If America launches a nuclear attack on China,
the Chinese will strike back at American cities.
This is an edited abridgement by Lasha Darkmoon of Professor Amitai Etzioni’s ground-breaking article in the Yale Journal of International affairs, Who Authorized Preparations for War with China? It is followed by extracts from Paul Craig Roberts’ impassioned response to the same article. Additional comments by Dick Eastman and Lasha Darkmoon. This important material has been condensed to roughly one-fifth of its original length.
AMITAI ETZIONI: The Pentagon has concluded that the time has come to prepare for war with China. It is a momentous conclusion, a momentous decision that so far has failed to receive a thorough review from elected officials, namely the White House and Congress. This important change in the United States’ posture toward China has largely been driven by the Pentagon.
The decision at hand stands out even more prominently because (a) the change in military posture may well lead to an arms race with China, which could culminate in a nuclear war; and (b) the economic condition of the United States requires a reduction in military spending, not a new arms race.
Have the White House and Congress properly reviewed the Pentagon’s approach—and found its threat assessment of China convincing? If not, what are the United States’ overarching short- and long-term political strategies for dealing with an economically and militarily rising China?
Since the Second World War the United States has maintained a power-projection military, built upon forward deployed forces with uninhibited access to the global commons—air, sea, and space. For over six decades the maritime security of the Western Pacific has been underwritten by the unrivaled naval and air power of the United States. Starting in the early 1990s, however, Chinese investments in sophisticated, but low-cost, weapons—including anti-ship missiles, short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, stealth submarines, and cyber and space arms—began to challenge the military superiority of the United States, especially in China’s littoral waters.
These “asymmetric arms” threaten two key elements of the United States’ force projection strategy: its fixed bases, such as those in Japan and Guam, and aircraft carriers. These Chinese arms are viewed by some in the Pentagon as raising the human and economic cost of the United States’ military role in the region to prohibitive levels. To demonstrate what this new environment means for regional security, military officials point out that, in 1996, when China conducted a series of missile tests and military exercises in the Strait of Taiwan, the United States responded by sending two aircraft carriers to the South China Sea, a credible display of force that reminded all parties of its commitment to maintaining the status quo in the region.
However, these analysts point out, if in the near future China decided to forcefully integrate Taiwan, the same U.S. aircraft carriers that are said to have once deterred Chinese aggression could be denied access to the sea by PLA anti-ship missiles. Thus, the U.S.’s interests in the region, to the extent that they are undergirded by superior military force, are increasingly vulnerable.
Two influential American military strategists, Andrew Marshall and his protégé Andrew Krepinevich, have been raising the alarm about China’s new capabilities and aggressive designs since the early 1990s.
LD: By China’s “aggressive designs”, he means China’s decision to defend itself against American aggression. The mere fact that American ships are patrolling the Chinese coast, and not Chinese ships patrolling the American coast, makes it quite clear who the real aggressor is.
Building on hundreds of war games played out over the past two decades, they gained a renewed hearing for their concerns following Pacific Vision, a war game conducted by the U.S. Air Force in October 2008.
With Marshall’s guidance, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates instructed the Chiefs of Staff to begin work on the AirSea Battle (ASB) project and, in September of 2009 . . . a classified Memorandum of Agreement was signed allowing the US “to counter growing challenges to US freedom of action.”
In late 2011 Gates’ successor, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, also signed off on the ASB and formed the new Multi-Service Office to Advance AirSea Battle. Thus, ASB was conceived, born, and began to grow.
AirSea Battle calls for a campaign to reestablish power projection capabilities by launching a “blinding attack” against Chinese anti-access facilities, including land and sea-based missile launchers, surveillance and communication platforms, satellite and anti-satellite weapons, and command and control nodes.
US forces could then enter contested zones and conclude the conflict by bringing to bear the full force of their material military advantage.
One defense think tank report, “AirSea Battle: A Point-of-Departure Operational Concept”, suggests that China is likely to respond to what is effectively a major direct attack on its mainland with all the military means at its disposal—including its stockpile of nuclear arms.
