Sunday, March 13, 2016

Bi-Polar War or Multi-Polar Peace.

Bi-Polar War or Multi-Polar Peace.

March 13, 2016 Blog

Is there going to be war between the emerging new and the declining world power?

American Academics for War.
You read the title "Crouching Tiger: John Mearsheimer On Strangling China and The Inevitability of War" and you must realize how the People's Republic of China's leaders, think tanks and defense planners must be thinking in reaction: "We must accelerate preparation for war and demolition of the U.S. military forces and its allies around the China Sea, the Straits of Malacca all the way to the Andaman Sea and Indian Ocean any point of which can be U.S. fleets and missiles can stage choking actions against the oil shipments which constitutes 80% of China's fuel supply."

 The title is from an article that appeared in RealClearDefense website written by Peter Navarro promoting his book by that name, and he quotes a portion from Mearsheimer, a firm believer of the inevitability of great powers getting caught in the Tuchcydides' Trap (that a ruling power will inevitably wage war on a rising power) from his book "The Tragedy of Great Power Politics":

Meisheimer's cynical view.
"'My argument, in a nutshell, is that if China continues to grow economically over the next 30 years, much the way it has over the past 30 years, that it will translate that wealth into military might. And it will try to dominate Asia, the way the United States dominates the Western Hemisphere. And my argument is that this makes good strategic sense for China. Of course, the United States will not allow that to happen if it can. And the United States will, therefore, form a balancing coalition in Asia, which will include most of China's neighbors and the United States. And they will work overtime to try to contain China and prevent it from dominating Asia. This will lead to a very intense security competition between the United States and China's neighbors on one hand, and China on the other hand. And there will be an ever-present danger of war."

'Of course from this observation rises the imperative if not to strangle China's economy then to certainly slow it down.' (Peter Navarro)

"There's no question that preventive war makes no sense at all, but a much more attractive strategy would be to do whatever we could to slow down China's economic growth. Because if it doesn't grow economically, it can't turn that wealth into military might and become a potential hegemon in Asia. I mean, what really makes China so scary today is the fact that it has so many people and it's also becoming an incredibly wealthy country. Our great fear is that China will turn into a giant Hong Kong. And if it has a per capita GNP that's anywhere near Hong Kong's GNP, it will be one formidable military power. So the question is, Can you prevent it from becoming a giant Hong Kong?"

Meirsheirmer wants China to stop economic growth
"My great hope is that China's economy will slow down on its own. I think it's in America's interest, and it's in the interest of China's neighbors to see the Chinese economy slow down in terms of its growth rate in really significant ways in the future because if that happens, it then can't become a formidable military power."

Some Filipino academics have fancy themselves very bright fashioning their selves in the style of Meirsheimer, like the old colonial mentality that infects Philippine academia, parroting this Tuchcydides Trap as if it were gospel truth. LaSalle and the Ateneo has many of these, especially some funded through payment for articles submitted to Western neo-conservative magazines and others supported by Japanese neo-nationalist institutes and agencies.

Multi-Polar vision vs. Bi-Polar Myopia.
All these latter day Tuchydides, intellectual inheritors of that Athenian versus Spartans legacy, are simply myopic and narrow minded if not blind zombies of without any faculty left to stop, look, read and listen to the very loud message the rest of the World outside of Western intellectual and political circles are shouting: "The Multi-polar World is emerging and the bi-polar mentality is already so yesterday, so Cold War vintage."

The bi-polar mindset is still prevalent in Philippine academia and the Intelligentsia for a simple reason, there is very little ability among these communities to think outside of the paradigm their institutions constrain them to be. And then, there's no money in thinking, teaching and writing outside of that paradigm as one doesn't get published in the big paying mainly Western publications. There is one website, the "BRICS post" one can go to and read up on the evolving BRICS, the main pillar of the Multi-Polar World, organized amongst Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa representing over half the World's population and even larger populated territories.

BRICS is the foundation of a new global edifice.

