If Trump follows through, and you never know with Trump, it would be one of the few silver linings of the whole coronavirus fiasco. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
t appears the coronavirus pandemic may have provided the leverage President Trump needs to finally get all American troops out of the over eighteen-year quagmire in Afghanistan.
A new report this week by NBC has cited multiple senior officials to say the president “complains almost daily” that the US still has troops in Afghanistan, and that they are at risk for the spread of coronavirus.
According to NBC: “His renewed push to withdraw all of them has been spurred by the convergence of his concern that coronavirus poses a force protection issue for thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and his impatience with the halting progress of his peace deal with the Taliban, the officials said.”
It’s always tempting to blame someone else for one’s own flaws and failings. From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:
Watch, read, and listen as Washington and its media clerks manufacture our consent for a full-dress Cold War with China.
One hundred nine years ago, one G. G. Rupert published an extraordinary book called “The Yellow Peril, or The Orient vs. The Occident as Viewed by Modern Statesmen and Ancient Prophets.” The book was a racist diatribe all dressed up as learned historical scholarship. It quickly proved a best-seller and brought Rupert, a Seventh-Day Adventist preacher in Oklahoma, a lot of money and passing fame.
With the Covid–19 virus still spreading, you have to ask how far we’ve come as a similarly befouled wave of Sinophobia now rolls in upon us. First editions of Rupert’s book fetch $900 on the used-book sites. If you have ever wondered whether our religious belief in “progress” might be nothing more than a collective self-deception enduring since the mid–19thcentury, Rupert’s 526–page p.o.s. (as the expression goes in newsrooms) will help you along.
Spells of scapegoating paranoia such as Rupert’s have come and never quite gone since William Randolph Hearst introduced the “yellow peril” genre in his newspapers at the turn of the 20thcentury. Rupert now goes down as a foolish rube and Hearst a cynical conniver in pursuit of circulation.
It’s way past time to get out of Korea. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:
Washington’s policy toward Korea – both Koreas, actually – isn’t going well. President Donald Trump calls the North’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un his “friend,” but Kim might be on his deathbed, incapacitated, or just hiding out to confuse his adversaries. In any case, the two haven’t talked since last summer, after a brief handshake while meeting at the DMZ when Trump visited the South. Negotiations between their underlings sputtered out in the fall.
South Korea is a longtime defense dependent, with the relationship forged in the Korean War which began 70 years ago this coming June. However, last year the administration demanded that Seoul increase its contribution toward the U.S. garrison under the Special Measures Agreement more than fivefold, to $5 billion annually. The Republic of Korea balked and talks deadlocked. The US recently furloughed thousands of ROK employees, which probably hurts American personnel, who must make up the work, more than Seoul.
As Washington officials speculated on who in North Korea currently possesses the key to that nation’s nuclear arsenal they tried to sound a reassuring note, claiming to have contingency plans if Kim dies. However, the Supreme Leader’s unexpected departure for beyond the River Styx would set off a brutal and possibly bloody power struggle – imagine millions of refugees, loose nukes and other WMDs, open warfare, and both South Korean and Chinese generals determined to intervene. Yet at this moment of uncertainty the US relationship with Seoul, which provides most of the troops on the ground, is strained and uncertain. Much could go wrong.
To paraphrase a line from one of the Star Wars films: the harder the US grasps for empire, the more it slips away. From Daniel Larison at theamericanconservative.com:
Our dominance in the world is in the rear view, yet Trump and other pols refuse to get the message.
Donald Trump gives a national security speech aboard the World War II Battleship USS Iowa, September 15, 2015, in San Pedro, California. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
More than 10 years ago, the columnist Charles Krauthammer asserted that American “decline is a choice,” and argued tendentiously that Barack Obama had chosen it. Yet looking back over the last decade, it has become increasingly obvious that this decline has occurred irrespective of what political leaders in Washington want.
The truth is that decline was never a choice, but the U.S. can decide how it can respond to it. We can continue chasing after the vanished, empty glory of the “unipolar moment” with bromides of American exceptionalism. We can continue to delude ourselves into thinking that military might can make up for all our other weaknesses. Or we can choose to adapt to a changed world by prudently husbanding our resources and putting them to uses more productive than policing the world.
