often twice a day, villagers, Catholic priests and supporters from all over the world stage a religious mass that blocks the gates of the base. In a country where political demonstrations are often banned, unlike powerful religions, the tactic has produced an inspiring spectacle.
One of the leaders, Father Mun Jeong-hyeon, told me, “I sing four songs every day at the base, regardless of the weather. I sing in typhoons — no exception. To build this base, they destroyed the environment, and the life of the villagers, and we should be a witness to that. They want to rule the Pacific. They want to make China isolated in the world. They want to be emperor of the world.”
I flew from Jeju to Shanghai for the first time in more than a generation. When I was last in China, the loudest noise I remember was the tinkling of bicycle bells; Mao Zedong had recently died, and the cities seemed dark places, in which foreboding and expectation competed. Within a few years, Deng Xiopeng, the “man who changed China”, was the “paramount leader”. Nothing prepared me for the astonishing changes today.
China presents exquisite ironies, not least the house in Shanghai where Mao and his comrades secretly founded the Communist Party of China in 1921. Today, it stands in the heart of a very capitalist shipping district; you walk out of this communist shrine with your Little Red Book and your plastic bust of Mao into the embrace of Starbucks, Apple, Cartier, Prada.
Would Mao be shocked? I doubt it. Five years before his great revolution in 1949, he sent this secret message to Washington. “China must industrialise.” he wrote, “This can only be done by free enterprise. Chinese and American interests fit together, economically and politically. America need not fear that we will not be co-operative. We cannot risk any conflict.”
Mao offered to meet Franklin Roosevelt in the White House, and his successor Harry Truman, and his successor Dwight Eisenhower. He was rebuffed, or willfully ignored. The opportunity that might have changed contemporary history, prevented wars in Asia and saved countless lives was lost because the truth of these overtures was denied in 1950s Washington “when the catatonic Cold War trance,” wrote the critic James Naremore, “held our country in its rigid grip”.
The fake mainstream news that once again presents China as a threat is of the same mentality.
The world is inexorably shifting east; but the astonishing vision of Eurasia from China is barely understood in the West. The “New Silk Road” is a ribbon of trade, ports, pipelines and high-speed trains all the way to Europe. The world’s leader in rail technology, China is negotiating with 28 countries for routes on which trains will reach up to 400 kms an hour. This opening to the world has the approval of much of humanity and, along the way, is uniting China and Russia.
“I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Barack Obama, evoking the fetishism of the 1930s. This modern cult of superiority is Americanism, the world’s dominant predator. Under the liberal Obama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, nuclear warhead spending has risen higher than under any president since the end of the Cold War. A mini nuclear weapon is planned. Known as the B61 Model 12, it will mean, says General James Cartwright, former vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that “going smaller [makes its use] more thinkable”.
In September, the Atlantic Council, a mainstream US geopolitical thinktank, published a report that predicted a Hobbesian world “marked by the breakdown of order, violent extremism [and] an era of perpetual war”. The new enemies were a “resurgent” Russia and an “increasingly aggressive” China. Only heroic America can save us.
There is a demented quality about this war mongering. It is as if the “American Century” — proclaimed in 1941 by the American imperialist Henry Luce, owner of Time magazine — has ended without notice and no one has had the courage to tell the emperor to take his guns and go home.
View 'The Coming War on China' here: https://vimeo.com/277068625 (Viewer discretion is advised)
US stages another provocation in the Taiwan Strait
By Ben McGrath
26 March 2019
The United States sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, only days before the opening of trade talks with China in Beijing. This deliberate provocation over Taiwan, China’s most sensitive diplomatic issue, is a clear threat aimed at forcing the Chinese to accept a US-dictates trade deal.
The USS Curtis Wilbur, a naval destroyer, and the Bertholf, a US Coast Guard (USCG) cutter entered the strait dividing Taiwan from the Chinese mainland from the south. The US incursion was the third in as many months, as the Trump administration ramps up measures to bring further military pressure to bear on Beijing. Washington also sent warships through the strait last year in July, October and November.
“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” declared Commander Clayton Doss, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet. He added, in an implicit threat to Beijing, “The US will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang urged the US to “cautiously and appropriately handle the Taiwan issue to avoid harming Sino-US relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.” He also stated that “China has lodged stern representations with the US.”
The presence of a US Coast Guard vessel raised some eyebrows in the media, summed up by the headline of a Navy Times article, “Why did a Coast Guard cutter take a jab at China?” The idea of using the Coast Guard for so-called “freedom of navigation” operations, i.e., provocations against China, has been discussed in US ruling circles since at least January 2017, the same month Trump came to office.
That year, Admiral Paul Zukunft, then head of the Coast Guard, called for “a permanent USCG presence in the South China Sea and related areas. This would allow us to expand our working relationship with Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan. We can spearhead work with allies on freedom of navigation exercises as well.” Proponents claimed Coast Guard vessels would be less provocative, in an attempt to justify the further US military buildup in the South China Sea and throughout the region in preparation for war with China.
Trump has continually stoked tensions with China over Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade province. While Taiwan and Beijing both adhere to the 1992 Consensus recognizing the “One China” policy, the current government in Taipei of Tsai Ing-wen and the Democratic Progressive Party has cautiously leaned towards Taiwanese independence, though not making any formal declarations.
