US exports death, destruction under the name of spreading democracy: anti-war activist
Published: Nov 06, 2021 12:19 PM
The White House in Washington D.C., the United States, March 16, 2020.(Photo: Xinhua)

The White House in Washington D.C., the United States, March 16, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

Editor's Note:

Is China a US enemy? Many in the US government think so, labelling China as a 100 percent adversary and hyping wars with China. But CODEPINK, an anti-war NGO in the US, launched a campaign called "China is Not Our Enemy" to advocate peace with China. Global Times (GT) reporters Wang Wenwen and Yu Jincui talked to Madison Tang (Tang), coordinator of the campaign, on the actions they have taken and her perceptions on disastrous US wars.

GT: What are the considerations behind launching the China is Not Our Enemy campaign? To what extent do you expect the campaign to help avoid a US war with China?

Tang: The campaign was started by our cofounder of CODEPINK, Women for Peace,  Jodie Evans. She was visiting China and her husband was living and working there and she was also studying the poverty alleviation there. She was seeing how different the reality was for society in China from the mainstream media and propaganda in the West and in the US. 

So she started this campaign China is Not Our Enemy and the goal is to dismantle and challenge the US' hybrid war and aggression toward China by promoting mutual respect, understanding, cooperation and love for humanity.

We have a strategy of popular education through webinars and through grassroots educating. We try to combat American exceptionalism and try to disrupt the bias of mainstream media, the State Department and the ruling class about China, which a lot of times is used to manufacture consent for war. That's what we're seeing and trying to combat. We are trying to disrupt the propaganda arm of the military-industrial complex, advocate on a local level as well as national and international and to build the movement and build our coalition, which includes international organizations in the peace movement because US imperialist aggression on China does impact people all over the world.

GT: The US has been using the Taiwan card to contain China and keeps hyping up military tensions in the Taiwan Straits. How do you interpret such behaviour?

Tang: We are seeing a lot in the Western mainstream media and government discussion of Chinese military aggression toward Taiwan and fears around China militarily invading Taiwan. But we don't hear enough about how the US military is in that region heavily hundreds of bases surrounding China and how in recent months and even weeks, US warships have passed through the Taiwan Straits along with US partners, including Canada, prior to that the UK, as the US has been shoring up these alliances in the region.

We see in addition to that there is a $750 million arms sales to Taiwan. There's so much sensationalizing that is one sided and doesn't show that the US is also aggressive and it's aggressive in an area that is very far away from the continental US.

GT: US politicians have been fanning the flames of anti-China hysteria toward China, but how many Americans really support a war with China?

Tang: To be completely honest, there's a steady increase in trends of polling of US citizen toward ideas of holding China accountable for alleged grievances and crimes. Increasing aggression toward China, seeing China as an enemy which directly translates to the need to defend Taiwan and go to war.

There's so much bias and lack of historical context around China and the US so that makes it very easy for citizens to read mainstream media that is propaganda to manufacture consent for war and not really question it and question what's actually happening in the east and in China.

GT: How big is the political influence of the military-industrial complex in the US? What role does it play in fabricating the "China threat" theory or "Russia threat" theory?

Tang: That's a huge part of the peace movement and mobilizing against US-led wars here in the US. It's a huge part of what CODEPINK is up against. It can't be stated enough how large the role is. It is a huge part of the US economy. We refer to that as the US war economy or the war machine that we are urging a lot of Congress members to divest from. 

It's very related to Russia because the first nation that the US wanted to contain was the Soviet Union and now Russia. In a lot of Pentagon planning documents, they've essentially now just swapped out Russia for China or added both to have this new pre-emptive rival because we know China is poised to surpass the US economically, non-violently. 

As I said, the pivot to Asia started under Obama, and so this plan to continue forever wars, which are very profitable for weapons contractors in the US. It started before 9/11 and it continues now through this huge push in Congress and the US government for a war on China for increased weapons transfers and increased troops.

There's a lot of private entities, not just Congress or the Biden administration, the White House. There are all the lobbyists who Congress members take a huge amount of money from and some of the weapons contractors in the US that are benefiting hugely from this arms race and build-up of war against China. They also were the same companies that benefited hugely from the global war on terror and the war in Afghanistan.

GT: It turns out that the reasons that the US launched wars, such as "maintaining peace" and "protecting civilians," are exactly opposite to what the US has done. With the US wars failing one after another, how will such US rhetoric lose appeal?

Tang: There are a lot of reasons and justifications that the US intervenes and invades other nations and uses those reasons to get US citizens to support those wars in a very nationalistic kind of way.

But if we look at Afghanistan where we recently withdrew troops from, one of the justifications that Bush gave for intervening was to help women's rights and Muslim human rights for women and children especially, that was not really accomplished after that war. 

The conditions are worse than ever in terms of the infrastructure being destroyed, public health having been broken down just by intense bombing, drone strikes, poverty, malnutrition, poor sanitation. It's really important to remember those kind of costs and impacts of these interventions and cyclical wars that the US perpetuates while profiting from the arms trade and weapons contractors. But the rhetoric losing its appeal for US citizens really depends because so many US citizens can read mainstream media and not have the instinct or a context to question it at all.

And these justifications actually have been going on for a long time, at least with the global war on terror. But even before that, with the ideas of colonialism in the first place. So I think it's important that we remember the impact of these US wars abroad, the ways that we said we were going to accomplish those justifications did not get accomplished.

GT: General Patton once said, "Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war." The falsehood of such statement is clear to all. Do you think any US general has the confidence to say so today? Why?

Tang: It is completely inaccurate. In the last several decades, the US just seemed to be losing every single war and every single intervention. I think there's been a lot of retired US generals and military leaders who have come out what their moral conscience about, what they've seen while they were in service, some of the war times they witnessed and some of the false justifications and narratives around US wars. 

I think while they're serving in office and in the military, it is much more unlikely that anyone like US generals would have the confidence to say so because they are still serving that role, they are still performing the violence of the US. They need a justification to continue doing that. They have to save face about so many of the self-defeating policies of the US military.

GT: Since WWII, almost every US president launched or intervened in foreign wars during their tenure. Why is the US such a bellicose country?

Tang: It's true. The US has just continued to launch foreign wars and intervene in other nations' affairs, which is just remarkable to compare to China which really hasn't intervened and waged war in decades. So it's a big difference in aggression and imperial violence. There is an addiction and there is a capitalist profit motive to these wars. They are not just purely based on violence and destruction, although that's a huge component. They are also based on profit and trillions of dollars, a lot of which is coming from US citizens.

US citizens should understand that this money could be going to their health care as we deal with the pandemic. They could be going to housing and education, things like that. I think also with US citizens, there's another component where there's a desensitization to mass death and violence, particularly because our wars are overseas primarily. 

And then we just prosecute whistle-blowers who make those crimes public knowledge like Daniel Hale and Julian Assange. So there's a desensitization.

GT: Why do you think the US has failed in promoting its values on other countries? 

Tang: A lot of it has to do with the difference between saying something and doing something. The US as a military power, a political power, an economic power, it so often is hypocritical. The US was talking about how we haven't been in war while we have wars ongoing right now. A lot of them are just covert with secret operations in many countries in Africa, Central Asia, etc. 

When people of other countries that we are invading see the violence of our military, they see drone strikes around them, they fear buildings crumbling, the sound of warplanes and tanks, it's very hard for those people to see the US as any kind of democratic, freedom-loving, human rights-loving kind of nation because what we're doing, even though we say we aren't exporting violence, we're exporting death and destruction, and we're putting it under the name of spreading democracy.