The Shifting Ground - The Migration Planet and Oopsie, War by Miscalculation

If you listen closely enough you might hear the faint thunder of their footsteps even from half a world away. What you're hearing is the telltale sound of the Migration Planet and it will soon get a little louder, a little clearer, a little nearer.

Our leaders will struggle with this new normal. Even the best intentioned will be confounded. There's an excellent chance that, before long, we will see things, we will do things that today would shock our conscience. Half the world sees countries like ours as their lifeboat. Those manning the oars will be rowing for all they're worth to avoid the boarders. 

Aviva Chomsky writes Joe Biden is truly on the horns of a dilemma.

Joe Biden entered the White House with some inspiring yet contradictory positions on immigration and Central America. He promised to reverse Donald Trump’s draconian anti-immigrant policies while, through his “Plan to Build Security and Prosperity in Partnership with the People of Central America,” restoring “U.S. leadership in the region” that he claimed Trump had abandoned. For Central Americans, though, such “leadership” has an ominous ring.

Although the second half of his plan’s name does, in fact, echo that of left-wing, grassroots organizations like the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), its content highlights a version of security and prosperity in that region that’s more Cold War-like than CISPES-like. Instead of solidarity (or even partnership) with Central America, Biden’s plan actually promotes an old economic development model that has long benefited U.S. corporations. It also aims to impose a distinctly militarized version of “security” on the people of that region. In addition, it focuses on enlisting Central American governments and, in particular, their militaries to contain migration through the use of repression.

Biden hopes that restoring civil society to Central America will staunch the flow of migration. Restoring the rule of law, security and economic development - that's the ticket.

As it happens, this is the very model that Washington has imposed on the countries of Central America over the past century, one that’s left its lands corrupt, violent, and impoverished, and so continued to uproot Central Americans and send them fleeing toward the United States.

Crucial to Biden’s plan, as to those of his predecessors, is another key element: to coerce Mexico and Guatemala into serving as proxies for the wall only partially built along the southern border of the U.S. and proudly promoted by presidents from Bill Clinton to Donald Trump.

Just as we have created a planet with far more people than it can sustain, just as we have grown a global economy vastly beyond the biosphere's ability to provide resources, we are going to be confronted by the consequences of our profligacy and, in some cases, the solutions will be brutal, perhaps even murderous. 

If Biden goes soft on migration he risks losing the Senate, possibly even the House, to the Republicans in the mid-terms. He could be put out of the White House in 2024. We have all seen what's going on in the United States. We have witnessed the near total breakdown of social cohesion and the ascendancy of tribalism.

And so the ground shifts beneath our feet.



Shifting from Central America to East Asia, Michael Klare asks if the US and China are stumbling into a conflict that could ignite the world war of our nightmares.

This has been a subject of great debate among the best military-geopolitical minds for several years. It is becoming a strengthening orthodoxy in the war studies department of Kings College, London and their counterparts in the U.S. 

World War One was an unwanted war, a blunder by nations that had no desire to clash on the battlefields of Europe, tearing themselves apart. The current theory is that a similar war, sparked by some similar inadvertent event, could set authoritarian Eurasia (Russia and China) against the Western democracies only this time with nuclear weapons.

The leaders of China and the United States certainly don’t seek a war with each another. Both the Biden administration and the regime of Chinese President Xi Jinping view economic renewal and growth as their principal objectives. Both are aware that any conflict arising between them, even if restricted to Asia and conducted with non-nuclear weapons — no sure bet — would produce catastrophic regional damage and potentially bring the global economy to its knees. So, neither group has any intention of deliberately starting a war. Each, however, is fully determined to prove its willingness to go to war if provoked and so is willing to play a game of military chicken in the waters (and air space) off China’s coast. In the process, each is making the outbreak of war, however unintended, increasingly likely.

...Sadly, we face the possibility of a very similar situation in the coming years. The three major military powers of the current era — China, the United States, and Russia — are all behaving eerily like their counterparts of that earlier era. All three are deploying forces on the borders of their adversaries, or the key allies of those adversaries, and engaging in muscle-flexing and “show-of-force” operations intended to intimidate their opponent(s), while demonstrating a will to engage in combat if their interests are put at risk. As in the pre-1914 period, such aggressive maneuvers involve a high degree of risk when it comes to causing an accidental or unintended clash that could result in full-scale combat or even, at worst, global warfare.

...Provocative military maneuvers now occur nearly every day along Russia’s border with the NATO powers in Europe and in the waters off China’s eastern coastline. Much can be said about the dangers of escalation from such maneuvers in Europe, but let’s instead fix our attention on the situation around China, where the risk of an accidental or unintended clash has been steadily growing. Bear in mind that, in contrast to Europe, where the borders between Russia and the NATO countries are reasonably well marked and all parties are careful to avoid trespassing, the boundaries between Chinese and U.S./allied territories in Asia are often highly contested.