Beijing has maintained that it will use military force to retake Taiwan should it ever declare independence. In this regard, the US navy’s moves are not routine, but purposely risk a clash to further US geopolitical interests and measure how far China can be pushed. Beijing, however, has no intention of allowing an independent, US-aligned Taiwan to become a military base for Washington.
Chief Hu Xijin, editor of China’s state-owned Global Times, said in a statement on Monday, “[US] warships must pass through the Taiwan Strait in an orderly way. They shouldn’t make dangerous moves such as interacting with Taiwan’s military or docking at a Taiwan port. Or else, the Chinese mainland is bound to retaliate.”
China has previously threatened to attack Taiwan if a US warship docks at a Taiwanese port, a red-line the Trump administration came close to breaching last October when an American naval scientific research vessel docked at the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung during heightened tensions.
Washington, however, is already moving to build up its relations with Taiwan’s military. According to a March 22 Bloomberg article, sources within the White House stated that advisors to Trump have urged Taiwan to submit a request for the sale of sixty-six F-16 fighter jets, produced by Lockheed Martin.
The approval of the deal would be the first since 1992, when the US sold Taiwan 150 F-16 jets. The Obama administration rejected a similar request in 2011, instead agreeing to upgrade Taiwan’s existing fleet as part of a larger arms deal. Overall, the US has sold more than $15 billion in weaponry to Taiwan since 2010.
In addition, the Trump administration approved the Taiwan Travel Act last March, allowing increased visits between US and Taiwanese officials. The massive US military spending bill passed last year called for further arms deals and increased cooperation with Taiwan’s military, including “opportunities for practical training and military exercises with Taiwan” and “exchanges between senior defense officials and general officers of the United States and Taiwan consistent with the Taiwan Travel Act.”
In this regard, the sale of the F-16s to Taiwan is not simply a bargaining chip in trade talks. The build-up of Taiwan’s military is part of an overall strategy, backed by the Republicans and the Democrats, to militarily encircle China and force Beijing to acquiesce to US demands.
“There is a consensus that’s almost bipartisan in Washington that it’s time to be a bit more assertive against China,” noted Richard Aboulafia, an analyst from the Teal Group. “This is the part where fighters are geopolitics with wings.”
The trade war instigated by Trump is part of this strategy. It centers on demands for “structural reforms” in China that would give US corporations access to cheap labor and resources while eliminating an economic competitor.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin will be in Beijing for trade talks on March 28. China’s Vice Premier Liu He will lead a delegation to Washington on April 3.
On the negotiations, Wei Zongyou, an expert on China-US relations at Fudan University in Shanghai, stated that “the US has constantly emphasized the verification mechanism and use of punitive tariffs as a counterweight.” Washington has threatened to more than double the current ten percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods while imposing new tariffs.
In essence, Washington is demanding Beijing relinquish sovereignty over its economy and return to a period of semi-colonial status. Naturally, Beijing will be unable to meet such conditions, leaving the US to further inflame tensions, risking the outbreak of a catastrophic war.
Confrontation between Chinese and Taiwanese fighter jets
By Peter Symonds
3 April 2019
A 10-minute aerial confrontation between Chinese and Taiwanese fighter jets over the Taiwan Strait on Sunday has once again highlighted the dangers of a war in Asia fueled by the Trump administration, which has deliberately inflamed the region’s volatile flashpoints.
Taiwan condemned what it described as a “reckless and provocative” move by Beijing after two Chinese warplanes crossed the de-facto maritime border in the Taiwan Strait known as the “median line.” The Taiwanese military scrambled its own fighter planes to warn off the Chinese jets.
Taiwanese presidential spokesman Huang Chung-yen declared that China “should stop acting in ways that endanger regional peace and well-being, and not become an international troublemaker.” He said that Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, had been informed and directed the island’s armed forces to “take all necessary combat preparedness measures.”
If Chinese warplanes did cross the median line, it would be the first incursion since 2011 which was judged to be accidental. Beijing is yet to comment on Sunday’s incident, which comes in the wake of a series of US moves that are aimed at bolstering ties with Taiwan and calling into question its adherence to the so-called One China policy.
US President Richard Nixon’s rapprochement with China in 1972 involved the tacit recognition of Beijing as the legitimate ruler of all China, including Taiwan. In 1979, the US formally established diplomatic relations and ended its ties with the military dictatorship on Taiwan established by the Kuomintang (KMT) after its defeat in the 1949 Chinese revolution. At the same time, Washington committed to opposing any forcible reunification with Taiwan by Beijing and to continuing arms sales to Taipei.
Trump, who on assuming office publicly called the One China policy into question, has repeatedly and deliberately provoked Beijing by boosting arms sales to Taiwan, increasing US naval operations in the tense Taiwan Strait, and by signing the Taiwan Travel Act into law authorising top level contact between US and Taiwanese civilian and military officials.
