World Insights: How and why U.S. politicians fabricate external threats-Xinhua

World Insights: How and why U.S. politicians fabricate external threats

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-06-24 14:30:15

This photo taken on Sept. 28, 2023 shows the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

In recent years, Washington deliberately stretched the concept of "national security" when dealing with China, conjuring up absurd threats and hyping them up.

BEIJING, June 24 (Xinhua) -- In the eyes of U.S. politicians, garlic, batteries, cranes, electric vehicles (EVs), or social media apps  -- irrelevant stuff in ordinary people's eyes -- all share one conspicuous and suspicious trait if they come from China: they pose potential threats to U.S. national security.

In recent years, Washington deliberately stretched the concept of "national security" when dealing with China, conjuring up absurd threats and hyping them up. Scholars have named this kind of mindset "anything but China," meaning opposing everything about China.

The U.S. government is given to exaggerating external threats to safeguard the interests of special groups at home, the military-industrial complex, for example, and to seek American hegemony. This approach not only undermines the interests of the American people but also endangers global peace and development.


The United States has stepped up its rhetoric of the so-called "Chinese security threat" in recent years, with its fabrications including "the spy balloons," "China's rapid nuclear force expansion," and "China's overseas port investments."

During the 21st Shangri-la Dialogue held in Singapore in early June, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin again tried to shift focus to the "China threat," alleging China's "coercive behavior" towards the Philippines and its growing nuclear power, and space and cyber capabilities. His true intention was to incite confrontation in China's neighborhood and create an excuse for the United States to intervene in Asia-Pacific affairs.

Over the years, the United States has been clamoring "China's military threat" to intimidate and win over allies, and win budgets for the U.S. military and the interest groups behind it, with the fundamental purpose of containing China's development and maintaining its hegemony, analysts have said.

In March this year, the Biden administration announced the defense budget for fiscal year 2025, which totaled 849.8 billion U.S. dollars, another record high. The Air Force's budget reached 188.1 billion, surpassing that of the Army for the first time in decades. But Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall was still not satisfied, complaining at a Senate hearing in April that the appropriations were "insufficient," citing the so-called "threat of China."

U.S. politicians have also been picking on China's renewable energy and infrastructure sectors, accusing operating systems in Chinese EVs of transmitting sensitive information to the Chinese government and taking this as a justification to ban them. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo claimed in March that China could access data about location or personal messages transmitted through Chinese-made cars, saying the United States would only allow Chinese electric cars to drive on U.S. roads if "there were enough government controls on software and sensors."

Meanwhile, although the American Association of Port Authorities stated in March 2023 that there is no evidence of Chinese-manufactured cranes being used as espionage tools and that modern cranes "can't track the origin, destination, or nature" of cargo shipped in U.S. ports, the U.S. government still decided to replace Chinese-manufactured cranes at ports nationwide.

With similar paranoia and without any evidence, the U.S. government has also accused TikTok, a social media platform owned by Chinese internet company ByteDance, of undermining national security and democratic values. However, in a humorous twist, both U.S. presidential candidates are now wooing voters on the app they had pushed to ban.

The logo of TikTok is seen on the screen of a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia, the United States, Aug. 30, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

Even garlic imported from China was turned into ingredients for concocting "China threat." In December last year, U.S. Senator Rick Scott claimed that the garlic from China uses human waste as fertilizer, and poses security risks to the United State.

"America's collective national body is suffering from a chronic case of China anxiety," Rory Truex, an associate professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, wrote in a New York Times op-ed. "Nearly anything with the word 'Chinese' in front of it now triggers a fear response in our political system, muddling our ability to properly gauge and contextualize threats."

Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, also pointed out the U.S. Congress' "hysteria and alarmism" on China. "When the two parties agree on an issue, that doesn't necessarily mean they are right. It could mean they are falling prey to a collective delusion," he said.


Fabricating threats has been a significant component of U.S. foreign strategies since World War II and China is not the only target. The U.S. government has frequently employed the tactic of concocting threats as a means to justify its decisions and mobilize public support for military intervention.

This approach involves the deliberate exaggeration and manipulation of perceived dangers posed by foreign entities or ideologies.

In February 1947, Britain, when facing economic difficulties, informed the United States that it could no longer aid Greece and Türkiye economically. To counter what was termed the "spread of communism," the U.S. government decided to seek congressional approval for a support bill for the two countries.

Arthur Vandenberg, then chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, advised Former U.S. President Harry S. Truman that the best way to ensure the bill's passage was through a public speech designed to "scare the hell out of the American people."

This speech is often seen as a precursor to Cold War rhetoric, successfully galvanizing public support for the aid bill.

In April 1950, the White House National Security Council formulated a seminal document outlining strategic guidance towards the Soviet Union known as NSC-68. The report propagated the notion of a Soviet threat to the "free world," advocating for significant increases in military spending and recommending a military response to "Soviet aggression."

Today, many American scholars argue that this report deliberately exaggerated the threat. "Qualification must give way to simplicity of statement, nicety and nuance to bluntness, almost brutality, in carrying home a point," then U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson said.

Photo taken on June 29, 2023 shows the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)


"One of the biggest challenges I've ever faced was when the Cold War ended ... We lost our best enemy at that time," Colin Powell, U.S. secretary of state from 2001 to 2005, recalled in 2012. "Our whole structure depended on there being a Soviet Union that might attack us, and it was gone."

Today's "pacing threat," as the Pentagon calls it, is China, a country with a far larger population, a far more robust economy, and a far more developed technical sector than the Soviet Union ever had, said William Hartung, a senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

"For Pentagon contractors, Washington's ever-more intense focus on the prospect of war with China has one overriding benefit: it's fabulous for business. The threat of China's military, real or imagined, continues to be used to justify significant increases in military spending," said Hartung.

Fabricating external threats has enriched a small number of groups in the United States, but the ultimate victims are not only countries like Iraq that suffer from U.S. aggression and interference but also the American people.

"One of the main dangers to U.S. security is our tendency to greatly exaggerate the threats we face," said Stephen Walt, professor of international affairs at Harvard Kennedy School, in an interview with Yale Journal of International Affairs.

"We seem to live in a remarkable state of paranoia. At a minimum, exaggerating threats in this fashion leads us to waste resources; at a maximum, it leads to great follies like the 2003 invasion of Iraq," he said.


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