US hawks’ ‘China threat’ paranoia knows no bounds

By Clifford A. Kiracofe Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/15 15:18:39 Last Updated: 2019/9/15 23:28:14

Photo: IC

Hawks in the US have found a convenient pretext to push the "China threat" propaganda in the garb of the Hong Kong protests. By ramping up anti-China hysteria, they are trying to tar the country's name closer to a momentous occasion — the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. 

Washington's foreign policy became militarized during the Cold War. Diplomacy played second fiddle to Washington's global system of military alliances directed against the former Soviet Union and China. So the "China threat" meme is an old theme in America's military-industrial complex.

With the demise of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, the new Russian Federation morphed into the "Russia threat." With the rise of China in recent years, the "China threat" theory took hold in Washington. The "Islam threat" emerged as well and then focused on the "Iran threat."

Does American paranoia know no bounds?

The newest buzzword in Washington is that China presents an "existential" threat. Hysteria in Washington seems to have reached new heights. Of course, it is arguable that the new "China existential threat" theory is just a rehash of the racist 19th century "Yellow Peril" hysteria in the US.

The existential threat posed by China to many in Washington is said to be civilizational, as a Trump administration official recently pronounced arrogantly. The old Cold War formula of the West versus the Communist East has taken a new meaning now by merging anti-Communist political ideology with overt racism.

Who are the hawks?

The present-day political landscape in Washington on the hawkish side is a mélange of old Cold Warriors plus neoconservatives. The Cold Warriors are simply next generation products of the 1950s military-industrial complex. 

The neoconservatives are a policy network established at the end of WWII originally as Cold War Truman Democrats. They supported the new state of Israel and opposed the Soviet Union and New China. Thus, Cold War Zionists for short.

Because former US President Jimmy Carter wanted to promote peace in the Middle East, many neoconservatives moved to the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan. They, and their successors, remain in the Republican Party and now surround Donald Trump. 

Neoconservatives are also influential in the US Congress among Republicans but also among the hawkish Democrats. Neoconservatives are influential in a number of think tanks which in turn produce policy papers for Congressmen and Senators. Congressional staffers convert these policy papers into speeches and for their members and legislation.

Congressional staffers, generally in their 20s and with no specialization and expertise, are easily influenced by hawkish think tanks. The members themselves are influenced by prominent academic, government, and military anti-China hawks who testify in various hearings before Congress.

While over 100 experts recently signed a letter calling for a balanced China policy, Congress and the White House seem unmoved. There are few moderate voices on China in the Congress. 

The vocal bipartisan support for the riotous opposition and secessionists in Hong Kong underscores this reality. China hawks of all feathers are shrieking these days in the corridors of power in Washington.

It is not going to be easy for Washington to repair relations with Beijing. Realistically, the trade and tech war and escalation of military activity against China precludes any early stabilization of relations. This is particularly true in the run up to the 2020 election when China bashing is a favorite of American politicians.

Fortunately, China's leadership is calmly and methodically trying to manage relations with a volatile, erratic, and bullying America. China's patience is no doubt not limited nor is the patience of US allies and friends around the world.

The US must introspect on its relative decline in a multipolar world. Washington urgently needs a new China policy that is constructive. 

The author is an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Newspaper headline: Amid Chinese resurgence, US hard-liners’ paranoia knows no bounds

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