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Trump Officially Restores Cold War


by Eric Zuesse originally at StrategicCulture.com

On January 20th, CBS News bannered “Terrorism no longer the military’s top priority, Mattis says” and opened:

There is a major change in U.S. military strategy. On Friday, more than 16 years after the 9/11 attacks, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said terrorism is no longer the No. 1 priority.

The report said, “Maintaining a military advantage over China and Russia is now Defense Secretary Mattis’ top priority.”

On January 18th, the Trump Administration had issued its crucial document about how it will implement America’s national defense from now on. This document, the National Defense Strategy 2018, represents a continuation of U.S. President Barack Obama’s vision and intentions, but extends Obama’s hostility toward Russia, by adding Trump’s hostility toward China.

In December 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump had issued his National Security Strategy 2018 (the NSS2018); but, in keeping with his prior commitment to leaving to the generals the implementation of his national security policy, the Pentagon has now issued this National Defense Strategy 2018 (the NDS2018), which is signed only by Trump’s minister for war (Secretary of ‘Defense’), “Jim Mattis”; and it’s considerably more informative on what the practical meaning of NSS2018 will be. The meaning is: replacing hostility against “radical Islamic terrorism,” by hostility against Russia and China.

This — building upon Obama’s imperial vision — is now Trump’s ‘Defense’ policy. Trump’s campaign talk had been against ‘radical Islamic terrorism’, but was merely bumper-sticker lying, to win votes, from an electorate that believed the differences between today’s Democratic and Republican Parties are more than bumper-sticker deep (which might once have been the case, but no longer really is).

In continuation from Obama’s National Security Strategy 2015, which had accused Russia 18 times of “aggression,” Trump’s National Defense Strategy 2018 (NDS2018) effectively declares at least an economic war against Russia (as if economics were also in General Mattis’s portfolio), but it goes even further to include China as being now also America’s enemy.

It thus officially restores, in effect, the Cold War — the war against communism — that had existed until U.S. President Richard Nixon’s visit to China, during 21 to 28 February 1972. It also intensifies the war against Russia, even now, 37 years after the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union and end of its Warsaw Pact and end of its communism, had ended the Cold War (but only on Russia’s side, not really on America’s).

Trump’s new document (through his agent Mattis) says that non-state terrorism (Al Qaeda, etc.) is no longer the biggest threat to America’s security; these two “authoritarian” nations pose the biggest threat to America, says the NDS2018. This document asserts: “It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.” (“Authoritarian” is now what “communist” once was — the U.S. Government’s verbal bugaboo, and America’s official excuse, for invasions and coups.) It continues:

The central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers. It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.

China is leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce neighboring countries to reorder the Indo-Pacific region to their advantage. As China continues its economic and military ascendance, asserting power through an all-of-nation long-term strategy, it will continue to pursue a military modernization program that seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future. The most far-reaching objective of this defense strategy is to set the military relationship between our two countries on a path of transparency and non-aggression.

Concurrently, Russia seeks veto authority over nations on its periphery in terms of their governmental, economic, and diplomatic decisions, to shatter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and change European and Middle East security and economic structures to its favor. The use of emerging technologies to discredit and subvert democratic processes in Georgia, Crimea, and eastern Ukraine is concern enough, but when coupled with its expanding and modernizing nuclear arsenal the challenge is clear.

It then says, “Rogue regimes such as North Korea and Iran are destabilizing regions through their pursuit of nuclear weapons or sponsorship of terrorism.” So: those four countries — China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran — are now the top targets for the U.S. military to defeat.

The NDS2018 document continues, “Both revisionist powers and rogue regimes are competing across all dimensions of power. They have increased efforts short of armed conflict by expanding coercion to new fronts, violating principles of sovereignty, exploiting ambiguity, and deliberately blurring the lines between civil and military goals.”

Right now, the U.S. is militarily occupying, as an uninvited invading power violating the sovereignty of parts of the sovereign nation of Syria, whose internationally recognized (except by the U.S. and its vassal-states) Government is the one that had won internationally monitored elections in 2014, and whose incumbent President Bashar al-Assad won, in those elections, 89% of the vote throughout the entire country.