Prior to Sunday’s aerial stand-off, the US military sent two ships—the Navy destroyer Curtis Wilbur and Coast Guard cutter Berholf—through the Taiwan Strait for the third time this year and the sixth time since it resumed such transits last July. The Chinese foreign ministry stated that it had lodged “representations” with Washington and urged caution by the US “to avoid harming Sino-US relations and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
Last Wednesday, Taiwanese President Tsai used a so-called “transit stop” in Hawaii to launch a broadside against China and call for a beefing up of US arms sales to Taipei in remarks delivered via video link to the right-wing US think tank, the Heritage Foundation.
Tsai accused Beijing of trying to “alter the status quo” and “undermine our democratic institutions.” She dismissed China’s “one nation, two systems” proposal for unifying Taiwan with the mainland and declared that China’s actions “underscored the need for Taiwan to increase our self-defence and deterrence capacities.”
Tsai belongs to the Democratic Progressive Party, which is based on Taiwanese nationalism and does not accept the current status quo in relations with China. While stopping short of declaring formal independence from China, which could provoke a Chinese attack, the DPP, encouraged by the Trump administration, has adopted a more assertive stance for Taiwan.
Tsai was touring the Pacific in a bid to shore up Taiwan’s diplomatic relations with three tiny Pacific Island states—Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands. The three are among the few countries in the world to maintain relations with Taiwan, rather than China.
The most significant aspect of Tsai’s comments was a call for the US to sell more than 60 advanced F-16V fighter jets to Taiwan, as well as M1 heavy tanks, which she said would “greatly enhance our land and air capacities, strengthen military morale and show the world the US commitment to Taiwan’s defence.”
The US has not sold fighter jets to Taiwan since 1992. While the F-16V fighters are fourth generation, not fifth generation warplanes, they are fitted with advanced radar and avionics, unlike Taiwan’s present aging fleet of F-16s. The US has so far refused to sell its fifth-generation stealth fighters, the F-22 and F-35, to Taiwan.
While the sale would not immediately alter the military balance between China and Taiwan, it would be a clear sign that Washington is strengthening ties with Taipei and would enhance Taiwan’s capacity to take part in a US-led war against China. The island’s strategic location just off the Chinese mainland prompted US General MacArthur to describe it in 1950 as “an unsinkable aircraft carrier” in the event of war.
Bloomberg reported on Monday: “Trump administration officials have given tacit approval to Taipei’s request to buy more than 60 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16s, according to people familiar with the matter.”
Suggestions that the US sale could proceed have sent shockwaves through Beijing. The Chinese foreign ministry last week said that it had lodged “stern representations” with the US, while the defence ministry warned that the sale undermined the One China policy.
Senior Colonel Wu Qian told the media last Thursday: “Any words or actions that undermine the One China policy are tantamount to shaking the foundation of China-US relations, are inconsistent with the fundamental interests of China and the United States and are also extremely dangerous.”
China’s show of air power over the Taiwan Strait was clearly meant as a warning to both Taiwan and the US.
Taiwan, along with the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea, are among the most volatile and dangerous flashpoints in the world. Yet the Trump administration is recklessly disrupting longstanding diplomatic norms as it escalates its confrontation with China over trade and steps up its military preparations for war.
Trump’s aggressive stance towards Beijing is a continuation of the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” aimed at encircling China and building up US military forces in the Indo-Pacific. US imperialism is determined to maintain its global hegemony if need be through military force against China, Russia or any other potential rival.
The danger is that a minor incident in the Taiwan Strait, whether deliberate or accidental, could become the trigger for a conflict between nuclear-armed powers that escalates out of control into all-out war.
APRIL 26, 2019
Continual Confrontation in the South China Sea
by BRIAN CLOUGHLEY
In a display of groveling sycophancy the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has decided to name an illegal Jewish settlement in the occupied Golan Heights after Donald Trump. (Trumpen-lebensraum, perhaps?) This follows an equally bizarre proposal by Poland’s President Duda to call a US military base Fort Trump, which The Economist observed “struck many Poles as toe-curlingly crass”. It is intriguing to speculate on what might come next. Perhaps the Pentagon will suggest renaming a South China Sea islet in his honor. One choice could be Mischief Reef in the Spratly Island chain, where the US Navy regularly disports itself in “routine and regular freedom of navigation operations.”
Freedom of Navigation is most important, and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea lays down that “The high seas are open to all States, whether coastal or land-locked. Freedom of the high seas is exercised under the conditions laid down by this Convention and by other rules of international law.”
The generally accepted definition of freedom of navigation is “the right recognized in international law especially by treaties or agreements for vessels of one or all states to navigate streams passing through two or more states.”
The United States is the self-appointed guardian of the Seas, and declares it “will exercise and assert its navigation and overflight rights and freedoms on a worldwide basis in a manner that is consistent with the balance of interests reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention.” There is a problem with this, in that the US Senate refuses to ratify the Convention, which makes nonsense of the constant threats by Washington that everybody must obey it or there will be the United States to reckon with, in the shape of the US Navy which roams the seas with its eleven aircraft carriers, 9 amphibious ready groups (more accurately, strike squadrons), 22 cruisers and 66 destroyers with, down below, some seventy submarines. Nuclear weapons abound, but nobody knows which surface vessels carry them (except the intelligence services of China and Russia), because it is policy to “neither confirm nor deny” if nuclear weapons are on board.
