The Biggest Threat to America

W..J. Astore

Aside from climate change (Armageddon in slow motion) and nuclear war (Armageddon in the blink of an eye), the biggest threat to America is perpetual war and preparations for war driven by threat inflation. We’re witnessing it now, before our very eyes, with America’s increasingly polarized relations with China, notes David Vine in his latest effort for TomDispatch.com. Both parties, Republican and Democratic, accuse the other of being “soft” on China, even as the U.S. “defense” budget (meaning the war and weapons budget) soars with bipartisan support in Congress.

It’s folly, of course, and dangerous folly at that. China has roughly four times as many people as the U.S. and a vibrant economy; China is also a leading trading partner and owner of American debt. China, in short, should be a friend, or friendly rival, or a competitor worthy of respect. What China shouldn’t be in American eyes is a manifestation of a new “Yellow Peril,” an inscrutable foe, a soon-to-be enemy. Anything that tips us in that direction is truly folly, since any war with China could end in nuclear catastrophe. And even if such a catastrophe is avoided, war, even a “cold” one, will destroy any chance for concerted action against climate change, imperiling the very planet we live on.

If we want to avoid Armageddon, whether the one in slow motion or the one in the blink of an eye, the USA needs good relations with China, based again on mutual respect and a cooperative spirit. What should unite us (working to mitigate climate change and reduce the threat of nuclear war) is far more important than what is allegedly dividing us.

But threat inflation works, especially for the military-industrial-congressional complex, to justify colossal war budgets to the American people. Here’s the problem, though: When you inflate the threat, in some way you also create it. You instantiate it, at least in your own mind. You give it more and more substance.  And the more weapons you build to meet the threat you created, the more likely it becomes that you’ll choose to use those weapons when push comes to shove — and Americans sure do a lot of shoving in the world.

I just hope the Chinese are wise enough to see that America’s national security state is indeed a big threat — to America.  So they’d be wisest to stand back and let America defeat itself with debilitating wars and profligate spending on costly weaponry.  Meanwhile, they can use their strong economy to dominate trade.  While we build weapons and fight wars, China will defeat us — at capitalism!  Ah, the irony, comrade.

Yet even as China wins the new cold war, the planet itself will lose. Anything that distracts humanity from facing climate change together is folly. It may not seem so at this moment, but check back with the planet in 2031. Another decade lost to military folly is another nail in the coffin to efforts at preserving and restoring life on our planet.

So, as David Vine asks in his article, Do you want a new cold war? Anyone with any sense knows that “No!” is the only possible answer.

18 thoughts on “The Biggest Threat to America

  1. China may be the largest foreign holder of US debt, but only holds approximately 7% of Federal debt. US bondholders hold the large majority of Federal Treasurys,

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  2. Tom Friedman at the NY Times has been beating the cold-war drum especially hard lately, I’ve noticed. I don’t know what’s up with that, because Tom freely acknowledges the threat of climate change. You’d think someone with as much knowledge of world affairs as he possesses would realize that working with China is much more productive in the long run than trying to pick a fight, human rights issues notwithstanding. But….as much experience and knowledge as he has, he’s been grievously wrong before, so…

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        1. These journalists & reporters who favor war — they really should be sent straight to the front lines and exposed to combat. If they still favor war after a year’s tour of duty, I’ll listen to them …

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          1. Yes, and sent out on patrol with several nights spent in the rough, not back at the air conditioned quarters with the hot food and beer.

            I saw war and it is one of the worst things humans can do. I saw children with arms and legs blown off from anti-personnel bombs that were dropped from the air by the Russians in Afghanistan. I saw hollow eyed widows that didn’t know how they were going to feed their children. I saw combat veterans who were in a permanent state of extreme PTSD.

            I saw thousands of refugees living in Pakistani army tents baking in the hundred degree heat, while at night malarial mosquitos infected them.

            Time to grow up humanity and stop acting like a two year old.

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    1. Maybe China or ‘the Chinese’ can be a convenient political football or scapegoat. …

      The 2007-08 financial crisis resulted in the biggest, and perhaps the most culpably corrupt, mainstream U.S. bankers NOT being criminally indicted; instead, they were given their usual multi-million-dollar performance bonuses (as though nothing ever happened) via taxpayer-funded bailout. Yet, the justice department, in a classically cowardice act, only charged some high-level staff with a relatively small-potatoes Chinese-American community bank as a figurative sacrificial lamb that couldn’t really fight back and who looked different from most other Americans.

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  3. am prognosticating the US/UK/AUS cabal will manufacture some pretext, such as the gulf of tonkin fabrication [among dozens of other ‘false flags’], to rally the troops, the vulgate, the gullible froogbog, and other members of their brain-benumbed citizenry to subreptitiously justify attacking china. then it’s over… for all of us… even the isolated, montane, jungle-dwelling mangyans here on mindoro island.

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  4. As long as Congress is a creature of lobbies, and that means private money is completely free to buy it, I don’t think we’ll see any change in threat inflation as it is the perfect cover for the corruption of our government by the MIC.

    As right as you are Prof. Astore, you are arguing against a symptom, not the cause, of our bought Congress. The lobbies must be taken on and defeated. That is no small challenge since they will close ranks and call in all their many IOU’s to fight public financing of campaign funding. Manchin and Sinema are poster politicians for the problem.

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    1. Is the U.S. the only country that allows corporations to be the major source of campaign funding? Could this explain why the U.S. spends more on “military defense” than the next 11 countries combined?

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  5. My understanding is that, unlike China’s, the American and Canadian governance systems are heavily steered by corporate interests, sometimes through economic intimidation (and I’m not just talking about huge party donations come election time). To me, it’s as though the elected heads are meant to represent huge money interests over those of the working citizenry and poor. Accordingly, major political decisions will normally foremost reflect what is in the influential corporations’ best interests.

    Anyone who doubts the potent persuasion of huge business interests here need to consider how high-level elected officials can become crippled by implicit/explicit threats to transfer or eliminate jobs and capital investment, thus economic stability, if corporate ‘requests’ aren’t met. It’s a crippling that’s made even worse by a blaring news-media that’s permitted to be naturally critical of incumbent governments, especially in regards to job and capital transfers and economic weakening.

    Furthermore, Western corporate lobbyists actually write bills for our governing representatives to vote for and have implemented, supposedly to save the elected officials their own time. I believe the practice has become so systematic here that those who are aware of it (that likely includes mainstream news-media political writers) don’t bother publicly discussing it.

    Meanwhile, why wouldn’t nations like China at least try to take advantage of this (what I see as) weakness in a Western governance, i.e. big corporate profit before individual and even national interests.

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