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USA: preparing for war not defence

5 February 2018

US Defense Secretary James N. Mattis with his Ukrainian counterpart Stepan Poltorak at the Pentagon 2 February 2018.

America’s new defence strategy published in January is about aggressive warmongering and not about defence at all. The strategy, subtitled “Sharpening the American Military’s competitive edge”, sets out not to deter but to defeat its opponents at any cost.

Since classical times “If you want peace prepare for war” has been a military maxim. The new defence strategy goes much further. It says instead on page 5, “The surest way to prevent war is to be prepared to win one” – by building a more lethal force than your opponents.

‘The Department of Defense will ensure the balances of power remain in our favour.’

US objectives are clearly stated on page 4, “The Department of Defense will be prepared to defend the homeland, remain the preeminent military power in the world, ensure the balances of power remain in our favour, and advance an international order that is conducive to our security and prosperity.” Its purpose is clear – to defeat the USA’s opponents, with no limit to any arms race to achieve superiority.

This is a marketing strategy; all the language is business school rhetoric. In addition to promoting US “global influence” the strategy is to bolster the US belief that they have the right to deploy their forces when they want, wherever they want, however they want, anywhere in the world. This militant militarism is about preserving US markets world-wide.

US fears

China, Russia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran are all named as enemies and rivals. The world is described, in language worthy of Hollywood, as populated with “rogue regimes”, “malign actors” and so on. This reflects US fears about erosion of its view of one world that it should dominate.

The US justifies intervention, aggression and destabilising other nations and regions. That’s because it can no longer control them economically, diplomatically or in terms of security. It crudely paints China and Russia as bogey men while preaching sabre-rattling rhetoric across the globe.

The USA’s view of its place in the world is deep-seated, but this strategy marks a turn towards overt aggression. Since the 19th century it has acted on the self-declared right to pursue its aims regardless. Sometimes cloaked as “isolationism”, more often than not the result has been intervention in other countries. And always the justification has been the threat to the USA and its economy.

New weapons

The 2018 strategy refers to the “warfighter”; rearmament with new weaponry on a massive scale – new nuclear weapons, space and cyberspace, communications, computers and artificial intelligence. It lists all conceivable hardware to keep the USA’s war industries in full production. All this is coupled with an aggressive attack strategy aimed across the world.

New strategic alliances are envisaged. The Indo-Pacific region for war against China. Fresh alliances in the Middle East for war against Syria and Iran. Rebuilding NATO and a new Western Hemisphere alliance for war against Russia.

Just two weeks after the strategy was published US Defense Secretary James Mattis announced that the US Army is helping to train Ukrainian troops – in the name of supporting “an independent sovereign Ukraine”.

Into Africa

The US also wants a brand new alliance for Africa, still the most cherished goal of imperialism with its largely untapped natural wealth. This is singled out as being an alliance to “limit the malign influence of non-African powers”. Do they mean the EU or old colonial interests of Britain, France, Germany, Italy or revamped white supremacists from South Africa? No, they mean China and Cuba: both nations who have given vast support and aid to Africa free of strings.

The defence strategy supposedly looks outward. But it is envisaged that it will also link internally all those US agencies dealing with national power. Departments of State, Treasury, Justice, Homeland Security, Intelligence Community and Commerce will all be part of this new offensive viewpoint of war on the world.

The published strategy document is the non-classified version. We don’t know what the US government and military is saying and planning behind closed doors. Various leaks over the past few years give some clue – for example global surveillance revelations by Edward Snowden and US diplomatic cables from WikiLeaks. But there can be no doubt about the purpose as the strategy; it is there for all to read.