Will China start World War III?

Election in the US : The empire is wavering: will the US election be followed by a war against China?

Berlin - When US President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 immediately after starting his term in office, the reason was: Obama was a bearer of hope for world peace. Obama was initially able to convince, but primarily through his rhetoric: he initiated the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, in a speech in Prague he spread the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and began a dialogue with Russia. But already during his tenure all dreams vanished into thin air: new wars raged in the Middle East, North Korea and Iran were seen as potential new nuclear powers, and talks with Russia stalled. Even more: the USA had to get involved in new conflict regions - with Ukraine and Syria as the most publicly noticed.

While the Ukraine conflict between the West and Russia ended in a stalemate, in a conversation with "60 Minutes" in 2015, Obama even admitted the failure of the strategy adopted there with a view to Syria: Because the US military leadership lacked direct intervention rejected an "exit strategy", Obama armored various mercenary troops in the country through the secret services - in the hope that they would represent US interests: "It did not work," said Obama in the interview. The US government had to admit that the Americans had made an informal agreement with the Russians to contain the runaway Islamic terrorism in the region.

Despite all de-escalating claims, the United States was permanently at war with some nations during Obama's tenure. The drone operations controlled from Germany have become routine, although they clearly violate international law. At the end of his tenure, the White House lawyers advised Obama to withdraw from the Yemen war - because the killing of civilians with the assistance of American weapon systems would be a war crime for which the US president could also be held accountable.

Obama's example shows that rhetoric and realpolitik are usually two different levels. Obama's failure as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, however, also shows the central role the President of the United States of America still plays in the question of world peace. As the commander-in-chief of the largest and best-equipped military power, the US President is firmly integrated into the so-called military-industrial complex, about which US President Dwight D. Eisenhower said in his farewell speech on January 17, 1961 that the sheer size of the arms industry could lead to a misallocation of power lead that “endanger freedoms and democratic processes”.

Unlike many other industrialized countries, the USA has had a global perspective since entering the Second World War to end the National Socialist terror. The intervention in Europe in the fight against Hitler was reluctant. But the incumbent US President Donald Trump mentioned in every one of his campaign speeches that the US had defeated “fascism and communism” in equal measure and was a kind of moral authority for the world. However, morality has long since broken away from the tangible interests pursued by the last remaining world power after the end of the Cold War. These interests are essential when classifying the question of what role the future US president will play in terms of war and peace - whether his name is Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

Trump always emphasizes that he has promised to pull the country out of all the "stupid and useless wars in remote regions". This happens, the soldiers are on their way home. This is not true, however: At the beginning of November, it became known that the US Army was relocating troops to northeast Syria. The withdrawal from Afghanistan is basically not making any headway, and the promised further withdrawal for Christmas is no longer an issue.

One of Trump's most important official acts was to increase the armaments budget. At $ 2.7 trillion, the military budget under Trump is again above the budget of the late Obama years. However, Obama had taken over a budget of $ 3.3 trillion from Bush and cut it back. Trump's claim that he has increased the cost of new military equipment is wrong: The cost of new purchases in the 2020 budget is 20 percent of the total budget, which is much lower than Trump stated. Nevertheless, it is noticeable that Trump boasted time and again that he had brought the US military, and in particular its nuclear weapons capacities, to a globally unique level through an “update”. He wants to ensure "peace through strength", says Trump, and adds: "May God help us that we never have to use our military power."

From the first day of his presidency onwards, Trump clearly answered the question of who the new self-confidence could be directed against: China is the great global adversary. This definition of an enemy image, tirelessly propagated by Trump's then chief strategist Stephen Bannon, was continued by the President at increasing volume throughout his term in office. It culminates in Trump insistently calling the coronavirus a "China plague". Trump boasts of having imposed an entry ban on Chinese citizens very early on. He also does not shy away from blatant racist attacks, as was the case most recently during an election campaign in North Carolina. To this end, Trump alienated a poem by the black civil rights activist Al Wilson, in which a kind-hearted woman took a frozen snake into her home and warmed it until the snake inflicted a deadly bite on it. Even the most staunch Trump supporters fell silent.

