By Chris Fry
Echoing the deranged Air Force General Jack Ripper, a character from the 1964 movie “Dr. Strangelove” who orders his command wing to launch a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, on January 28th a current U.S. Air Force general issued a memo to his officers that they must prepare for imminent war with the People’s Republic of China (PRC):
“I hope I am wrong,” Minihan, who oversees some 50,000 service members, reportedly wrote in the memo addressed to all air wing commanders and other operational commanders in the Air Force. “My gut tells me we will fight in 2025.”
In his memo, Minihan reportedly noted that Chinese President Xi Jinping secured his third term in October and “set his war council.”
“Taiwan’s presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a reason. United States’ presidential elections are in 2024 and will offer Xi a distracted America,” Minihan reportedly wrote in the memo.
“Xi’s team, reason, and opportunity are all aligned for 2025.”
Minihan also reportedly directed members of the Air Force to “fire a clip into a 7-meter target with the full understanding that unrepentant lethality matters most” sometime in February and instructed them to “aim for the head.”
In March he directed all AMC personnel to “consider their personal affairs and whether a visit should be scheduled with their servicing base legal office to ensure they are legally ready and prepared.”
General Minihan’s comments were so grotesque that the next day the Pentagon was forced to retract them, stating that the general’s statements are “”not representative of the department’s view on China.”
But in fact these comments genuinely reflect not only the view at the Pentagon, but also the entire imperialist establishment, including the White House, the State and Treasury Departments, both parties in Congress, and most of all, their corporate patrons on Wall Street, particularly the war industry.
U.S. prepares for a “Pyrrhic victory.”
In 279 BC, Pyrrhus, the Greek king of Epirus won a battle against the Roman Republic but lost so many soldiers and commanders that he was forced to end his campaign. The Romans, on the other hand, recovered quickly. Ever since then, when the winner of a battle loses so much that it actually amounts to a strategic loss, then that is referred to as a “Pyrrhic victory”.
The one valid piece from General Minihan’s diatribe is that his soldiers should ensure that their final wills and other documents are in order. In January, a renowned (to imperialism) think tank called the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released a report called “The First Battle of the Next War – Wargaming a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan”. The report opens with:
What would happen if China attempted an amphibious invasion of Taiwan? CSIS developed a wargame for a Chinese amphibious invasion of Taiwan and ran it 24 times. In most scenarios, the United States/Taiwan/Japan defeated a conventional amphibious invasion by China and maintained an autonomous Taiwan. However, this defense came at high cost. The United States and its allies lost dozens of ships, hundreds of aircraft, and tens of thousands of servicemembers. Taiwan saw its economy devastated. Further, the high losses damaged the U.S. global position for many years. China also lost heavily, and failure to occupy Taiwan might destabilize Chinese Communist Party rule. Victory is therefore not enough. The United States needs to strengthen deterrence immediately.
Why would the U.S. accept the loss of dozens of planes and ships, including, the report states, perhaps two aircraft carriers, and tens of thousands of young soldiers’ lives, not to mention the economic devastation and civilian loss of life in the whole region? This document does provide the answer from the point of view of U.S. imperialism. The U.S. would maintain its global hegemony, at least temporarily:
In 1958, Abramo Organski first developed the notion that war becomes more likely as the capabilities of weaker, dissatisfied states approach those of the established, advantaged states. This theory provides the basis for a natural cycle of the rise and fall of hegemonic powers as unsatisfied and rising challengers defeat them. Graham Allison’s 2018 book about the “Thucydides trap” popularized this notion. The concern is that this theory applies to today, where a rising China challenges the hegemonic status that the United States has enjoyed since the end of the Cold War.
With the capitalist economies becoming more and more out of control, suffering from huge debts, sky high inflation, a massive proxy war with Russia and the threat of a severe economic depression, Wall Street and its political minions are prepared to risk war with a nuclear-armed socialist country just to maintain its grip over this tottering system.
Certainly China has a right to take back Taiwan as part of its national territory, by force if necessary. But it never occurs to this report’s authors that China, as a socialist country, might prefer not to fight a war to seize global capitalist hegemony, because it is not imperialist. Of course, these well-heeled and highly paid analysts blame the Chinese people for this war fever, noting the movies that they watch:
The perception that China and the United States are strategic competitors, once debated, has gained widespread currency in both Washington and Beijing. In the United States, the sentiment has become bipartisan as hope has faded that China will become “a responsible member of the international community.” China’s attitude is hardening also. The two highest-grossing movies in Chinese history both featured the Chinese military taking on and defeating Americans (Wolf Warrior II and The Battle of Lake Changjin).
The latter movie concerns China’s intervention to support the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and to fend off General McArthur’s planned invasion of China during the Korean War. Of course, the CSIS report fails to mention the highly marketed flick “Top Gun 2”, adulating a U.S. aerial attack on some other country.
Biden strong-arms Asian “allies” into the war.
The CSIS report does describe a huge problem for the Pentagon:
Geography generally favors China in the relevant scenarios. Taiwan’s coast is about 160 km (100 miles) from the Chinese mainland but more than 8,000 km (5,000 miles) from Honolulu and 11,000 km (6,875 miles) from San Diego…The United States would be limited to a handful of air bases in the Western Pacific.
Despite the 14 million Chinese deaths, mostly civilian, at the hands of the Japanese military in World War 2, despite the 50 year occupation of the island of Taiwan by Japan, and despite the strong peace movement in Japan itself, Washington has “persuaded” the remilitarized Japanese regime to participate in its imperialist coalition against China.
Also, it was announced that Biden has “convinced” the Marcos government in the Philippines to allow the U.S. to enhance and use military bases on islands on the north side of its archipelago, nearer Taiwan and China. The U.S. military was kicked out of its giant military bases in 1991 by the leadership of its former brutalized colony.
And the Pentagon is reopening bases in the Pacific Island of Guam. As the military newsletter “Task & Purpose” reports:
Recognizing the threat posed by China, the U.S. military has started to strengthen its defenses on Guam, where the Defense Department has committed more than $11 billion in military construction over the next five years. The Missile Defense Agency has also reportedly asked Congress for $539 million to protect the island from Chinese ballistic and cruise missiles as well as hypersonic weapons.
Of course, the 160,000 Guam residents were not consulted about this.
But a real obstacle to Biden’s war drive against China is the sentiment of the residents of Taiwan. In local elections on November 26th, the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which had campaigned on an anti-PRC platform, recorded historic losses against the Kuomintang party (KMT), which, while publicly hostile to the PRC, has negotiated with it and has opened up extensive commercial relations.
In Taiwan’s Parliament, the DPP government had to fend off reports that the U.S. was considering coercing Taiwan into planting explosives around its major computer chip research facility on the island.
General Minihan in his war memo describes how the timing of the war for the U.S. hangs on the island-wide elections being held in 2024. The Pentagon war planners and their patrons in the war industry don’t want any “pro-peace” sentiment by Taiwan’s residents interfering with their plans for a devastating conflict with the PRC.
And they certainly don’t want any opposition from the workers and oppressed here, who have nothing to gain from this threatened conflict. Progressives can and must mobilize to defeat this war drive!