It is remarkable that the only national leader ever to have publicly condemned the “neither confirm nor deny” rule was New Zealand’s Prime Minister David Lange in 1984 when he “barred the visit of the American Navy destroyer Buchanan after Washington refused to say whether it was nuclear-armed or not.” The US then demonstrated its maturity and “suspended naval maneuvers with New Zealand and stopped sharing intelligence information with it” and cancelled a high level security conference. Lange showed his disdain for such antics when speaking at a farewell dinner for the US ambassador, H Monroe Browne, in 1986. The ambassador, as with so many US heads of mission, was a rich man who had bought his appointment, and he owned a racehorse called Lacka Reason, about which Lange observed that “You are the only ambassador in the world to race a horse named after your country’s foreign policy.”
Which brings us to Washington’s shenanigans in the South China Sea.
Washington objects to China’s presence in the South China Sea. It upsets the US government that Beijing continues to build various facilities, including airfields, on islands which in some cases are claimed by other regional nations as their own territory. On March 27 the Pentagon’s Randall Schriver told the House Armed Services Committee that China’s “activities in the South China Sea could be met with consequences elsewhere . . . We are intent on making sure no one country can change international law per the norms” — in spite of failure by the United States to ratify the Convention it quotes to justify its saber-rattling activities from the Baltic to the Taiwan Strait.
And these activities are extensive, including the current commitment of the 11th Amphibious Squadron’s warships, of which the largest, the USS Wasp, carries F-35 advanced strike aircraft whose armament is not known because the Navy “declined to disclose. . . the assets aboard the Wasp due to operational security concerns.” The squadron’s deployment to the South China Sea is consistent with US policy, as noted by Stars and Stripes which reported on April 4 that “The US regularly challenges Beijing’s claims by sailing warships within 12 nautical miles of islands that China has built up in the Paracel and Spratly chains. So far this year, the Navy has picked up the pace, conducting at least five freedom-of-navigation operations since January: one each through the Paracels and Spratlys, and three through the Taiwan Strait.”
Additionally, the US Air Force, not to be left out of the in-your-face fandangos, regularly sends nuclear-capable strike aircraft over the South China Sea. Nobody knows what they are carrying in the way of armaments, as “We do not discuss the nuclear capabilities of our operational bomber aircraft,” but on March 13 it was announced that “Two B-52H Stratofortress bombers took off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and conducted routine training in the vicinity of the South China Sea. . . US aircraft regularly operate in the South China Sea in support of allies, partners, and a free and open Indo-Pacific . . . as part of US Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence operations.”
Then there is the US Army’s contribution to security and stability, which it seeks to improve by mounting exercise ‘Defender Pacific’ later this year. The US Army Commander in the Pacific, General Robert Brown, declared that the maneuvers “will focus on a South China Sea scenario” and that the thousands of troops deployed “will get the challenge of coming to the Pacific with the Pacific-assigned forces already there. And we won’t go to Korea, we will actually go to a South China Sea scenario where we will be around the South China Sea.” Indicating the focus of its planning, “the US Army recently conducted a joint exercise with the US Marine Corps practicing raiding and seizing a small island in Japan’s southwest Ryukyu chain,” on the boundary of the East China Sea.
While all these operations are part of the rich tapestry of military life, the overflights by nuclear-capable bombers, the provocative maneuvers by combat ships close to Chinese-settled islands, and the practicing of island invasion are sending a combative message.
Washington cannot imagine for one moment that the Pentagon’s military antics will result in China withdrawing from even the smallest atoll. Not even Bolton or Pompeo could think that the US campaign of confrontation in, around and above the South China Sea will persuade Beijing to bend the knee to Washington.
It is obvious that the US armed forces are gearing up for a summer of confronting China, and that this is going to be effected on land, by sea, and in the air. But provocation cannot be accepted indefinitely, and it will be interesting to see just how far the Chinese permit it to continue. What will happen after they blast a coat-trailing US destroyer out of the water round Mischief Reef?
Democrats back trade war with China
By Patrick Martin
18 May 2019
The trade war measures against China announced by President Donald Trump over the past two weeks have been more widely supported by congressional Democrats than by their Republican counterparts. Many of the Republicans come from rural states and districts hardest hit by tariffs on US agricultural exports imposed by China in retaliation for the much more sweeping tariffs ordered by Trump.
There has been considerable criticism of Trump’s trade war measures by the Democrats, but it has been within a framework of endorsing the campaign against China, demonizing China as the main US rival, and calling on Trump to stop provoking trade conflicts with the European Union (EU), Canada and Mexico in order to recruit them as allies in the anti-China campaign.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was the most explicit. “We should not be having a multifront war on tariffs,” he said May 14. “I would focus everything on China. And get the Europeans, Canadians and Mexicans to be on our side and focus on China. Because they are the great danger.” Schumer has repeatedly urged Trump to “stay tough” on China.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters May 13 that Trump’s imposition of tariffs on China was “in recognition that something needed to be done.” Referring to the ongoing trade talks with Beijing, she said, “I wish him success in the negotiation. But as I say, we have to use our leverage without antagonizing those who are on our side on this.” That was a reference particularly to the EU.
Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, also a Democrat, told The Hill that Trump was “not going into this fight with allies. It isn’t targeted. It’s just kind of across-the-board tariffs.” The former Merrill Lynch assistant vice president and Paine Webber vice president added, “I think the way he has done it has not been thoughtful at all.”
Senator Doug Jones of Alabama echoed Schumer. “What I've got a concern about is going it alone,” he said. “At the same time we started this with China, we were also kicking our European allies in the shins and we were kicking Canada in their shins and we were kicking Mexico.”
Virtually all the commentary by Democratic presidential candidates has been along similar lines. They support trade war with China, and only object to America’s taking on the entire world as ill-thought-out and potentially damaging economically. According to one study, however, the China tariffs imposed by Trump will cost the typical US family of four nearly $2,400 annually in higher prices on imported goods, and wipe out 2.2 million jobs.
Former Vice President Joe Biden made an initially critical response to Trump’s imposition of tariffs, suggesting that the Chinese economy was not really a serious threat to US global domination. He was swiftly attacked both by Trump and by nearly all his opponents for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Campaigning in New Hampshire, Biden reiterated his concerns about the impact of the tariffs. “The American worker is getting killed by this,” he said Monday on WMUR. “The American farmers are getting killed.” But in a concession to the prevailing anti-Chinese campaign, he declared, “If they want to trade here, they’re going to be under the same rules.”
Former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke issued a statement warning that any trade deal between Trump and China should be carefully scrutinized. “Holding China accountable should not come at the expense of American workers,” he said. “That is why we must not settle for any deal that does not respect intellectual property, level the playing field in the Chinese market, nor end unfair trade practices.” In effect, that means no deal that does not force a complete restructuring of the Chinese economy, as the most extreme trade hawks in the Trump administration are demanding.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, like Schumer, called for mobilizing US allies against China, rather than alienating with further tariffs. “It is in the interests of the United States to work to strengthen institutions like the WTO [World Trade Organization] and the UN rather than trying to go it alone,” his statement reads. “American concerns about China’s technology practices are shared in Europe and across the Asia-Pacific. We can place far more pressure on China to change its policies if we work together with the broader international community and the other developed economies.”
Sanders added a note of rabid anti-communism, declaring, “The Trump administration has also done nothing to pressure China over its abhorrent treatment of the Uighur and Tibetan peoples. Future trade negotiations should, for example, target American corporations that contribute surveillance technologies that enable China’s authoritarian practices.” The plight of the Uighur and Tibetan minorities has been used for decades as a pressure point by the CIA to threaten China with possible secession and disintegration.
Sanders concluded with a salute to Trump: “The Trump administration is correct to put pressure on China to reform its practices, and I hope that some good comes from current trade negotiations.”
Less prominent Democratic presidential candidates have added their own notes of anti-Chinese and anti-communist hysteria.
Representative Eric Swalwell of California cited his role as a member of the House Intelligence Committee: “I’ve seen first-hand the economic espionage that China commits and the adverse impact it has on American businesses. China has not been forthright in even admitting that intellectual property theft and technology transfer occurs. Nor is China transparent on its industrial subsidies. Curbing China’s dishonest practices must be part of any negotiations; as president, I would hold China accountable.”
Swalwell called for Justice Department criminal prosecution of Chinese companies, such as the current effort to extradite a top official of the Huawei electronics giant, detained in Vancouver by the Canadian government at the request of the Trump administration.
Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, whose district includes the devastated steel city of Youngstown, Ohio, chimed in, “For too long China has succeeded in hurting America’s manufacturing industry by engaging in illegal steel and aluminum dumping. That is why I support targeted tariffs against China’s steel and aluminum… I have long been a supporter of taking action against currency manipulation, and leading legislation that would impose countervailing duties to offset the impact of manipulation.”
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, one of the Democratic candidates with the closest ties to Wall Street and global finance capital, denounced China in stridently anti-communist terms during a New Hampshire campaign swing. He called China a “totalitarian regime” that had to be confronted.
“The Chinese have been taking advantage of this country and other nations on Planet Earth,” he told an audience in Berlin, New Hampshire. “They do not fight fair. They steal our intellectual property. They force the transfer of technology . . . We need to take them on. We need to fight them.”
Former Democratic Representative John Delaney went even further, denouncing the Chinese as “pirates” and criticizing Trump for not recruiting more allies against Beijing. “They steal intellectual property, they created illegal islands, they engage in disinformation campaigns,” he said. “I don’t want to go to war with China, but we have to realize what we’re dealing with.”
Delaney’s comments are revealing. A war between the United States and China, the world’s two largest military powers, each nuclear-armed, would threaten the existence of humanity, and even all life on the planet.
Formulations like “I don’t want to go to war with China, but …” only underscore the deadly logic of the conflicts between the major powers, propelled by the crisis of global capitalism, and the necessity for the working class to provide an alternative to the capitalist drift towards world war.
US warship sails in disputed South China Sea amid trade tensions
Reuters Mon 20 May 2019 05.30 BST
A US warship has sailed near the disputed Scarborough Shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea, a move likely to anger Beijing at a time of tense ties between the world’s two biggest economies.
