Backing the US house of cards

Jun 12, 2024
Dollar castle in the air, dollar banknotes house

“The United States of America is in competition with China, but not ideologically. Who initiated the first agreements with China to outsource factories if not the United States of America themselves? They cannot tell us that it is a fight for freedom… It’s [ ] because China is becoming the world’s leading power, and from there, gradually, dollars will no longer be used as much as before to trade goods. Thus, the empire is hit at its core.”

“Its core is its currency, which it can print as much as it wants because it is not bound by any of the rules that apply to all other nations. They can print as much as they want, as long as you need it for your exchanges, to buy raw materials, to buy oil, to buy minerals, etc., etc. And the day it stops, that is, the day nations agree among themselves to pay in their currency, it’s over, and the empire collapses.”

– From a recent speech by French Left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, shared on X & translated by Arnaud Bertrand.

Melenchon articulates what lies at the heart of the ‘China threat’ – a threat Australia is committed to warding off with hundreds of billions of Australian taxpayer dollars, though that threat is couched in very different terms for public consumption.

At the same time as it has enjoyed the privilege of printing money, the US has weaponised the dollar, imposing unilateral sanctions that are then also adopted by its allies. Whilst this has been a longstanding practice, it is the recent sanctions imposed against Russia that have accelerated a move away from the dollar, with adversaries and some allies turning to alternative settlement mechanisms.

The European Central Bank has acknowledged the world is becoming more multipolar and the dominance of the US dollar is in decline as moves to dedollarise accelerate and new strategic alliances emerge, not least that of BRICS and the key China Russia alliance – the latter very much an own goal for the US.

The US reiterated in Singapore recently that in spite of its involvement in Ukraine and Israel, the Indo-Pacific is the country’s main focus, not Europe or the Middle East – ‘Indo-Pacific’ the nomenclature now widely adopted in the West, where China is the elephant in the region that had long been the Asia-Pacific.

The US has 313 bases in east Asia out of 750 worldwide, and while its own geography precludes a reciprocal strategy, it constitutes a show of force against China, now boosted by AUKUS.

The China ‘threat’ has been a long-standing fear in Australia – ‘yellow peril’, the threat of being invaded, and with it the threat of the imposition of communism. Nothing in China’s recent history justifies such a fear, which is extended to a more generalised dread of the rise of a global bad faith actor. That we are led to fear what China might do, will do, in the face of what the US has actually done beggars belief.

Economic growth brings power and influence and the ways in which the US has used its power and influence have been transparent despite attempts at subterfuge. The American era will be remembered for an order not based on international law, but a Rules-Based-Order where the US sets the rules and gives the orders: endless wars to sustain its military industrial complex have killed millions, displaced millions, and in the case of Iraq destroyed an entire nation, and anti-democratic behaviour where it has toppled elected leaders who have had the temerity to prosecute their sovereign interests and resisted coercion.

US heavyweight geopolitical analyst and former darling of the political establishment and legacy media, John Mearsheimer recently clarified this for Piers Morgan who has been among the sea of advocats for benign US intervention to champion democracy, in a sobering demolition of that illusion.

Since Mearsheimer’s criticism of US involvement in Ukraine, and now the US role in Israel & the Occupied Territories, he has been unceremoniously dumped from almost all platforms available to him in his decades-long career and his views are now to be found almost exclusively in independent media.

Mearsheimer is however a China hawk – a recognition that the central interest in the prosecution of US foreign policy should be economic, because it is the base from which the US exerts power and influence. But China will not be ‘contained’ economically. Which great power would? Enter the potential for a major – and possibly nuclear – war in our front yard.

Mearsheimer famously warned Australia will sacrifice its prosperity for security. He also alerted us to be aware there is only one thing more dangerous than being an enemy of the United States, and that is to be its friend. As the Ukrainian people have discovered.

More recently he warned if we are trading with China and friendly with China, we will be an enemy of the US. Australia has yet to see the full consequence of this in the leadup to hostilities.

Yet we are told, The China Threat .. is to shipping lanes, though China has as great if not greater interest in protecting those shipping lanes – trade has played an integral part in enabling it to drag 800 million of its 1.4 billion people out of poverty.

The China Threat .. is to Taiwan, an island historically linked to China in both its ethnic composition & administration, but which became the base of a ‘Chinese-government-in-exile’. Its current situation is a consequence and remnant of the Chinese civil war .

The Chinese have not forgotten Taiwan was used as a base to attack China by Japan in late 1930’s and are understandably unhappy to have US bases on the island – U.S. Special Forces are now permanently stationed at a pair of bases barely a mile from China’s mainland coast.

Taiwan is critical for the US as a base from which to threaten and provoke China. Brandishing this as some sort of defence of democratic values and sovereignty is disingenuous and flies in the face of a real understanding of US foreign policy strategy, as Mearsheimer points out.

China’s actual threat & great sin has been to outstrip the US in economic growth.

With economic growth comes power and influence, but there is no evidence that China is using or intends to use that power and influence in the same way the United States has.

There are no geopolitical commentators as knowledgeable, incisive and constructive for our region as Kishore Mahbubani who points out we are now in the Asian Century, the unipolar world is gone, and one of the defining questions of our time is whether the South China Sea will be a zone of peace or a zone of war.

What is threatening peace? Which narrative of the two is right? What can we do about it? In answering these 3 questions, Mahbubani reveals Xi Jinping made an offer to Barack Obama for both countries to demilitarise the South China Sea but the offer was rebuffed. Factually true he says, but ‘the Anglo Saxon media will never tell the alternative story’, in fact they prefer to, ‘tell outright lies’. He rebuffs many western misconceptions about the US China stand-off.

Our leadership would do well to listen to what Mahbubani has to say.

Risking nuclear war to prop up a fading hegemon bears the hallmark of a catastrophic mistake with disastrous consequences for humanity and the planet. Our times call for outstanding leadership. We navigate the challenges of this century to our great peril without it.

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