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Washington is Sprinting (Not Sleepwalking) Into War With China

by | Jul 2, 2024

Washington is Sprinting (Not Sleepwalking) Into War With China

by | Jul 2, 2024

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The narrative that America is “sleepwalking” toward war with China is a dangerously misleading myth. Far from a somnambulant stumble, the United States is being deliberately led by national security and military elites into a conflict with China, with Congress eagerly tripping over itself to out-hawk each other. The motivation? A toxic blend of defense industry contributions and a misguided sense of geopolitical dominance.

Since becoming president, Joe Biden’s pronouncements have starkly reversed the longstanding U.S. policy of “Strategic Ambiguity” concerning Taiwan. Historically, this policy served to keep both China and Taiwan guessing about American intentions, thus maintaining a precarious balance and deterring rash actions from either side. However, Biden’s statements have ushered in an era of “Strategic Clarity,” unequivocally asserting that the United States would intervene militarily if China were to invade Taiwan. This stance is a profound shift, especially given that the U.S. has no treaty obligation to defend Taiwan, and Congress has not granted the president the authority to engage militarily in such a conflict—at least not yet.

Moreover, the presence of U.S. military personnel on Taiwan and on the Kinmen islands, the latter a mere few miles from the Chinese mainland, underscores this aggressive posture. This deployment is not a defensive measure but a provocative act, practically begging for a confrontation. It signals to China that the United States is not merely interested in protecting Taiwan’s sovereignty but is actively preparing for potential hostilities.

Escalated arms sales to Taiwan further exacerbate the situation. Washington’s increased military aid and sophisticated weaponry to Taipei are perceived by Beijing as an unmistakable threat, pushing the region closer to the brink of war. These actions are complemented by Washington’s broader strategy of economic warfare against China, including tariffs, sanctions, and efforts to decouple the two economies. This economic aggression, designed to weaken China’s global standing, only serves to heighten tensions and fuel the fire of conflict.

Washington’s belligerence extends beyond Taiwan, with the United States promising to intervene in various territorial disputes between China and its neighbors. The South China Sea is a hotbed of such conflicts, with the Philippines’ claims over certain shoals leading to live clashes in recent months. The U.S. backing of these claims, regardless of their merit, is a clear signal of its intent to challenge China’s regional influence aggressively.

Adding to this volatile mix, Kurt Campbell, the architect of Obama’s “Pivot to East Asia” policy, recently declared that the era of positive engagement with China is over. This “Pivot” was always a transparent move to begin containing China, but Campbell’s recent statements mark a shift toward outright confrontation. Both the former and current heads of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command have also in the past year bluntly stated that they are preparing for an immediate war with China, further illustrating the calculated and deliberate nature of Washington’s actions.

This orchestrated march toward conflict is not driven by some irrational fear or a defensive need to protect American interests. Instead, it is a strategic choice made by the U.S. leadership to assert dominance in the Asia-Pacific region. This approach disregards the catastrophic potential of such a conflict, which could easily escalate into a global disaster, if not total annihilation.

It is crucial to understand that this is not a one-sided issue where China is the sole aggressor. Unlike the U.S., China is not conducting military exercises in the Gulf of Mexico or deploying troops near American borders. Instead, it is the United States that is aggressively poking around the South China Sea and positioning itself as a hegemonic force in a region far from its shores.

Media portrayal of the situation as a sleepwalk toward war is not just inaccurate but dangerous. It obscures the calculated and provocative actions of the United States, misleading the public into believing that conflict is an inadvertent outcome rather than a deliberate strategy. The reality is that Washington is not passively drifting into war but sprinting headlong into it, driven by a blend of military ambition and geopolitical strategy.

In conclusion, the responsibility for the escalating tensions and the imminent threat of conflict with China lies squarely with Washington. The U.S. is actively choosing a path of confrontation, one that threatens not just regional stability but global peace—in a recent visit Xi Jinping said as much to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, saying he felt Washington was trying to “goad” China into starting a war over Taiwan; it being a serious red line for Beijing, that may just be what happens (see: Ukraine).

It is imperative that Washington’s aggressive stance is recognized for what it is by the American public: a reckless and potentially world-destroying gamble that serves the interests of a few at the expense of many. Only by acknowledging this can we hope to steer away from the brink of disaster and seek a more peaceful and sustainable approach to international relations.

Joseph Solis-Mullen

Joseph Solis-Mullen

Author of The Fake China Threat and Its Very Real Danger, Joseph Solis-Mullen is a political scientist, economist, and Ralph Raico Fellow at the Libertarian Institute. A graduate of Spring Arbor University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Missouri, his work can be found at the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Libertarian Institute, Journal of Libertarian Studies, Journal of the American Revolution, and Antiwar.com. You can contact him via joseph@libertarianinstitute.org or find him on Twitter @solis_mullen.

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