As the U.S. threatens endless war with Russia over Ukraine, confidence in China surges.
This moment of history will be remembered for the massive shift in global relations currently underway. On one side stands the forces of peace and multipolarity led by China, Russia, and their allies in the Global South. On the other is the forces of empire and conquest spearheaded by the U.S. and its allies. The conflict between these two “camps” is about much more than competing visions for planetary development. World politics have transitioned from a war between socialism and capitalism to a protracted struggle for the survival of humanity itself.
The forces of Empire have reached the following conclusion: the preservation of imperialism requires endless war, no matter how counterproductive. Take recent escalations with Russia over the question of Ukraine. The U.S. sponsored a coup in Ukraine in 2014 which propelled neo-Nazi forces into state power. For the last seven years, a steady stream of U.S. military and financial assistance has gone to the coup government to suppress widespread opposition in the eastern portion of Ukraine. The Biden administration has taken this assistance a step forward by encouraging NATO membership for Ukraine and making baseless claims about a future Russian “invasion.”
Russia has understandably identified NATO membership of Ukraine as its “red line” given that the two countries share a 3,000-kilometer border. Since 2014, this border has been largely unfortified despite the fact that the U.S. has sent $2.7 billion in military aid to Ukraine. This includes Javelin missile systems and other weapons of mass destruction that have been cited by the White House as serving the explicit purpose of countering “Russian aggression.” In other words, U.S. relations with Ukraine are motivated by war—making Russia’s recent military build-up on its own border hardly surprising.
Recent talks between Russia and the U.S. have failed to ease tensions. According to the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, 200,000 pounds of “lethal” military aide has been shipped to the country. Furthermore, U.S. interference in Ukraine has been complimented by a non-stop propaganda blitz against Russia. The most widely known example is the ongoing elite conspiracy theory that Russia undermines U.S. elections in order to weaken U.S. influence around the world, otherwise known as Russiagate.
The implications of Russiagate have been far reaching. Russiagate worsened an already waning public confidence in the corruption-ridden U.S. electoral system. The conspiracy theory also laid the ideological basis for a New Cold War by using Russia as a scapegoat for the ills of the U.S. empire. Instead of healthcare, living wage jobs, student debt relief, working people were told by the likes of Rachel Maddow that Russia was plotting to steal their votes and shut off their heating systems.
Russiagate has also served as a key weapon in the U.S. government’s censorship crusade. From the suspicious PropOrNot list of independent media sources labeled “Russian propaganda” to the State Department’s official documents that advocate for even further censorship of RT and Sputnik, a concerted campaign exists to suppress voices critical of U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. military state has used its deep ties with big tech corporations to render independent media, including Black Agenda Report, virtually invisible on major search engines and social media platforms. Russiagate has been employed to smear Julian Assange in the U.S.’s campaign to extradite the journalist and discredit Wikileaks—a campaign that threatens the fate of independent journalism itself.
All of these maneuvers are part of the Empire’s Last Dance of endless war. However, endless war is not a full proof strategy. In fact, it isn’t a strategy at all but a rather a host of violent acts of desperation. Significant blowback and has left the U.S. empire more isolated than ever. The U.S.’s New Cold War against China and Russia has brought the two major powers closer together. Economic cooperation and integration independent of U.S. influence has accelerated in the form of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union. U.S. wars of destruction and sanctions against Syria and Nicaragua have compelled these nations to join the Belt and Road Initiative.
International isolation has only exacerbated the U.S. empire’s crisis of legitimacy at home. As the U.S. wages endless war to maintain hegemony, public trust in the U.S. government continues to decline. Joe Biden’s approval rating fell to its lowest point of 33 percent to enter the New Year. In 2021, only a quarter of the U.S. population said they trusted that the government will do the right thing “almost always.” In a new survey conducted by the Edelman Trust Barometer, the American public’s trust in the government was only slightly better at 39 percent.
An entirely different trend exists in China, where a whopping 91 percent of Chinese respondents reported possessing a high level of trust in their government. This is in keeping with prior reports from the Harvard Ash Center and York University that suggest upwards of 95 to 98 percent of Chinese people support their government. The Edelman Barometer provides a decent analysis of the deepening trust that the Chinese people possess in their government. China swiftly contained COVID-19, reopened its economy, cracked down on corruption, raised the standard of living of the people, and promoted a policy of solidarity and cooperation globally.
The United States has done the exact opposite. U.S. leadership on the world stage has understandably waned amid surging inflation, stagnant economic growth, mass death due to the pandemic, and an overall political indifference to the wellbeing of the people and the planet. War is the empire’s last dance because war is all that it has left to offer. The more that the U.S.’s legitimacy crumbles, the more that a competent and people-centered model of development like China’s garners prestige domestically and internationally.While this is objectively a good thing, it doesn’t tell the entire story. The U.S. public is being primed for war. Corporate media headlines routinely demonize Russia and China to serve the empire’s militarist agenda. Public opinion toward Russia and China remain dangerously low, with more than seventy percent of the U.S. public holding an unfavorable view toward both countries. If the empire were to start a war tomorrow, then the world would not be able to depend on the masses of people in the U.S. to demand and fight for an end to the carnage; at least not yet.
Much of the U.S. public therefore finds itself outside of the multipolar world currently taking shape across the globe. This has created an irreconcilable contradiction. On the one hand, the empire is in a state of terminal decline which threatens to take humanity down with it. On the other, the peace movement within the U.S. and the West is neither large enough nor organized enough to demand societies that align with the principles of self-determination and multipolarity. It is essential, then, that all progressive and left forces make the struggle against imperialism a primary component of the movement for social justice. Failure to do so means de facto participation in the empire’s last dance of endless war and the annihilation of humanity which it portends.
Danny Haiphong is co-author of the book “American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People's History of Fake News- From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror.” You can follow his work on Twitter @SpiritofHo and on YouTube as co-host with Margaret Kimberley of Black Agenda Report Present's: The Left Lens. You can support Danny on Patreon by clicking this link. You can contact him at [email protected] .