China Ascends, America Declines – Infrastructure Trumps Militarized Capitalism

January 14 2015

china's engineering 3

by Norman Pollack

A nation’s absence of will for anything but militarism

Downward historical-structural trajectories reveal themselves by a nation’s absence of will for anything but war, intervention, the disproportionate emphasis on and allocation for military spending, invariably at the expense of its people’s needs and the social good. Militarism is seen, much as Viagra for the 50+ male, as the source of vigor, the means of heading off aging, in this case of a nation as it wallows in its own psychopathological emphasis on strength, virility, or speaking practically in international terms, global domination. Keeping to old ways, the recapitulation of steps taken in the past, from shock-and-awe bombing campaigns to covert actions aimed at regime change, from fine tuning tactics like drone assassination to revising grand strategies like the shift in focus from Europe to the Pacific, signifies more than a repetition-compulsion, a massive reactive formation: it signifies an inability to adjust to realities, here, on the world scene, and consequently, an urge to plunge head down dead ahead in order to stop history in its tracks and confirm a permanent hegemonic status no longer to be. The more fearful, the more belligerent, and add to that, the more ambitious, which translates into the constant mobilization of increased force. Voila, Obama’s Pacific-first strategy aimed at ultimate confrontation with China.

Battle carrier groups steaming to the Pacific

China is America’s nightmare. How many military/intelligence bed sheets are soiled in wet dreams of American conquest of China? We’ll never know, given Obama’s contempt for government transparency. But we have evidence before us, battle carrier groups steaming to the Pacific (assuming steaming can be used with nuclear-powered), long-range bombers nuclear capable in place, a full schedule of jointly-held military exercises with regional “friends and allies,” even encouragement for rearming Japan. One can say, everything in preparatory stage—madness the US appears helpless to reverse, so gnawing are the symptoms of decline.

And what of China? Has it adopted a mental-set of being imperiled? Is its national product diverted to war-planning and –production? Is its national identity bound up with conquest and the geopolitical fruits of aggression? Is it deeply immersed in a state of denial, so that not only is history become the enemy but also militarism (preferably disguised as liberal humanitarianism) the selection of choice for breaking out to a newer, less complicated splendor of wealth and power?

Judging a society by its creative demiurge

Ever since childhood, I have tended to judge a society, in part, by its creative demiurge, architecture (not Speer’s Nazi monumentality designed to cow the people into submission) and the projects articulated as an indicator of Community, an endeavor to achieve the societal well-being. (Painting and music would also count, of course, but my interest in aesthetic and cultural liberation—admittedly limited—took this form.) With the Sino-American comparison in mind, particularly the latter’s crumbling infrastructure, on which we can all agree, I will note current developments in China as a sign of confidence in the future. By architecture, we must include engineering as perhaps its inner voice—and by infrastructure, I must admit my admiration for what the New Deal was able to achieve, infrastructure the inner voice of the nation’s collective property and well-being. That private contractors rule the roost in the little done in America today, i.e., the privatization of the national estate, only confirms the decline in spirit and will to think of a separable PUBLIC realm dedicated to the people as by right theirs.

A wave of infrastructure concentration in modern China Continue reading

Ebola: To Cuba, a medical crisis; to the US, an opportunity for a military campaign

by Dave Lindorff
September 17 2014

cuba to help fight ebola in africaHow’s this for a juxtaposition on how nations respond to a global health catastrophe. Check out these two headlines from yesterday’s news:

‘Cuba sends doctors to Ebola areas’

‘U.S. to deploy 3,000 troops as Ebola crisis worsens’

Reading these stories, which ran in, respectively, BBC News and Reuters, one learns that the Cuban government, which runs a small financially hobbled island nation of 11 million people, with a national budget of $50 billion, Gross Domestic Product of $121 billion and per capita GDP of just over $10,000, is dispatching 165 medical personnel to Africa to regions where there are Ebola outbreaks, while the United States, the world’s wealthiest nation, with a population of close to 320 million, a national budget of $3.77 trillion, GDP of $17 trillion, and per capita GDP of over $53,000, is sending troops — 3,000 of them — to “fight” the Ebola epidemic.

us sends troops to fight ebola virus

Okay, I understand that these troops are supposedly going to be “overseeing” construction of treatment centers, but let’s get serious. With an epidemic raging through Africa, where some of the poorest nations in the world are located, what is needed right now are not new structures. Tent facilities would be fine for treating people in this kind of a crisis. What is needed is medical personnel. The important line in the Reuters article about the U.S. “aid” plan is that the U.S. troops will

…”establish a military control center for coordination, U.S. officials told reporters. Continue reading