|Montréal, 14 avril 2001 / No 81||
by David MacRae
The hysteria displayed by the citizens of the American Republic in defence of the American Empire appears to have no limit. The Hainan incident is merely the latest example.
In case you have been on another planet for the last two weeks, the official line goes like this: a reconnaissance plane, official designation: EP-3, was engaged in a mission vital to American security. This plane is so top-secret that US contractors building parts for the plane are not allowed to install equipment on it at the same time in case they should learn something from each other. The vital mission of the plane: to monitor communications between a new destroyer and its home base. Then something awful happened due to Chinese interference: one of their F-8 fighters accidentally hit the plane. The EP-3 pilot heroically flew his damaged plane to a Chinese military base on Hainan Island. Contrary to international law, he and his crew were held hostage for 11 days. President Bush ably handled the crisis and the Chinese backed down, freeing the crew to come home to a hero's welcome.
Let's deconstruct this view.
Aside from the issue of whether the F-8 hit the EP-3 or vice-versa (clearly the Chinese pilot was playing Chicken; whether the other guy joined in the game is still not clear), the facts are that the American pilot voluntarily delivered a hundred million dollar top-secret plane into the hands of the country which American war-mongerers are trying to pitch as their number one enemy. Note that the pilot had alternatives, perhaps even safer ones than an attempt to land at an airport – and one belonging to the supposed enemy he was spying on to boot. Ditching the plane as close as possible to a friendly ship was a clear option. It would have avoided an international incident as well. In a real war, his actions would have been considered cowardly and treasonous – and rightly so. Instead he has been treated as a hero. Can this be because official Washington really knows that this is all a game played for the benefit of the home crowd?
More to the point, what exactly is this threat that required an American spy plane to fly within fifty miles of China, 12,000 miles from home? Destroyers are yesterday's technology. They were useful in World War I but were already déclassés in WWII and have little relevance whatsoever to the modern army. Vulnerable to both submarines and aircrafts, there has not been one war in the last fifty years in which they played even a minor role.
As for F-8s, they are a clear-cut demonstration of how bad China's military capacity truly is.
Why then should it be necessary to spy on Chinese military capabilities? It is obvious that they are pathetic. The only Chinese military threat comes from their 700 nuclear warheads, about two dozen of which are actually capable of reaching Los Angeles. None can go further. The Chinese know full well that any attempt to use these weapons would result in utter devastation.
Occasionally the American war party does acknowledge that China poses no threat to the United States. While not abandoning their primary argument, they claim instead that America must defend its friends in the Far East – Japan, South Korea, and especially Taiwan. Interestingly, the US uses the EP-3 to spy on these supposed friends as well, especially the Taiwanese who also react by buzzing the American invaders (see
Rifles and wars
This argument is equally specious. It is doubtful that the US would come to the aid of Taiwan if it were actually attacked. Besides, all these countries have far better (non-nuclear) military capabilities than China and are quite capable of defending themselves. If China should one day actually become a real threat, they should look to the example of Switzerland, the country which Hitler denounced as
There is probably no other country that, like Switzerland, gives the soldier his weapon to keep in the home. The Swiss always has his rifle at hand. It belongs to the furnishings of his home. [...] That corresponds to ancient Swiss tradition. As the citizen with his sword steps into the ring in the cantons which have the Landsgemeinde [government by public meeting], so the Swiss soldier lives in constant companionship with his rifle. He knows what that means. With this rifle, he is liable every hour, if the country calls, to defend his hearth, his home, his family, his birthplace. The weapon is to him a pledge and sign of honour and freedom. The Swiss does not part with his rifle.
Stephen Halbrook, writing in Chronicles magazine, points out that:
On September 1, 1939, Hitler launched World War II by attacking Poland. Within a day or two, Switzerland had about half a million militiamen mobilized out of a population of just over four million [in other words, around half of the able-bodied male citizenry: DM]. General Henri Cuisan, commander in chief of the Swiss militia, responded with Operations Order No. 2:Around the globe
Today Israel is a second example of a country whose entire population is armed, which is the reason why it has managed to survive fifty years despite being surrounded by enemies. The Israeli mobilizations in the wars of 1967 and 1973 were every bit as impressive as that of the Swiss in 1939. Unfortunately, the Israelis have gotten a taste of empire too. This will likely lead them to their downfall through a Palestinian revanche du berceau.
In contrast, the Swiss decided just twenty-four years after gaining their independence that foreign wars only lead to trouble and declared their neutrality, a vow they have kept for almost 500 years. This, in large measure, is why the country is one of the richest in the world. It is arguably the most civilized. As Lazarus Long once said,
Taiwan and other Far Eastern countries do need to prepare their defence against the Great Power that China may one day be. The answer is to follow the Swiss example. Place confidence in the people to defend themselves from an outside aggressor and no one will ever volunteer to attack.
American arguments in favour of their spy flights are specious. China does not currently represent a danger to their interests, nor to those of US friends.
American spying is, however, a provocation to Chinese nationalists and Chinese war-mongerers. It is an incitement which encourages these people to develop weapons which could really threaten the US and the rest of the democratic world.
It is far past time that we recognise that the main danger to world peace is not the Chinese military but rather the American military industrial complex. In 1961 Eisenhower invented this term when he said:
Until [World War II], the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of ploughshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defence; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defence establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.Eisenhower may have been right about the need for a military establishment to fight the world-wide reach which the Soviet empire held in the fifties. While I would not agree, the argument clearly has merit. But the Evil Empire has been dead for 12 years, having collapsed under the dead weight of socialism. NATO should have been disbanded when it fell. Instead it has been expanded, antagonizing the Russians and playing into the hand of their nationalists.
Games Without Frontiers
Eisenhower was certainly right about the dangers. All of America's military actions in the last twelve years have had nothing whatsoever to do with protecting the US from enemies, potential or otherwise. They are rather an attempt to justify the existence of this military industrial complex in a world where America has no enemies worthy of the name. So it must create some.
Today, American imperialism is the single biggest danger to American security and world peace. It has thoroughly corrupted the national government and the media. The American populace is as bombastic as the Prussians ever were. It serves only to turn the world against the US.
Playing games in the Middle East by supporting the Shah of Iran against Saddam Hussein and then Hussein against Khomeini and now anyone against Hussein has served only to turn both Iran and Iraq into implacable enemies. In time, Saudi Arabia will follow.
You can get away with doing this to smaller powers. But this time the war-mongerers are playing with real fire. China has twice the population of the United States and the European Union combined. Should it ever reach its potential, Americans will have real reasons to regret their provocations. So will the rest of the world. Let the Indians worry about the Chinese. They are right next door and there's a billion of them too. Instead the US is turning both countries into enemies of the West. It's insane.
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