Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Behold! China is shooting stars now

US imperium under Chinese brolly

ND Batra
From The Statesman

About two weeks ago, China shook the world when it destroyed one of its own ageing, weather satellites by hitting it with a ballistic missile 500 miles into space, thus, signalling its intentions to weaponise space. Satellite networks are the global eyes and ears of the USA, without which it would be deaf, dumb and blind.

The USA cannot ignore the threat. Nor can any other country, including India. Through its trade surplus and growing currency reserves, more than a trillion dollars, mostly held in the US treasury, China has established a financial stranglehold on the USA. By becoming a financially dependent nation for cheap Chinese loans, the USA has little leverage left against China today. Borrowers cannot dictate terms to their lenders. Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Myanmar and others can safely look up to China for succour, support and protection. The USA cannot do much about it.

British historian Niall Ferguson, who left Oxford for greener pastures and is now the Laurence A Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University argued a few years ago that the USA may not have much choice but to assume the British imperialist mantle to maintain peace in the world.“True, the war against terrorism has a novel character ~ it is remote both geographically and technologically. It will nonetheless be Clausewitzian in principle, the wholehearted pursuit of a legitimate political objective by, regrettable but necessarily, violent means,” he wrote in the Times Sunday Magazine in December, 2003.

Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) was a Prussian General, whose posthumously published treatise, On War, advocating a policy of total war had a transformative influence on European military thinking, especially in Germany, with terrible consequences for Europe and the rest of the world. But that was some 170 years ago, when Clausewitz wrote that war is another method of carrying on international political discourse and diplomacy.Keeping in mind that in 1832 there were no weapons of mass destruction, nor were there any dirty bombs, anthrax and suicide bombers, total war might have been affordable.

Prof Ferguson argued that the USA should do what the British did during its Victorian heyday when Britannia ruled the waves. Americans could do better, he thought.While Russia and Britain failed to achieve their goals in Afghanistan, the USA speedily defeated the Taliban and established its military and political presence in the region. The temptation for the USA to make its presence felt in Iraq was much greater, in fact irresistible, because of its huge oil reserves, the second largest in the world, after Saudi Arabia.Saudi oil control has been creating a feeling of helpless dependency in the USA. The lure of Iraq opening up its oilfields to Western companies was an underlying force, though the Bush administration talked of spreading freedom and democracy in West Asia.

The Clauswitzian view of the world political situation is that the most dominant political power, in this case the sole superpower, the USA whose GDP is more than the total GDP of the next three economic powers combined, must maintain world peace at all costs.“Since 9/11, there has been an unmistakably Clauswitzian flavour to American foreign policy,” wrote Prof Ferguson; and that’s true, especially when you consider the Bush misguided doctrine of pre-emption. “Liberals, most prominently will fret about the violation of national sovereignty, enshrined in the United Nations charter. But it worked for the British,” he said.
No, the war doctrine did not work always.

Consider the French-British-Israeli (1956) attack against Egypt to wrest back the control of the Suez Canal, which ended in disaster. Or the Vietnam War, which still haunts the Americans. And now Iraq.

Imperial Britain could ignore the world opinion, which was not as well articulated as it is today in the age of global mass media and the Internet. According to the Pew Research Centre’s findings, anti-Americanism has been growing in Arab-Muslim countries.

Prof Ferguson has become a prisoner of history and seems to be incapable of fresh thinking. “The existence of a military ‘hyperpower’ that really means business that is able and willing to use its superior force may in fact be better for world peace than any number of international treaties,” he said.

This dangerous and impractical neo-imperialistic doctrine has brought the USA into a no-win situation in Iraq. The USA might have succeeded in buying support from General Pervez Musharraf and his ruling clique in fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaida, but it has not been able to win over the Pakistani people, without which there can be no lasting peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan, as we observe today.

Then there is resurgence of nuclear activity from North Korea. Can the USA impose its will upon North Korea without cooperation from China and Russia? Or on a defiant Iran bent on its nuclear ambitions, a rising West Asian power ruled by a kind of mullah-controlled democracy?

Add to the simmering witches’ brew, the defiance of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, who is using his country’s oil reserves as a tool for building an anti-US international block.Prof Ferguson’s advice that British imperialism “can teach us how to match Random War with Remote War” has proved to be unwise.

The only way the war against Al-Qaida terrorism and rogue nuclear-states can be fought is through international alliances, not through superpower unilateralism advocated by a dead man walking the Harvard Square, the ghost of Karl von Clausewitz.
Those who remember history too much are likely to repeat it, to update an old saying.

While the USA has been pursuing superpower unilateralism and “old Europe” Clausewitzian imperialism, and consequently finding itself bogged down in Iraq, China has been spreading its power and influence in Asia and Africa through trade and commerce, and massive investments in fields, farms and factories.

Prof Ferguson could not have imagined that the American imperium would come under Chinese space and financial umbrella. Probably British schools don’t teach such arcane knowledge, do they?


  1. China is a responsible county that carries out defensive policies. US knows. Only the dump Indians don't understand.

    Space weaponization started by US and USSR and US is still doing it. Why cannot China do it? It is China and other countries who have been trying to persuade US to have a treaty about the space. US refused it.

    US does not only use the space for weapons, but also use its weapons to target the satellites in the space. China can just wait for death?

    Don't bring in India when you talk about China. India is nothing before China. Look back the war in 1962, your Indian soldiers just acted as ducks before brave PLA. China never think India can be a treat, and does not threat India in return.

  2. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3693&page=0

    This is an article about your India.