Now Bush Saber-Rattling Is Unnerving China





Mr. Johnson is the author of THE SORROWS OF EMPIRE: MILITARISM, SECRECY, AND THE END OF THE REPUBLIC and of an earlier volume, BLOWBACK: THE COSTS AND CONSEQUENCES OF AMERICAN EMPIRE, among other works.

Quietly and with minimal coverage in the U.S. press, the Navy announced that from mid-July through August it would hold exercises dubbed Operation Summer Pulse '04 in waters off the China coast near Taiwan.

This will be the first time in U.S. naval history that seven of our twelve carrier strike groups deploy in one place at the same time. It will look like the peacetime equivalent of the Normandy landings and may well end in a disaster.

At a minimum, a single carrier strike group includes the aircraft carrier itself (usually with nine or ten squadrons and a total of about eighty-five aircraft), a guided missile cruiser, two guided missile destroyers, an attack submarine and a combination ammunition, oiler and supply ship.

Normally, the United States uses only one or at the most two carrier strike groups to show the flag in a trouble spot. In a combat situation it might deploy three or four, as it did for both wars with Iraq. Seven in one place is unheard of.

Operation Summer Pulse '04 was almost surely dreamed up at the Pearl Harbor headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command and its commander, Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, and endorsed by neocons in the Pentagon. It is doubtful that Congress was consulted. This only goes to show that our foreign policy is increasingly made by the Pentagon.

According to Chinese reports, Taiwanese ships will join the seven carriers being assembled in this modern rerun of 19th century gunboat diplomacy. The ostensible reason given by the Navy for this exercise is to demonstrate the ability to concentrate massive forces in an emergency, but the focus on China in a U.S. election year sounds like a last hurrah of the neocons.

Needless to say, the Chinese are not amused. They say that their naval and air forces, plus their land-based rockets, are capable of taking on one or two carrier strike groups but that combat with seven would overwhelm them. So even before a carrier reaches the Taiwan Strait, Beijing has announced it will embark on a crash project that will enable it to meet and defeat seven U.S. carrier strike groups within a decade. There's every chance the Chinese will succeed if they are not overtaken by war first.

China is easily the fastest-growing big economy in the world, with a growth rate of 9.1 percent last year. On June 28, the BBC reported that China had passed the U.S. as the world's biggest recipient of foreign direct investment. China attracted $53 billion worth of new factories in 2003, whereas the U.S. took in only $40 billion; India, $4 billion; and Russia, a measly $1 billion.

If left alone by U.S. militarists, China will almost surely, over time, become a democracy on the same pattern as that of South Korea and Taiwan (both of which had U.S.-sponsored military dictatorships until the late 1980s). But a strong mainland makes the anti-China lobby in the United States very nervous. It won't give up its decades-old animosity toward Beijing and jumps at any opportunity to stir up trouble —"defending Taiwan" is just a convenient cover story.

These ideologues appear to be trying to precipitate a confrontation with China while they still have the chance. Today, they happen to have rabidly anti-Chinese governments in Taipei and Tokyo as allies, but these governments don't have the popular support of their own citizens.

If American militarists are successful in sparking a war, the results are all too predictable: We will halt China's march away from communism and militarize its leadership, bankrupt ourselves, split Japan over whether to renew aggression against China and lose the war. We also will earn the lasting enmity of the most populous nation on Earth.


This article first appeared in the Los Angeles Times and is reprinted with permission of the author.


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Austin K. Williams - 7/30/2004

Mr. Tellis writes:

"Having lost the war in Vietnam in April 1975, the US was undeterred and has continued to go down the road of International Aggression. But it has taken with her Zionazi Israeli agents provocateurs into Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey for the training of Kurdish Commandos for use in undermining governments in these Middle Eastern states. Why did the US permit these Zionazis free passage through AngloAmerican occupied Iraq? Because both Great Britain and the United States of America are both surrogates of Israel, what other reason could there be?

