This week’s trip by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan has enormously escalated the US conflict with China, triggering the greatest military crisis in the Taiwan Strait in a generation.
Today, Taiwan will be subjected to an effective military blockade as China conducts live-fire exercises on the island’s periphery. Two Chinese aircraft carriers are steaming toward Taiwan, facing off with an American aircraft carrier battle group and two Amphibious Ready Groups (ARG) operating in the waters nearby.
Amid a military crisis that threatens to eclipse the raging war against Russia in Ukraine, no US media figure has seriously sought to explain, much less ask, the obvious question: Why did the US House Speaker, with the support of the White House, go to Taiwan?
The claims by White House spokesperson John Kirby that the trip changes “nothing” about US relations with China is absurd on its face.
The Trump and Biden administrations had identified actions that China sees as unacceptable violations of its sovereignty and proceeded to do them, one after another, systematically dismantling the One China policy that governed the normalization of relations between the US and China since the 1970s.
US President Joe Biden knows full well, and China has warned publicly, that if the United States repudiates the One China policy, thus effectively recognizing Taiwan as an independent nation, China will retake the island militarily. And Biden himself has pledged to go to war against China if that happens.
In other words, the Biden administration is carrying out a course of action that it consciously knows will lead to a military conflict with the world’s most populous country. Biden wants, de facto or de jure, a state of war with China, which is regarded in Washington as the greatest threat to American global domination.
In March of last year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Biden instructed the “Department of Defense to hold China as its pacing challenge.” Blinken added, “China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system.”
The US geopolitical motivations for going to war with China were laid out by Elbridge Colby, the principal author of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, who declared on Twitter Tuesday that a conflict with China over Taiwan “makes sense for Americans’ concrete economic interests.”
Unless China is contained militarily, Colby warns of a future in which “China will have a controlling influence over more than 50 percent of global GDP. It will be the gatekeeper and the center of the global economy.” And, “the yuan will be the dominant currency.”
In his 2021 book The Strategy of Denial, Colby advocates a policy of goading China into military action. “Perhaps the clearest and sometimes the most important way of making sure China is seen this way [as the aggressor] is simply by ensuring that it is the one to strike first. Few human moral intuitions are more deeply rooted than that the one who started it is the aggressor and accordingly the one who presumptively owns a greater share of moral responsibility.”
In other words, the United States is seeking to identify all of China’s “red lines,” cross them, and then pretend to be surprised when China responds with military action.
The geopolitical aims of US imperialism are only one component of the US war drive. Facing an uncontrollable medical, economic, and social crisis, the US ruling class is eager to use military conflict as a means to secure “national unity.”
The escalation of the conflict with China will be accompanied by sweeping attacks on the social and economic rights of the working class and demands that workers sacrifice their living standards in the name of the war effort.
Biden’s insane and homicidal war plan has been met with the support of the entire US political establishment.
On Tuesday, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, along with 25 other Senate Republicans, published a statement declaring, “We support Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.”
“The Taiwan crisis looms,” declared an editorial in the Republican-aligned Wall Street Journal, adding, “Arms deliveries need to move faster, and of the kind that would do the most to deter a potential invasion.”
Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote a New York Times op-ed praising Pelosi’s trip, stating, “Ms. Pelosi was right in not letting China decide who can and cannot visit Taiwan.”
In that op-ed, Menendez announced that he and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham would introduce a bill, titled the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022, which would increase US military spending on arming Taiwan by an order of magnitude.
Our legislation would reinforce the security of Taiwan by providing almost $4.5 billion in security assistance over the next four years and recognizing Taiwan as a “major non-NATO ally”—a powerful designation to facilitate closer military and security ties. It would also expand Taiwan’s diplomatic space through its participation in international organizations and in multilateral trade agreements.
This would mark the effective end of the One China policy in the United States. In other words, the Democrats are embracing the signature policy of the Trump administration.
Amid Biden’s efforts to provoke a war with China, the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party—Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren—have kept silent on Pelosi’s trip, refusing to answer direct questions by reporters.
But Sanders’ attitude was made clear by the statements of a surrogate, his foreign policy adviser Matt Duss, who in an interview with The Intercept fully backed the aims of the US military buildup.
Duss advocated “improving security for Taiwan,” and “prioritizing ... Taiwan’s security and self-defense.”
He condemned “rampant threat inflation” by those warning of the consequences of Pelosi's Taiwan trip, saying “engaging in a pattern of threat inflation regarding Taiwan is counterproductive.”
In other words, those who warn that Pelosi’s actions threaten all of humanity are the real problem, not the arsonist Pelosi and the US military. The Intercept interviewer condemns “progressives” who frame the “US-China relationship as being primarily about US actions when there has been, you know, increasing authoritarianism in China.”
These statements make clear, yet again, that there is no section of the Democratic Party or US political establishment that seriously opposes US militarism, no matter how reckless or dangerous the White House’s actions.
In the face of the entire US political establishment lining up in support of the escalation against China, it is the working class that forms the social base for the struggle against war. Workers, already facing a massive cost-of-living crisis and looming recession, must reject “sacrifice” in the name of the US’s xenophobic anti-China campaign and unite with their Chinese fellow workers in the struggle against war.