War with China: A Propaganda Delusion

A dangerous delusion has taken hold in US political and media circles regarding the prospect of a war with China. In order to avoid the calamitous outcome that would ensue from such a war, the public should be aware of the historic and technical facts that argue against such folly. The following discussion will provide this information and explain the perverse incentives motivating US business, political, military, and media elites in their efforts to present China as a hostile power that must be confronted militarily.

Historical Background

China emerged as a powerful modern state after a long period of suffering at the hands of exploitative foreign powers (1840-1945) followed by a bitter civil war (1937-1949), and a major war against the US in Korea (1950-1953). Adding to the challenges of repeated warfare was the internal political turmoil of Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward (1958-1962) and the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Only after the death of Mao in 1976 did China adopt a political system that enabled rapid modernization and economic growth, resulting in China’s emergence as a major world power.

Unlike the United States, which has not experienced the suffering of war on its own soil since 1865, the Chinese have a long history of episodic bloody conflict, external and internal, covering the last century, including border wars with Russia, India, and Vietnam. China is not a nation that backs down from war if its vital interests are threatened.

The large and rapidly growing Chinese economy, which is on course to surpass the GDP of the United States within the next 10 years, has enabled China to modernize its armed forces. China has a small but potent nuclear deterrent, a Navy with more ships than the US, and a large, well-equipped standing army double the size of that of the US. Although the US military has many high-tech advantages, such as stealth technology and naval aviation, the Chinese have developed offsetting advanced weapons systems, such as precision-guided ballistic missiles capable of sinking warships.


Chinese DF-26 “Carrier Killer” missiles – Est. unit Cost: $2 million

China views the reunification of Taiwan with the mainland as the most important unfinished business of the restoration of China to its historic position as the dominant power in Asia. US support of Taiwan, the break-away state established by the defeated faction in the Chinese Civil war, is a major point of contention between the two nations, and a possible cause of armed conflict. The other likely cause of conflict is territorial claims over the waters of the South China Sea, an area encompassing strategic waterways and rich with natural resources. Forcible attempts by the US to block Chinese unification with Taiwan or occupy islands claimed by China in the South China Sea would likely trigger a war. What would this war look like?

The Realities of War with China

Americans have grown accustomed to swift initial victory in warfare against weak adversaries, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, but the US has not fought a war with a peer power armed with equivalent weaponry since 1945. Thus, the US risks encountering serious unfavorable technical and operational surprises should it undertake a war with China. Although military planners make estimates of adversary capabilities in simulations and exercises, the test of combat is the final determinant of outcomes. No one in the US military knows if the Chinese missiles designed to sink US aircraft carriers can do so in a shooting war, and no one knows if the complex logistics infrastructure required by US high-tech weapons deployed in the Western Pacific can survive in a high-tempo combat environment. Why, then would US leaders contemplate such a war?


USS Nimitz Aircraft Carrier – Est. cost: $13 Billion

There have been many historical instances of outdated military thinking leading to catastrophe. Perhaps the most terrible is that of WWI, a conflict that resulted in far more carnage than political and military leaders expected. On the eve of WWI, there was enthusiasm on all sides for what was expected to be a short and decisive war. The opposing generals has clever plans for swiftly defeating their adversaries. What they failed to understand was the radical transformation of the battlefield that advances in antipersonnel weaponry would cause. The devastating effects of massed artillery and machine gun fire would result in infantry casualties in the millions and a bloody, exhausting war of attrition that left deep scars in European politics and created the conditions for WWII.

What is known about a potential war with China is that the logistical constraints imposed by geography overwhelmingly favor the Chinese in a war fought off their coast against an adversary from other side of the Pacific. In such a war, the US would be heavily reliant on a small number of Western Pacific bases such as Guam and Okinawa. These bases are likely to be attacked and destroyed in the early days of hostilities, leaving US naval forces stranded with uncertain prospects of support from nervous Asian allies. Long-range stealth bombers flying from the US could inflict some damage on China, but the sortie rate (the number of strike missions flown) would be too low to be decisive.

The Chinese, on the other hand, could swarm Taiwan and the South China Sea with naval and aviation assets, absorbing heavy losses and still sweep US forces out of the theater. At that point, escalation to a nuclear exchange would be the only remaining military option for the US, but the relatively small Chinese nuclear force would still be capable of destroying dozens of US cities, an unacceptable outcome for any sane US President.

The general public is poorly informed regarding the characteristics of modern missile warfare. Despite decades of costly efforts to develop missile interceptors, the US has not been able to overcome the basic problem of missile defense. The defender must protect all vulnerable assets with costly systems that can intercept a high percentage of incoming missiles, but the attacker can make concentrated attacks selectively, using surprise, decoys, and overwhelming numbers, to score precise hits that damage or destroy targets. (This imbalance was demonstrated recently in successful missile attacks on Saudi petroleum facilities and US airbases in Iraq.) The US simply lacks the resources to put an impenetrable missile defense umbrella over every vulnerable ship, airbase, and supply depot in the Western Pacific, and the Chinese have a lot of missiles to throw against these targets.

