The visit of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and the provocation to China that it entails can only be interpreted as one more action in the escalation of tensions that Washington wants to generate in the world in order to sustain its global hegemony. Writes Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein
The visit pursued two objectives, one of a conjunctural and tactical nature and the other structural and strategic. The first aims to respond to and resolve the desperate situation of the Democratic Party in the run-up to the November congressional elections and its projection towards the 2024 presidential elections, in which it seems that Biden and Pelosi’s party will lose control of the US Congress first and of the White House later if everything remains as it is now, when the president’s discredit is the highest for someone in office since the end of the Second World War.
Biden and Pelosi, two octogenarians who are already “playing overtime” in their political life. In that condition, when they have nothing left to lose, they are taking on the “sacrifice” to try to preserve the Democratic party from the disrepute it is immersed in under their leadership, after having been at the pinnacle of glory during the “Obama era”.
Tackling the structural aspect is more complex. The economic decline of the United States, spanning the last 40 years, is much more difficult to reverse and may never be reversed. So far, Washington’s exclusive dollar-producing machine, its undoubted military might and the unparalleled dominance of the cultural media complex that it wields at will, allows it to sidestep the crisis, or at least hide it from public view. However, first the pandemic and now the war in Ukraine have exposed the shortcomings of a system that was not even capable of protecting its citizens or defending them from the evils that afflict the planet.
Precisely, the structural character of this crisis is due to the fact that, given the inability of the United States to handle the situation, it drags behind it the setbacks faced by the capitalist system, revealing its inability to solve the most pressing problems of humanity and lead it forward on a path of development, peace and stability.
In this situation, the US elite is trying to recover from the economic crisis by activating its main industry: the arms industry. It is worth noting that the US domestic market is by far the largest in the world, producing 41.93 billion dollars between October 2016 and September 2017 (I did not get a more up-to-date figure but it is known that since the pandemic sales have doubled). The marginalised conditions of millions of citizens, racism, xenophobia, and the incentivisation of political conflicts stimulated by the media and the “cultural” apparatus, have contributed to the growing rise of this business in a country where it is possible to buy an AR-15 assault rifle online at a price of around $450, lower than that of a smart phone.
But it is on the entire planet that the United States does its real business: 800 military bases, 11 aircraft carriers, 20 amphibious assault ships, 21 cruisers, 72 destroyers, 23 landing ships, 68 submarines, plus 3,900 aircraft that are structured in seven different areas. 900 aircraft in seven fleets and 9 regional commands, as well as military blocs such as NATO, AUKUS, TIAR and others that it has formed with subordinate countries, are responsible for encouraging conflict and, at the very least, guaranteeing the prosperity of business in the name of freedom and democracy.
Just today, the sale of a batch of THAAD anti-aircraft interceptor missiles, two launch control stations and two tactical operations complexes for a total value of $2.245 billion was announced by the United States to the United Arab Emirates. The possible sale of Patriot air defence systems and military equipment to Saudi Arabia for a total of more than $3 billion was also approved. Thus, it is easy to understand the functions of a US leader, given that during his recent visit to the region, Biden did not obtain positive results either in political matters or in those linked to the energy market (key for any leader who travels to this part of the planet).
Now there is a lot of talk about the war in Ukraine, in Europe of course, but little mention is made of the conflicts in other parts of the world caused precisely by the imperialist drive for expansion and global domination. It is worth to say that in Europe, NATO is stimulating the aggressiveness in Kosovo against Serbia and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia. When you look at the map, you can see that from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, NATO’s eastward expansion is the best business to sell arms to support the battered US economy.
At the same time, other armed confrontations are active today as a consequence of almost 5 centuries of colonial occupation and plunder. Five dynamic conflicts in Central and West Asia and 11 others (involving 14 countries) in Africa illustrate the reality of this trend. I would like to take this opportunity to point out that none of these outbreaks of war are manifesting themselves in Latin America and the Caribbean despite attempts by Washington and local oligarchies to generate them. Despite the efforts to conceive conflicts in our region, the declaration of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace, approved at the second CELAC Summit in Havana in January 2014, has managed to impose itself.
The political elites of the United States (government and congress), as instruments of the Military Industrial Complex, play their part in this. In addition to the three conflicts in Europe, five in Asia and 11 in Africa, not counting the occupation of Palestine by Israel and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic by Morocco, the Asia-Pacific had to be added to the spur produced by the arms business (the largest in the world).
But this did not start now. It is state policy and bipartisan in nature: Obama’s declaration of the “Asia pivot” doctrine, Trump’s trade war policy against China, and the declaration of Russia as a threat and China as the greatest challenge to Western hegemony, agreed at the recent NATO Summit in Madrid are the political underpinning for the 21st century strategic confrontation that the United States hopes to wage with China in the Asia-Pacific region. And in this scheme, the encouragement of conflict in the seas around China is central and Taiwan’s role as an instrument of disruption is indispensable.
