11 August, 2022

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War On China? – IV: Rules-Based International Order: Normalising Global State Terrorism

By Sachithanandam Sathananthan

Dr. Sachithanandam Sathananthan

Barrelling Towards War

The Indo-US strategic manoeuvres to snooker the Peoples Republic of China are unlikely to bear fruit under the UN-administered International Law Regime. The Russian Federation and PRC’s veto in the UN Security Council are formidable obstacles to US ambitions to pursue the Brzezinskian Project for supremacy in Eurasia and, ultimately, global domination. The Project foretells a war without end as nation after nation firmly resists US supremacy, as Russia is doing in Ukraine.

Dr. Rosa Brooks, a Harvard, Oxford and Yale alumnus and Scott K. Ginsburg Professor of Law and Policy at Georgetown University Law Center, in her 2015 essay “There’s No Such Thing as Peacetime”, elaborated that in the “Forever War…[w]artime is the only time we have.” Her views echo the 1932 assertions of Benito Mussolini: “Fascism…believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism… renunciation [of war] is a sign of decay and of death”. Brooks’ position as an adjunct scholar at West Point’s Modern War Institute adds weight to her End of Peace narrative, which dovetails Francis Fukuyama’s End of History Illusion.

President Jimmy Carter’s Polish-American National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski drew inspiration from “Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin [who] shared the assumption that Eurasia is the center of the world and that he who controls Eurasia controls the world” (p.4). When he crafted strategies for the US to dominate the two Eurasian powers Russia and China in his 1997 The Grand Chessboard, he posed the rhetorical question, “will America’s primacy in Eurasia endure?”(p.4) And contended first, the US Empire’s mastery over four crucial dimensions: military, economy, technology and culture (p.19) is unlike all previous empires – from ancient Roman, Chinese, Mongol and recent European Empires; and second, modern Capitalism is dynamic, innovative and ensures a flexible free market. The two conditions together, concluded Brzezinski, guarantee longevity of a stable US global primacy (p.160-61).

Brzezinski’s second contention apparently neglected John Maynard Keynes’ 1933 assessment drawn from The Great Depression of 1929: namely, western capitalism’s dynamism is flagging, that it cannot self-generate full employment (Karl Marx had reached a similar conclusion earlier for different reasons) and, consequently, requires government intervention – deficit financing – to re-float the depressed economies. Regretting governments’ “loan-expenditure” to ensure full employment was hitherto disbursed for war, which entails considerable destruction and misery, Keynes asserted the same outcome could be achieved by funnelling the debt towards wages and salaries to recruit the unemployed and underemployed civilians to build public works, such as roads, bridges and parks. That approach does not compete with private capital’s investment opportunities while the additional incomes generated by deficit expenditures would raise aggregate demand, attract competitive capital to expand consumer goods production and boost labour absorption. President Franklin D. Roosevelt resorted to consumer Keynesianism beginning with the 1933 CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) in his New Deal. Although 2.5 million men were employed between 1933 and 1943, the expected economic rejuvenation did not fully materialise.

Keynes was not wrong to assume competitive capital may respond to a deficit spending stimulus. However, he neglected the psychology of entrepreneurs: they are reluctant to make long term investments based on the short-term enhancement of purchasing power (aggregate demand), as during the New Deal. He was also blindsided by monopoly capital that increasingly dominated core sectors while pushing competitive capital to the economy’s margins. Monopoly capital is far less responsive to consumer Keynesianism; that is, it does not increase output and employment commensurate with the deficit spending stimulus. The US government fell back on war expenditure – military Keynesianism – to build up to WWII and to reach full or near-full employment.

By 1939 “The Cynical Mr. Keynes” adjusted the theory. In his BBC radio address “Will Re-armament Cure Unemployment?”, he “predicted the permanent war economy as a silver lining to war when he announced that ‘if expenditure on armaments really does cure unemployment, I predict that we shall never go back all the way to the old state of affairs. . . . Good may come out of evil’.” NATO’s industrial governments continued debt-financed defence activity during the military campaigns in Korea, Vietnam, Kampuchea, Laos, Nicaragua, Somalia, Gulf (1990s) and the Global War on Terror (2001 onwards). Their permanent reliance on war to push up employment levels is further evidence of structural impediments to economic growth and, probably, of relative decline.

