Who Wants a Third World War?
By Pepe Escobar
September 23, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - "Sputnik"-
Chinese President Xi Jinping surfs the USA
in his first state visit almost simultaneously as Pope Francis. It
will be fascinating to observe how the hyperpower's decision centers
will react to this double exposure to dialectical materialism
with Chinese characteristics and the in thesis "under
reconstruction" Catholic Church.
In a historic speech in Havana, Pope Francis who
broke the get-together between US President Barack Obama and Raul
Castro insisted he wants to deepen the relationship
between Washington and Havana. He asked for Obama and Raul to give
it all they've got as an example to the world, "a world that needs
reconciliation amidst this Third World War."
"Third World War" was never part of the original
redaction of the Pope's speech. Francis added it on his flight
from Rome to Havana.
A pre-Socratic cynic would volunteer that Francis
may now be in synch with "Apocalypse Now" Pentagon factions
for whom the Third World War is already on, and the crucial threats
are Russia and China, with ISIS/ISIL/Daesh as a distant third.
It's more like Francis may be aligned with Russian
President Vladimir Putin, who's going no holds barred to frame a
genuine peace process in Syria. The real prime "threat" to the
Middle East, Europe and even Eurasia is a jihadi blowback
originating in "Syraq".
Not for the Pentagon, of course, whose analysts
are now obsessed with contingency plans for a war against
The latest leak on the obsession comes via a
notorious neo-con operative, Michele Flournoy, former
undersecretary of Defense for policy and co-founder of yet another
proverbially hawkish think tank, the Center for a New American
It's all about a Russian "potential aggression"
against NATO, or "hypothetic" Russian aggression against the Baltics.
The plans include possible Pentagon/NATO moves as well
as Pentagon-only moves. The assumption is always an inevitable
So now we have a military "pivot to Russia"
to complement the by now notorious "pivot to Asia" which Beijing
has interpreted for what it is: a strategic containment policy
running from military encirclement (South China Sea, Indian Ocean,
Western Pacific) to trade exclusion (the Trans-Pacific Partnership,
TPP), plus the usual threat of sanctions.
Now compare the Pentagon pivoting the China
with what IT America wants; business, a lot of business, which
implies, obviously, no sanctions.
And then there's what the Masters of the Universe
really crave; some form of coercion that would lead Beijing to open
its coveted financial market to the mega-speculative financial
casino of the US Big Bank system. That is not happening as the
White House has absolutely no leverage on the matter.
What Xi is up against
The first few days of Xi's agenda in the US
include a visit to a new Boeing assembly line in a Seattle suburb; a
dinner with Bill Gates; and the two-day US-China Internet Industry
Forum. From that, it's easy to identify Beijing's priorities.
With Obama, Xi will have to discuss notorious
flashpoints; Taiwan; the South China Sea; cyber-security; and
negotiations towards a possible adoption of a bilateral trade
As if the pivot-obsessed gang was not enough, Xi will
be under a lot of pressure in the US on the human rights and
cyber-security fronts. Yet there's no evidence most of the
hyperpower's decision making circles really know what he's
up against in China.
In roughly three years in power, Xi's number one
task has been to unleash a monster anti-graft campaign. That
encompasses military and civilian spheres. The extremely feared
Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is Xi's weapon
of choice. And no one escapes the Commission's tentacles. Not even
former security superstar Zhou Yongkang and former top presidential
aide Ling Jihua.
So Xi is simultaneously cleaning up the Chinese
Communist Party (CCP) and the People's Liberation Army (PLA). One
can barely imagine the resistance factor to the point that Chinese
insiders stress Xi has made extremely powerful enemies across the
board; retired political heavyweights; top military officers;
influential government officials; state-owned enterprise (SOE)
honchos; an array of "princelings" the children of historic
revolutionaries; and last but not least a dodgy flotsam and jetsam
that laundered their fortunes in Macau casinos and luxury Hong Kong
Special Xi scalps include the so-called Shanxi
gang which totally controlled the politico-economic environment
in this province abundant in coal and the so-called petroleum
gang, which controlled all things oil in China.
Premier Li Keqiang, at the World Economic Forum
in Dalian, has been forced to stress the clean up is a question of
"structural adjustment", and does not affect China's economy.
The facts are stark; China may have deregulated a
lot. But capital, energy, raw materials and land still respond
largely to the central government's priorities. No US lobbying will
This also means that if you are a perfectly placed
and well connected the supremacy of guanxi Chinese
official, you're the King of Business. These functionaries,
essentially, are at the root of so many "distortions" in the Chinese
economy. And that's what Xi is essentially trying to change.
The massive tweaking of the Chinese model includes
less reliance on exports of manufactured products; a much more
rigorous planning in terms of spending on infrastructure; and
redirecting investment on industrial capacity.
Wishful thinking about
China crashing is nonsense. Those days of the Cultural
Revolution are long gone. China is slowly but surely shifting
towards a spectacular new paradigm of integrating the whole
of Eurasia into a booming industrial renaissance. Every change
in China points towards this transition.
The transition also means a shift away from the
massive export linkage to the US and EU and a more balanced economy
across Eurasia, while keeping trade/commerce as much as possible
with the West.
Does this feel like a state/civilization that
craves a Third World War?
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia
Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent
contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East
Asia. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985,
and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington,
Bangkok and Hong Kong.