US Ramps Up Global War Agenda

by Finian Cunningham
GlobalResearch
November 21, 2011

Like a schoolyard bully, President Barack Obama is flexing American military muscle as he currently sweeps through the Asia-Pacific region. The nominal impetus for the tour was the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit held in Hawaii last week. But rather than discussing “economics” (the E in APEC), the salient focus for Obama and his entourage appears to be “war” – and in particular laying down battle lines to China.

Testy relations with China is nothing new for Washington given recent months of US haranguing over trade and finance, but what Obama’s bombast signals is a sinister ramping up of the militarist agenda towards Beijing.

As if bouncing underlings and lackeys into his gang, the American president has moved on from Honolulu with stopovers in Australia, Indonesia and elsewhere. Given the primary economic power of China in the hemisphere, it might be thought appropriate for Obama to make a cordial visit to Beijing to discuss partnerships and policies to revive the global economy. But no. The omission of China on this major US tour seems to be a deliberate snub to Beijing and a message to the region: that China is to be isolated and ringfenced. This is the stuff of warmongering writ large.

The blatant aggression is naturally smoothed over and made palatable by the Western mainstream media. Reporting on Obama’s unilateral belligerence at the APEC, the Washington Post bemoans: “Try as he might to focus Asian and Pacific leaders on forging new economic partnerships during a regional summit here, President Obama has spent much of his time in private meetings with his counterparts discussing another pressing concern: national security [that is, US military power].”

The Financial Times reports breathlessly: “Barack Obama will not set foot in China during his swing through the Asia-Pacific region… yet the country’s rapid economic ascent and military advances will provide the backdrop for almost everything he does on the trip.”

Note the assertion that it is China’s “military advances” that are prompting US concerns, not the more reasonable and realistic observation that Washington is the one beating the war drums.

The FT goes on to say: “The Pentagon is quietly working on a new strategy dubbed the AirSea Battle concept, which is designed to find ways to counter Chinese military plans to deny access to US forces in the seas surrounding China.”

In “seas surrounding China” it may be thought by some as entirely acceptable for Beijing to “deny access to US forces”. But not, it seems, for the scribes at the FT and other Western mainstream media, who transform US offence/Chinese defence into Chinese offence/US defence. One can only imagine how that same media would report it if China announced that it was intending to patrol nuclear warships off California.

As previously noted by Michel Chossudovsky at Global Research, the South China Sea’s untapped reserves of oil and other minerals are a major driver in US maneouvring. China stands to have natural territorial rights to these deposits and has much more valid claim to the wealth than the US, whose counter-claims on the matter seem at best arrogant and at worst provocative. Again, one can imagine the US and mainstream media reaction if China was eyeing oil and gas fields off Alaska.

But there is a bigger geopolitical agenda here, as Global Research has consistently analysed. The increasing US militarism in Asia-Pacific is apiece with the globalization of war by the US/NATO and its allies. The shift in policy is, as the Washington Post lamely tells us, “the US reasserting itself as a leader in the Asia-Pacific after years of focusing on [illegal] wars in the Middle East.”

However, this is not a dynamic that should be viewed as somehow normal and acceptable. This is, as we have stated, an escalation of global aggression by powers that are “addicted to war” as a matter of policy.

Top of the US hit list is China. Washington’s criminal wars in Iraq and Libya have in particular been aimed at cutting China out of legitimate energy investments in the Middle and East and North Africa (and Africa generally). That in itself must be seen by Beijing as a flagrant assault on its overseas’ assets. Not content, it seems, with achieving that dispossession of vital Chinese energy interests, Washington is now pushing its insatiable appetite all the way into China’s domain. But such unprecedented aggression is made to appear by the US government and the dutiful mainstream media as a natural entitlement where refusal by the other party is perversely presented as “military plans to deny access”.

Obama’s visit to Australia this week is undoubtedly aimed at further twisting the threat to China. In Darwin, the US president is overseeing the opening of a base that will see for the first time US Marines being able to conduct war games on Australian soil. Thousands of kilometers from China, this development may at first seem inconsequential. But then we are told that the move is designed to station US military “out of the reach of Chinese ballistic missiles”. The insinuation is unmistakable and menacing: China is an imminent threat. Somehow, without issuing any such aggressive moves, Beijing is suddenly made to look as if it is prepared to launch ballistic missiles at US installations.