As the national debt spiralled upwards, restricting competitive capital’s space to grow, the State took up the slack. Towards the end of WWII, in 1944, Walter J. Oakes identified “a war economy” in which ”the government’s expenditures for war (or ‘national defense’) become a legitimate and significant end-purpose of economic activity”. Defence funding “not only goes to giants such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman but also filters through subcontractors and supportive nonmilitary firms and organizations to influence ‘professional and business services, financial, information and administrative services, retail trade, leisure and hospitality services, education and health services, construction, and other manufacturing’” – a process that rapidly petrified the war economy into the “permanent war economy”. In it, “the private economy becomes increasingly intertwined with the state. The result is a bloated corporate state and a less dynamic private economy, the vibrancy of which is at the heart of increased standards of living. In undermining the market, the permanent war economy ultimately stifles the process of wealth creation”, leading to stagflation of differing severities since the mid-1970s that did not “cure unemployment”, as Keynes had hoped.

Consequently, the dynamism of Capitalism and the flexibility of free market that Brzezinski expected would guarantee longevity of a stable US global primacy are shaky at best; and his first contention is hardly plausible. The four conditions that enabled its rise are unique to the US Empire and may have enabled its unipolarity in the two post-USSR decades. However, history reveals that unique conditions catalysing the rise of each empire contain within them seeds of its decline and decay.

The self-proclaimed US’ mastery of the military dimension, despite the resort to robotic warfare, is questionable at the very least in the light of the unmitigated debacles in Afghanistan (2021) and Iraq (2009). They rooted even more deeply the Vietnam Syndrome – the public’s opposition to US boots on the ground in foreign wars – and have compelled the US intelligence to prosecute a proxy war in Ukraine.

The gradual degrading of competitive capitalism’s dynamism into monopoly capitalism’s stagflation, brought stunningly to the fore during the 2008 Depression, the simultaneous deepening of the US Permanent War Economy and growing market rigidities on account of the spreading Military-Industrial Complex may indicate the US Empire’s unique internal conditions for decline – sensed as the End of Exceptionalism by Jeffrey Sachs and Cataclysmic Decline by Oliver North – are very likely maturing in keeping with the Laws of History. The recent defiance by several Latin American countries at the Summit of Americas is a further pointer to the US’s weakening grip, in this instance over its so-called “backyard”.

The US’ Permanent War Economy threw up its corresponding superstructure, the Permanent War State that evidently seeks to fabricate a global legal framework, the “Rules-Based International Order”, under its control to administer the Forever War.

Rules-Based International Order (RBIO)

Readers may wonder on whose rules but most US administration officials propelling the RBIO are of little help; they are not forthcoming on whether the “Rules” refer to the International Law Regime under UN auspices. If not, which “Rules”?

The US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken elaborated on RBIO during his 7,310-word address – “The Administration’s Approach to the Peoples republic of China” – at the George Washington University on 26 May 2022.

* He explained the “rules-based international order” as “the system of laws, agreements, principles, and institutions” built after the two World Wars.

He avoided mentioning the UN multilateral framework by name.

* He asserted Russia’s Ukraine operations are “weakening the international order” and that China’s alleged “unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea” is a “serious…challenge” to the international order.

Again he does not clarify whether the “order” is an RBIO or the UN’s International Law Regime.

Blinken seems to not recollect his own country’s 28 (twenty eight) US military interventions between 1948 and the present that egregiously violated the existing International Law.

* Blinken claimed the US has “put diplomacy back at the center of American foreign policy, to…defend and reform the rules-based international order.”

Lofty aims indeed. One would logically expect the US to desist from further undermining International Law and return to the UN to “reform” the existing International Law Regime, but would be sorely disappointed. He spoke vaguely of modifying “a system”.

Could he have the nebulous RBIO in mind?

* US welcome “competition – on a level playing field.” Therefore Blinken ought be encouraged that world powers China and Russia, with India and Brazil close behind, are propelling the world towards multipolarity, levelling the international playing field and opening up space for more equal competition between nations.

However, he insinuated there is “economic coercion and intimidation”, by an un-named China and Russia; that they are taking unfair advantage of democratic multipolarity to vitiate the competitive environment US allegedly fostered under its overwhelming unipolarity. He then stands reality on its head to imply a retreat to unipolarity under US diktat will ensure a level playing field.

Does he view the proxy war in Ukraine to neutralise Russia and war preparations against China in the East as paths back to unipolarity?

Is he moving the goal posts because competitiveness of US industry is falling behind China’s?

In this context Alison’s “Thucydides Trap”, Brooks’ End of Peace “theory” and Blinken’s alleged defence of a non-existent RBIO are strategies to psychologically condition the US and EU populations that this time round the wars are winnable.

