The Pentagon has made it official, the War on Terror is now secondary when it comes to the defence interests of the United States. It was announced earlier this week at the National Defense Strategy press conference. In no uncertain terms, it was made clear that the Islamic fundamentalists which have dominated foreign policy since September 11th, 2001 has come to an end. It is in the Pentagon’s view that the future lies in combatting the growing power of Russia and China, as well as dealing with a nuclear Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
There seems little doubt that the American Empire is in decline. Its competitors see an opportunity to usurp the US’s position as the hegemonic economic and military power in the world. China is extending its influence across Asia and Africa with development projects. Russia is taking greater diplomatic ties with the smaller European countries. The DPRK has managed to build means by which to defend themselves from imperialist invasion by the US.
According to the Pentagon statement released, the possibility of world war is at its highest point since the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Highly noted is the stagnation that the US has faced. This excerpt from the summary is quite telling.
“Today, we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy, aware that our competitive military advantage has been eroding. We are facing increased global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order—creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.”
There is a bit of double speak here. When they say there’s been a “decline in the long-standing rules-based international order”, what the mean to say is their total domination of the international bodies that represent those rules is failing. The US has been losing its hegemonic power over institutions like the United Nations (UN). In their waining power, they have not been graceful. As world opinion stands against US collaboration with Israeli crimes against the Palestinians, the US has withheld funding for the UN and aid to the marginalized Palestinians.
This one paragraph is telling as it states how terrorism is no longer the greatest challenge to the US. For decades the US has been using Islamic extremists to carry out its foreign policy goals. Over the past few years, those efforts have backfired in the creation of ISIS and others. When those efforts have fallen short, they’ve used conventional warfare (e.g. the war in Iraq). Since the end of the Soviet Union, those targets have been incapable of defending themselves to any significant degree. The alliance of Syria, Russia, and Iran has put an end to that. Russia and China are now capable of backing up smaller powers to keep them out of the US sphere of influence. In other words, the US is now no longer a totally unchalllengeable power in the world. The time when the US could do whatever it wanted in empire building with complete impunity has come to an end.
At the same time, the DPRK has achieved a nuclear deterrent against US invasion. Something which is unacceptable to the US.
“…North Korea seeks to guarantee regime survival and increased leverage by seeking a mixture of nuclear, biological, chemical, conventional, and unconventional weapons and a growing ballistic missile capability to gain coercive influence over South Korea, Japan, and the United States…”
For decades the DPRK has lived under the jackboot of US power. The US could dictate what the DPRK was allowed to do, what weapons to have, who they could trade with etc. Since they’ve held that power, the US has had the luxury of time hoping that the DPRK was going to fail economically. The Son’gun policy of placing national defence and economic survival first has prevented that from happening.
Tremendous resources have been plowed into creating a military capable of, not necessarily winning, but making an invasion of the DPRK so costly that it wouldn’t be worth it. Artillery placed along the border with Seoul is capable of delivering 10,000 shells a minute. That is enough firepower to completely level the capital in just over an hour. This alone has kept the US at bay for the most part.
Now the DPRK possess nuclear and ballistic missile technology that makes them capable of being a real threat if invaded. It seems the DPRK is taking the same approach here as with the Cold War, a position of mutually assured destruction. The US now faces a massive retaliation if they dare carry out a military operation against them. Even still the US is considering a “precision” strike against the country.
China has carried out a massive expansion into Africa, into many places that the US has been unable to crack open. The continent has little reason to trust the US or the UK after more than a hundred years of colonialism, but they have little reason to distrust China. In the eyes of many Africans, China has been a fellow resistor of US and UK power. Much of that goodwill comes from assistance given during the Chinese Communist era. Those days are long gone and we should not be fooled into thinking China is being altrustic in Africa now.
This is about expanding spheres of influence and access to resources. China has invested a great deal into building up infrastructure in many African countries. Mostly this is to facilitate the collection of natural resources. Other projects exist as well, ones intended to improve the lives of regular people. In a world once totally dominated by the tyrant in the US, China is the “good cop” with a great reputation. China has already constructed a permany military base in Djibouti. Its purpose is too keep a cache of supplies necessary to keep watch over the Gulf of Aden. This is signifcant as it’s a major shipping lane for business in and out of East Africa.
It is for these reasons that the US is now shifting national security priorities away from Islamic extremism, and towards the powers rising to challenge them.