Recently by Anthony Wile: Jacob Hornberger on Libertarian Law, Religion and the Growing US Police State
When economic times sour, elites turn to war, or at least start to escalate military tensions. Europe and America are involved in at least four wars now, and unfortunately the West’s escalating military involvement probably won’t stop there. The West, in fact, seems destined to build a full-scale regional war out of a series of disparate ones.
They are, all of them, phony wars in some sense, even as they endlessly abide. Afghanistan apparently wasn’t justified, as the Taliban had nothing to do with al-Qaeda and even offered to turn Osama bin Laden over to the George W. Bush administration based on a submission of evidence (that the US refused to present).
The Iraq war was supposedly aimed at removing weapons of mass destruction (whatever that means) from Saddam Hussein, but it seems he didn’t have any. Now the US has taken to bombing Libya and Yemen for some reason; doubtless a justification will emerge (just don’t hold you breath).
But building-up war is not simply a Western preoccupation. This is what China seems to be trying to do. You won’t read about it because the mainstream media seems allergic to the story, but China’s economy seems frankly to be at a kind of turning point (the bad kind), and doubtless the two issues are related.
After yanking up interest rates numerous times, the "dynamic" old men of China’s Politburo have managed to create a real-estate crash. The crash in turn caused a series of municipal quasi-bankruptcies across the country.
The reaction of China’s communist financial gurus? They’ve now apparently allocated the equivalent of US$1.2 trillion to "bail out" Chinese townships and cities. This is being hailed as a great achievement in Western economic circles. In a few months or years, I’m sure these same geniuses will be claiming they saw the full-on crash coming.
Anyway, the Chinese communist officials know what’s going on. Bailouts don’t really work, after all, as the US and Europe have discovered, again and again. So … on to plan B. What’s that? How about claiming the entire South China Sea, some 678,000 square nautical miles? If you’re neighbors object you … ah … threaten them.
That’s what is going on now. Apparently, the very name "South China Sea" gives the Chinese a sense that they can claim an entire body of water as their own along with the Spratlys, and some other contested islands. Actually, the Philippines’ Palawan Island is supposedly closest to the Spratlys, though Vietnam has a claim as well. Japan is in the mix somewhere.
Vietnam’s leaders, in particular, are not backing down. They just announced a live-fire naval drill in the South China Sea. This escalation is actually not a new development, merely a continuation of a territorial tussle that has involved survey vessels and fishing trawlers, allegedly cutting each other’s lines, ramming each other, etc.
The hostilities have extended to cyberspace, with both countries allegedly taking aim at official websites. Chinese elements posted flags on Vietnamese websites claiming the Spratlys. Vietnam hackers apparently did the same.
The Chinese must know they likely don’t have a claim. The rules of United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (Unclos) state that the country closest to the disputed property is the owner. That seems to be the Philippines. The Vietnamese, meanwhile, are apparently upset about the larger issue having to do with China claiming an entire sea. Hard to blame them.
The United States, the owner of four ongoing wars, is of course in its eternal role as peacemaker, calling for a "peaceful resolution." But the Vietnamese are not backing down. Six hours of live-fire will soon commence around Hon Ong Island off the coast of Vietnam. A spokesperson has called it part of routine training.
China has advised Vietnam such activities violate its sovereignty in the disputed, oil-rich waters. Vietnam, in turn, has deployed eight ships near the area in question. "Nobody wants war but when there is an escalation we will act," vice defense minister Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh has been quoted as saying.
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner responded that the US was "troubled" by rising tensions that "don’t help peace and security in the region … We support a collaborative diplomatic process and call on all claimants to conform to all the claims, both land and maritime, to international law."
China’s truculent posture was noted by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who warned recently that there was a good chance of skirmishes breaking out. OK, thanks. But why should the West be the only one to raise global tensions?
Are we the only ones to sense the parallelism? Modern history is repeating what happened some 500 years ago when the Gutenberg Press was invented. About 100 years after its invention, the world was thrust into turmoil as Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door denouncing the Catholic Church.
The Renaissance, Protestant Reformation, Glorious Revolution, American Revolution, French Revolution, the Enlightenment and numerous other social convulsions soon followed. So did wars. Endless "peasant wars" and religious wars, some of them dragging on for decades.
Many of these seemed to have no proximate causes, much as modern wars seem to have no real causes. They were, and are, artificial hostilities. That’s how Western power elites work. That’s how they seem to keep control. Strategic chaos.
It’s likely happening again as Anglo-American elites struggle desperately to restrain the damage of the Internet, and the growing awareness that the world’s entire economic and political structure is controlled, to some degree, from the City of London.
There were so many wars at one point, 400 years ago, that the European elites finally sat down and began to engineer what became known (a weary decade later) as the Peace of Westphalia. It recognized the inviolate nature of nation-state borders and stated that no nation has the right to interfere in the affairs of another. This is the Treaty that the UN, under the guidance of the Western elites, abrogated in 2005!
The UN Security Council in its infinite wisdom substituted something called R2P. "Responsibility to Protect" mandates that when the UN’s leading powers discern a civilian threat, they have a virtual OBLIGATION to warn the government in question against taking action to enforce that threat. If the government does not cease and desist, R2P suggests a mobilization of force.
Is it coincidence that the world’s economy is on a straight glide toward a "double dip" – which surely constitutes a Depression? Is it a coincidence that the UN just happened to get rid of the truce of Westphalia five years ago, and now the West (NATO) is involved in four live wars, and doubtless more to come? Is it a coincidence that China, which has aped the disastrous economies of the West in every way, is now industriously working on its own series of hostilities?
No, none of this seems to be a coincidence. It is perhaps a response to the Internet and a growing world-wide awareness about how the world really works, how free-markets are better than government mandates and price-fixing and the growing conviction that a few, intergenerational central banking families shouldn’t be in a position to affect the lives of millions and billions. In other words, it appears to be a response to the Internet Reformation and more and more people’s thoughts are becoming clearer and clearer with every passing moment – clearly this is an unwanted set of circumstances for those who seek to govern through fear, ignorance and manipulation.
There are patterns at work here, as evil as they are ancient. Protect yourself – as rough waters surely lie ahead.
Anthony Wile is an author, columnist, media commentator and entrepreneur focused on developing projects that promote the general advancement of free-market thinking concepts. He is the chief editor of the popular free-market oriented news site, TheDailyBell.com. Mr. Wile is the Executive Director of The Foundation for the Advancement of Free-Market Thinking — a non-profit Liechtenstein-based foundation. His most popular book, High Alert, is now in its third edition and available in several languages. Other notable books written by Mr. Wile include The Liberation of Flockhead (2002) and The Value of Gold (2002).