There was a brief period during the 1990s and early 2000s when the U.S. could claim to be the world’s hegemonic power. America had no near-peer rivals; it was at the height of its influence across most of the globe. That status, however, was always a transitory one, and was lost quickly thanks to self-inflicted wounds in Iraq and the natural growth of other powers that began to compete for influence. While America remains the most powerful state in the world, it no longer dominates as it did 20 years ago. And there can be no recapturing what was lost.
Alexander Cooley and Dan Nexon explore these matters in their new book, Exit From Hegemony: The Unraveling of the American Global Order. They make a strong case for distinguishing between the old hegemonic order and the larger international order of which it is a part. As they put it, “global international order is not synonymous with American hegemony.” They also make careful distinctions between the different components of what is often simply called the “liberal international order”: political liberalism, economic liberalism, and liberal intergovernmentalism. The first involves the protection of rights, the second open economic exchange, and the third the form of international order that recognizes legally equal sovereign states. Cooley and Nexon note that both critics and defenders of the “liberal international order” tend to assume that all three come as a “package deal,” but point out that these parts do not necessarily reinforce each other and do not have to coexist.
The thought that governments have nuclear weapons, enough to wipe out the human race, has disturbed sane people for 75 years. Here’s another disturbing thought: governments probably also have microbes that wipe out the human race. From Sam Husseini at antiwar.com:
There has been no scientific finding that the novel coronavirus was bioengineered, but its origins are not entirely clear. Deadly pathogens discovered in the wild are sometimes studied in labs – and sometimes made more dangerous. That possibility, and other plausible scenarios, have been incorrectly dismissed in remarks by some scientists and government officials, and in the coverage of most major media outlets.
Regardless of the source of this pandemic, there is considerable documentation that a global biological arms race going on outside of public view could produce even more deadly pandemics in the future.
While much of the media and political establishment have minimized the threat from such lab work, some hawks on the American right like Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., have singled out Chinese biodefense researchers as uniquely dangerous.
The current dynamics of the biological arms race have been driven by US government decisions that extend back decades. In December 2009, Reuters reported that the Obama administration was refusing even to negotiate the possible monitoring of biological weapons.
The Chinese government may be responsible for the release of the coronavirus, but the US government has no room to criticize. It has its own sordid history of biochemical research. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:
“They were monsters with human faces, in crisp uniforms, marching in lockstep, so banal you don’t recognize them for what they are until it’s too late.” — Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
I have never known any government to put the best interests of its people first, and this COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.
Now this isn’t intended to be a debate over whether COVID-19 is a legitimate health crisis or a manufactured threat. Such crises can—and are—manipulated by governments in order to expand their powers. As such, it is possible for the virus to be both a genuine menace to public health and a menace to freedom.
Yet we can’t afford to overlook the fact that governments the world over, including the U.S. government, have unleashed untold horrors upon the world in the name of global conquest, the acquisition of greater wealth, scientific experimentation, and technological advances, all packaged in the guise of the greater good.
China is waging war on the US on multiple fronts. From Gregory R. Copley at oilprice.com:
Beijing made it clear in 1999 that when it went to war with the US it would be a new kind of war.
People’s Republic of China (PRC) Pres. Xi Jinping then announced in October 2018 that he had begun a “new 30 Years War” with the US.
But there seemed to be no “Pearl Harbor” moment, so the rest of the world disregarded the declaration of war. That was a mistake.
It became clear that the 2020 COVID-19-inspired “global fear pandemic” laid out the battlefield terrain and saw the opening shots emerge from the PRC in a variety of strategic formats. To be sure, COVID-19 was not itself the “Pearl Harbor moment”; it was the subsequent fear pandemic which drove down the global economy.
Beijing could not wait any longer to begin strategic operations — the new form of “total war” — if it was to survive as a global power and to assume primacy within its symbolic 30 year timeframe.
Shakespeare once noted:
“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”
From Beijing’s standpoint, given that the PRC economy was already in massive decline, it was critical that the economies of its strategic rivals should also be forced into decline. That may or may not have been a planned aspect of the PRC’s COVID-19 response strategy, but it certainly was quickly adopted by Beijing.
In other words, if the PRC could not reverse its economic decline, its strategic competitiveness moving forward was critically dependent upon seeing its rivals decline commensurately, or even become crippled. It was not a race to the top; it was a race to avoid being first to the bottom.
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