Even independent Western-sponsored polling in Syria has repeatedly shown that Assad would easily win any national election in his country, and that 82% of Syrians blame the U.S. Government (not Assad) for having brought the tens of thousands of jihadists into their country and caused the Syrian war that destroyed the nation.

On 31 October 2015, U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon twice criticized U.S. President Barack Obama’s refusal to allow the Syrian people to determine whom their President would be. Ban said, “The future of Assad must be determined by the Syrian people,” but the U.S. Government kept ignoring him on that; and U.S. President Trump’s minister of war now says that the way to defeat countries that are “violating principles of sovereignty” is to continue occupying countries that never invited them in.

Under the heading “Build a More Lethal Force,” the NDS2018 document says, “The surest way to prevent war is to be prepared to win one.” To do this, it will rely on “the Joint Force” (which the document fails to define) in this way:

Prioritize preparedness for war. Achieving peace through strength requires the Joint Force to deter conflict through preparedness for war. During normal day-to-day operations, the Joint Force will sustainably compete to: deter aggression in three key regions — the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and Middle East; degrade terrorist and WMD threats; and defend U.S. interests from challenges below the level of armed conflict. In wartime, the fully mobilized Joint Force will be capable of: defeating aggression by a major power; deterring opportunistic aggression elsewhere; and disrupting imminent terrorist and WMD threats. During peace or in war, the Joint Force will deter nuclear and non-nuclear strategic attacks and defend the homeland. To support these missions, the Joint Force must gain and maintain information superiority; and develop, strengthen, and sustain U.S. security relationships.

The document sub-heads “Strengthen Alliances and Attract New Partners,” and says

By working together with allies and partners we amass the greatest possible strength for the long-term advancement of our interests, maintaining favorable balances of power that deter aggression and support the stability that generates economic growth.

This includes “Fortify the Trans-Atlantic NATO Alliance” but is global.

This document thus actually embodies, but in some ways extends and amplifies, U.S. President Barack Obama’s 28 May 2014 statement to America’s graduating class at the West Point Military Academy:

The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come. … Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums. … It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world.

To Obama, all nations other than the U.S. — even America’s allies — are “dispensable”; only the U.S. is not.  Hitler’s version was “Deutschland über alles”; and, like Amerika’s version, it comes from the accepted popular culture, not from the imperialist’s own overheated imagination.

In fact, Americans respect the military above all other institutions — more than all the rest of the Government — just like Germans did, leading up to Hitler. And, just like Donald Trump himself does; in his militarism, Trump unfortunately does authentically represent his nation’s values. Amerika isn’t Athens; it is Sparta.

As I had previously noted under the headline “Trump Continues Obama’s Wars Against Democracy”: “He was telling the military that America’s economic competition, against the BRICS nations, is a key matter for America’s military, and not only for America’s private corporations.”

However, even General Mattis has now acknowledged that one important component of achieving this global empire will be to “Strengthen Alliances and Attract New Partners,” which now seems less likely under Trump than it was under Obama.

Perhaps the Trump Administration will try to compensate for that area of increasing U.S. weakness, by increasing even more its weaponry and troop-numbers. Anything to win what all of these documents refer to as being, not America’s enmity, but America’s ‘competition’ — against Russia, China, and the other BRICS countries. However, when a military official talks of “competition,” the reference is actually to his enemies, which are to be either defeated or else killed — it’s not like an economist, referring to an entity that offers the same or better product or service but at a lower price, to some consumer — a third party to the relationship between those competitors. In military matters, an “ally” is no such third party, but is on one of the two sides — it’s part of one of the two sies. The verbiage that’s being borrowed from economics is simply intended to deceive the public, instead of to inform them.

Here, to close, are highlights from Secretary Mattis’s speech, on January 19th, introducing NDS2018:

This defense strategy was framed … by President Trump’s National Security Strategy. … It is, as was noted by the dean, our nation’s first National Defense Strategy in 10 years. …

We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists that we are engaged in today, but Great Power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of U.S. national security. …

We face growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia are from each other, nations that do seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models, pursuing veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic and security decisions.

