America plays nuclear chicken in the China Sea

Historian and Director of Studies for the Open Society Foundations New Scholars Program Dana E. Abizaid Describes a worrying trend in an essay for Truthout:

In the wake of President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima last week, renewed debates over the use of atomic weapons against Japan in August 1945 have highlighted a disturbing trend: a rise in public support for US attacks on civilians across the globe. Never having withstood a prolonged bombing campaign on their soil, many people in the United States are quick to support and justify the use of bombs — including nuclear ones — on others.

Academics Scott Sagan and Benjamin Valentino conducted research on the US public’s attitude regarding nuclear bombing and recently publishing a summary of their findings in a Wall Street Journal story titled “Would the US Drop the Bomb Again?” From a survey of a “representative sample of 620 Americans” administered by YouGov last July, Sagan and Valentino revealed results that were “unsettling about the instincts of the US public.” Specifically, the pair reported that, “When provoked, [US citizens] don’t seem to consider the use of nuclear weapons a taboo, and our commitment to the immunity of civilians from deliberate attack in wartime, even with vast casualties, is shallow.”

Admittedly, the sample of 620 citizens can hardly be expected to reflect the sentiments of 320 million Americans. Nevertheless, the pair’s findings should not surprise anybody who has paid attention to US foreign policy since 1945. In his 2002 book, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, Gore Vidal points out that, according to the Federation of American Scientists, there have been 200 aggressive US military engagements since the end of WWII. This was tallied before the debacle in Iraq and the “liberation” of Libya; the drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; President Obama’s plan to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL”; not to mention the unconstitutional drone strikes on US citizens abroad.

Indeed, the United States is also busily engaged in provoking a major nuclear power.

That power, of course, is China, and the provocations are coming in the form of the Obama’s encouragement of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to end the formally pacifistic provisions of the Japanese constitution and beef up the military, the White House decision to sell arms to Vietnam, and recent military maneuvers testing the limits of China’s willingness to defend its expansive interests in the China Seas.

The latest move from the Yomiuri Shumbun, the source as well as the accompanying map:

BLOG Zones

Talks at the Asia Security Summit on Saturday highlighted once again the intensifying confrontation between the United States and China over disputes in the South China Sea.

Known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, the summit was held in Singapore and attended by senior defense officials of more than 30 countries, mainly from the Asia-Pacific region.

The United States sternly criticized China’s construction of military installations in the South China Sea, and Japan joined in that criticism.

“China could end up erecting a Great Wall of self-isolation,” U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in a speech delivered on Saturday. He criticized China’s unilateral maritime development and warned that China would be isolated in the international community if it does not adhere to international rules.

A new game of nuclear chicken

The dangers posed by those growing tensions are subjected to a sober analysis in the following RT interview of John Pilger, an Australian-born, UK-based journalist who’s been covering world events for six decades:

John Pilger on the Threat of World War Three

Program notes:

Afshin Rattansi goes underground on the outcome of whoever wins the White House in November. Multi-award winning author and filmmaker John Pilger gives his take on the threat of World War Three as Britain’s defence secretary Michael Fallon jets off to Singapore for the Asian Security Conference where the keynote address will be given by US Defence Secretary Ash Carter.

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