The release on November 14 of a report by the National Defense Strategy Commission (NDSC) demonstrates that it is no exaggeration to say that the neoconservatives in the United States are committed to go to war with China and Russia to save their dying, imperial system. The report, "Providing for the Common Defense: Assessment and Recommendation of the National Defense Strategy Commission", was drafted by members of the NDSC who are appointed by the U.S. Congress, with a mandate to review U.S. national defense policy. The report is an evaluation of the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) document, and was produced under the direction of co-chairs Eric Edelman, a former Under Secretary of Defense appointed by President George W. Bush, and Admiral (retired) Gary Roughead, who served as Chief of Naval Operations under Bush and President Barack Obama. Other key committee members include Michael Morrell, who served as CIA Director under Obama, and Michael McCord, an Undersecretary of Defense, also under Obama. In its summary, the authors credit the late Senator John McCain, a leading proponent of regime change wars and a vehement Russophobe, as having "played a crucial role" in establishing the Commission.
In the letter accompanying its release, the co-chairs present the outlook of neocon unilateralism, the belief that the U.S. must be the dominant military superpower, to enforce the dictates of an Anglo-American world order. They claim ominously that "our margin of superiority is profoundly diminished" at a time when "the U.S. will soon face a national security emergency." They assert that the security and well-being of the U.S. "are at a greater risk than at any time in decades", and that American "military superiority has eroded to a dangerous degree", at a moment when "authoritarian competitors"—that is, Russia and China—"are seeking regional hegemony and the means to project power globally." The language overall reflects the provocative bellicosity of the Bush and Obama regimes, which combined regime change wars in West Asia (Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria), North Africa (Libya) and Ukraine with an eastward push of NATO against Russia, and confrontation with China in the South China Sea, to enforce its unilateralist intentions.
After warning that America is "losing its advantage in key war-fighting areas, such as power projection, air and missile defense, cyber and space operations," etc., they insist that the U.S. needs more than "just new capabilities; it urgently requires new operational concepts that expand U.S. options and constrain those of China, Russia, and other actors." To counter "Chinese aggression...in the Western Pacific," and a "revanchist Russia" facing Europe, they state that it is a "critical imperative" that the nuclear deterrent is modernized. To accomplish all this, they call for a 3 to 5% increase in the average defense budget, on top of the official $716 billion defense allocation in the present budget. China, by contrast, which has a population nearly four times the size of the U.S., is spending $173 billion on defense in 2018.
Nowhere in the report is there any hint that the actual commitment of President Trump is to engage Russia and China not in military confrontation, but in peaceful cooperation. During his 2016 campaign, Trump excoriated his Bush neocon opponents in the battle for the Republican nomination as "war hawks", who were responsible for the deaths of thousands of American soldiers and the run-up of trillions of dollars in debt, while failing to defeat terrorism or make America safer. He continued this polemic in the general election campaign against Hillary Clinton, criticizing her role in the destruction of Libya, and her dangerous rhetoric about confronting Russia with a "No-Fly Zone" over Syria, saying in contrast that he thinks it is a "good idea" to be "friends" with Russia and President Putin.
Despite the lies and the overall nastiness of the claims of regime changers in the U.S. that he is a "puppet" of Putin—charges which originated in the fraudulent memo drafted by British "former" MI6 operative Christopher Steele, which was financed by the Clinton campaign and used by corrupt elements of the Obama intelligence team against him—Trump has made significant efforts to work with both Russia and China, resulting in progress against terrorists in Syria and toward a peace agreement on the Korean peninsula. His positive meetings with Xi Jinping, at Mar-a -Lago and in Beijing, and his Helsinki summit with Putin, in which new agreements on arms control were a major topic, were viciously attacked by the neocons, with some Bush-Obama-linked intelligence officials accusing him of "treason" for his commitment to engage in dialogue with Putin, and asserting, against evidence to the contrary, that Russia and China were undermining the agreements he made with North Korea's Kim Jong-un. In reality, the progress with North Korea has been due to broad cooperation with both Russia and China. In spite of an overall increase in tension between the superpowers, Trump has maintained an upbeat view of the potential for cooperation, stressing this during his many 2018 midterm election campaign appearances, and in his discussion of the importance of upcoming summits with Putin and Xi, scheduled to occur during the G20 summit in Buenos Aires.