The peoples enjoying the historically strong socialistic or extensive welfare policies in the EU and particularly in the Scandinavian countries tend to resist the psychological conditioning. However, their elites who depend on the US market for their exports and US-led NATO’s umbrella for security have inveigled most people, who are still in doubt, to fall in line behind the intervention in Ukraine. The democratic forces are mounting a moral challenge to the corporate media’s propaganda that demonises Russia and China. They are struggling to raise awareness among people that China is not an existential threat, that China’s assistance is crucial to combat global crises, such as the looming environmental catastrophe, nuclear disarmament and poverty alleviation. And the people are listening.

Reading between the lines Washington’s palpable intention is to emasculate Collective Security under UN’s International Law Regime by extending US laws to other sovereign nations in the guise of an RBIO. More dangerously, it is an anti-democracy manoeuvre to apparently enforce an RBIO through NATO’s military machine upon the current Eurasian challengers, Russia and China, and thereafter on the rest of the Globe.

Many will no doubt recollect how Nazi Germany too viewed the Collective Security approach of the multilateral League of Nations as a constraint on its lunge towards war to carve out its Third Reich (Empire). The archives of the United States Holocaust Museum holds evidence of Germany’s gambit: “Adolph Hitler’s foreign policy aimed at establishing a European Empire for Germany through war…The Geneva Disarmament Conference, beginning in 1932, sought to avoid another European War by negotiating a reduction in armaments. Hitler repudiated this effort by withdrawing Germany from the conference in October 1933. At the same time, he rejected collective security in international affairs by withdrawing from the League of Nations. Instead, Nazi Germany embarked on a vast military construction programme.” Berlin contended it must re-arm to achieve parity in military power as an indispensable precondition for peace: “Germany is ready at any time to conclude continental non-aggression pacts for long periods to serve European peace and cultural reconstruction,” provided military parity was accepted as “an inalienable condition for Germany’s participation in internal institutions and agreements.”

Hitler insisted on reaching military parity as a cover to ratchet up rearmament to achieve two objectives. First, since private capital was incapable of resuscitating the depression-ridden German economy, he boosted arms production to pull the economy up by its military bootstraps. Second, he sought military dominance to rule over the quarrelsome European nations and draw their vast colonial possessions, especially the energy-rich ones, under the imperial umbrella of his Third Reich to be followed by the conquest of the USSR and, presumably, the rest of Eurasia thereafter. Hitler ideologically justified his ambition by conjuring up the illusion of a Thousand-Year-Reich as necessary to win peace through war.

The US Neoconservatives William Kristol and Robert Kagan formed the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in 1997 – the same year Brzezinski published his Chessboard; they and their associates (Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld) too chased after a similar mirage: of establishing a global Pax Americana supposedly under US’ “benevolent hegemony”, through the 21st Century. They urged “the U.S. must play a leading role in the world, affirm its values without apology, and recommend them to all mankind.” If other nations are not wise enough to appreciate US’ “idealistic tradition”, then “the quarter of a trillion dollars in our annual Pentagon [1997] budget is no trifling sum”.

They are driven by the fear of rising Asia, that the illusion of a New American Century is vanishing fast and the 21st Century is likely to be the Asian and, more precisely, the Chinese Century. The global political-economic centre of gravity resided in Asia largely between the two most prosperous economies of India and China for more than two millennia. Marco Polo did not travel to Amsterdam, he went to China; Vasco da Gama visited India, not France; and Christopher Columbus sailed in search of India, by-passing Britain. The Dual Revolutions – the British Industrial and French Political Revolutions – and the growth of European Empires logically shifted the global focus to Western Europe little more than two centuries ago. Equally logically the rise of India and China is returning the global centre of gravity back to Asia.

The total white populations in major NATO countries – US (156.22m), Canada (27.97m), UK (57.99m), The Netherlands (13,332,463), Germany (73.14m), France (59.02m), Italy (57.27m), Spain (39,618,652) and Portugal (9,634,592) – is 494.22 million or about 6.28% out of the total global population of 7.86 billion. The dominant white political classes, estimated as an approximately 12% minority, is 59.30 million or 0.55% of the global population; they are equivalent to 1.97% of the combined populations of Russia, China and India, which together contain about 3 billion. The (0.24%) US elite’s hubris is premised mainly on the possession of nuclear weapons and pervades the Brzezinskian Project for global domination.

