If the US is to continue to spend roughly a trillion dollars a year on militarism it will need a long-term boogey-man to frighten the public into continuing to fork over their money in such extreme amounts. This is just common sense. Once upon a time the Soviet Union played the part beautifully. Their economy was terrible thanks to their failed economic model but they had lots of nuclear missiles and tanks. Most importantly, neither the US nor Soviet government was interested in an actual war, but both played up the threat of the other to bolster support at home. Now, the USSR is a fading memory and the more recent Muslim enemy, though not in any way comparable in conventional military strength to the Soviets, has proven able to defeat the most over-rated military in the history of humanity. A rag-tag militia of Afghans has basically outlasted the US occupiers in their country. The Pakistanis are getting tired of being pushed around and Washington, DC has made enemies of a once-friendly population there. Iran is not backing down in the face of constant US-Israeli threats. The US invasion and occupation of Iraq led to a pro-Iranian government coming to power there. The US-supported Egyptian revolution looks likely to bring a far less pro-US-Israeli government to power. US foreign policy over the last decade, even setting aside the loss of US-Israeli backed Georgian forces against the tiny Russian-backed secessionist enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as well as US setbacks in the Ukraine, has been one disaster after another. The planet’s ‘lone super-power’ has proved less than super at projecting its power and getting its way around the world.
So now the masterminds of these US debacles have set their eyes upon the Pacific. This has all the appearance of desperation. China and the US are partners, if not exactly friends. Their economies are closely linked and at this point they are highly dependent upon one another. China buys US debt and makes the things that fill US stores. The US is China’s largest market and a source of new technology. Both are nuclear powers. Therefore, neither side can afford to go to war with the other. From the vantage point of Washington, DC China must appear like the solution to their problem. The Chinese ‘threat’ can be inflated and used to scare the US public into accepting the outrageous militarism spending which keep the fat cats at Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and the other military-industrial complex companies rolling in the money. In turn, a portion of these profits is handed over to the politicos in various forms. China must look like a convenient way to keep the good times rolling for the military industry and the politicians.
But, as author and foreign affairs writer Eric Margolis describes in his latest article ‘Training the Big Guns on China,’ there are some problems with this scenario. Margolis doesn’t even get into the on-going transformation of the US demographically, politically and economically into a Third World country. So, the picture is actually far worse in the long-term than he paints in this article. But that’s the great thing about democracy, isn’t it? One never has to worry about the long-term; there is only today and the next election – and lots of money to be stolen from the people in between now and then.
[E]ven with the new Pacific redeployment, the US Navy will be hard-pressed to maintain its former domination of the region.
America’s navy has shrunken to around 310 warships and 3,700 aircraft from the 600 ships planned during the 1980’s. Even so, the mighty US Navy remains larger than the next eleven navies combined. As a French admiral told me, the US Navy’s budget exceeds France’s total defense budget.
China’s rapid development of anti-ship missiles, submarines, space-based sensors, and a new anti-carrier ballistic missile, the DF21-D, increasingly alarms the US Navy and may force its attack carriers to operate far from Asia’s coasts. In fact, huge aircraft carriers are ever more vulnerable to attack and will eventually be made obsolete by drones and missiles.
However, naval forces are no longer the primary expression of America’s power. The US Air Force has dominated much of the non-communist globe since the 1950’s and serves America’s strategic interests in the same way the Royal Navy imposed the British Empire’s military and commercial power. Air power has played the decisive role in all of America’s military victories since World War I.
The Pentagon plans to strengthen its Pacific air power. This is likely to include re-establishing US air bases in the Philippines and Australia, and expanding air bases in Guam, Okinawa, and South Korea.
America has been at war for decades. Its aircraft and warships are aging rapidly. Equally threatening, Congress may force deep military spending cuts as deficits worsen – at a time when the US military is being ordered to keep China bottled up on the Asian mainland.
China need only build its military power close to home. The United States must project and maintain its naval and air power 10,000 km across the Pacific Ocean, a hugely expensive, complex undertaking that gives cash-rich China an important, even decisive advantage.