CIA Director Mike Pompeo has given an interview in which he explained why he believes that China is the number one long term threat to the United States.
While Pompeo’s statement was filled with objective inaccuracies as well as gross assumptions which conflate the idea of geo-strategic sovereignty interest with aggression and extra-legal provocations, his statement does speak to a largely unspoken reality which underlies America’s long term geo-strategic thinking, one which makes the idea of the United States becoming a contented super-power willing to share its rightly piece of the multi-polar pie, all the more remote. In other words, meaningful detente with Russia or China is impossible according to the long term trajectory of US ambition. This is not to say measures which ease specific tensions are not possible.
At this time there are three superpowers and two of them are becoming incredibly close allies. This is of course China and Russia. Rather than cooperate in measures that both Beijing and Russia are already cooperating over, namely the Chinese One Belt–One Road (aka New Silk Road) initiative, the US has taken it upon itself to not only shun the project but to actively disrupt it through a combination of overtly aggressive measures against the sovereign interests of China as well as engaging in and fomenting new conflict areas along the routes China’s New Silk Road.
The US has been passively goading India into conflict with China causing friction between the neighbours with historic regional disputes and even more importantly, the US is engaged in conflicts along crucial vulnerable positions along the New Silk Road.
Specifically, I recently wrote a piece in The Duran which underscores the deeper long term implications of US strategic goals for Asia and Eurasia, goals which are linchpins of the subtext of Pompeo’s remarks.
“NATO’s recent land and sea exercises in eastern and southern Europe as well as the Black Sea frontiers of Eurasia are at face value, provocations designed to anger and intimidate Russia. Likewise, America’s presence in Iraq and Syria are at face value, provocations designed to angry and intimidate Iran. But they are also something else: they are provocations designed to anger and intimidate China.
The key element here lies in understanding the geography of China’s massive trade/commerce project, One Belt–One Road, also referred to as the New Silk Road.
A map of the likely final routes of the land and sea trade corridors which China is working to build in cooperation with local nations along the route goes a long way in explaining why the United States is conducting troop exercises, engaging in military conflicts and threatening new military conflicts in key spots along the New Silk Road.
The following map shows the routes of China’s New Silk Road. Each number corresponds to an area where US troops or their allies are either active in a conflict zone or have recently engaged in military exercises”.
Against these geo-political realities, it becomes clear that Pompeo’s remarks are more than just militant bluster, but are instead an admission of what America’s long game is, irrespective of who is in the White House. The fact that the CIA has often had a stronger hand in influencing US foreign policy than the State Department or White House itself, this ought to make Pompeo’s remarks all the more worthy of long term analysis.
“I think China presents probably the most … well it’s hard to pick between China, Russia and Iran to be honest with you. I guess if I had to pick one with a nose above the others, I’d probably pick China. They have a real economy that they have built, unlike Russia that lives and dies on how many barrels of oil they can pluck out of the ground. And Iran that is similarly very single sector derivative and not to the scale of China population wise.
I think China has the capacity to present the greatest rivalry to American of any of those over the medium and long term”.
“It’s (China) very much focused on countering U.S. power projection. So you see that whether it’s going on in the South China Sea or East China Sea, the work they’re doing in other parts of the world. You talked about the technical piece. You’ve probably spent more time on it than me. But we could probably spend hours talking about their technical programs. If you look at them, they are probably trying either to steal our stuff or make sure they can defeat it. And most often both. And so yes. Look, we have other relationships, we have commercial relationships with the Chinese as well. But I think its very clear when they think about their place in the world, they measure their success in placing themselves in the world where they want to be vis-à-vis the United States and not as against anyone else”.
First of all, it is necessary to expose the factually untrue statement about Russia’s economy. Contrary to what the US publicly states, Russia’s economy is growing at a healthy rate and expending in multiple sectors.
Secondly, China’s big population being a worry for the US vis-a-vis Russia’s smaller population is a fact that Russian opposition politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky highlighted in a recent debate on Asian affairs. In this sense, while the US is frightened by Russia’s factually strong economy and its geographical and by extrapolation geo-political position as a Eurasian bridge to China, the US is doubly afraid of China’s tremendous man-power.
Thirdly, China is only ‘projecting’ its power around its own territory whilst in provoking China in the South and East China Seas, the US is attempting to exercise its hegemonic power in someone else’s natural sphere of influence. In this sense when it comes to ‘power projection’ the truth can be derived from inverting what Pompeo said in this respect.
None of this should come as a surprise as it follows the trajectory of centuries of western geo-strategy.
Eurasia including and especially Russia, is included in what British thinker Halford John Mackinder called the Pivot Area in his theory which posited that Eurasia including and especially Russian Imperial lands needed to be conquered and subdued by the west in order to attain geo-political dominance over Asia and what one might now call the Global East or New Global South.
Far from being discarded, Mackinder’s theories continue to prove to be a guiding force behind the west’s policies of war, occupation and provocation against the countries which occupy his ‘pivot area’. Indeed, Britain and France’s continued opposition to Russia in its wars with Turkey throughout the 19th century go a long ways in explaining that far from being original, Mackinder simply wrote a theory which largely conformed to late modern western military and geo-political practice.
America’s confrontation with China using what geo-political expert Andrew Korybko calls Hybrid War, is America’s number one foreign policy goal of the 21st century insofar as almost every other conflict in which the US is engaged trickles down from the primary objective of subduing China.
In this sense, when one reads between the bluster and bellicosity of Pompeo’s statement, he actually did something which he rarely does; he gave an honest summary of America’s long term geo-strategic ambitions.