The Platform

Photo illustration by John Lyman

Tensions with China are dangerously high.

It appears that the defense sector has unbridled control over all levers of the U.S. government. What else would explain the Pentagon’s budget of $797 billion in fiscal year 2023. This figure doesn’t include supplemental funding for Ukraine and other appropriations. To appease the military spending gods, social programs will have to be jettisoned.

Joan Roelofs, in her recently published book, The Trillion Dollar Silencer, explains that the defense sector has located defense plants in regions where the local economy is entirely dependent on them. The vast river of money flowing into the pockets of the defense sector implies that very many people earn their living, directly or indirectly, from the manufacture of arms.

Why is there bipartisan support for sending many billions of dollars worth of advanced weaponry to Ukraine, thus gradually escalating the war into an extremely dangerous proxy war between Russia and the United States? The great danger is that the escalation of the conflict will result in a nuclear war. However, politicians from both political parties are so blinded by nationalism that they believe the risks to be necessary in order to “weaken Russia,” thus asserting American global hegemony.

As if the proxy war with Russia were not enough, the U.S. government, driven by the greed of the defense sector, has begun to threaten war with China. Here are some links that report on the recent anti-China campaign:

Pentagon Prepares for Island Combat in the Pacific as US-China Tensions Rise
US is Maintaining Tensions With North Korea to Draw in Allies Against China
The Context of the New Anti-China Campaign
John Menadue: The US sees China through the dark mirror of its own unbridled aggression
Biden’s Chip War With China Is an Imperial Struggle for High-Tech Supremacy
Balloons and UFOs Aside, War with China is Not Inevitable
What We Know about the US Air Force’s Balloon Party So Far
The US is Preparing Australia to Fight its War Against China
Protesters Disrupt House China Panel’s First Hearing

To justify obscenely enormous government spending on arms, the defense sector does not need an actual war – only the threat of war. But threats can lead to actual war, even if no one wants it, as we should have learned from the outbreak of World War I.

In reading the links above, one finds no mention of the fact that the United States and China are both nuclear-armed. A war between the U.S. and China is visualized as a conventional war (which, by the way, the United States certainly would have a hard time winning). However, a war between two nuclear-armed nations inevitably exposes the world to the danger of a catastrophic nuclear war, in which a large fraction of the world’s animal and plant life would perish. We cannot afford to take this risk.

Instead of aiming at global hegemony through military power, and regarding China as a competitor, and hence an enemy, the United States should cooperate with China, arranging exchanges and conferences in science, engineering, economics, and climate mitigation.

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John Scales Avery was born in 1933 in Lebanon, where his father was Professor of Anatomy at the American University of Beirut. He received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles, both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. In 1969 he founded the Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes, and he served as its Managing Editor until 1980. He also served as Technical Advisor to the World Health Organization between 1988 and 1997, and as Chairman of the Danish National Group of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs between 1990 and the present.