Rogue regimes like North Korea and Iran persist in taking outlaw actions that threaten regional and even global stability.  Oppressing their own people and shredding their own people’s dignity and human rights, they push their warped views outward. …

We’re going to build a more lethal force.  We will strengthen our traditional alliances and building [that ing-ending is his error, from Mattis — not added here] new partnerships with other nations. …

The second line of effort I noted was to strengthen alliances as we build new partnerships, as well. … History proves that nations with allies thrive.

He wants his audience to identify with ‘our’ team of billionaires, against ‘their’ team of billionaires. He wants maximum “lethality” against ‘the other side’s’ people, and for ‘our side’s’ people. The opposite side are the ‘revisionist powers’ and ‘rogue regimes’; and ‘our’ side are — the ‘good’ people, who should coerce, or else kill, them. Mattis’s speech said: “It is incumbent upon us to field a more lethal force if our nation is to retain the ability to defend ourselves and what we stand for.” That’s what ‘we’ will ‘stand for’, if we will stand for it.

Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric was more direct, less hypocritical. However, the result, this time around, could turn out to be even worse, because a war between the U.S. and Russia would constitute World War III and would be a nuclear war, which would destroy the entire world. This might be what America’s billionaires are planning and preparing for. (Why are super-rich people now buying nuclear bunkers, such as here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here? Are these people investors in ‘defense’ corporations such as Lockheed Martin?) But no public is. This is very much a super-rich person’s war ‘game’, which Amerika’s ‘Defense’ Establishment is preparing for. No public is — not even a public that reveres its military Establishment more than it reveres any other of the nation’s institutions.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity. A shorter version of this article originally appeared in Strategic Culture.

13 Comments

  1. summitflyer says

    The long and short of it all is that it is like the pot calling the kettle black .If it was not so serious ,it would be a comedy.

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  2. George Cornell says

    Mad Dog Mattis is auditioning to replace Sterling Hayden or General Jack Ripper in a remake of Strangelove.
    Most Americans would prefer their money spent on health care, and on their badly decaying infrastructure (their roads in many states are distinctly third world, their bridges are crumbling, they have widespread child poverty, they rank about 30th in maternal and infant mortality, same for longevity blah, blah)) and on the environment though less so.
    When will their public wake up to the self-defeating propaganda? They have behaved so hatefully, their leaders are projecting their own motives on others and assume everyone hates them and wants to harm them. It is likely true that minority is growing.
    Trump is not a disease, he is a symptom.

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  3. Fair dinkum says

    The war on terror hasn’t been profitable enough.
    The MIC insist, demand, crave a BIG war.
    Stock up on lentils folks.

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  4. rtj1211 says

    American demands control over everywhere, so claiming Russia and China are doing something unacceptable is laughable. Pathetic, in fact.

    How much choice did Ukraine have about the US-sponsored coup? If Mattis says anything other than ‘None’, he is unfit to hold senior office and a UN resolution calling for his removal should be carried out. Of course, the US will veto it (so complaining about Russian/Chinese vetoes will be a joke), what matters is the weight of votes supporting the resolution.

    How many Iraqis had any choice about being bombed to smithereens by Operation Shock N Awe? Another prime example of US aggression and interference….

    Who gave the US permission to control half the world? No vote has ever given legitimacy to that, as US elections give no mandate valued by foreigners…..

    No one believes a word America says any more….because that 5% of the world has no mandate from the other 95%……

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Big B says

    The NDS2018 reads as a rap sheet for all the crimes and contradictions of the Imperium: wrapped up and blamed on someone else …it is the ultimate self-deception. Read it with the NDAA18 and weep …it is the ultimate projection of a hollowed out and soulless heart – a shadow projection as Jung would call it. Behind the shadow is the empty void of the apocryphal indispensable nation. Do the children of America feel indispensable – as they increasingly turn to Oxycontin, Fentanyl and Heroin? And die at the rate of a hundred a day?

    America willingly gouged out its own industrial heart; and delivered its life and wealth giving capacity to China …and now it wants to stop it beating? If China – which contributes a third of global expansion year on year – stops growing: America’s service bubble and fictitious economy bursts. How’s that as a strategy for protecting their children’s interests?