Although the Chinese nuclear force is much smaller than that of the United States, China nonetheless has the capacity to destroy American cities. According to leading Australian military strategist Hugh White, “We can be sure that China will place a very high priority indeed on maintaining its capacity to strike the United States, and that it will succeed in this.”
Joshua Rovner of the U.S. Naval War College notes that deep inland strikes could be mistakenly perceived by the Chinese as preemptive attempts to take out its nuclear weapons, thus cornering them into “a terrible use-it-or-lose-it dilemma.”
LD: “Mistakenly perceived” is disingenuous. Why should the Chinese be “mistaken” in their belief that America would like to destroy their nuclear facilties? The Americans can hardly be perceived as benevolent aggressors.
Several defense analysts in the United States and abroad, not least in China, see AirSea Battle as being highly provocative. Former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright stated in 2012 that, “AirSea Battle is demonizing China. That’s not in anybody’s interest.” An internal assessment of ASB by the Marine Corps commandant cautions that “an Air-Sea Battle-focused Navy and Air Force would be preposterously expensive to build in peace time” and if used in a war against China would cause “incalculable human and economic destruction.”
As I see it, the implied strategy is clear: ASB planners aim to make the United States so clearly powerful that not only would China lose if it engaged militarily, but it would not consider engaging because the United States would be sure to win.
In the past, first strike nuclear strategies were foresworn and steps were taken to avoid a war precipitated by miscommunications, accidents, or miscalculations. In contrast, AirSea Basttle requires that the United States be able to take the war to the mainland with the goal of defeating China, which quite likely would require striking first. Such a strategy is nothing short of a hegemonic intervention.
When Andrew Krepinevich suggested that ASB is simply seeking to maintain stability in the Asia-Pacific, he was asked if this “stability” really meant continued US hegemony in the area. He chuckled and responded, “Well, the nations in the area have a choice: either we are number one or China is—and they prefer us!”
Actually, most of the nations in the area prefer playing the big powers against each other rather than joining a particular camp.
LD: Etzioni now analyses four recent books on military politics and states that all these arrive at the same conclusion: that at no time has the Obama administration formulated “a coherent, consistent, proactive China strategy” and that its policies were “primarily reactive”. In other words, the saber-rattling against China is proceeding from the Pentagon, or more likely from rogue elements within it, and not from the Obama administration itself. Obama appears to be a controlled puppet—the last one to be informed when war is declared against China.
A December 11, 2012 search of Google brings up 15,800,000 hits for “U.S. drone strikes”; a search for “AirSea Battle”: less than 200,000. In Googlish, this amounts to being unknown, and suggests this significant military shift is simply not on the wider public’s radar. In November 2012, during the only presidential election debate dedicated to foreign policy, no reference was made to preparations for a war with China.
LD: The general public is evidently being kept in the dark by the mainstream media that a nuclear first strike against China is being contemplated by rogue elements within the Pentagon.
The military modernization of China often provokes concerns that it is ‘catching up.’ China shows little interest in managing global affairs or imposing its ideology on other nations. Instead, China has shown a strong interest in securing the flow of raw materials and energy on which its economy depends.
In conclusion, it is widely agreed that the United States can no longer afford to fight two major wars. The most urgent threats to US security are to be found in the Middle East—not the Far East.
Amitai Etzioni is Professor of International Affairs at George Washington University. He has served as a Senior Advisor to the White House and has taught at Columbia, Harvard and Berkeley.
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS: Amitai Etzioni has raised an important question: “Who authorized preparations for war with China?” We are confronted with a neoconized US military out of control endangering Americans and the rest of the world.
Etzioni is correct that this is a momentous decision made by a neoconized military. If the Chinese government is realistic, it is aware that Washington is planning a pre-emptive nuclear attack against China. No other kind of war makes any sense from Washington’s standpoint. The “superpower” was never able to occupy Baghdad, and after 11 years of war has been defeated in Afghanistan by a few thousand lightly armed Taliban. It would be curtains for Washington to get into a conventional war with China.