 BRICS isn't just a debating forum, it has been growing its muscles and recently theBRICS Bank, now known as the New Development Bank with acapitalbase of $ 100-B was launched in 2015 and its headquarters just cut its ribbons last February 27, 2016 opening the bank for business. It is as significant as the launching of the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) which the U.S. opposed yet could not stop its closest allies such as Britain, Australia and even the Philippines to join.

Both these banks are touted by mainly the Western media as rivals to the World Bank and ADB, though they seem to have reconciled with the idea that its better now to cooperate than be at loggerheads with the emerging financial powers.In the last quarter of 2015 Iran signified its intention to join the BRICS Bank, other prospective members are Indonesia which has been mulling membership since 2010, Pakistan and some Central Asian states.

 While China plays a key role in all these Multi-Polar alliance and cooperative finance institutions building it has not tried to dominate the decision making in these institution. In the AIIB although China provides the bulk of the capitalization its representative there does not exercise veto power(AIIB chief rules out China veto power – 1-27-16/China Daily). In this spirit, unlike the US with its veto power in the World Bank, the AIIB engenders the true cooperative spirit.
Such is the promising picture the Multi-Polar vision offers the 21st Century world, an image of distributed power amongst nations treated as equals lay the grounds for authentic democracy among member states.

War not inevitable, US must share power.
Years ago I noted an article in the Western Press that offered a solution to what the Western eyes thought was the intractable Thucydides Trap. The surprise thought piece was from the Christian Science Monitor, a source I found so apropos because it showed what the Chrisitan spirit show be advising. It was aptly titled "How China and the US can avoid a catastrophic clash".

 The article by Hugh White advised the US and China to share power – but serous erring it still framed the problem confronting the US and China is if the latter was at fault by creating it: "By provoking US allies, Beijing is forcing Washington to choose between abandoning its friends or going to war with China. Both believe the other will back down. But there is a high chance that they are both wrong. America's best move then is to change the game in Asia, by offering to share power if China behaves responsibly."

 Who was really provocative?

But when did China provoke anybody? China for sixty-years had been taking care of its own and in fact faced the threats and pressures of the United States several times when the latter supported the continued fragmentation of its historic territory by encouraging the separatist factions within several provinces of China. China never interfered in internal affairs of any other country, kept to itself except in a few cases where its traditional territorial lines were threatened.

Some quarters will point to the China Sea controversies as the provocation. But the facts of history reveal the contrary and a must read article "Who is the biggest aggressor in the South China Sea?" by Greg Austin, published June 18, 2015, in The Diplomat points to the culprit:

"In 1996, Vietnam occupied 24 features in the Spratly Islands (source).  At that time, according to the same source, China occupied nine. By 2015, according to the United States government, Vietnam occupied 48 features, and China occupied eight.On May 13, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, David Shear, said this to the Senate Foreign relations Committee: "Vietnam has 48 outposts; the Philippines, 8; China, 8; Malaysia, 5, and Taiwan, 1…

"In the past 20 years, according to the United States, China has not physically occupied additional features. By contrast, Vietnam has doubled its holdings, and much of that activity has occurred recently. The Vietnamese occupations appear to have increased from 30 to 48 in the last six years."

 Marcos followed Vietnam.

Up to 2014 the features China assumed control of in the South China Sea or particularly the Spratleys were either inherited from the time Taiwan has control of those islands which China later assumed or certainly occupied before 1996.

When President Ferdinand Marcos started his governance of the Republic of the Philippines the awareness of the potential submarine wealth of the South China Sea was spreading wide and wildly. A decade earlier a Filipino maritime entrepreneur, Tomas Cloma, claimed some uninhabited  islands of the Spratleys for his own vision of establishing a new country or state. Marcos assumed that claim and made it to a national vision.

 Marcos the statesman and lawyer, understanding that "possession and occupation is 90% of ownership" started sending troops to several islands of the Spratleys in 1968, established garrisonsplanted the Philippine flag and built small and rudimentary but credible concrete structures and other facilities in the occupied islands. None other party can really lay claim to what has been occupied and physical held except through physical challenge too, and the Philippine claims to these were cemented. There was no adamant protest from China.