An emerging serious conflict with China, inconceivable four years ago, has taken on ever clearer contours in the Trump era. However, the trade war unleashed by the US administration has not weakened China. Beijing is the only major power to report economic growth after the outbreak of the corona pandemic. The government immediately had to pass on the revenue that Trump promised Americans because of the tariffs imposed on Chinese goods to frustrated farmers in the Midwest because China has drastically cut back imports of American foods such as meat and soybeans. In addition, Beijing has substituted its US imports with purchases in other countries, from which Europe has benefited, among others. However, the economic upheaval in the course of the Corona measures has significantly weakened Europe. The old continent is busy with itself and is forced to switch to a kind of self-sufficient mode because of the impairment of the supply chains. And China itself has also reacted to the new framework conditions with a remarkable change of course. At its most recent congress, the Communist Party set the course for a so-called “circular economy”. The goal: The leadership in Beijing would like to produce as much as possible itself in order to become independent of imports. The biggest threat to the US, however, is China's digital catch-up. With Huawei and TikTok, Chinese companies are extremely successful in poaching Western markets - an unheard of provocation. The trend of the digital towards a global monopoly is also fueling Americans' fears.

Trump, if re-elected, would continue his politics. Iran, China's closest ally, and the South China Sea will remain military hot spots. These days, CNN reported on new military activities by the Americans in the region and showed the "rare recordings" from a US reconnaissance plane as evidence.

Joe Biden is also mentioned in the post. Carl Schuster, a former head of the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center, was critical of Biden's stance on China. The former vice president said he wanted to be "tougher, but less confrontational" against China. According to Schuster, this is not satisfactory.

Biden is expected to show a clear edge. But Biden has a big problem with China. A laptop belonging to his son Hunter Biden was found just before the election. The New York Post quoted extensively from the e-mails: Hunter Biden collected money for lobbying for the energy company CEFC founded by the Chinese Communist Party. Among other things, it concerned licenses for fracking in Louisiana. The FBI exposed the company as a Chinese espionage operation, whereupon the leadership in Beijing sent the company into bankruptcy. Jo Biden, referred to as a “big guy” in a communication between the Chinese and the Biden family, could also have been chosen as a personal beneficiary of the collaboration.

These complicated connections should not make any particular impression on the voters. But for President Joe Biden, the China connection would be a similar mortgage as Trump's alleged proximity to Russia: He would in fact be condemned to a tough pace and thus to continue Trump's course. Because just as the Democrats have not spared Trump with regard to Russia, the Republicans would be able to put Biden under pressure with a possible impeachment process.

A return to China policy is actually impossible for the US government: In recent years, China has provided an impetus to shift the global balance of power with the New Silk Road project. Numerous countries want to benefit from the large-scale infrastructure project. In doing so, China is relying on a means that the Americans are all too familiar with from the international organizations they dominate, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF): the projects are financed through debt. China has secured tough credit terms. In the event of bankruptcy, most projects go more or less directly under Chinese state control. In recent years, China has quietly implemented this strategy in Africa, where raw materials, land and food are at stake. China just recently defended its strategy and announced that it would cancel some of their debts in some African countries in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. But Western observers doubt the unselfishness, as a critical report of the Financial Times shows.

The escalation of the debt question shows that every US president - regardless of whether Biden or Trump - will also be shown the limits of geopolitical ambitions with the massive mountain of global debt. The Americans still have a decisive advantage here, however: They can use the dollar, the only world currency, as a weapon to expand the trade war that has begun into a financial war. The first to notice this trend were the European companies involved in Nord Stream 2. The US can build effective pressure with extraterritorial sanctions. The Chinese yuan is often discussed as an alternative - but even the protagonists of a “multipolar world” see it as a long-term project.

The continued rattling of sabers on the different levels is likely to increase in intensity. Whoever heads the United States as president will probably have a hard time going down in history as the Prince of Peace.