Thursday, December 11, 2014

USA and China do the Pacific Pivot

Which way to the Pacific Pivot?

The two rival superpowers now openly face each other in the Asia Pacific. Karl Marx long ago saw the Pacific as the key to the future of capitalism. Today it is the key to the future of post-capitalism. Here the contradiction between the dying capitalist society destroying humanity and nature, and the emergence of the revolutionary global proletariat struggling to free humanity and nature from destruction, will be played out.

Either we succumb to the fight to the death of the Chinese and US ruling classes and get trampled in the process, or the international working class unites to overthrow their ruling classes, freeing humanity to build a new socialist society in which production to meet human needs is in harmony with nature.


The two big power blocs were both dancing the Asia- Pacific pivot at APEC in Beijing. Looking at what is at stake here, the war against the ISIS in the Middle East is little more than a sideshow. There the rival big powers try to dance on the spot to keep the status quo and the oil flowing while they prepare for the prize fight in the Asia Pacific.

Obama has tried secret negotiations to do a nuclear free deal with Iran in exchange for bringing a halt to the raging Shiite vs Sunni proxy wars in Iraq and Syria. This means the US and China/Russia blocs finding ways to collaborate to neutralise the IS caliphate and do a power sharing deal between Sunni, Shia and Kurds to partition Iraq and Syria.

The IS would participate in exchange for territory and oil and submit to OPEC dominated by the Saudis. The IS would become just another theocratic tyranny along with Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The US and China/Russia would come out of this deal with their respective spheres of influence retained.

G20 PR exercise

Never mind the missile flexing at the G20 and the isolation of Putin the Terrible. This is PR for the plebs. This is desperation to ramp up support for the US bloc to counter the Russia China bloc expanding into the EU and Middle East. NATO is being used to bloc Russia China from Europe and frustrate their plan to run the New Silk Roads right into the heart of Europe and the Middle East. That’s because the other end of the Silk Roads begin in the Asia Pacific where the economic engine drives the world economy. When the engine is racing it needs to get on the road.

The Pacific is where the rivals are facing the big showdown for the most lucrative economic spoils. The pre-fight tension was evident at the APEC and G20 meetings where the big prize is a victory for the US-led TPPA or the China-led FTA. Who will win the war for the Pacific? According to Pepe Escobar, roving ambassador for the BRICS, China won on all fronts. Well he would say that wouldn’t he. But as the referee is he right?

Fighting on Four Fronts

“Right at the start, President Xi urged APEC to "add firewood to the fire of the Asia-Pacific and world economy". Two days later, China got what it wanted on all fronts:

1) Beijing had all 21 APEC member-nations endorsing the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) - the Chinese vision of an "all inclusive, all-win" trade deal capable of advancing Asia-Pacific cooperation - see South China Morning Post (paywall). The loser was the US-driven, corporate-redacted, fiercely opposed (especially by Japan and Malaysia) 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). [See also here.]

2) Beijing advanced its blueprint for "all-round connectivity" (in Xi's words) across Asia-Pacific - which implies a multi-pronged strategy. One of its key features is the implementation of the Beijing-based US$50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. That's China's response to Washington refusing to give it a more representative voice at the International Monetary Fund than the current, paltry 3.8% of votes (a smaller percentage than the 4.5% held by stagnated France).

3) Beijing and Moscow committed to a second gas mega-deal - this one through the Altai pipeline in Western Siberia - after the initial "Power of Siberia" mega-deal clinched last May.

4) Beijing announced the funneling of no less than US$40 billion to start building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.”

Lame Duck Obama v the Putin Bear

Escobar is right. On all fronts China and Russia have made a huge leap forward gathering support for their FTAAP against the faltering TPPA, and put in place a gigantic economic bloc based on Siberian oil/gas and the new Silk Roads that plunge into the heart of Europe and the Middle East.

Obama comes out as the lame duck to Putin’s Russian Bear:

What a drag – the Bomber-In-Chief must be musing. The global economy is mostly a disaster. China, even growing at “only” 7% a year, keeps eroding his “indispensable nation” aura. Japan has decided to copy the Federal Reserve and embark on its own kamikaze version of quantitative easing. Asian nations keep freaking out about a few rocks in the South China Sea.

And last but not least, Obama’s nemesis, pesky Vlad “the Hammer” Putin, has just been crowned Most Powerful Leader in the world – even if for the most stupid reasons (“unpredictable” head of a “rogue state”) [1] – while he, the Nobel Peace Prize leader of the exceptionalist, indispensable nation, is now nothing but a pitiful lame duck.”

The US will try to keep its global dominance with its TIA (Total Information Awareness) info wars against its rivals, Russia and China and its BRICS partners. But Russia and China are preparing to meet this total spectrum dominance at every level. SCO is the anti-NATO defensive alliance of the Russia China bloc. It’s now total war against the BRICS.

China’s Silky Road to Glory

Of course Escobar cannot refrain from cheering on the BRICS as if this creates a new progressive multipolar alternative to the hegemonic US bloc:

“APEC once again has shown that the more geopolitics change, the more it won't stay the same; as the exceptional dogs of war, inequality and divide and rule keep barking, the China-Russia pan-Eurasian caravan will keep going, going, going - further on down the (multipolar) road.”

Escobar describes a scenario of the rise of China-Russia, the decline of the US-EU as Germany aligns with the Eurasian Bloc. We differ with Escobar in his view of Russia-China as that of a ‘multi-polar’ force that introduces “order” in the US “Empire of chaos”.

As we argue in “BRICS around the neck of the Proletariat” the ‘Empire of Chaos’ is not US imperialism but the laws of motion of capitalist imperialism in its terminal crisis. Russia and China cannot resolve capitalism’s terminal crisis and prevent a third world war between the two rival blocs. We can only overcome capitalist “chaos” but overthrowing capitalism itself and imposing a new socialist world order.

Revolutionary Politics

The consequences of APEC and G20 for the Asia Pacific nations are clear. They are squeezed between the two major imperialist blocs. NZ for example, is now largely dependent on China economically. The APEC endorsement of the FTAAP led by China will tighten those links of dependency because the Chinese economy, while slowing down, is still expanding at 7% and dominates the Asia Pacific economy.

The US is attempting desperately to rush through the TPPA to shore up its economic power in the region by locking its allies into US economic, political and military deals to limit China’s expansion. This can only create huge tension in the ruling national elites pulled between the two blocs.

China will win this contest in the long run because its rapidly developing productive capacity creates real economic wealth, while the US strategy of legally monopolising assets, technology and IP backed by military force, is already being overtaken and challenged by China and Russia.

The labour movement in the Asian Pacific states must refuse to be drawn behind their nationalist regimes into the inter-imperialist rivalry that leads to economic and military wars. The revolutionary left in Australia and NZ must seek allies in the Chinese and US working classes, along with those of the rest of Asia and Latin America, and advance an internationalist strategy of socialist revolution to overthrow the capitalist ruling classes and put in place Workers' Governments and a Federation of Socialist Republics of the Asia Pacific!

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