The damage to the US from defeat in a war with China would be far-reaching. Apart from the military casualties and material losses, the economic impact of disrupting trade and communications in Asia would be enormous, probably triggering a global recession. The diplomatic impact would likely be the destruction of long-standing US alliances with other Asian powers, including India, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philipines, and the Southeast Asian nations

The US Military has conducted many simulations of an armed conflict with China involving Taiwan and the South China Sea, and China wins (at a heavy cost) in most of these exercises, mainly because of geographical and logistical advantages. If war with China is a losing proposition from an analytical perspective, what sustains the delusion?

Cui Bono

The Latin expression “Cui Bono” (To whom is it a benefit?) is the name of a method that has been used since ancient times to analyze motives behind political actions. Consider who benefits from sustaining the propaganda delusion of war with China:

Defense Contractors benefit from the incessant arms purchases associated with preparations for war. Because the Chinese can afford to steadily modernize their armed forces, the US defense industry can successfully market new weapons to counter actual and perceived advantages in Chinese weaponry. The US defense industry has enormous political influence because of large campaign donations and support for institutions and academics promoting bellicose foreign policies.

Military Professionals benefit from improved opportunities for command and promotion in growing organizations, such as the newly established Space Force. More surface ships and aircraft squadrons require more officers and commanders. New high-tech weapons projects require military managers who can look forward to high-salaried jobs with defense contractors after taking early retirement.

Politicians benefit from Xenophobia and war fever, particularly if there is a racist component involved. In WWII, the US had no compunction in putting Japanese Americans into internment camps, while German Americans were left unmolested. By depicting the Chinese as totalitarian Communists bent on world domination, politicians can easily whip up war fever among a large segment of the electorate. President Trump has already begun building up anti-Chinese sentiment by referring to COVID-19 as the “China Virus.”

Media Corporations benefit by generating Internet clicks and TV ratings from an audience excited by wars and rumors of wars. Danger and violence sell, and tensions threatening a major war are a sure winner for elevating viewership. The concentration of US media power in a handful of major corporations makes it easier for governments and arms makers to influence “news” coverage in a bellicose manner. Government-friendly US media companies now routinely employ ex-military and former intelligence agency personnel as commentators on foreign affairs, thus strengthening what is effectively a pro-war propaganda collaboration with the national security establishment.

The above players are engaged in an alliance of convenience to promote a war that cannot be waged successfully. Nevertheless, by keeping the danger of this delusional war before the public, they succeed in selling costly weapons, advancing military careers, winning elections, and earning media profits.

Conclusion

The rational arguments against the US engaging in a war with China are overwhelming, and it is only the power of the US political/media propaganda apparatus that has given this idea public credibility. Perverse incentives motivate arms makers, politicians, the military, and media leaders to sustain this delusion and run the risk of the accidental or intentional outbreak of a war which would have ruinous consequences for the US. Citizens should act to persuade their leaders to stop the drum beat of war before a propaganda delusion turns into a military disaster.

Haig Hovaness
GPAX Secretary
September 3, 2020

The Great Pandemic Awakening

The Great Pandemic Awakening:

How the Coronavirus Epidemic Should Reorder National Priorities

Haig Hovaness

GPAX Secretary

 

Historians may record the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020 as a turning point in the ordering of priorities of the world’s nations. The stark reality of a global epidemic that sickens millions and kills tens of thousands may jolt the people of all nations into awakening to the difference between real and imaginary threats to their safety. This may lead to a long-overdue retreat from militarism and xenophobia, social maladies that have caused the squandering of vast resources better applied to legitimate human needs.

 

Ever since the invention of nuclear weapons at the end of WWII, large-scale warfare between advanced nations has been a political impossibility. The response to any large conventional attack would entail the use of devastating nuclear weapons in an exchange that could culminate in a global catastrophe. No regime could survive, politically or physically, such an outcome. Nevertheless, most large nations have persisted in building up enormously costly military establishments in anticipation of a fantasy of large-scale conventional warfare. This fantasy presumes that combatants would limit their hostilities to bloody conventional warfare and never resort to their most powerful weaponry. Post WWII History has repeatedly proven that nuclear-armed nations will not fight large conventional wars, but the irrational preparations for such fighting persist.

 

Although nuclear weapons have rendered large-scale conventional war infeasible, they have also become the object of irrational expenditure. Ill-founded theories of nuclear war strategy have resulted in grossly excessive spending on weapons that can never be used. The pernicious phenomenon of an arms race, once limited to competitive accumulation of guns, tanks, planes, and ships has taken hold in the development and stockpiling of nuclear weapons. Perversely, the more nuclear weapons are designed and deployed, the less secure the world becomes. Not content with devising ever more deadly and accurate offensive nuclear weapons, major nations are expending huge sums on developing and deploying missile defense systems, a futile undertaking that continues because of an irrational belief that enough spending can overcome intractable technical problems.

 

How much spending for military fantasies are we talking about in in the United States?