The dominant political classes wish to prevent the wheel of history from returning the global political-economic centre of gravity to Asia. Their economies’ structural rigidities do not allow them to learn from the successes of Scandinavia’s market/welfare economic systems. Instead they are stampeding their respective populations by drumming up China and Russia as immediate threats to economic growth and full employment in their own countries to mask the economic system’s irreversible structural weaknesses as well as justify the lunge towards war to block the rise, primarily, of the economically and technologically more successful China.

Is the United Nations going the same way as the League of Nations?

The Neoconservatives’ goal of entrenching US’ “benevolent hegemony” seeped into successive administrations. They contrived to vitiate the UN’s multilateral institutions that stand in the way of untrammelled exercise of US Absolutism (euphemistically, “Exceptionalism”). Its damaging influence persists in President Trump’s disdain for the inter-governmental UN framework that has disturbing overtones to Hitler, bent on war, devaluing the League of Nations’ role in promoting collective security. Some US politicians urged the country should quit the UN, a “supranational entity”, they claim, has “violated the US Constitution, such as the implementation of the International Court of Justice and the Law of the Sea Treaty, both of which the United States does not currently endorse.”

The Neoconservative influence deepened US unilateralism: the Trump administration rescinded the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Arms Control Treaty with Russia in August 2019 to free the M-I Complex to develop and test a new generation of weapons including cruise missiles, evidently as a step towards “Making America Great Again”.

In February 2021 Germany and France (the latter stubbornly holds on to colonial territories by subsuming them within “Overseas France”) organised the Alliance for Multilateralism alleging the existing UN “multilateral order based on the respect of international law is weakened”. They assert the Alliance seeks to salvage the UN International Law Regime while, in an Orwellian turn, manoeuvring to side-line, and perhaps atrophy, the same multinational legal framework by foisting an alternative “informal alliance of countries that are convinced that multilateralism founded on respect for international law is the only reliable guarantee for international stability and peace and that the challenges we are facing can only be solved through cooperation.” This implies that countries outside the charmed Alliance, including Russia and China, do not sufficiently respect international law.

However, the vast majority of UN’s member-countries firmly challenge the NATO elite’s machinations and are committed to preserving and strengthening their existing multilateral institutions. For instance, the people-centred World Political Parties Virtual Summit, convened by China in July, is mobilising worldwide opinion and support to protect the (endangered) UN multilateral framework.

President Joe Biden in turn convened the December, 2021 Virtual Summit for Democracy. The “Time” magazine, no friend of Russia or China, condemned the Summit as “the height of hypocrisy;” for favouring States that pay obeisance to US power as “democracies” and excluding those that challenge it as “totalitarian”. At the risk of exaggeration, the Biden-defined “Democracies” are perhaps not dissimilar to Hitler’s sprachraum (linguistic region) of German-speaking minorities.

President Joe Biden raised a RBIO in the context of the confrontation with the PRC during his address to the UN General Assembly’s 76th Session in September 2021, while ignoring the existing International Law Regime. President Xi Jinping, speaking at the same venue, swiftly and unequivocally rejected the US manoeuvre to sidestep the UN framework: “[t[here is only one system in the world, and that is the international system with the United Nations at its core. There is only one order, and that is the international order based on international law. There is only one set of rules, and that is the basic norms of international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.”

Previous posts

War on China? – I

War on China? – II

War on China? – III

[Next: A “Carnival” of Quads]

*Dr Sachithanandam Sathananthan is an independent researcher who received his Ph.D degree from the University of Cambridge. He was Visiting Research Scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University School of International Studies and taught World History at Karachi University’s Institute of Business Administration. He is an award-winning filmmaker and may be reached at: commentaries.ss@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 4
    4

    “as nation after nation firmly resists US supremacy, as Russia is doing in Ukraine”
    Isn’t this a reckless blanket statement?
    If destroying Ukraine amounts to resisting US supremacy, then wouldn’t India be justified in taking over our NE because Tamils are discriminated against /the Chinese have too influence ?
    It is true that the US is trying to corner China, but the Chinese haven’t taken to unproductive belligerence like Putin’s Russia. Russia wants to be seen as great. China knows it already is.
    Still I don’t understand why a Marxist would still afford knee-jerk support to Russia, which is not even close to being Marxist.

    • 1
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      old codger

      “Still I don’t understand why a Marxist would still afford knee-jerk support to Russia, which is not even close to being Marxist.”


      You see old habits die hard. You can’t just shrug off old ideological loyalties just like that. Now look at SJ, how strong his attachment to Red Book, Mao and Siri Mao and SJ is willing to suffer for it. Jesus died on cross to bring all the sinners close to God. Like Jesus SJ suffers in order to bring us close to Mao and Mao’s China.

