By Eve Ottenberg / CounterPunch
Neither the red wave nor the blue one materialized in the latest election, which removes some of the impetus for the coming congressional Sinophobic rampage. Some, not all. The relatively good results for Biden mean that for the moment he no longer needs the Beijing boogeyman and could afford to be gracious toward China’s leader, Xi Jinping at the G20 summit. But the GOP won by enough last week to say that so did Sinophobia. The Dems may be, quite despicably, all about World War III with Moscow, but it is a partisan endeavor, because a recent poll revealed that 48 percent of Republicans think we spend too much on the Ukraine war. And the congressional GOP responds to its base.
But war with Beijing, the GOP project, is not a partisan effort; it is bipartisan, and the Republicans are quite proud of and open about that. So their House win last week means one thing: the military and the security state will push ferociously for the assault on China that they have long lusted for, though they are happy, for now, for that assault to remain economic. But don’t be fooled. There is real danger afoot. Those Dems who really want to avert World War III with Beijing will have to be very nimble. And they will have to go about it in a relentless, low-profile manner, because anyone perceived as standing up to the bash-China juggernaut will be crushed, regardless of the lull in Biden’s incendiary rhetoric.
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At the top of the GOP foreign affairs agenda is economic war with China – no matter what price we pay (and it will be high) in inflation. Because you can’t slap economic sanctions on your biggest trading partner with impunity. You can’t even slap economic sanctions on any major economy, like Russia’s, without them backfiring badly, as Biden and birdbrain Eurocrats found out when their precious sanctions on Moscow started destroying western economies. Regardless, an economic fight to the death with Beijing is the first item on the GOP to-do list. The second item is actual, all-out, military hot war with China, if it makes any hostile move on Taiwan. Or, for some congressional Neanderthals, even if it doesn’t.
GOP congressmen are all keyed up about confronting Beijing militarily and have been since the Trump administration, with its Sinophobic fanatics like his trade advisor Peter Navarro and Trump national security council member, a foaming-at-the-mouth China-basher, Matt Pottinger, both egging Trump on to heights of folly that could have culminated in a planet-killing nuclear war. Navarro and Pottinger hyped the insane hysteria that China deliberately created covid in a lab and unleashed it (on its own population, an oddity that these two geniuses never bothered to explain), with Navarro proclaiming the arrant nonsense that the “virus was a product of the Chinese Communist Party.” Expect to see such China-hating maniacs back in government in the unlikely event that Trump regains the white house.
According to Trump’s NSC advisor H.R. McMaster, quoted by the Washington Post in April 2020, Pottinger is “central to the biggest shift in U.S. foreign policy since the cold war, which is the competitive approach to China.” So, not to put too fine a point on it, Pottinger bequeathed us disaster. And don’t forget Trump secretary of state Mike Pompeo, no slouch in the anti-China psychosis department, jetting into Taiwan last year to inflame the separatist movement by lauding the Chinese territory as a great “nation,” and hectoring Europeans, as he did in 2020, to sever economic ties with Beijing. This crabby approach to Europe’s Chinese links is now de rigueur in Washington.
And when the Exceptional Empire gets crabby, watch out! The empire carped and groused about Nordstream 1 and 2 for years. Then came the imperial news – from Biden of course – that if Russia invaded Ukraine, Washington would stop Nordstream 2. When asked how this would happen, he said, “I promise you, we will be able to do it.” No one speculated back then that this pronouncement might mean Washington was ready to go full-on Don Corleone. Because Biden didn’t specify how. But barely a year later – voila! Some mysterious somebody blew up both pipelines. Whoever could it be?
So it’s time for imbecile Eurocrats to wake up. The gangsters who exploded their gas pipelines now eye their trade with China, though admittedly blowing up tankers shipping manufactured goods is a more complicated affair. But the Empire is nothing if not creative when it comes to destroying what it perceives as a threat. Assassinations, riots, coups, curating Nazi movements, bombing pipelines – and I’m sure the list includes things we haven’t even thought of or don’t know about. So who knows what could be afoot. Who knows? I’ll tell you: Bipartisan anti-China thugs, led by the GOP, the same GOP whose senator Ted Cruz made a cause celebre out of blocking Nordstream.
Knowing all this, powerful Dems like Biden and Nancy Pelosi went out of their way prior to the election to prove that they, too, are tough on China; Pelosi with her idiotic and inflammatory jaunt to Taiwan last summer and Biden, with his many pronouncements that Washington backs Taipei to the hilt and will go to war to prove it. But at least the election soothed and lowered the temperature of Biden’s bullying, and at least there are people in his administration who walk back his bellicose yowls. They know what a global nuclear catastrophe such a war would be, even if they appear oblivious to the same thing in Ukraine. And they ARE oblivious. They aim to drag the Ukraine war out as long as possible, something Moscow, with its repeated warnings that more NATO weapons only prolong the war, seems not to have taken note of.
Thus the two hydra heads of the bipartisan war party, demonstrating that if indeed the next stage of development after imperial, late-capitalist oligarchy is outright fascism (and if it is, we better figure out a way to stop it, fast), the death wish remains the same. Because no, fascists are not pacifists, no matter how much they demur over the cost of Washington’s abominable proxy war with Moscow in Ukraine. Biden risks global conflagration in Europe, while whoever the GOP vomits up to replace him will simply refocus the nukes onto East Asia.
Expect the worst. “House Republicans plan to put sharp scrutiny on China next year if they win the majority, including establishing a select committee to take on Beijing on a range of economic and military issues,” led an article in the Hill October 28. The GOP believes this work would largely be bipartisan. Gee, I wonder how they got that idea? Could Biden’s war whoops directed at Beijing have anything to do with it? If those whoops and hollers were cynical politics as usual (I suspect they were), this is a very dangerous game. They may box the white house into a policy it didn’t really mean to adopt and one that could leave tens of millions of Americans and an equal number of Chinese, uh, radioactive. But Biden’s played that game before. During the Reagan years and after, while in congress, he tacked right, leaving a ghastly legislative legacy that the great cowards in the progressive caucus would do well to ponder.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has long wanted a China select committee, the Hill reports, and “tried to work with Democrats to create one in 2020.” But Pelosi pulled Dems out of this potential quagmire – quite surprisingly, considering her characterization of the very violent and brutal Hong Kong riots as “beautiful” and her later incitement of Taiwan’s independence, that is, incitement of war – with a foresight she has since lost and one can only hope she quickly recovers.
But intermittent Dem common sense isn’t the only hope. Hard at work to avert the coming debacle between the U.S. and China has been Code Pink. This organization currently runs campaigns to urge the senate to oppose the Taiwan Policy Act, which would arm Taiwan to the teeth and end the One China policy – a huge blow to peace prospects; to tell congress to stand for peace with China; and condemning “the escalating U.S. militarization of Guam and the wider Asia-Pacific region.” Code Pink does great work to contain the U.S. anti-China lunacy. But that’s only one organization.
The GOP wants war with China. The Dems want – and have got – war with Russia, one they intend to drag out for years. Either way, ordinary people all over the globe lose badly. If there’s anyone in government with the sense and the power to stall or, better yet, undo Washington’s coming confrontation with Beijing, now would be a good time to get cracking.