War between nuclear-armed powers should be unthinkable. The deterioration of U.S.-China relations threatens the whole world, and treating China as an enemy is suicidally deranged.

By Nathan J. Robinson and Noam Chomsky, Current Affairs

“China is our enemy,” Donald Trump declared repeatedly. “These are our enemies. These are not people who understand niceness.” Accordingly, when Trump was in office, his administration “took a sledgehammer” to U.S.-China relations, which “reached their lowest point in decades.” Trump officials spoke of China using the most hysterical imaginable McCarthyite language. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the “threat from the CCP” was “inside the gates” and could be found in “Des Moines and Phoenix and Tallahassee… [The CCP] will stop at nothing to undermine the very way of life we have here in America and in the West.” Steve Bannon wrote, “China has emerged as the greatest economic and national security threat the United States has ever faced.” FBI director Christopher Wray warned in July 2020 that “the Chinese threat” endangered “our health, our livelihoods, and our security.”

The US and Chinese flags with a person standing on each side of a disintegrating bridge above the flags

What, precisely, is China attempting to do that endangers the “way of life we have here”? Wray explained that “the scope of the Chinese government’s ambition” is nothing less than “to surpass our country in economic and technological leadership.” William Barr warned China was engaged in an “economic blitzkrieg,” which would see it ascend to the “commanding heights of the global economy and to surpass the United States as the world’s preeminent technological superpower.” Here we have a hint as to the true nature of the “China threat”: it is the threat that the United States will no longer rule the world. A basic premise of our foreign policy is that we are fully entitled to do so indefinitely.

This becomes explicit in the Trump administration’s strategy documents. The 2017 National Security Strategy (NSS) warns that “China seeks to displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, expand the reaches of its state-driven economic model, and reorder the region in its favor.” One might ask how the United States—which is not located in the Indo-Pacific region—could be “displaced” there, but the NSS does not touch on the question of why the United States, rather than the much more populous country of China, is entitled to dominance in Asia. China and Russia, says the NSS, are “contesting our geopolitical advantages” and we are locked into a “great power competition.” This also means we must “restore the readiness of our forces for major war” by drastically increasing the capacity of our military to annihilate large numbers of human beings quickly. The NSS recommends we “overmatch” the “lethality” of all the world’s other armed forces in order to “ensure that America’s sons and daughters will never be in a fair fight.”

Read More