      I wish him well.

      • 2
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        OC/NV,

        People like SS, SJ, and DRS remind me of how Eric Hobswam remained a committed pro-Soviet communist long after communism’s colossal atrocities and lies had been exposed and long after the implosion of the Soviet Union. Simply because he was a prolific academic and produced good prose, he won many awards and in some circles, he continued to be taken seriously, but his writings were fundamentally based on lies.

        Now, I am not saying capitalist societies don’t have their own lies and deceptions, but on the whole, the people in democratic Western countries have ample freedoms to expose these lies and arrive at the truth, in contrast to the totalitarian societies of China and Russia.

        Russian actions in Ukraine have amply demonstrated that Ukraine’s desire to join the NATO alliance for defensive purposes was justified. But I have given up trying to get these delusional academics to recognize that fact.

        • 2
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          Agnos,
          Perhaps it’s something to do with old habits dying hard.
          “People like SS, SJ, and DRS remind me….”
          DRS??? Seriously? What DRS reminds me of is the earliest versions of the AI software Eliza, which could simulate a rational conversation, but ended up talking in circles.

        • 4
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          “how Eric Hobswam remained a committed pro-Soviet communist long after communism’s colossal atrocities and lies had been exposed”
          Yes, Agnos, do not we have people who are ardent believers in the democracy and justice of the US, even after its colossal atrocities and lies had been exposed since WWII with very much stronger evidence— let alone what it did in Latin America from the 19th Century.

          • 2
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            SJ,

            You utterly lack a sense of proportion in comparing atrocities. It is pointless to discuss things with a thoroughly brainwashed communist who has bought into conspiracy theories.

            The answer to any American perfidy is to come up with a powerful country that can do much better than America while maintaining democratic freedoms, certainly not countries where people are locked up for their views, where fake nationalism, the cult of personality, and megalomania reign, and where people are being used as cannon fodder.

    • 4
      2

      OC
      Kindly examine in some detail what has happened in US-Russia relations since the collapse of the USSR, in the context of pledges by the US to Gorbachev about not expanding NATO.
      Russia passibvely saw the dismantling of Yugoslavia, and let Iraq and Libya pass. It woke up to reality when US meddling escalated in Syria. They hit back successfully. The coup in Ukraine was a decisive retaliatory move by the US. There are too many subsequent details to name here.
      I will sum it up: The US thought that it had Russia under the wraps with Yeltsin. But Yeltsin was rejected by Russia, and the virulently anti-communist Putin restored the Russian economy, albeit based on the surge in oil prices, and restored its credibility as a power. Since then the US has done everything possible to destabilise Russia. But failed.
      Let us wait and see how things will play out in the coming months.

  • 4
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    Length and complexity of these articles by Sachithanandam Sathananthan
    (SS) may make it difficult to comprehend on first reading. SS forces us to think anew, to jettison false belief embedded in us, which was done with ulterior motives. Abandoning ingrained thinking for new intelligence is never easy. It is like abandoning religion, the faith and conviction of our forefathers in which we blindly believe.
    But take the plunge. Rebut nonsense. You will emerge enlightened.

    • 3
      1

      S
      Very true

  • 5
    1

    In pre-pandemic 2019, there were 155 million outbound Chinese tourists who toured the world. That year in Australia alone, some 1.4 million Chinese nationals visited, spending $12.4 billion, exceeding the per capita spend of all other tourists, including those from the US and Europe.
    They all went back home. None wanted asylum or refugee status.
    Yet, comments on Colombo Telegraph often tell us people in Russia and China are oppressed by their governments and denied all sorts of freedoms enjoyed by the West, notably the US.
    Whether such commentators have ever known a Russian or Chinese national is a moot point.
    This commentator has travelled in all three countries and can add the USA.
    One night I found myself waiting for a late train in a New York station and happened to stray outside where a Lebanese man in a kiosk was selling kebabs. An African American bought a kebab along with me. He gave me some friendly advice. ‘Get back into the station and get on your train. Don’t walk about these parts or anywhere in American unless you know what you’ve doing. Otherwise you can get killed. Not for money or anything. Just drug addicts, mad men and women, or people wanting to test guns or knives. You must know about Americans shooting people because of their skin colour or for other lunatic reasons. We have the largest jail population.’

  • 1
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    Correction. The last but on line in my comment should read: ‘We have the world’s largest population in jail.’

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