The destroyer USS Preble carried out the operation on Sunday, a US military spokesman said. The busy waterway is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the US-China relationship, which also include a trade war, the blacklisting of tech company Huawei US sanctions and Taiwan.
“Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Reef in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law,” said Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the Seventh Fleet.
It was the second such US military operation in the South China Sea in the past month. On Wednesday, the chief of the US Navy said its freedom of navigation movements in the disputed South China Sea drew more attention than they deserved.
The US military has a longstanding position that its operations are carried out throughout the world, including areas claimed by allies, and they are separate from political considerations.
The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some south-east Asian navies operate.
China claims almost all of the strategic South China Sea and frequently lambasts the US and its allies over naval operations near Chinese-occupied islands.
Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims in the region.
China and the US have repeatedly traded barbs in the past over what Washington says is Beijing’s militarisation of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.
China defends its construction as necessary for self-defence and says the US is responsible for ratcheting up tension in the region by sending warships and military planes close to islands Beijing claims. Last month, China’s navy chief said freedom of navigation should not be used to infringe upon the rights of other nations.
US warships provocatively challenge China’s claims in South China Sea
By Peter Symonds
21 May 2019
Amid sharply rising confrontation with China over trade and economic policies, the US yesterday dispatched a naval warship within the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit claimed by China around one of its islets in the South China Sea.
The naval operation is the latest in a growing number of US military provocations in strategically sensitive waters close to the Chinese mainland. It underscores the danger that trade war will escalate into military conflict as the US seeks to ensure its economic and strategic domination over China.
Monday’s so-called Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) was conducted by the guided missile destroyer USS Preble in waters around the Scarborough Shoal. It was the second FONOP this month; on May 6, the US Navy sent the USS Preble and another guided missile destroyer, the USS Chung Hoon, within the 12-nautical miles limit of the Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly island group.
The Scarborough Shoal is an isolated atoll that is claimed by both China and the Philippines, but which has been effectively controlled by China since 2012. Tensions between Beijing and Manila over their territorial claims in the South China Sea diminished after Rodrigo Duterte became Philippine president in 2016.
The US Navy justified its intrusion into Chinese-claimed waters by repeating the absurd claim that it was simply seeking to maintain “freedom of navigation” and its FONOPs were not directed at any one country. One only has to consider the reaction in Washington if Chinese warships were to engage in similar manoeuvres off the US West Coast near key naval facilities. There would be a hue and cry that would include demands for military retaliation.
China sharply criticized the latest US naval intrusion in the South China Sea—the fourth this year. Foreign affairs spokesman Lu Kang declared that the US actions “violated China’s sovereignty and undermined the peace, security and good order in the relevant sea areas.” He “strongly urged the US to stop “such provocative actions so as not to undermine US-China relations and regional peace and stability.”
The choice of the Scarborough Shoal was undoubtedly aimed at sending a message not only to Beijing but also the Duterte administration in the Philippines. The operation was a not too subtle warning that the US could stir up trouble on Manila’s doorstep, forcing it to take sides with Washington.
In an interview last week, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin was critical of Washington’s “strategic confusion” in the South China Sea. “China’s offer of a strategic partnership is a bit more attractive than the current offer of the US of strategic confusion,” he said.
Like other nations in Asia and internationally, the Philippines is seeking to balance between its economic dependence on China and strategic ties with the US. Locsin pointed out that despite a military alliance with the US, Washington had given Manila no firm guarantee that it would back the Philippines in a war with China.
As Locsin emphasised, the Duterte administration is maintaining military ties with the US and building up its own capabilities even as it seeks to strengthen diplomatic and economic relations with China. In another operation in the South China Sea, the US Coast Guard cutter Bertholf and two Philippine coast guard vessels practiced search-and-rescue procedures on May 14 near the Scarborough Shoal—without breaching the 12-nautical mile limit.
The Trump administration has also given the green light for stepped-up naval operations in the Taiwan Strait. In late April, the US Navy sent two destroyers—the USS William P. Lawrence and the USS Stethem through the strategic waterway. While the strait constitutes international waters, it is only 180 kilometres wide and is adjacent to major Chinese mainland cities as well as military installations.
A similar naval operation took place in March with the guided missile destroyer, the USS Curtis Wilbur, accompanied by the coast guard cutter, the Bertholf, transiting the Taiwan Strait. Washington is also encouraging allies to engage in such provocations. On April 6, a French military vessel passed through the strait, prompting China to cancel France’s invitation to take part in a naval parade to mark 70 years since the founding of China’s navy.
US naval passages through the Taiwan Strait are part of the Trump administration’s increasingly evident support for the Taiwanese government. The US still observes the One China policy, under which it treats the Chinese Communist Party regime in Beijing as the legitimate government of all China including Taiwan. However, under Trump, the US has begun to strengthen political and military ties with Taiwan.
The Democratic Progressive Party, which currently rules in Taipei, has not overtly called for Taiwanese independence, but favours a far more independent foreign policy. China has warned that any formal declaration of independence by Taiwan could lead to the forcible take-over of the island. Earlier this month, the Chinese military conducted live-fire exercises at the northern end of the Taiwan Strait.
