China as Number One?
Don’t Bet Your Bottom Dollar
By Tom Engelhardt
Tired of Afghanistan and all those messy, oil-ish wars in the Greater Middle East that just don’t seem to pan out? Count on one thing: part of the U.S. military feels just the way you do, especially a largely sidelined Navy — and that’s undoubtedly one of the reasons why, a few months back, the specter of China as this country’s future enemy once again reared its ugly head.
Back before 9/11, China was, of course, the favored future uber-enemy of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and all those neocons who signed onto the Project for the New American Century and later staffed George W. Bush’s administration. After all, if you wanted to build a military beyond compare to enforce a long-term Pax Americana on the planet, you needed a nightmare enemy large enough to justify all the advanced weapons systems in which you planned to invest.
As late as June 2005, neocon journalist Robert Kaplan was still writing in the Atlantic about “How We Would Fight China,” an article with this provocative subhead: “The Middle East is just a blip. The American military contest with China in the Pacific will define the twenty-first century. And China will be a more formidable adversary than Russia ever was.” As everyone knows, however, that “blip” proved far too much for the Bush administration.