Despite the impact Covid-19 has had on the global economy, the US is seeking more funding to counter and confront China in the Pacific, as well as enhancing its military preparedness for scenarios involving nuclear warfare.
The coronavirus outbreak has impacted the global economy in a unique and unprecedented fashion unseen since World War II. Around 63 percent of Japanese businesses have projected a negative impact on their business performance due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the start of the outbreak, stock markets have seen drops of over 20 percent, Chinese car sales have decreased by 86 percent and global interest rates have been slashed. Over 16 million Americans have filed jobless claims recently as unemployment runs rampant across the country. The travel industry has all but completely collapsed.
What should we make then of the recent $20 billion wishlist which was submitted to Congress by US Indo-Pacific Command head Adm. Phil Davidson? According to Defense News, this wishlist was specifically requested by members of Congress who are looking for a Pacific-focused supply of money to deter China in the Indo-Pacific region.
Think of it as a Pacific version of the European Deterrence Initiative, the Department of Defense fund which covers projects deterring Russian “aggression” in Europe. Until US President Donald Trump announced a cut to this program earlier this year, it’s worth pointing out that for a while Trump had quietly done one hell of a job boosting this anti-Russian initiative.
The current wishlist is timely, and one could even argue that it is necessary because of Covid-19, not that the US is requesting it in spite of Covid-19. For example, we have already seen the many allegations that China is seeking to exploit the pandemic to expand its mounting influence. As the Lowy Institute pointed out, analysts are concerned that Beijing “will emerge from the pandemic with its global influence enhanced, while America’s will be diminished.” The Australian think tank contains a number of commentators who share this concern.
As typical, the US approach is a ‘not-on-our-watch’ type of mentality which makes clear to the rest of the world that, global recession or not, the US military will continue on its path unabated.
I’m not saying that this money could be better spent, but seeing that all of this military spending concerns China and what the US believes to be China’s inherently evil actions in the Pacific anyway, I can’t ignore the fact that China recently set up a US$1.9 million China-Pacific Island Countries Anti-COVID-19 Cooperation fund. Beijing also sent medical equipment to French Polynesia when France was caught dragging its feet; as well as providing assistance to the Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu.
Covid-19 or not, nukes are ready
The $20 billion plan submitted to Congress is more than just an isolated incident of the Pentagon continuing its mission of empire without making any concessions in the face of the global pandemic. Just last week, the US Air Force put in place a service-wide “reset” with the intention of isolating the most essential missions from the Covid-19 crisis. One of these ‘essential’ missions is the Global Strike Command, which has confirmed that American nukes are ready to fly as and when required.
Hardly surprising, when the commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command genuinely believes that Washington’s nukes remain “the foundation of [the] security structure of the free world.” I wonder if that includes the nukes the US houses and stores in Turkey, which in all honesty don’t seem to contribute too much to global security.
As it stands, ICBM crews are constantly rotating to ensure there is always a ‘clean team’ that can take over as other personnel become sick. No laughing matter as it turns out, with at least one active military member already dying due to coronavirus.
The US is also allegedly seeking to upgrade and modernize its nuclear weapons supply in Germany, a move so expensive that it “would be cheaper to build the bomb in solid gold,” according to Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.
If the coronavirus pandemic can’t put a halt to Washington’s plans of modernizing its apocalyptic weapons, I’m not sure anything can.
US-Iran war still on the horizon
While the aforementioned points relate to US preparedness for war, there is still an inkling that the Trump administration is using the cover of Covid-19 to push forward ever closer to a hot war with Tehran. This is despite the mounting number of calls from British officials, former world officials, diplomats and European leaders, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and even Joe Biden to ease its maximum pressure sanctions regime on Iran.
Not one to buckle to international pressure, the US deployed its Patriot air defense system to Iraq at around the beginning of April. Iran immediately slammed the move, claiming that the US did not have approval from the Iraqi government to do so. At the same time, the US has also been warning that Iran has been planning attacks on US forces in the region, a claim Iran has also categorically denied.
Just this week, another rocket attack allegedly struck an American oil field service company in southern Iraq, though it is unclear who was responsible. Whether or not Iranian-backed forces are responsible for the attack, I don’t expect Washington’s rhetoric to change that much in respect of Iran, nor do I expect a waning in its thirst for blood.
Meanwhile, over 16,000 Americans have died as a result of Covid-19. As of writing, the US has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, surpassing Iran, Italy, and China. I can’t help but feel that instead of declaring war on Iran, upgrading and preparing its nukes and requesting more money to go to war with China in the Pacific, perhaps the US could turn its eye to a problem that the US government could conceivably and justifiably exert some influence and control over.
Unless the Trump administration is planning on nuking the pandemic to death, it’s time the US actually focused on something other than war for a while.
By Darius Shahtahmasebi