By Carlos Martinez,
Published on CGTN, Dec 30, 2022:
In February 2021 at the beginning of his presidency, Joe Biden announced that “diplomacy is back.” Many peace activists in the West interpreted thismessage favorably; hoping that more diplomacy could correspond with less militarism and aggression. They have been sorely disappointed. Biden was no less enthusiastic than his predecessor Donald Trump when it comes to pursuing U.S. hegemony by any means necessary.
A review of recent history indicates that there is very little distance between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to major questions of foreign policy. As Tanzania’s first president, Julius Nyerere said, “The United States is a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them.” The new cold war — a hybrid war against a rising multipolarity — has become a consensus, bipartisan position.
The Trump administration escalated China-U.S. tensions, initiating a trade war, imposing a ban on Huawei, spreading slanders about the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and reviving the Quad — a strategic alliance of the U.S., Japan, Australia and India, considered to be the future Asian NATO.
Biden picked up the cold war ball and ran with it, asserting that “China has an overall goal to become the leading country in the world” adding, “that’s not going to happen on my watch.” Biden’s key military initiative has been the formation of AUKUS — a trilateral security pact between Australia, Britain and the U.S., which provides Australia with nuclear-powered submarines for the first time (in violation of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty) and enhances military cooperation between the three colonial and neocolonial powers in the Pacific region. It’s part of a broader strategy of the China containment and encirclementpolicy.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has poured fuel onto the Ukraine fire, providing huge quantities of weapons to Kyiv and encouraging Ukraine to reject a negotiated peace settlement that reflects the legitimate security concerns of all parties to the conflict.
The latest National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed into law last week, claimed to provide 10 billion dollars’ worth of direct military aid to the Taiwan region, still undermining the one-China principle and violating international law. The NDAA makes 438 references to Taiwan — more than to any other location.
Thus the U.S.-led new cold war project is fomenting global instability and increasing the danger of conflict around the world. And it doesn’t come cheap. Protecting the “American way of life” — or protecting the profits of a small elite — means spending hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money on weapons rather than on schools, public health, creating dignified jobs, protecting people from the pandemic, and implementing a massive program of environmental protection and sustainable development.
The NDAA commits to a record 858 billion dollars in military spending over the next year — an increase of 8 percent. According to the New York Times, this will be the second-highest military budget in inflation-adjusted terms since the end of World War Two. The U.S., with 4 percent of the world’s population, accounts for 38 percent of global military expenditure. Its military budget is three times that of China and 15 times that of Russia, and U.S. politicians continue to justify their profligacy by speaking of “growing military threats from both China and Russia.”
U.S. militarism is a disaster for Americans and people of the world. As Amitai Etzioni points out in his book Avoiding War with China, “the economic condition of the United States requires a reduction in military spending, not a new arms race.”
Nonetheless, there’s a sector of U.S. society that benefits. Military contractors such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Boeing have scored record profits, which are set to increase. War is good for business — such is the logic of “military Keynesianism” — using military spending to stimulate economic growth and reducing unemployment.
This is bad economics and bad politics. Rather than investing such obscene sums into the machinery of destruction, a responsible and accountable government would invest in green development and climate justice, in tackling poverty, in providing high-quality healthcare and education, in addressing the long-term and devastating problems faced by the people — including systemic racial inequality, widespread homelessness, a deadly opioid epidemic and collapsing infrastructure.
In his recent remarks to the Reagan National Defense Forum, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin justified the U.S. military-industrial complex on the basis of the 2020s being the “decisive decade” to ensure the U.S.’s long-term domination. But for the rest of the world, the real “decisive decade” is the short timespan humanity has to take resolution action to avoid climate catastrophe.
The spending priorities of any government are determined by the social classes they represent. China’s government represents the broad masses and its key priorities are improving wellbeing, eliminating poverty, and protecting the environment. The U.S. administration is — in the words of economist Joseph Stiglitz — a government “of the one percent, by the one percent, for the one percent”, and its key priorities are corporate profits and military supremacy.
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