This is what explains Mrs Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan: in the immediate term, to try to reverse the popularity figures of Biden and the Democratic Party, and in the long term, to prevent the economic debacle that is looming over the United States, given China’s manifest economic, financial, technological and scientific superiority, which implies the loss – by peaceful means – of US planetary hegemony. This is what they will try to stop by any means, including military.
However, for those who assumed that China’s response would be to shoot down Pelosi’s plane, invade Taiwan with a naval force, or devastate the island with a barrage of hypersonic missiles, it must be said that they know nothing about China, its philosophy, its history, or its political and diplomatic practice. On this point, I agree with Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin who opined that “the real crisis over Taiwan could begin after […] Nancy Pelosi returns to the US”. Rogin was more explicit when he said: “The biggest impact of Pelosi’s visit will come after she returns home, weeks, months and years down the road.
This is the essence of the Chinese response. As always, it must be seen in time. Unlike the West, which needs to generate immediate headlines in the run-up to the next election, China, in keeping with its philosophy and tradition, will build a long-term response – over months and years, as Rogin says.
The Chinese response, which will begin to be verified tomorrow, will manifest itself in different ways. First, those in the military realm. The ongoing operations, which formally begin on Thursday 4 and end on Monday 8, are an expression of the largest deployment ever seen in China for such an exercise. It includes the use of aviation, ground forces and strategic-level logistics, as well as the deployment of China’s most advanced rocket system, including the DF-17 hypersonic missile, which flies at 12,300 km/hour and has a range of 2,500 km. Taiwan is 120 km from the Chinese mainland. The DF-17s would take only 35 seconds to reach the island and there is no weaponry or technology, not even in the United States, that could prevent it. Let’s put it bluntly: if China wanted to, Taiwan would be gone in less than a minute.
The exercise is being conducted in six naval zones to the south, east, northeast and northwest of Taiwan – to the west there is no need, as that is the Chinese mainland. That includes the airspace overlying the maritime domain where the operations are being conducted. Again, without euphemism, Taiwan is surrounded by sea and air. Just yesterday, Taiwan’s defence ministry “denounced” it in a statement saying that China “has invaded territorial waters and adjacent areas” of the island, adding that “Chinese drills violate UN rules and amount to a blockade of Taiwan’s air and sea space”.
Two observations. First, if “Taiwan’s territory” has been invaded, why did the West do nothing? It is clear that the United States was interested in provoking a provocation that would disrupt order and stability in the region; it has no concern for the security of Taiwan’s citizens, just as it has no concern or interest in that of the Ukrainians. And the 20 hours that Mrs.Pelosi spent on the island were enough to prove it. It should also be noted that they use the same concept (invasion) that the West uses to characterise Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.
Second question, if Taiwanese territory is surrounded and blockaded by air and sea according to the lexicon used by Taiwan’s defence ministry, how could Mrs. Pelosi’s plane have left the island safely? Clearly, China’s target was never her, the Chinese government is serious, does not resort to terrorism to assert its rights and also has (as it has shown for millennia) infinite patience to wait for things to happen when the conditions are right.
That said, we can understand that China’s response will manifest itself in different ways: firstly, economically, and measures in this area began to be taken only yesterday. It should be remembered that the balance of trade between China and Taiwan is in Taiwan’s favour and that while it is true that in the 1980s, when the policy of reform and opening up began, Taiwan was very important for China, it could be said that today, forty years later, it is the other way round. The decisions China takes in this area to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity will have an impact on Taiwan’s economy that the West will not be able to make up for in the way it cannot in Ukraine.
Finally, and here is the truly strategic point. If there may have been any doubts in some quarters of the Chinese elite about the need for a strategic alliance with Russia, those doubts have been dispelled. Russia’s support for China at this juncture was immediate and forceful. China, which still thought in 2019 that it could develop its economic and political model in peace and harmony with the United States, “came down from that cloud” when the violent and separatist leaders of Hong Kong were received in the US Congress where they were offered financial, logistical, political and diplomatic aid to continue their secessionist revolt. Do you know who made that commitment and led the support for the terrorists? Nancy Pelosi.
Today, after the agreements of the NATO Summit in Madrid and this US affront to China, it must have become clear to Beijing’s leadership that the ultimate goal of NATO expansion is China and that the only way to avoid it is to build and solidify a strategic alliance with Russia that will make the Eurasian space the territory from which the construction of a world of peace, prosperity and cooperation among the peoples of the planet will begin.
The Bible tells us that Abraham, being old and childless, asked God to grant him the possibility of begetting. The Lord accepted and performed the miracle so that Sarah, Abraham’s wife, conceived their son Isaac at the age of 90. Now, it was not necessary to implore God: Mrs. Pelosi’s arrogance and imperial spirit made her 82 years old give birth to and strengthen the strategic alliance between China and Russia that will shape the future of humanity for centuries to come.
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