...The leaders of the U.S. and China are determined that their countries will defend what it defines as its strategic interests in such contested areas. For Beijing, this means asserting its sovereignty over Taiwan, the Diaoyu Islands, and the islands of the South China Sea, as well as demonstrating an ability to take and defend such territories in the face of possible Japanese, Taiwanese, or U.S. counterattacks. For Washington, it means denying the legitimacy of China’s claims and ensuring that its leadership can’t realize them through military means. Both sides recognize that such contradictory impulses are only likely to be resolved through armed conflict. Short of war, however, each seems intent on seeing how far it can provoke the other, diplomatically and militarily, without triggering a chain reaction ending in disaster.

Playing with Matches.

In the years leading up to World War I, it was common for major powers to deploy their naval forces in waters near their adversaries or near rebellious client states in that age of colonialism to suggest the likelihood of punishing military action if certain demands weren’t met. The U.S. used just such “gunboat diplomacy,” as it was then called, to control the Caribbean region, forcing Colombia, for example, to surrender the territory Washington sought to build a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Today, gunboat diplomacy is once again alive and well in the Pacific, with both China and the U.S. engaging in such behavior.

China is now using its increasingly powerful navy and coast guard on a regular basis to intimidate other claimants to islands it insists are its own in the East and South China Seas — Japan in the case of the Senkakus; and Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines in the case of the Spratlys and Paracels. In most instances, this means directing its naval and coast guard vessels to drive off the fishing boats of such countries from waters surrounding Chinese-claimed islands. In the case of Taiwan, China has used its ships and planes in a menacing fashion to suggest that any move toward declaring independence from the mainland will be met with a harsh military response.

For Washington in the Biden era, assertive military maneuvers in the East and South China Seas are a way of saying: no matter how far such waters may be from the U.S., Washington and the Pentagon are still not prepared to cede control of them to China. This has been especially evident in the South China Sea, where the U.S. Navy and Air Force regularly conduct provocative exercises and show-of-force operations intended to demonstrate America’s continuing ability to dominate the region — as in February, when dual carrier task forces were dispatched to the region. For several days, the USS Nimitz and the USS Theodore Roosevelt, along with their accompanying flotillas of cruisers and destroyers, conducted mock combat operations in the vicinity of islands claimed by China. “Through operations like this, we ensure that we are tactically proficient to meet the challenge of maintaining peace and we are able to continue to show our partners and allies in the region that we are committed to promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific,” was the way Rear Admiral Doug Verissimo, commander of the Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, explained those distinctly belligerent actions.

Mr. Klare argues it's time for Washington and Beijing to put aside this game of chicken and recognize the enormity of what's at stake for their countries and for the world if they persist. Once again Biden is hoist on a petard of electoral politics on Capitol Hill. It's chilling that both Beijing and the Republican leadership want a hopelessly weak presidency.

Again, the ground shifts.

Comments

  1. Mound it's becoming to look more like book review rather than a comment section!

    As for Bidens desires for centro America.
    The area needs monies to create an economy.
    That money is not forthcoming until they give up their natural resources to the west, particularly the USA who control the flow.
    The USA always has to have a war on something to move ahead.

    TB

    TB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think it will come down to Biden's altruism, TB. We've known for at least 20 years that Central America is going to become seasonally uninhabitable due to the impacts of climate change. That is a terrible fate for a region where a good many of the people rely on subsistence farming.

      As for Biden and the Democrats, migration could undermine their chances of holding on to power past the mid-terms. Then what?

      Delete
  2. US Foreign Policy sucks. Provocative in the extreme.
    If I were in charge of China or Russia, I'd be arming my country to the teeth.

    Canada is lock step with the US bullies at the moment:
    Bolivia, Venezuela, Haiti, Ukraine, Palestine, Meng, etc etc
    And we just sent one of our toy warships through the South CHINA sea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Before you condemn the US, NPoV, remember China's bellicose tactics in the South China Sea, its occupation of Tibet and the ethnic laundering of that region, the Uighurs, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Canadian hostages. Your US/China balance is out of whack.

      Delete
    2. "China Isn’t the Problem, Neoliberalism Is"

      https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/04/02/china-isnt-the-problem-neoliberalism-is/

      Delete
    3. "India protests US Navy ship’s transit through its waters without consent

      The US Seventh Fleet said the USS John Paul Jones had asserted ‘navigational rights and freedoms’ in the Lakshadweep islands inside India’s EEZ

      But the Indian foreign ministry said that UN rules did not allow such passage without consent"

      hmmmm

      Delete
  3. This kind of speculative scenario is 'best case'.

    https://www.juancole.com/2021/04/robinsons-subversive-emergency.html

    Worth reading (imho) for radical ideas as much as entertainment.
    Bring on the 'carbon coin'!

    "Eventually, the world’s bankers help break the petro-billionaires and shift the economy away from fossil fuels. Fundamental to the book is Robinson’s elaboration of an alternative to the neo-liberal capitalist order: an end to the free market, which is destroying the planet, to a profit structure that rewards saving the planet. In this, The Ministry for the Future imagines the first steps towards the end of capitalism."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What makes Cole imagine the banks will survive when the Carbon Bubble bursts?

      Delete

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