Since the War in Iraq has been declared an illegal war, is it not the right of Iraqis and other Arabs to continue the armed and just struggle against Yankee imperialism on the soil of the United States of America itself? If the US is illegally in Iraq, then it is justification for Iraqis to extend the war to America. The bombing of American cities industry, water reservoirs, hydroelectric projects etc. would give the US government a black eye. How would America be able to handle such a catastrophe? With the Patriot Act in place American freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution have already become meaningless. Can one imagine the panic in America if retaliatory attacks are carried out in the big cities by small teams of trained Arab highly mobile squads? Perhaps, it is high time to bring home the war to the American continent itself. Until there is such an undertaking, Americans will not know the price that other nations have paid opposing US imperialism.

So, the choice is now up to Arab nationalists to carry out attacks within the US, and bring the US' illegal Iraqi War of aggression to a halt. Only then will the sun set on the American Empire.

Kenneth T. Tellis
2755 Andorra Circle
Mississauga, Ontario
L5N 2H8
June 24, 2004 "


John Stephen Kipper - 7/24/2004

My God,is this post to be taken seriously or is it a parody? Russia and China are to defend democracy? From what basis, their historical support of one man, one vote? The Gulag and the re-eduacation camps forever! What a disgrace.

While I will admit that Summer Pulse is a very dramatic exhibition of American power, I still fail to see how deploying carriers off of the East Coast of Africa and the West Coast of South America or in the Central Pacific can be construed as an immediate threat to China, much less Russia. But, obviously, the surge is meant to convey a message: don't tread on me. But it certainly is not an invitation for the Chinese to declare or prosecute a war. If they did, from where would they obtain the computer programs necessary to maintain their police state?


Kenneth T. Tellis - 7/23/2004

Today the US' sabre rattling in waters considered China's is similar to the Gulf of Sidra incident off Libya, with one difference, China is not Libya.

Over the past six years I broached this very question to the Chinese and government people through the Xinhua News Agency. I had seen US Militarists planning such a move, because all the signs were there. But I had the presence of mind to ask the question to the Chinese people as to what they would do if provoked? I had told them then not to pay any attention to US peace overture, because they were not sincere. Thus I approached the Russian press and government not to disarm but rearm as the United States of America was a threat to the world, and Russia and China might one day in the near future be called upon to defend democracy. All the past signs on America's intention to dominate the world are now out in the open. There is no question any longer that the US attempting to provoke the People's Republic of China into a war. I wonder whether the US' loyal allies such as Great Britain and Australia would be willing to take such a gamble as they did in the illegal Iraq War?

It is time that the People's Republic of China and the Russian People's Federation ally themselves to take on the United States of America should it have expansionist plan through military strength. It would be no doubt a gamble that the neocons in Washington might not want to take.


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/20/2004

You don't have to look far to see Johnson's real target:


"Operation Summer Pulse '04 was almost surely dreamed up at the Pearl Harbor headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command and its commander, Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, and endorsed by neocons in the Pentagon. It is doubtful that Congress was consulted. This only goes to show that our foreign policy is increasingly made by the Pentagon."

"almost surely"
"endorsed by neocons"
"it is doubtful that Congress was consulted"

The thinnest gauze of fact -- and most of it not even fact -- to provide a dressing for politics with no real foundation other than supposition.


John Stephen Kipper - 7/20/2004

Other AO's include Hawaii, Peru and, of course the CVN's deployed in the Centcom theater. So obviously, as you point out Johnson is wrong again.

And he is wrong not only as to the area of operations, but also as the number of carriers involved. Summer Pulse is designed surge 6 carriers immediately, with two more deployed as follow on and relief missions, thus the 6 + 2 designation. I am sure that Johnson must be geographically aware enough to realize that ships operating off the Atlantic Coast of Africa or in the Eastern Pacific or in the Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf area could not possibly be construed as a threat to the Chinese mainland. I am also sure that he can count to 6 or 7 or 8.

Therefore, the only conclusion a reasonable person could draw from this article is that Johnson is purposefully trying to deceive his readers. For what purpose?


Chris Michael Stephens - 7/20/2004

Not to bright.....such an action will only serve to make China speed up its programme of moderizing and building up its military....especially its blue water naval capability, nuclear armaments and icbm programmes.....


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/19/2004

From what I can read of DOD info on Summer Pulse, the seven carriers are to be deployed to five different theaters "simultaneously" or "near simultaneously". One area is the Gulf of Guinea. Last time I looked, that's not quite off the coast of China. How Summer Pulse gets translated into one place off the coast of China is beyond me.

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