    America has foreclosed on its youth: and deferred the American Dreams of millions …and now they threaten Russia and China to protect their heartless legacy? Oh well, they’ll have a steady stream of disaffected, disinherited, disenfranchised youthful recruits for the military. Perhaps they can guard the poppy fields in Helmand Province?

    https://qz.com/1089723/the-opioid-crisis-is-so-bad-west-virginia-has-spent-nearly-1-million-on-transporting-corpses/

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  6. When nations revert to military threats and policies as their first choice in international matters then they are over reaching and courting defeat and disaster. The US already has much murder and mayhem to answer for. Bad Karma will be its undoing. Every time the US military or CIA kills someone in the Middle East or elsewhere, it makes another hundred enemies. These enemies are growing by leaps and bounds and are not going away. One day they will have their revenge and it will be terrible!

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  7. “Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric was more direct, less hypocritical. However, the result, this time around, could turn out to be even worse, because a war between the U.S. and Russia would constitute World War III and would be a nuclear war, which would destroy the entire world.”

    The most obvious reason for concern over United States Secretary of Defense “Mad Dog” Mattis’ presentation was the absence of any detailed proposal or description of planning for achievement of world peace, much less the word peace by itself. Peace is not on the agenda put forth in the Donald Trump administration’s National Defense Strategy 2018, and that plain fact should motivate peace activists, moral leaders, artists and all others concerned about war and peace on Earth like nothing else.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Whatever may be known is secondary, (is sacrificed) to what can be allowed to be shown – or presented in this case as the official asserted narrative.
    The ‘story’ by which to get special power, (victimhood of self or proxy), and keep it by using it, (domination and subjugation via masked and unmasked war), runs as a survival script to the fear of losing such power, specialness and the privileges it confers or are accorded.

    Survival under threat – experienced as life = war – operates a limited focus on immediate reaction in terms of the nature of the threat. But while evading a physical threat is immediate, the condition of unresolved and unrecognised trauma – replays itself upon the present as a blind re-enactment of ancient hatreds.

    Maintaining fear is the maintaining of budgets – as the fuel by which to persist in archetypal attempt to power that actually renders powerless.

    Insanity is easily recognised in the ‘Strangelove’ of world domination or indeed annihilation – but less so in the ‘fuel cells’ of dissociated/alienated ‘thinking’. Subjective identities at odds with their own being and each other.
    Subjective consciousness is resort to ingenuity, and its development is a record of ingenuity in terms of manipulating our OWN THOUGHT and therefore our world, but it is a substitution for creative being – (the term creative is inherent to being. There is no other being).

    What passes as creative is the ability to hide one’s source/s.

    The false flagged source of self, power, identity is thus a compulsive sacrifice to a ‘god of power’ – in a life and a world that thus seems to be a power struggle covered over with masks of deceits by which to bear such an existence. Underneath all is ‘war on truth’ – however that may be cast out. But even this is a deceit, because denying truth is only possible by substitution in image, symbol, concept and form, that can then be demonized and justifiably attacked. Truth plays no part in such dissociated insanity and the attempt to use truth to win or fix or heal or save is the become entangled in the crab barrel of guilt – because to use truth as a weapon is to lose awareness of your own – and see a world divorced from its true cause.

    Moral self righteousness takes ‘joy’ in seeking out the disgusting, depraved and horrific – as the foil against which to draw power for itself while masking for the ‘greater good’.
    Un-faced guilt hides from truth in fear of penalty – for its very survival!
    But it is guilt and fear that are ‘protected’ from healing. Not namby pamby ‘good intentions’ – but the nature of the transformations that occur as a result of undefended self-honesty.

    Such is the road less travelled. How much ‘easier’ to skid over the brink under the excuse that you have no responsibility – and anyway THEY made you do it. For you are made ‘victim’ by what THEY done, and it is theirs to pay – even if the collateral damage/side effects/environmental degradation and destruction goes down with us.

    An unhappy marriage to our own shadow.

