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Beijing’s Bid for Global Power in the Age of Trump

Beijing’s Bid for Global Power in the Age of Trump

Alfred W. McCoy

As the second year of Donald Trump’s presidency and sixth of Xi Jinping’s draws to a close, the world seems to be witnessing one of those epochal clashes that can change the contours of global power.

Chinas playing the long game and Amerika is playing checkers. The trumpster is making China and Russia great again and Amerika not so great sadly.

Thanks AWF

From the article:

“After nearly 70 years as the globe’s hegemon, Washington’s dominance over the world economy had begun to wither and its once-superior work force to lose its competitive edge.”

That 70-year period coincides with the birth of the national security state under Harry Truman and his imported ex-Nazi intelligence officer corps, acting at the behest of the “malefactors of great wealth” who had, only a few years earlier, tried and failed to overthrow FDR.

The assault on public education—largely responsible for the superiority of our workforce—was part and parcel of their larger goal: crushing democracy as we knew it, and moving the country toward corporate neo-feudalism. We’re nearly there, but unintended consequences, such as the rise of China, have appeared which may make the completion of that project difficult to impossible.

I suggest that the only effective defense against transnational corporations will be to build transnational unions. Nation states are increasingly irrelevant in this context.

Many assumptions here are not workable, but the writing is educated and coherent enough to make for an interesting examination. Those who don’t want a long consideration please just scroll by.

China is in some sense an ascending power. It is also a postcolonial state. Its ideas are certainly influenced by the Maoist revolution, but the country is not at all communist. Wealth is in the hands of a very few capitalists, abetted, as always, by government support. China is culturally distinct oligarchy with fascist overtones that understands itself in part through its Confucian traditions. The pro-democracy movement in China is also against the extreme centralization of wealth, of course.

China looks to compete with the US commercially, with as little military engagement as possible. So the statement that “China and the U.S. have, in recent years, moved toward military competition” is misleading at best. Of course they must make a show of defending themselves and assure that a deterrent to invasion is in place. The US occupies, invades, destabilizes, bombs and destroys, assassinates, and disrupts all over the world.

This is not true of China, although it has invaded a few nations. China may in some sense be a threat, but not in anything like the way that McCoy implies.

Part of the blindness to this appears to come from the fiction that everyday Americans have an interest in being the center of empire. But Washington’s dominance of the world economy has not been a boon. Sure, we get manufactured trinkets and status goods at unreasonably low prices. But in return, we cannot pay for housing, health care, or education although we have unreasonably little time to raise children; we are sold degenerated and degraded food replete with mostly low-grade toxins; the greater ecosystem that supports us is progressively trashed; and democratic institutions have been undermined to the extent that the population’s opinions bear almost zero relationship to government policy.

By attributing innocence or neutrality or necessity to the US empire, we get absurdities like the following:

" The world order that Washington built after World War II rested upon what I’ve called a “delicate duality”: an American imperium of raw military and economic power married to a community of sovereign nations, equal under the rule of law and governed through international institutions such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization."

  • By “world order,” McCoy presumably means the Cold War.
  • By “sovereign nations,” he means states that Washington and sometimes NATO have bullied year in and year out since 1945, and often before.
  • His supposed “rule of law” involves CIA black ops coups and “Phoenix” style mafia and drug-running operations, continued occupation by military bases of well over 100 countries (with varying political influence), invasions a bit more often than one every two years, wars spanning generations, rampant bombing, and general submission to the US dollar as manipulated by the occulted Fed.

This latter allows tribute to be paid silently in the form of perennially doctored exchange. Supposedly “free” and “multilateral” trade pacts like NAFTA, the TPP, and certain agreements around the WTO and the EU serve or were intended to serve to limit the capacities of local populations to control the plundering of their economies by transnationals.

Hence Brexit, however and to whatever extent one might feel that Theresa May has “handled” it.

Altogether, thanks but no thanks.

Surely there are “delicate balances” of some sort to be worked out in the running of an empire, much like one might expect on a plantation. But the keynote here should be that the key “balancing” that is done involves hitherto unprecedented military spending. The “balance” is one of gross overkill, enormous military violence, and an unprecedented extent of black ops and mafia participation in government.

Americans often buy the rot about our being beneficiaries and not victims because we compare our status to more direct and intense victims. Sure someone in the world may be worse off, but it is poor reasoning to conclude that we are well off because others are badly off: victim and bully are not the only possible sorts of human relationship, not even between nations or armed camps.

When McCoy notes with apparent favor the political advice of Brzezinski, he cites a major advisor of cold war policy, CIA-led abuses throughout Latin America, war in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Northern Africa, Syria, and on and on. This should tip us to his perspective: this is no progressive, no liberal as we have known the term in the US, no lefty, and no particular humanist, but a follower, probably theoretical, of what Kissinger excused as realpolitik, as though abuse were simply realistic.

He may well thereby look on Theresa May as an ally, and historically there is of course considerable alliance between the US and England, but American citizens ought to question whether Ms May is an ally of us as citizens or only of our hegemonic rulers. Can a country be both?

One wonders why McCoy should call Trump out over the possibility that he may have offended the Cold War antique NATO–that of all things Trumpian. I suppose that is consistent with criticizing him for speaking badly of the WTO, a key arm of economic abuse and the sorts of odious debt described in works like Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the institutional administrator of poverty across the world.

When Xi Jinping can play the statesman and offer an order that is “more open, inclusive, and balanced,” he can do so (insofar as he actually might) because he is not beholden to the WTO, and only in small measure from any childish rhetoric on the part of a particular American president.

Jinping can offer a better deal because the US has failed to do so. Given the state of people in China, I’d say this has to be suspect. But the state of people in China is actually improving, as McCoy points out: so maybe it should not. But I do see it has highly suspicious that McCoy does not treat an improvement in the condition of the Chinese as a good thing or even a neutral thing for Americans. We’re not in a zero-sum game here.

McCoy criticizes Donald Trump from the right, from a position allied to Kissinger, Brzezinski, Wolfowitz, Samuel P Huntington, or Carl Schmitt. The position might make some sense were we to imagine Homo sapiens as naturally, inherently, and invariably selfish and foolishly violent, regardless of context–the basis of Thomas Hobbes’ reflections in The Leviathan, the basis of Schmitt’s considerations in favor of Nazi militarism. But that assumption is demonstrably false: people mostly always breathe and speak, because these are intrinsic and inherent. We fight and cease fighting, because these are conditional.

No. China’s offer of a better financial deal to Asian, African, and Latin American nations does not constitute an excuse for war, but an act to be emulated–not something I would say for Chinese policy in general, but an improvement on the Euro-American empire of recent centuries.

There’s an awful lot to criticize in Donald Trump. It is past spooky to so often see criticisms of his policies that are worse than the policies and actions themselves, even from publications that have a clear record of generally arguing for the care of people and Earth and the return of surplus to the systems that accomplish that.

McCoy has written a thoughtful and interesting piece. It is just incorrect in its matrix of assumptions to the point that one wonders at its inclusion here and at TomDispatch, the home of so many good observations. What is the spectacle of Trump bringing out of people, and how does it exist when it is less visible?

The term “intellectual property” is a bogus concept which mixes up
unrelated existing laws. It generalizes about laws that have nothing
in common, so it misleads whenever it is used. See
https://gnu.org/philosophy/not-ipr.html.

Please don’t spread the confusion – please talk about specific laws,
and shun the term “intellectual property”.