Asia fast forward, Pentagon back to the future

Pepe Escobar
Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online. 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. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of "Globalistan" (2007), "Red Zone Blues" (2007), "Obama does Globalistan" (2009) and "Empire of Chaos" (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is "2030", also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou (L) wave to the media during a summit in Singapore November 7, 2015.© Edgar Su
Once again, Asia has been placed at the epicenter of geopolitical tectonic plates in motion.

The latest example took place last week during a meeting between Mr. Xi and Mr. Ma [Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou] – at the Shangri-La in Singapore. It was the first face-to-face between the two Chinas since the late 1940s, when they split after the civil war.

Sorry, not two Chinas; actually “One China”, two nations – or “one country, two systems”, following the concept elaborated by the ‘Little Helmsman’ Deng Xiaoping applying to Hong Kong and also, ultimately, Taiwan.

So Xi and Ma called each other a neutral “Mister”. They shook hands over a neutral background (neither red nor blue, but orange). They split the bill at the – excellent – Shang Palace restaurant. They clinched no agreements. Above all, they talked.

Xi as usual stole the show with his soft power panache. “We are brothers connected by flesh, even if our bones are broken.” Or what about, “We are a family whose blood is thicker than water.”
Xi, after solidifying his power in Beijing like no one since Deng, essentially wants Taiwan to follow the 1992 Consensus – which was brokered, by the way, in Hong Kong – that says there is only “One China”.

Of course each player, the motherland and Taiwan, have their own interpretations of exactly what “One China” means. So we're always forced back to subtle Chinese symbolism. What matters is the concept of the same nation - although being governed in completely different patterns for 66 years now.

The Kuomintang – currently in power in Taiwan – may be upstaged in the next elections in January by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led by Ms. Tsai Ing-wen, which is way more pro-independence. For Beijing, independence is anathema.

So in the end they could not possibly close a deal on China’s unification. For the near future, it will depend on how Xi will seduce Taiwan voters. Sixty-seven percent of them are in favor of Xi also meeting with the next President, in case it’s Ms. Tsai. So even if still technically at war, they seem to be on their way towards discussing the possibilities of national unity.

The bottom line: the complex cross-strait puzzle is a Chinese affair to be solved by diplomacy. Not by Pentagon gunboat diplomacy.

Activists protest against the Singapore meeting between Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou and China's President Xi Jinping outside the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Taipei, Taiwan, November 7, 2015. © Pichi Chuang

I want my humanitarian imperialism!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the (Pacific) pond, we were witnessing the same old story, which I describe as the
Pentagon’s Empire of Whining. Blame all possible evils on China, of course. And blame it on Russia. After all, both Russia and China, not to mention their strategic partnership, are qualified as major threats in the latest US military doctrine.

Those were the days when MI6 in London harbored top intellectual firepower. So credit goes to former MI6 agent Alastair Crooke for concisely formulating why the US military establishment is so paralyzed by wrath.

Of course they need money. Lots of money. For that, they need “threats”. What’s better than the specter of China-Russia double trouble? That’s a much more profitable – and credible - blockbuster than GWOT (Global War on Terror).

And yet Ukraine and Syria have graphically shown, especially to the Global South, how a NATO-ruled world is dead. As in we decide what is peace and what is war in our own thumbs-down Coliseum.
Crooke emphasizes how Russia has launched a “sophisticated military campaign in the flash of an eye” – something that NATO or the US military for that matter are totally incapable of.

It gets better; he seems to be the first one to advance the fascinating hypothesis that Russia in Syria might be signaling the coming of age of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a “putative military alliance”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou (L) meet at the Shangri-la Hotel in Singapore November 7, 2015.© Joseph Nair

Naturally he admits that the “4+1” at work in Syria – consisting of Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq plus Hezbollah - are not the SCO; after all, the only SCO member here is Russia (Iran is an observer and will get full membership as soon as UN sanctions are lifted).

What matters is the key objective of the “4+1” in action is exactly to preempt NATO, posing as a Global Robocop, to unleash Libya-style regime change projects disguised as R2P (“responsibility to protect”, the sanitized denomination of humanitarian imperialism).

Crooke is spot on when defining the actions of the “4+1” – for all practical purposes – as a “pilot”, or work in progress, in terms of successful non-NATO coalitions. This, more than anything else, is what’s enraging the ‘Empire of Chaos’ like never before.

Thus the relentless droning in US corporate media which for the moment totally ignores every “4+1” success on the ground; dismisses them as irrelevant; or bets on their absolute failure.
So the outcome of the extremely high-stakes game in Syria is of unprecedented strategic importance for the Global South.

The “4+1” were in fact invited by the (elected) government in power in Damascus to help wipe the US/Saudi/Turkish/Qatari-backed “moderate rebels”, and most of all ISIS/ISIL/Daesh goons off the Syrian map.

Compare it to the NATO-GCC ‘Coalition of the Dodgy Opportunists’ (CDO), which includes Salafi-jihadi enablers/sympathizers such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar operating illegally and with no authority whatsoever over Syrian airspace.

Make no mistake; the Global South is watching. Especially the One China “threat”.


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.