In fact, when the President Marcos and the Republic of the Philippines sought the opening of diplomatic ties with China, Chairman Mao Tsetung and Premier Zhao Enlai welcomed the Philippine president, the First Lady and family, and the Philippine delegation not only with open arms but with an outpouring of festivities – and history does not record any discussion of the Philippine occupation of the Spartleys islands.

  The US "Pivot to Asia" – trigger for provocations.
In the second half of 2011 in the second half of President Barack Obama's first term U.S. strategic and foreign policy that had been mulling a shift from two decades of consolidating its strategic alliances in Europe and instituting its restructuring of the MENA (Middle East, North Africa) to facing the truly historic rise of the Asian Century and the central role of the emergent new world power China. Obama and Hillary Clinton called this the "Pivot to Asia" announcing that the U.S. would transfer 60% of its military forces to Asia.

 Philippine Navy ship arrest Chinese fishermen.
From the time of Obama's official announcement of the Asia Pivot in November of 2011 the two U.S. Asian "allies" (or subordinate countries) began moves that would trigger the deterioration of the situation of the two countries' relations with China. First, on April 8, 2012 the Philippine "gray" of naval ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen at the Scarborough Shoal, as area claimed both by China and the Philippines and traditional open fishing grounds for both Chinese and Filipino fishermen.

The use of a "gray" ship BRP del Pilar which even the Philippines' diplomatic corps and academic analysts to this day point out as a grievous error, signaled a hostile act. Likewise, the attempted arrest of Chinese fishermen where such fishing activity for all nationalities sued to be normal activity constituted provocations. Although Philippine and Western media has turned the reporting around and against China, interpreting the events as Chinese provocation, the facts of the incident point to the Philippines' provocation.

Given the history of the Philippines' compliance to the U.S. influences, many imagine that this provocation was a deliberate act upon "suggestion" of the U.S. Following this now constant reference point as China's provocation a series of Philippine sensational anti-China news report recurrently surfaced, such as the "new Chinese construction evidence by concrete blocks at Panatag shoals" which Philippine military investigators later revealed to be old American target practice anchors.

Then, Japan nationalizes controversial islands.
On September 11, 2012, only six months after the Scarborough incident create by the Philippine Navy, the Japanese government bought the Diaoyu or Senkaku Islands from private Japanese title holders effectively nationalizing the islands. Both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) claim the islands based on history and tradition. Japan's nationalization of the island considered both popularly and in the history books of China as part of its territory, created a situation that the Chinese government could not fail to respond militantly to assuage an enraged Chinese population.

The controversy contrived over the Diaoyu or Senkaku Islands opened the way for the Japanese government leadership of Shinzo Abe to argue that his country had to change its Peace Constitution to allow for it SDF or Self-Defense Force to join allies in military action against common enemies. That's something 70% of the Japanese people are opposed to as popular survey upon survey show. Abe faced a roadblock to a change to the Constitution, to go around the problem he "re-interpreted" the interpretation of the Peace Constitution.

All these are now followed by "donation" of patrol ships to the Philippines, planes and other security facilities and equipment to the Philippines.

Meirsheimer's Trap: Breakout with the Multi-Polar vision.
The mesmerism with the Meirsheimer view of history that many Filipino academics and political scientist, and many people in general are caught in must be shattered permanently. The theory associated with Meirsheimer, the Thucydides' Trap, was about a situation 2,500 years ago when they were fighting wars with swords, spears and shields, and only small, simiple City-States were warring against each other.

Our day and age of nuclear weapons and super-states face a more complex reality with equally complex intellectual capabilities that must be liberated from antiquated Cold War political theories and perspectives. Even the Christian Science Monitor article of Hugh White's call for power sharing is a sharing that is too limited – he sees only US sharing power with China. This is shortsighted. Power must be shared by more parties, such as in the practice of the BRICS member countries – no privileged power with special unilateral powers.


A Multi-Polar Vision for a World of Multi-Polar Peace. ###







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