All over the world, but especially in the East Asia and Pacific region, people are worried about a deliberate provocation set up by the Pentagon against the People’s Republic of China.
On Nov. 25, the U.S. and Japan sent a dozen military planes, including two B-52 bombers, on a flight over a disputed area in the South China Sea that the People’s Republic of China had declared was an “air defense identification zone,” meaning that aircraft should identify themselves before entering the area.
Showing their concern over the incident, China scrambled fighter jets to verify the identities of the U.S. and Japanese planes, according to the Chinese defense ministry.
Meanwhile, both Washington and Tokyo have announced they are instructing their military pilots — and Tokyo even its civilian airlines — not to identify themselves when they fly over the area, thus upping the ante in a dangerous military/diplomatic game.
What is this all about? Is it part of the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” and its fleet movements, involving thousands of sailors and marines, into the region?
Various bourgeois analysts, who immediately tell people what they should think about everything, explained it was a “test” of China’s air responses. And respond China did. It showed it had the ability to quickly muster its air defenses.
Now, what if this situation had been in reverse? What if China had sent several bombers over an area not far from one of the U.S. coasts, an area that Washington had just declared vital to its air defense, in order to test U.S. responses? Imagine the howls, the threats of war, the mustering of nuclear and conventional weapons that would surely follow.
Ever since the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Japan as World War II was ending, incinerating hundreds of thousands of people in the blink of an eye, the ruling class that controls this imperialist government has felt free to invade other countries, usually small ones, more than 50 times. The Pentagon has deployed U.S. troops over more than half the globe. Right now, it arrogates to itself the “right” to send missiles and rockets into Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen on a daily basis. It sometimes apologizes when its targets turn out to be innocent villagers — but keeps on doing the same thing.
Historically, when the U.S. imperialist government could produce no legitimate reason for ramping up its war maneuvers, it manufactured a reason — like the phony Gulf of Tonkin “aggression” by Vietnam and the phony claim that Iraq possessed “weapons of mass destruction.”
In the current situation, the war hawks in Washington are basing their threats on equally spurious “reasons.”
The main one is a “mutual defense treaty” signed with Japan, that pledges each side to defend the other if attacked. There are some islands — really just uninhabited rocks — in the South China Sea to which three countries lay claim. China calls the islands the Daioyu; Japan’s name for them is Senkaku. They lie a lot closer to China than to Japan and are about 200 miles from an undersea area believed to contain much untapped oil and gas.
The U.S. government has never taken a position on who owns these rocks. But that’s the area it sent its bombers into on Nov. 25. So how can Washington claim that its treaty with Japan required it to make a show of force over these islands — when it doesn’t even recognize them as part of Japan?
And why doesn’t it recognize Japan’s claim? One reason may be that these rocks are also claimed by Taiwan, the big split-away island part of China that has been built up as a U.S. ally ever since the Chinese Revolution of 1949. So Washington doesn’t want to offend Taiwan by saying the islands belong to Japan, but it also wants to pressure China’s leaders by flexing its military muscle in that area in collaboration with the Japanese imperialists — the former colonial power that in the 1930s and 1940s invaded China and killed millions of Chinese people.
The U.S. foreign policymakers whose job it is to twist the facts to suit the imperialist interests of the superrich class of billionaires must be staying up late, drinking a lot of coffee and scratching their heads trying to finagle a way out of this contradiction. And, of course, they’re counting on the major corporate media to rubber-stamp whatever excuse they come up with.
But people in the U.S. are sick of wars and the bottomless pit that is the Pentagon budget. Buffeted by rising poverty amidst enormous wealth — and growing ever more skeptical of government lies — they need to know the truth about this ominous move.
Say no to the U.S. government’s military buildup in Asia! Bring the ships and troops home! Money for jobs and services, not the Pentagon!
A Venezuelan international relations expert, Rodriguez Gelfenstein was previously Director of the International Relations of…
El autor es consultor y analista internacional venezolano, y fue Director de Relaciones Internacionales de…