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  9. bevin says

    “Maintaining a military advantage over China and Russia is now Defense Secretary Mattis’ top priority.”

    It is an almost impossible mission.
    And a recipe for socio-economic suicide in the USA and continual warfare in Eurasia, carried out be well supported guerrilla operations aiming simply to make life there hell for the population (cf Syria, Libya, Somalia etc etc).

    What the rulers of these countries, under threat, should recognise is that the key to maintaining their sovereignty lies in ensuring that the cracks in their societies, the inequalities and injustices, the ethnic jealousies and caste systems, are the only means by which imperialism can enter and undermine them.

    What undermined the Soviet Union was not socialism but its absence-crony state capitalism and public corruption. The greatest enemies of the Iranian revolution are the greedy merchant capitalists and their neo-liberal ambitions. Russia’s masses have nothing to fear from imperialism except that their oligarchs are part of it.
    Mattis is a gangster auditioning for promotion in the mafia. And looking for bribes from the merchants of death. A man with a big mouth and a small brain.

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    • It can be any ‘project’ as long as it serves to maintain blood supply to the ‘growth’ that operates a private agenda at expense of whole – but as if the protector of the whole world.

      But I sense cancer in those instances with tumour (many things are called cancer) may be a protective encapsulation of toxic burden.
      Perhaps Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum agree to have a battle, to divert attention from the monstrous crow. But I also feel that the nature of what underlies the world we think so real is revealing itself to the awakening responsibility to meet it.
      There is what is – and there is how we tell it. All stories are stories. But stories can be used to awaken within the dream or to more densely hide from the waking light – (cue monsters).
      What is the purpose of focusing in the error if we persist in the same (but in opposing polarity?).

      In memory of Ursula Le Guin, yesterday I re-read The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas
      http://engl210-deykute.wikispaces.umb.edu/file/view/omelas.pdf
      (4 pages) – but her award speech is where to go if her fiction does not resonate. It is included here:
      https://slate.com/culture/2018/01/remember-ursula-k-le-guin-dead-at-88-with-her-national-book-awards-speech-video.html

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    • You say “What undermined the Soviet Union was not socialism but its absence-crony state capitalism and public corruption”.

      Without freedom of thought and speech – how can there not be cronyism and corruption?
      Officially Mandated thinking is subjection, but aligning under ‘power’ can confer benefits. Few choose honesty when it confers penalty. At least under the Stockholm syndrome one has some sense of love.

      Central control is an ancient wish to which fresh sacrifice is made daily.
      It operates also through the Fascism of the corporate cartel and its captured state.

      I don’t believe cultural differences are a basis for war unless allowed to be USED as such. It takes all sorts to make a world. My freedom to be me – extends to yours to be you.
      Those who ferment division are the invisible third party. Lead the pig by his appetite, lead the little man by conferring ‘greatness’, etc. By helping into influence those who can be most easily influenced – you can direct events from afar – when the predictability of a ‘fallen nature’ or sense of self lack and division doesn’t simply align the desired outcome.
      How far down do you go to identify the agency of corruption. Greedy capitalists? But the susceptibility to being hacked is a state of self-conflict in lack. One of the ways to stay sane and whole is to extend sanity and wholeness to others. This is a ‘social’ or cultural exchange. But it arises from loving life rather than fearing its corruption.
      Fear works a self-fulfilling prophecy whilst seeming to concern itself with protecting the vulnerable. It makes us weak – and compassion can share strength with those who temporarily lack awareness of their own.

      The seeming need to present as caring or not hateful is the fear of uncovering the hateful in ourselves.
      So hate works beneath the good intentions and worthy causes as a denial and dissociation.
      This sort of perspective is more subtle than ‘hate the bad guys’ but it is no longer subtle once recognised.
      If ‘letting the guilty get away’ with it induces outrage is that because while it guilt rests so definitely upon them, your world is protected from deeper disturbance? Might we not all see each other in that way within the entanglement of polarised hate?

      It is simply so that selection operates advancement in most cases and in positions of influence, the clinging to power seeks those it can control – and not conscientious freedom loving honesty of being. Control may be an illusion, but to those who can no longer tell true from illusion, it is the only power they know.

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