UNHINGED NEOCON OFFENSIVE AGAINST CHINA
The war-like rhetoric in the NDSC report was matched by actions taken in the U.S. Congress and statements made by Vice President Pence during his just-concluded trip to summits in Asia. The center of anti-China activity in Congress is the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), co-chaired by Florida's neocon Senator Marco Rubio. On the release of its annual report, on October 10, Rubio claimed it documents gross violations of human rights, which show that China has "the markings of a fundamentally authoritarian state." Among their demands are that sanctions be taken against Chinese officials, which were then specified in legislation introduced on November 14, which calls for considering the invocation of the Global Magnitsky Act against them. Rubio, who has insisted that the FBI investigate Chinese students attending colleges in the U.S., as he believes that many of them are "spies", also demanded that the International Olympic Committee reassign the 2022 Winter Games, now scheduled for China.
Rubio confirmed that his target is China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in an August 18 letter he sent to Secretary of State Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin. He calls on them to apply "Global Magnitsky sanctions" against China, accusing China of "seeking to expand its influence through the Belt and Road Initiative." He has described this as "Exporting Authoritarianism with Chinese Characteristics", an attack on Xi Jinping's slogan that China's incredible economic development comes from adopting "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics."
Rubio's attack is similar to the track taken by Pence in the last weeks. He gave his "China speech" at the neocon-run, China-bashing Hudson Institute on October 4, attacking China for "high levels of military spending"(!), while accusing them of engaging in "debt diplomacy" through the expansion of the BRI. China, he argued, "is offering hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure loans to governments from Asia to Africa to Europe to even Latin America", with terms which are "opaque", while "the benefits invariably flow overwhelmingly to Beijing." Apparently Pence has not been briefed about the enthusiasm for the BRI coming from leaders of these countries, including many in Africa, as well as Japan and India, while it appears he has chosen to ignore that his boss, President Trump, has included an offer to incorporate North Korea into the BRI, as an incentive for pursuing peace.
Pence escalated the rhetoric at the APEC summit last week, pushing for a military alliance, the "Quad", of the U.S., Australia, Japan and India, to counter alleged China's "aggressive" intentions. He again attacked the BRI, counter-posing it to a "better option" offered by the U.S., using as an example a plan to spend $1.7 billion to build an electricity grid in Papua New Guinea. Instead of presenting this as a parallel project to those of China, he said the U.S. does not "offer a constricting belt or a one-way road" to its partners, and will not "drown our partners in a sea of debt." Asked about Pence's comments, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison took the high road, saying that maximizing Australia's interests means "working constructively with our long-term partner, the U.S., and working closely with the Chinese government."
TOWARD U.S.-CHINA COLLABORATION
On November 1, just days before the crucial U.S. midterm elections, and while Rubio and Pence were exhibiting profound paranoia about the challenge from China's BRI, President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping spoke by phone, to jump-start trade talks between the world's two largest economies. The contention between the two nations had deepened, despite good personal relations between the leaders, as the U.S. has imposed punitive tariffs on China, in an effort to reduce the record U.S. trade deficit with China, which reached $375 billion in 2017. As both sides engaged in a tit-for-tat escalation of tariffs, there were warnings that the situation was heading to a full-scale trade war, which could quickly devolve into a Cold War, a danger furthered by the provocative behavior of Rubio and Pence, among others. Despite a commitment of both sides to a presidential summit on the sidelines of the Nov. 30-Dec. 1 G20 summit in Buenos Aires, spokesmen for both countries were predicting that no deal was imminent.
