We face a world of multiple wars some leading to direct global conflagrations and others that begin as regional conflicts but quickly spread to big power confrontations.
We will proceed to identify ‘great power’ confrontations and then proceed to discuss the stages of ‘proxy’ wars with world war consequences.
In our times the US is the principal power in search of world domination through force and violence. Washington has targeted :top level targets, namely China, Russia, Iran; secondary objectives Afghanistan, North and Central Africa, Caucuses and Latin America.
China is the prime enemy of the US for several economic, political and military reasons: China is the second largest economy in the world; its technology has challenged US supremacy it has built global economic networks reaching across three continents.
China has replaced the US in overseas markets, investments and infrastructures. China has built an alternative socio-economic model which links state banks and planning to private sector priorities. On all these counts the US has fallen behind and its future prospects are declining.
In response the US has resorted to a closed protectionist economy at home and an aggressive military led imperial economy abroad. President Trump has declared a tariff war on China; and multiple separatist and propaganda war; and aerial and maritime encirclement of China’s mainland.
The first line of attack are Chinese exports to the US and its vassals. Secondly, is the expansion of overseas bases in Asia. Thirdly, is the promotion of separatist clients in Hong Kong, Tibet and among the Uighurs.
Fourthly, is the use of sanctions to bludgeon EU and Asian allies into joining the economic war against China. China has responded by expanding its military security, expanding its economic networks and increasing economic tariffs on US exports.
The US economic war has moved to a higher level by arresting and seizing a top executive of China’s foremost technological company, Huawei.
The White House has moved up the ladder of aggression from sanctions to extortion to kidnapping. Provocation, is one step up from military intimidation. The nuclear fuse has been lit.
Russia faces similar threats to its domestic economy, its overseas allies, especially China and Iran as well as the US renunciation of intermediate nuclear missile agreement
Iran faces oil sanctions, military encirclement and attacks on proxy allies including in Yemen, Syria and the Gulf region Washington relies on Saudi Arabia, Israel and paramilitary terrorist groups to apply military and economic pressure to undermine Iran’s economy and to impose a ‘regime change’.
Each of the three strategic targets of the US are central to its drive for global dominance; dominating China leads to controlling Asia; regime change in Russia facilitates the total submission of Europe; and the demise of Iran facilitates the takeover of its oil market and US influence of Islamic world.
As the US escalates its aggression and provocations we face the threat of a global nuclear war or at best a world economic breakdown.
Wars by Proxy
The US has targeted a second tier of enemies, in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
In Latin America the US has waged economic warfare against Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. More recently it has applied political and economic pressure on Bolivia.
To expand its dominance Washington has relied on its vassal allies, including Brazil, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina and Paraguay as well as right-wing elites throughout the region
As in numerous other cases of regime change Washington relies on corrupt judges to rule against President Morales, as well as US foundation funded NGO’s; dissident indigenous leaders and retired military officials.
The US relies on local political proxies to further US imperial goals is to give the appearance of a ‘civil war’ rather than gross US intervention.
In fact, once the so-called ‘dissidents’ or ‘rebels’ establish a foot hole, they ‘invite’ US military advisers, secure military aid and serve as propaganda weapons against Russia, China or Iran – ‘first tier’ adversaries.
In recent years US proxy conflicts have been a weapon of choice in the Kosovo separatist war against Serbia; the Ukraine coup of 2014 and war against Eastern Ukraine; the Kurd take over of Northern Iraq and Syria; the US backed separatist Uighurs attack in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.
The US has established 32 military bases in Africa, to coordinate activities with local warlords and plutocrats. Their proxy wars are discarded as local conflict between ‘legitimate’ regimes and Islamic terrorists, tribality and tyrants.
The objective of proxy wars are threefold. They serve as ‘feeders’ into larger territorial wars encircling China, Russia and Iran.
Secondly, proxy wars are ‘testing grounds’ to measure the vulnerability and responsive capacity of the targeted strategic adversary, i.e. Russia, China and Iran.
Thirdly, the proxy wars are ‘low cost’ and ‘low risk’ attacks on strategic enemies. The lead up to a major confrontation by stealth.
Equally important ‘proxy wars’ serve as propaganda tools, associating strategic adversaries as ‘expansionist authoritarian’ enemies of ‘western values’.
US empire builders engage in multiple types of aggression directed at imposing a unipolar world. At the center are trade wars against China; regional military conflicts with Russia and economic sanctions against Iran.
These large scale, long-term strategic weapons are complemented by proxy wars, involving regional vassal states which are designed to erode the economic bases of counting allies of anti-imperialist powers.
Hence, the US attacks China directly via tariff wars and tries to sabotage its global “Belt and Road’ infrastructure projects linking China with 82 counties.
Likewise, the US attacks Russian allies in Syria via proxy wars, as it did with Iraq, Libya and the Ukraine.
Isolating strategic anti-imperial power via regional wars, sets the stage for the ‘final assault’ – regime change by cop or nuclear war.
However, the US quest for world domination has so far taken steps which have failed to isolate or weaken its strategic adversaries.
China moves forward with its global infrastructure programs: the trade war has had little impact in isolating it from its principal markets. Moreover, the US policy has increased China’s role as a leading advocate of ‘open trade’ against President Trump’s protectionism.
Likewise, the tactics of encircling and sanctioning Russia has deepened ties between Moscow and Beijing. The US has increased its nominal ‘proxies’ in Latin America and Africa but they all depend on trade and investments from China. This is especially true of agro-mineral exports to China.
Notwithstanding the limits of US power and its failure to topple regimes, Washington has taken moves to compensate for its failures by escalating the threats of a global war.
It kidnaps Chinese economic leaders; it moves war ships off China’s coast; it allies with neo-fascist elites in the Ukraine. It threatens to bomb Iran. In other words the US political leaders have embarked on adventurous policies always on the verge of igniting one, too, many nuclear fuses.
It is easy to imagine how a failed trade war can lead to a nuclear war; a regional conflict can entail a greater war.
Can we prevent World War 3? I believe it will happen. The US economy is built on fragile foundations; its elites are deeply divided. Its main allies in France and the UK are in deep crises. The war mongers and war makers lack popular support. There are reasons to hope!
James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. https://petras.lahaine.org
The 21st Century