It is tempting to call this US-led dynamic of global war “dysfunctional”. But, disturbingly, it is not merely dysfunctional. The global war dynamic is a function of the collapse of capitalism and democracy in the US and Europe (the brutal police crackdown on Occupy protesters across the US is evidence of the latter). War on the world is the logical outcome of this failed system, as history has already shown us with the horrors of World War One and Two.

Karl Marx once noted: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce”. To avert another “farce” in which the horrors of history are repeated, we need to once and for all challenge the root cause: capitalism.

Australia Officially Under Carbon Tax Tyranny

According to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard – who came into office swearing there would not be a tax on carbon emissions – expected consequences include higher prices for consumers and a price tab for industries of more than $380 million annually.

AFP
November 8, 2011

Australia’s parliament approved a controversial pollution tax on Tuesday, after years of bitter debate over the reform which is aimed at lowering carbon emissions blamed for climate change.

Cheers and applause broke out as the upper house Senate passed the Clean Energy Act, requiring Australia’s coal-fired power stations and other major emitters to “pay to pollute” from July 1 next year.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said it was the culmination of a “quarter of a century of scientific warnings, 37 parliamentary inquiries and years of bitter debate and division.”

“Today Australia has a price on carbon as the law of our land,” she said as the tax, which scraped through the lower house last month, was approved by the Senate in a 36-32 vote.

“Today we have made history — after all of these days of debate and division, our nation has got the job done.”

Gillard said the scheme — which will levy a price of Aus$23 (US$23.80) per tonne on carbon pollution before moving to an emissions trading scheme in 2015 — would begin to address “the devastating impacts of climate change”.

She said the reforms, which include investments in renewable energy sources, would result in Australia cutting its carbon emissions by 160 million tonnes in 2020 — equivalent to taking 45 million cars off the road.

The government hopes the levy will create economic incentives for the biggest polluters to reduce their emissions but acknowledges that businesses will factor the carbon price into the cost of their goods and services.

To offset this, much of the revenue raised from the tax in the first three years will provide for higher family payments, pension boosts and income tax cuts to help pay for the higher cost of living.

Only New Zealand and the European Union have taken comparable economy-wide action by introducing cap-and-trade schemes, and the tax will put mining-driven Australia at the forefront of efforts in the Asia-Pacific.

“This is a big achievement, coming at an opportune time,” said Professor John Quiggin, an economics and tax specialist from the University of Queensland.

“With South Korea planning to follow suit, momentum towards carbon emission reductions in the Asia Pacific is starting to build.”

Tuesday’s senate vote caps a tumultuous period in Australian politics, largely centred on how the vast nation, which is among the world’s worst per capita polluters, should tackle carbon emissions linked to global warming.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd harnessed an unprecedented wave of popular support for climate change action in 2007, winning elections in a landslide after campaigning to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and take other green measures.

But his plans were frustrated by entrenched conservative opposition which led to him shelving a proposed emissions trading scheme, damaging his credibility. He was ousted by Gillard in a Labor party-room coup in 2010.

Gillard went to the subsequent election promising there would be no carbon tax, but later backflipped, saying it was a necessary first step towards a flexible carbon pricing scheme.

Australia is heavily reliant on its coal exports, and thousands have rallied against the levy which they argue will raise living costs, cut jobs and ultimately prove ineffective.

Industry associations says Australia’s scheme is punitive and priced far higher than the European Union system.

Earlier media projections indicated that mining giants BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata would be liable for a combined $380 million annually at an earlier price of $20 a tonne.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea is pursuing a “cap without trade” scheme involving some 450 companies from next year in preparation for a full emissions trading scheme (ETS) from January 2015, but Japan shelved national ETS plans late last year.

China is considering a pilot ETS programme in some provinces and while there are sub-national schemes in some parts of North America no broad-scale action has been taken in the United States.

The timing of the vote is significant, representing a firm commitment ahead of high-level UN climate talks in South Africa later this month that are being called a “make or break” meeting for legally binding carbon emission reduction targets.