The end must be near, because I agree with Henry Kissinger on something. In fact, “the end” is exactly what I agree with Kissinger on. The former Secretary of State, in a video appearance with equally abhorrent former Senator Joe Lieberman had this to say about US-China relations:
“This is the biggest problem for America; this is the biggest problem for the world. Because if we can’t resolve this, then the risk is that all over the world some kind of cold war will develop between China and the United States. “
He is correct that the Cold War between China and the United States poses an existential threat to humanity.
“We have developed technology with a power beyond what anyone imagined even 70 years ago. And now to the nuclear question is added the question of high technology, which in the field of artificial intelligence, in its essence, is based on the fact that man becomes a partner of machines and that machines can develop their own judgment. “
The message, not the messenger
Let’s be clear. I think Kissinger’s alleged shine is a fantasy. He botched the Indochina wars so much that countless more people died, millions more were spent and we lost anyway. The diplomatic breakthrough with China was motivated by financial interests and political expediency. Worse yet, its ethics are shameful. As I wrote in 2016,
It was Kissinger who allegedly passed confidential information to then-candidate Richard Nixon, information that was used to sabotage peace talks in Vietnam, resulting in massive numbers of human lives just to increase Nixon’s electoral chances. .
It was Kissinger who gave the illegal order to bomb Cambodia and Laos. More bomb material rained on these small nations than was used throughout World War II. His actions cost countless lives and gave birth to the mad and slaughtering Pol Pot regime.
It was Kissinger who ignored the pleadings of an American diplomat and gave the green light to Pakistani atrocities in what is now Bangladesh, praising the Pakistani dictator for his “delicacy and tact” while ridiculing those who ” bleed “for” the dying Bengalis “.
“Yahya hasn’t had so much fun since the last Hindu massacre!” Kissinger said of Pakistani dictator Yahya Khan. (The government of Bangladesh has reported that 3,000,000 people have died in the “pleasure”.)
Kissinger supported the violent overthrow of the Chilean government by a right-wing dictator. Kissinger gave the green light the massacre by the Indonesian government of 100,000 to 230,000 people in East Timor. (Estimates vary.)
So forgive me if I don’t genuflect for Mr. Kissinger like so many people on both sides of the aisle here in Washington. But he’s right to say that the Cold War between China and the United States poses an existential threat to humanity. (I’m all for showing respect to doctors by calling them “doctor” – unless they’re Henry Kissinger. Mr. Kissinger had better be able to diagnose a case of kidney stones without palpating the patient before giving him an honorific like that.)
The cold war is here
However, he is wrong to put it in the future. This cold war is not something that could develop in the future. It’s already there. The United States is waging an economic, propaganda and military cold war against China, exacerbating tensions and increasing the risk of future clashes. And it gets worse. Additional sanctions were imposed on China last year, and a Chinese research organization reported that “the intensity, in terms of the scale, number and duration of US military activity in the region in 2020 has been rarely seen in recent years “.
Confirmation of this last request was requested by the Voice of America, who can hardly be accused of being anti-American. “The US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii confirmed 10 warships crossings in the sea last year, after 10 in 2019,” VOA reported. “Only five were recorded in each of the two years prior to 2019.”
The VOA report continued: “In July, the US Air Force also admitted sending a B-52 Stratofortress bomber to join two aircraft carriers in an exercise in the South China Sea. Command spokespersons would not respond to a request for comment on whether 2020 was an unusual year. globally. “
Imagine how the United States would react if the Chinese conducted military exercises off the Atlantic coast. Why, then, with the United States, engage in such actions off the Chinese coast?
The fiscal front
The answer is almost certainly economic. To read the Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (pdf here) is come out astonished by the many references to economic, rather than military, issues concerning China. Budget calls for action “to deter China from engaging in industrial espionage and cyber-theft,” calls for “report and strategy on space competition with China,” funds “Treasury study and a strategy on money laundering by the People’s Republic of China, ”and calls for“ ensuring transparency of Chinese debt ”.
This last part of the bill, Sec. 9722, is particularly interesting. He instructs the Secretary of the Treasury to instruct the Executive Director of the United States of each international financial institution … that it is the policy of the United States … to ensure greater transparency regarding the terms and terms of funding provided by the Government of the People’s Republic of China to any member state of the institution concerned … “
To a large extent, finance is the engine of the New Cold War with China. China’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a massive free trade agreement for the Pacific region that covers 2.2 billion people in 15 countries and nearly a third (28-30%) of all International trade. China is increasingly offering loans to developing countries on terms more favorable than those of the IMF, in particular because they do not require the types of pro-privatization “reforms” that accompany most IMF lending. .
Avoid the apocalypse
You don’t have to idealize the Chinese to realize that this is a crisis in the making. As Mr. Kissinger notes, The Sepulcher, nuclear weapons pose an existential risk to humanity and the digital threats we face today are unprecedented. So why are we rushing headfirst into this cold war? The political influence of the arms industry cannot be underestimated. The power of the economic interests most threatened by Chinese growth cannot either. At the root of it all is a deep fear that American world domination is coming to an end and will soon be replaced by an era of Chinese world supremacy.
It may be true. But is it worth risking an apocalypse to save him? It would make more sense to compete with China on the generosity of our aid, and not on the strength of our weapons, by redirecting some of this military spending towards building genuine democracy and economic equality in the world. world. But then that would mean that we have to do it at home as well.
At 97, Kissinger still launches the rhetoric of the last Cold War. While he promotes diplomacy, he also pleads for increased defense spending. “when you have constant negotiations, which is what I believe is necessary,” he said, “then the public thinks that there is no strategic problem and then you risk weakening yourself by neglecting defense … You then invite other countries to assert their comparative strength assembly. “
What comparative strength? China’s military budget for 2021 estimated $ 209.16 billion United States at current exchange rates. The US military budget for the same year is $ 741 billion, or about 3.5 times more. (It’s true that the Chinese have probably not been entirely open about their military spending; but neither has the United States.)
While Kissinger the Hawk is always wrong about military spending, it is not wrong about the seriousness of the threat we face. If we don’t face reality, we may well face a nuclear apocalypse. I have no intention of rehabilitating the memory of a war criminal, but with the fate of the planet at stake, I will take help from anyone, even Henry Kissinger.