The US Department of Defense made public Wednesday its 2015 National Military Strategy, a 24-page document that outlines the perspective of the Pentagon for future military operations. The document makes for chilling reading.
“Future conflicts will come more rapidly, last longer, and take place on a much more technically challenging battlefield. They will have increasing implications to the US homeland.” So declares the foreword by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The report singles out four countries as potential targets for US military action: Russia, Iran, North Korea and China. Three of the four possess nuclear weapons, and Russia and China have the second- and third-largest stockpiles, trailing only the United States itself.
Nuclear war is part of the Pentagon playbook. One passage reads: “In the event of an attack, the US military will respond by inflicting damage of such magnitude as to compel the adversary to cease hostilities or render it incapable of further aggression. War against a major adversary would require the full mobilization of all instruments of national power …” [Emphasis added]
The last phrase suggests the restoration of the draft to dragoon the manpower required to fight a war with Russia or China.
The report begins by dividing the world’s nation-states into two categories: “Most states today—led by the United States, its allies, and partners—support the established institutions and processes dedicated to preventing conflict, respecting sovereignty and furthering human rights. Some states, however, are attempting to revise key aspects of the international order and are acting in a manner that threatens our national security interests.”
This categorization of countries is ludicrous. In the pursuit of its interests, Washington routinely flouts the authority of international institutions and violates international law, including the Geneva Conventions. As for “preventing conflict, respecting sovereignty and furthering human rights,” ask the tortured peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and eastern Ukraine about the consequences of US invasions, bombings and drone strikes, CIA subversion, and proxy wars and civil wars instigated and backed by Washington.
The Pentagon separates the world into two camps, those who kowtow to America, the dominant world power, and those who dare to oppose, in some fashion or other, the American imperium.
Russia “does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and it is willing to use force to achieve its goals,” it states. Iran is “pursuing nuclear and missile delivery technologies” and is a “state-sponsor of terrorism.” North Korea threatens its neighbors through “pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technologies.” China’s actions “are adding tension to the Asia-Pacific region.”
The hypocrisy almost boggles the mind! None of the four accused countries is actually engaged in a war with anyone, while the United States is currently waging war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, conducts drone missile strikes in a half dozen other countries, and deploys military forces in more than 100 countries around the world.
The Pentagon document admits, “None of these nations are believed to be seeking direct military conflict with the United States or our allies.” But it continues, “Nonetheless, they each pose serious security concerns …”
The report points indirectly to the content of these “concerns.” It declares, “The United States is the world’s strongest nation, enjoying unique advantages in technology, energy, alliances and partnerships, and demographics. However, these advantages are being challenged.”
The Pentagon equates peace, democracy, human rights, etc. with what it calls “a rules-based international order advanced by US leadership.” This is a euphemism for US imperialist hegemony over the entire planet, where Washington makes the rules and everyone follows, or else.
The American ruling class is acutely aware that its power is declining relative to rival powers, particularly China, and that US military superiority is itself threatened by the decline in the world economic position of US capitalism and growth of internal social antagonisms, which make it more difficult to sustain overseas military interventions.
The document declares, “We support China’s rise and encourage it to become a partner for greater international security,” and then proceeds to outline the US strategy to economically and militarily encircle the country. It states: “[W]e will press forward with the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, placing our most advanced capabilities and greater capacity in that vital theater. We will strengthen our alliances with Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand. We also will deepen our security relationship with India and build upon our partnerships with New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.”
American military operations over the past decade have been focused on what the report terms “violent extremist networks,” or VEOs, the new Pentagon term for terrorist groups, including ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban in Afghanistan and various other Islamist groups across the Middle East and North Africa.
“But today, and into the foreseeable future,” the report continues, “we must pay greater attention to challenges posed by state actors.” Moreover, “future conflicts between states may prove to be unpredictable, costly, and difficult to control.”
The report sums up, “Today, the probability of US involvement in interstate war with a major power is assessed to be low but growing. Should one occur, however, the consequences would be immense.”
This is a declaration that the prospect of a US war with China or Russia is increasing, even though the result of such a war would be devastating, both to the countries involved and to the whole of humanity, which would face nuclear extinction.
The perspective outlined by the Pentagon document may be mad, envisioning as it does a world war between nuclear-armed powers, but this madness is rooted in very real, objective conditions. It is the outcome of the global crisis of the capitalist system. The most toxic expression of this crisis is the drive of US imperialism to maintain its position of world dominance by military means.
The same crisis, however, creates the conditions for the international working class to impose its solution, upon which the fate of human civilization depends. That solution is world socialist revolution.