The current annual allocation in the US government budget for all defense-related expenditures is over one trillion dollars. This is over half of the discretionary budget. The cost of a single F35 jet fighter ($110 million) could buy 2,200 hospital ventilators, desperately needed in the Coronavirus pandemic. By comparison, the US government’s discretionary spending on Federal health institutions for the same period amounted to about $90 billion, a tenth of what is spent for “national security.” In short, the US is spending 10 times more to defend against imaginary threats than it is to contend with real threats to public safety.

 

Consider the clear and present danger of COVID-19. There is nothing imaginary or speculative about the mounting toll of this pandemic virus. Apart from the terrible spread of infections and fatalities, the economic damage inflicted on the world is staggering, leading some economists to predict a worldwide depression. Current projections anticipate over 100,000 fatalities in the US resulting from COVID-19. This is more than all US deaths caused by military action since WWII. Yet because of grossly misallocated resources, many of these pandemic victims will die needlessly. They will have perished because a nation obsessed by fantasies of endless warfare did not address the real dangers facing the country. There will be more pandemics after COVID-19 because evolution of viruses never stops, and it is just a matter of time before the next wave comes. Even if all viruses are defeated by medical science, the global danger of climate change is worsening inexorably and posing an even more challenging test of rational allocation of national resources.

 

We must awaken from a nightmare of imaginary military threats and horrific war plans to the grim reality of our neglected protections from the true global dangers of disease, climate disruption, poverty, and xenophobia. Such an awakening will be an ample recompense for the suffering endured by the world’s people in the Coronovirus pandemic of 2020.

 

The Green Party of the US has consistently advocated the redirection of US national resources away from excessive military spending and toward social needs. Citizens who wish to restore sanity to the allocation of our government’s resources and reorder national priorities to serve the common good should vote for Green Party candidates for local and national office. The Green Party is the party of peace and social justice. It is the party that is ready to serve an American public awakened to our true national priorities.

 

 

 

 

Green Party Peace Action Committee marks Peace Day, blasts Trump’s U.N. speech and the U.S. Senate’s military budget hike

WASHNGTON, D.C. – The Green Party’s Peace Action Committee (GPAX) calls for the development of alternative solutions to violence on the International Day of Peace.

GPAX, an official committee of the Green Party of the United States, has chosen Sept. 21, the International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”), to announce its reorganization after a hiatus of several years.


Green Party of the United States
http://www.gp.org
@GreenPartyUS

For Immediate Release:
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Contact:
Scott McLarty, Media Director, 202-904-7614, scott@gp.org
Rich Whitney, Co-Chair of the Peace Action Committee, 618-967-0840, gpax@gp.org


“President Trump’s belligerent speech in front of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, with his appalling assertion that the U.S. would ‘totally destroy’ North Korea, show how urgently we need a strong movement for peace. The Green Party exists to represent the movement in the political field by an alternative to the two war parties,” said Rich Whitney, GPAX co-chair and Illinois Green Party member.

“Mr. Trump’s threats, which blatantly violate the U.N. Charter, are unfortunately consistent with invasions and attacks launched by the previous two administrations against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, and with U.S. aid for assaults by Saudi Arabia on Yemen and by Israel on Gaza,” said Mr. Whitney.

Greens said the U.S. Senate vote on Monday for a massive increase in the military budget to $700 billion, approved with bipartisan support, and Democrats’ enthusiasm for a new Cold War with Russia are further evidence that a revived peace movement is necessary.

Peace Day was founded in 1981 through a U.N. resolution. GPAX exists to facilitate the planning and achievement of peace and justice actions of the Green Party and to support and promote the party’s anti-war candidates and agenda.

“We recognize that peace is not just the absence of violence, it’s a willingness to resolve conflict in a constructive manner and to develop alternatives to society’s current patterns of violence,” said Rita Jacobs, member of GPAX and the Green Party of Michigan.

The Green Party lists nonviolence among the Ten Key Values in its national platform. The platform calls for a number of measures to achieve peace, including the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, demilitarization in the Middle East, swift action against human rights violations, and adherence to international law and existing treaties.

“We believe that nations should prepare for peace, not violence. The achievement of peace can only be realized through practices that lead to economic justice, universal nuclear disarmament, sane defense spending, international cooperation, and human rights,” said Deanna Dee Taylor, GPAX co-chair and member of the Green Party of Utah.

GPAX furthers its mission and the Green Party platform through educational events and activities at the national and state levels.

See also:

Green Party: International law prohibits preemptive U.S. military action against North Korea and other countries
Green Party press release: August 15, 2017

The Empire’s Hustle: Why Anti-Trumpism Doesn’t Include Anti-War
By Ajamu Baraka (2016 Green vice-presidential nominee), CounterPunch, September 20, 2017

MORE INFORMATION

Green Party of the United States http://www.gp.org
202-319-7191
@GreenPartyUS

Green candidate database and campaign information
News Center
Ballot Access
Videos
Green Papers
Google+
Twitter
Livestream
YouTube
Facebook
Green merchandise

Green Pages: The official publication of record of the Green Party of the United States

~ END ~