Following his phone conversation with Xi, President Trump was decidedly upbeat. He tweeted, "Just had a long and very good conversation with President Xi Jinping of China. We talked about many subjects, with a heavy emphasis on Trade. Those discussions are moving along nicely with meetings being scheduled at the G20 in Argentina." When asked about the tweet, he predicted there would soon be "a great deal" struck between the nations. His report was coherent with statements he was making while campaigning for Republican candidates in the midterm elections, as he emphasized his desire for establishing good, long-term friendly relations with China, calling Xi Jinping his "good friend" and praising the "great chemistry" that exists between them.
The President's comments were backed by Larry Kudlow, during a November 21 interview with Fox Business News reporter Stuart Varney. Kudlow, who serves the President as his Director of the National Economic Council, told Varney that Trump is "trying to inject a note of optimism" into ongoing talks with China, adding "I think that's terrific....He believes that China would like a deal." After reviewing some of the ongoing issues, Kudlow reiterated that Trump, in spite of these differences, "is taking an optimistic view, as he has said many times." As a result of the Trump-Xi talk, he continued, there have been "very detailed communications" between the two sides, and the Trump-Xi meeting in Buenos Aires will be a "good opportunity" to move beyond the retaliatory exchanges which have been ongoing.
At the same time Trump and Kudlow were presenting an optimistic picture, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was throwing cold water on the prospects for a deal. China, he charged, has "not fundamentally altered its unfair, unreasonable and market-distorting practices that were subject" of a previous investigation conducted under his auspices. He concluded his rant by stating that "China did not respond constructively and failed to take any substantive actions to address U.S. concerns."
The fight between Lighthizer and his colleague Peter Navarro, who are skeptical of any deal with China, and Kudlow, has become increasingly public as the upcoming summit approaches. Navarro, the Director of the White House National Trade Council and co-author of the China-bashing book, "Death by China", while seeming to praise Trump for standing up against "globalist elites" by imposing tariffs, accused unnamed "globalist billionaires" of being part of a "Chinese government influence operation" pressing Trump to get a deal with China at the G20. Kudlow reprimanded Navarro, saying "he was not speaking for the president" and "his remarks were way off-base....I actually think he did the president a great disservice. I think Peter very badly misspoke. He was freelancing and he's not representing the president or the administration." Navarro will not be present at the G20.
As nation after nation has been joining the BRI, to become participants in this bold global development policy, the policy of ignoring China's accomplishments, or attacking it as a cover for military expansion, is giving way to recognition that the challenge from China is not a military matter, but one best pursued by joining in the "win-win" approach offered by President Xi. One sign of this was a major feature story in the Sunday New York Times on November 18, under the headline "The Land That Failed to Fail." The sub-heads tell the story: "They didn't like the West's playbook. So they wrote their own." Another subhead expands on this: "The West was sure the Chinese approach would not work. It just had to wait. It's still waiting." And finally, with a touch of irony: "The American Dream Is Alive. In China."
If by adopting the slogan "Make America Great Again" President Trump is referring to reviving the American Dream, then it is through his expressed desire to work with President Xi and China that this can become possible. The leader of the Schiller Institute, Helga Zepp LaRouche, who has traveled the world in recent years encouraging nations to join with China to build a "World Land-Bridge", as the basis for peace and development of all nations, expressed "cautious optimism" that meetings on the sidelines of the G20 summit could move in this direction. The G20 meeting, she said in her weekly webcast, "will be a big test....I don't think this combination [of G20 leaders] is capable of putting on the table the kind of reforms [needed], because this would require the City of London to change their views, which I think the probability of that goes toward zero; and it would require that Brussels takes a different approach. But I have some hope that the summit between some of the other leaders, including Trump, Putin, Xi Jinping, Abe, and others on the sidelines of this meeting, can actually come forth with useful initiatives."
It is this prospect, that a new, just financial system can emerge as the Old Paradigm dominated by British imperial practices, and enforced by geopolitics, collapses under the weight of its own debt-laden incompetence, that is driving neocons and their allied neo-liberals to promote war as an alternative. Mrs. LaRouche called upon all people of good will to join to support President Trump in this effort to establish new, cooperative relationships, with Russia and China.