US naval operations close to the Chinese mainland are taking place with increasing frequency as the Trump administration has imposed a raft of new sanctions against China—increasing tariffs and imposing punitive restrictions on Chinese tech giant Huawei on security grounds.
By deliberately inflaming dangerous flash points in Asia, the US is greatly heightening the dangers of conflict. A miscalculation or mistake could rapidly lead to a military clash that could quickly escalate into war between the two nuclear-armed powers.
MAY 24, 2019
War is War on Mother Earth
by RICHARD MOSER
“In order to achieve the massive systemic and cultural transformations required for mitigating climate change…we’re going to have to deal with the socially sanctioned, institutionalized violence perpetrated by U.S. foreign policy that is pouring fuel on the fire of global warming.”
– Stacy Bannerman
Climate Change Causes War
There is the close relationship between war and climate change that can be seen in a cycle of feedback loops creating the interlocking crisis.
Take the case of Syria, the perfect example with its direct relationship between war and drought. In an exacting statistical analysis of wars fought between 1980 and 2010 the connection between war and climate change is undeniable.
The US military itself has long recognized climate change as a “threat multiplier.” The last three Pentagon Quadrennial Defense Reviewscharacterized climate change as a threat to national security.
Since the idea of climate change as “threat multiplier” tends to encourage militarized responses, (like Elizabeth Warren’s recent proposals) this information is widely reported in the pro-war media and I will not repeat it here. The military and their media allies fall silent when it comes to a far more important truth: war causes climate change.
War Causes Climate Chaos
At the core of the corporate state is the war machine, the world’s largest polluter. Despite the exemptions from reporting on military pollution that the US demanded in the 1997 Kyoto Accords and continued suppression of information by the military, the general picture comes through. Consider the evidence linking fossil fuels and war making.
+ The US military is the world’s largest polluters of all forms of toxins. Almost 900 of the nearly 1,200 Superfund sitesin the U.S. are abandoned military facilities or sites that otherwise supported military needs.
+ While there are many sources, a 2016 report by the GAOitself stated: “The Department of Defense (DOD) generally, and the military services in particular, are the largest consumers of fuel in the United States Government.”
+ Military pollution is particularly poisonous.Fighter jets, destroyers, tanks and other weapons systems emit highly toxic, carbon-intensive emissions, not to mention the toxins released from the detonation of bombs including the forever-poison depleted uranium munitions.
Given the historically unprecedented size of the US empire and its permanent war- footing we can safely assume that the US military is the largest consumer of fossil fuels and largest producer of greenhouse gasses in the world.
“Possessing the world’s largest fleet of…aircraft, helicopters, ships, tanks, armored vehicles…– virtually all powered by oil — the Department of Defense is, in fact, the world’s leading consumer of petroleum… [A]n April 2007 reportby a defense contractor…suggests that the Pentagon might consume as much as 340,000 barrels (14 million gallons) every day. This is greater than the total national consumption of Sweden or Switzerland.” Michael Klare
The military guarantees the profits and political power of the oil giants. As Nick Turse, author of The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives, explains in an article about the military-petroleum complex:
“[T]he DoD had some of the planet’s biggest petroleum dealers, and masters of the corporate universe, on its payroll. In 2005, alone, the Pentagon paid out more than $1.5 billion to BP (British Petroleum)…(on whose behalf the CIA…covertly overthrew the Iranian government back in 1953). In 2005, the Pentagon also paid out over $1 billion to…the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company (best known in the United States for its Shell brand gasoline) – and in excess of $1 billion to oil titan ExxonMobil. In 2005, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Petroleum, and BP ranked sixth, seventh, and eighth on the Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s five hundred largest corporations in terms of revenue.”
The subsidy to oil is so great it’s hard to tell where the military ends and the oil companies begin. And this does not even count other forms of direct and — the even more massive and hidden indirect subsidies — showered on fossil fuel giants by the US government.
Securing America’s Future Energy, a group of retired military and business leaders counter the official claims that the military spends zero dollars defending oil by making a conservative estimate that $81 billion a year funds oil capture and production.
Environmental engineer and Director of Traprock Center for Peace and Justice,Patricia Hynes captures the big picture in this excellent video.
“[T]he US military consumes fossil fuel beyond compare to any other institutional and per capita consumption in order to preserve strategic access to oil — a lunacy instigated by a series of post-WWII Presidential decisions.” – Patricia Hynes
The war machine burns oil to capture oil to burn oil to capture oil. The empire is no marketplace: it’s both supply and demand. So while the consumption of oil by the military is a small percentage of the world’s total consumption, its role as coordinator and enforcer of the fossil fuel regime is what makes the US military a threat to our living planet. Hynes again captures the big picture in a recent article:
“The United States is the central actor and agent for more reasons than its historical megaconsumption of fossil fuels. The U.S. has functioned as the stimulant and model for social, economic and political systems driving GDP growth in other rich and newly rich countries, resulting in fossil fuel use spiraling “out of control since the mid 20th century.” Not only that, but the U.S. mode of consumption is continually being reproduced across the world.”
