Washington boasts of military buildup against China [World Socialist Website]

3 June 2014

If anyone was fooled by the media analyses portraying President Barack Obama’s speech at West Point last week as a turn toward “moderation” and “restraint,” or tempted to think that the World Socialist Web Site was exaggerating in describing the address as a blueprint for “permanent and global war in pursuit of the interests of the US financial elite,” they only need read the bellicose tirade delivered by his defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, in Singapore on Saturday.

The occasion for Hagel’s provocative speech was the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual meeting of Asia-Pacific defense ministers, together with their civilian and military chiefs of staff. The conference is ostensibly a forum for “dialogue” and “confidence building” aimed at furthering regional security and cooperation.

Instead, the Pentagon chief delivered an address that spelled out in detail the measures Washington is taking to build up its military power in the Asia Pacific for the purpose of encircling China while containing and rolling back its influence in the region.

In essence, Hagel’s speech is a corollary to the May 28 commencement address given by Obama at West Point. Critics of the presentation at the US Military Academy have pointed out that, while the administration had announced its “pivot to Asia” as a strategic axis of US foreign policy, Obama made no mention of this turn in what had been billed as a major foreign policy speech.

In point of fact, Obama did touch on the essence of the so-called “pivot” in his address, making a series of menacing statements in relation to China and suggesting that Washington would have to prepare for a military response to its rising global rival.

He placed China in the same category as Russia, presenting the two countries as threats to regional peace and security. “China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors,” Obama declared.

He went on to describe the territorial disputes in the South and East China seas, which Washington has deliberately inflamed and turned into global flash points, accusing China of “regional aggression” that could “ultimately impact our allies, and could draw in our military.” And he vowed to back Southeast Asian governments in maritime disputes with China in the South China Sea.

Yet there was no mention of the “pivot,” no declaration of a new over-arching strategic turn by the US and its massive military machine to confront China in the Asian-Pacific theater. Instead, the president told the American people that the principal threat faced by the United States was “terrorism,” the same boogeyman that has been used to justify US aggression abroad since the beginning of the century. No doubt this lack of an explicit statement of US strategy in a major presidential speech was deliberate.

Hagel was asked directly by one of the participants at the conference in Singapore why Obama does not explain the “pivot” to the American people with the same forcefulness with which the defense secretary and other US officials promote it in Asia. The answer is obvious. The popular reaction to a public campaign in support of a policy of military provocation and aggression against a nuclear-armed China would be one of horror and virulent opposition. So, the thinking in ruling circles undoubtedly goes, better to lead the population unwittingly to the brink of a global conflagration than risk a political firestorm.

In the somewhat more discreet atmosphere of the Shangri-La Dialogue, Hagel felt under no such compunction. He positively boasted of the US military buildup in the region.

Hagel declared that the “pivot” or “rebalance” to Asia “is not a goal, not a promise, or a vision—it’s a reality.”

He pointed to the ten-year Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) reached between Washington and the corrupt Aquino regime in the Philippines offering Washington virtually unrestricted rights to deploy US military forces in that country.

Similarly, he touted the close alliance established between the Obama administration and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who heads up the most right-wing Japanese government in postwar history…

Excerpted; full article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/06/03/pers-j03.html

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