Power & Market

Ginning Up a Fake China Threat

Critics of the increasingly bipartisan consensus of conflict with China face a difficult task. For the (fake) China threat is not a single concrete thing that can be pointed to or otherwise signified. Rather, as a manufactured thought climate produced by a series of interlocking incentive structures, like Kafka’s Castle it looms inscrutable but no less ominous.

Upon close inspection, however, the inner workings of the (fake) China threat reveal nothing new about the anatomy of the state. 

First, it serves as a legitimating device, a new reason for the continually climbing defense budgets, new toys for generals and admirals, overseas bases, the meddling by comfortably ensconced state department officials in the affairs of other states, and the existence of an intrusive national security apparatus. Stoking the fear, representatives of the state spin conflicts they seek as looming threats to everyday Americans in order to justify their continued position of power over them, with a well-funded network of think tanks and the corporate press helping prescribe the acceptable limits of public discourse in order to marginalize dissent. 

Second, the (fake) China threat serves as a convenient scapegoat for the end results of the bad policies Washington itself pursued. America deindustrialized? China’s fault. Millions of Americans hooked on drugs? China’s fault. The Saudis and Iranians don’t want the Americans around anymore? China’s fault.

Et cetera.

There is one element of truth to the (fake) China threat, however. That is, the existence of an independent China (or Russia) is a threat to Washington’s accustomed privilege of being able to do more or less whatever it wants wherever it wants.

But the existence of an independent China is already a fact. 

Refusal on the part of Washington to accept it will cause more than theoretical problems. 

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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