As the US empire grew around the world it held up the “American Way of Life” as proof of our superiority and a standard for others to follow. And that standard meant growth without limit and burning fossils, lot of them.
The Historical Context Reveals Everything: It’s an Oil Empire
The fusion between the military and oil giants created a dramatic spike in fossil fuel use starting around 1950. This merger and its consequences occurred in a particular historical context: the supremacy of the US empire in the years following WWII. Elaine Graham-Leigh sets it out:
“The rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions that created the current climate crisis began around 1950…in the period immediately following the Second World War…..The Allies would not have won had they not been able to cut off German access to oil and to maintain it for themselves. The lesson for the US…was that… monopolization of the world’s oil was essential if it was to be the world’s superpower. This made oil a central military priority, and also cemented the dominant position of the petroleum/automotive sector in the US.”
Oil became “a central military priority” and engine of seemingly unlimited economic growth. The US empire became traffic cop for the oil trade.
A Marriage Made in Hell
In the decades following WWII only two global superpowers were left standing: the neoliberal regime of huge transnational corporations that operated above and beyond national borders and the US empire with its vast global network of military bases and perpetual wars operating above and beyond international law. The global economy and the global empire were a perfect match. It was a marriage made in hell.
In 1980, President Carter reasserted the connections between US policy, military force and oil. Shaken by the overthrow of a CIA-installed regime in Iran in 1979 and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Carter’s State of the Union Address proclaimed US control over Middle East oil.
"The region which is now threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan is of great strategic importance: It contains more than two-thirds of the world’s exportable oil….Let our position be absolutely clear: an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."
The so-called “Carter Doctrine” was the work of Zbigniew Brzezinski (organizer of the Mujahadeenand father to corporate media star Mika Brzezinski). Apparently the US was not an “outside force” in the Middle East but there was nothing “outside” of its “vital interests.” Ronald Regan built on Brzezinski’s vision of limitless world hegemony by defining the security of Saudi Arabiaas essential to US interests — to this day it still is.
The US government married its fortunes to oil — “until death do us part.” We shall see about that.
The Arctic as the “Last Great Frontier”
The other revealing context reaches to our oldest cultural mythologies of frontier and American exceptionalism. Only in the US could the disaster of climate change become a new frontier complete with profitable business opportunities.
The Obama Administration discovered, in the melting Arctic, both our past glories and potential for future wealth.
“The Arctic is one of our planet’s last great frontiers. Our pioneering spirit is naturally drawn to this region, for the economic opportunities it presents and in recognition of the need to protect and conserve this unique, valuable, and changing environment.”
Are we supposed to believe that the very institutions that melted the polar ice caps can now be trusted to “protect and conserve” what’s left? The same document claims it’s going to “account for indigenous communities.” Right, just like natives were accounted for at Standing Rock (to name but one of many examples).
Falsehoods of this magnitude can only seem believable when they are part of a culture’s deepest mythologies. The “last great frontier” and “pioneering spirit” is code for empire, the colonial project and in this case — an updated version of the Doctrine of Discovery. Obama called forth the frontier spirits — a year later the US staked its claim to the newly “discovered” territory with a military strategy for the Arctic.
Then along comes Trump, another frontiersman — without the righteous pretensions — but still a product of the same myths each and every President has passed on to us.
Trump is rushing us toward destruction by escalating wars inherited from Bush and Obama even adding new fronts in Venezuela and Iran. He declared open season on Arctic oil production and native rights. Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeated the age-old formula seeing “opportunity and abundance” and military advantage in the ice-free waters of the north pole. Trump’s new Arctic military strategy totally misses climate change while targeting Russia and China. Now we havea new arms raceand record global military spendingled by Trump but provoked by the Russia-obsessed Democrats and pro-war media.
It’s a perfect storm of a system.
In elevating military power over climate change Trump takes his proper place as an All-American President much like the ones that came before him — at least when it comes to core issues of power and control. Deal with it. Trump did not drop from the sky.
Unless we reckon with our past we will not have a future.
The war on Mother Earth demands the kind of transformative change that only a massive “movement of movements” can create. I hate being the bearer of bad news but we face an interlocking crisis of militarism and climate changedriven by the interlocking institutions of corporate power — all deeply rooted in national mythology.
Hope alone is not a strategy. Hope leads us to shallow moral politics that substitute our desires and dreams for the concrete work of organizing ourselves to confront power. A real political strategy begins with an honest assessment of the problems we face. Yes, we face a ruling class with a single-minded fixation on profit and power. No, there is no evidence that they will regulate themselves. In fact, they are driving us to the precipice.
Only we can steer us away from cliff. Grab the wheel.
1/For more on “threat multiplier” see Ben Hayes, “Colonizing the Future: Climate Change and International Security Strategies,” in The Secure and the Dispossessed: How the Military and Corporations Are Shaping a Climate-Changed World.
2/ The persistent idea that the Soviet Union was a superpower on par with the US was ultimately proven false by the collapse of the Soviet state. The massively researched and award-winning book by Melvyn Leffler, A Preponderance of Power, shows that during the early formative years of the Cold War the US was without rival.
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May all beings be peaceful. May all beings be happy. May all beings be safe.
May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature.
May all beings be free.