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Chas Freeman: U.S. Wrong To Treat China as Rising Military Power

Nov. 23, 2016 (EIRNS)—Former U.S. Ambassador Chas Freeman offers a "bull’s eye" analysis of the mistake of America’s polICy toward China today in Part II of his interview with The Nation), "The Militarization of Diplomacy and Other Corruptions of U.S. Empire."

After discussing the history of America’s huge military-industrial complex going back to time of President Eisenhower, Freeman says the U.S. had to "invent a new enemy, or find one, to justify what you were spending and doing what you were doing with the military."

Freeman continues,

"Andy Marshall [who directed the Defense Department’s Office of Net Assessment [1973-2015] invented a marvelous concept called the ‘peer competitor.’ The peer competitor was a fictitious, conjectural creature who, whatever you did in the military sphere, would do something that one-upped you. This is the perfect program driver, because whatever you do, you have to do more, because there’s somebody out there, potentially, who can compete successfully against what you did. That concept got applied, eventually, to China. It has driven a lot of deterioration in US-China relations."

Interviewer Patrick Lawrence then turns to China, referencing Chas Freeman’s 2013 book Interesting Times: China, America, and the Shifting Balance of Prestige. Lawrence says,

"I thought the word ‘prestige’ was curious—power is what’s at issue—but the title alone says a lot about your view of the dynamic at the far end of the Pacific. In my view, we’ve got a firm grip on the very wrong end of the stick. We should be cooperating with China to ease a transition into what I consider an inevitable evolution of relationships in the Pacific. Instead, we seem to be fighting an unwinnable war to resist China’s emergence."

Chas Freeman responds that America became the military power in the Pacific after defeating Japan, and points to subsequent economic growth by Japan, South Korea, and others. But, says Freeman:

"Now we come across the reality of China, which has risen with remarkable speed, basically reasserting its historical position in the region, and which is now basically everybody’s largest trading partner; everybody’s largest source of new investment; everybody’s largest market—nobody’s political model, by the way—and we are treating this as military challenge, because that’s what we do. I would think it is primarily an economic challenge. It’s not a political challenge unless and until the Chinese invent an attractive political system, which they haven’t done. It is becoming a military challenge, is now a military challenge, primarily because we chose to make it one,"

Freeman says. (emphasis added)