The Pentagon’s war plan for China is called “AirSea Battle.” It is clear that if the Washington morons get a war going, the only way Washington can prevail is with nuclear weapons. The radiation, of course, will kill Americans as well.
During the Cold War nuclear weapons had a defensive purpose. The purpose was to prevent nuclear war by the US and USSR each having sufficient retaliatory power to ensure “mutually assured destruction.” MAD, as it was known, meant that nuclear weapons had no offensive advantage for either side.
The Soviet collapse and China’s focus on its economy instead of its military have resulted in Washington’s advantage in nuclear weaponry, giving it first-strike capability. Neither Russia nor China would be in any position to retaliate to Washington’s first strike. To ensure Russia’s inability to retaliate, Washington is placing anti-ballistic missiles on Russia’s borders in violation of the US-USSR agreement.
Because the American press is a corrupt government propaganda ministry, the American people have no idea that neoconized Washington is planning nuclear war. Americans are no more aware of this than they are of former President Jimmy Carter’s recent statement, reported only in Germany, that the United States no longer has a functioning democracy.
Polls from all over the world consistently show that Israel and the US are regarded as the two greatest threats to peace and to life on earth. Yet, these two utterly lawless governments prance around pretending to be the “world’s greatest democracies.”
Neither government accepts any accountability whatsoever to international law, to human rights, to the Geneva Conventions, or to their own statutory law.
For the past 68 years, most military aggression can be sourced to the US and Israel. Yet, these two originators of wars pretend to be the victims of aggression.
It is Israel that has a nuclear arsenal that is illegal, unacknowledged, and unaccountable. It is Washington that has drafted a war plan based on nuclear first strike. The rest of the world is correct to view these two rogue unaccountable governments as direct threats to life on earth.
DICK EASTMAN (Rense columnist, edited comments from a circulated email): According to all these writers, the US is the guilty party. They are wrong! This is the Rothschild plot unfolding. It is a conspiracy of long standing. The money power calls the shots, dictates foreign policy, and makes war.
The plan of overthrowing the US was originally hatched by Trotsky but further developed by Kissinger, Wolfowitz, Perle and various neoconservative Jews with an atavistic hatred of America. This included the drug assault, the financial assault, the education sabotage assault, and the continuous wars and depressions that have weakened us so badly and now have our forces scattered all over the map with no money or industry to back them.
Who is really running US military operations? Answer: Mossad and the CIA, as arms of international organized crime. The US has been infiltrated at the top. The idea is to maneuver the US into doing self-destructive things and commit atrocities in the wars it has been sucked into by its implacable enemies. The 9-11 false flag attack is the most obvious example of such a malevolent manipulation.
Where does authorization for a war against China come from? Obama is a foreign born son of a Communist who was put into the Oval Office even though he is unqualified according to exact stipulations of the Constitution—he is an infiltrated agent—and Congress is controlled by blackmail. All hold office there at the sufferance of AIPAC. The Israel Lobby is the master they serve. Congressional staffs are almost all headed by dual-citizenship Jews.
The US is an interface for Israel, because the people running Israel and the people running the US are the same people. Who rules America and calls the shots? Ultimately, it’s the Rothschilds—with the help of Mossad and the Jewish mafia.
I have an educated premonition that Americans are soon likely to be holocausted by the Chinese, North Koreans and Vietnamese—the three biggest land armies in the world. And when they do it, they will be every bit as sure they are ridding the world of vermin as the Americans were when they doing the same things to the Japanese and the Germans almost 70 years ago.
LASHA DARKMOON: Well, there you have it. World War Three being hatched in Washington by the usual culprits in their quest for world domination. The American Puppet President, Obama, blissfully unaware of the bloodbath to come. And the sheeple still going about their business like Hieronymus Bosch phantoms in a bad dream—all whirled round on the wheel of birth, copulation and death. It ain’t pretty.