On Friday, the Biden government released its budget proposal for fiscal year 2022, which begins October 1 of this year. At its center is the call for a record military budget of $ 753 billion. This includes a massive allocation of $ 24.7 billion for the modernization of nuclear weapons; a major expansion of nuclear-capable air and naval forces; and the biggest research and development request ever – $ 112 billion.
This budget proposal is openly directed against China first, then against Russia, Iran and North Korea. As the Biden government and the political and media establishment revive the Wuhan lab’s baseless conspiracy theory of the virus’s origin, in an attempt to create a casus belli for a war with China, the Pentagon’s budget is a stern warning to the American and international working class. American imperialism seeks to extricate itself from its intractable global and internal contradictions by preparing a military conflict against the country it considers its most dangerous rival.
Since taking power four months ago, Biden has stepped up the pace of anti-China propaganda and military provocations against Beijing, initiated by the Obama administration and escalated by Trump. He went further than any other president in undermining the “One China” policy and the related policy of “strategic ambiguity” towards Taiwan, inaugurated by Carter in 1978. He started discussions with Taiwan, Japan and South Korea on stationing offensive missiles against mainland China; a move that China has warned would view as an act of war.
The new budget allocates $ 5.4 billion to develop these plans, under the rubric of the “Pacific Deterrence Initiative”.
The Biden government and Democratic Party-aligned media portray this $ 6 trillion budget proposal as a turning point in liberal social reform, with a total discretionary spending increase of $ 1.520 billion for fiscal year 2022 But amid the current pandemic and social devastation afflicting tens of millions of workers, the war budget accounts for nearly half of the increase in spending; and half of that goes to rebuilding a crumbling US infrastructure and returning production of high-tech components essential to a future war against a rising power like China. Real social reforms are at best half-measures that do not call into question the ever-growing fortunes or the economic domination of the financial oligarchs.
The Defense Ministry’s announcement of the new budget is tinged with anti-Chinese militarism. It begins with a statement from Biden’s Secretary of Defense, Retired General Lloyd Austin, who states:
“The budget provides us with the combination of capabilities we need the most. It remains true to our goal of meeting the challenge of the People’s Republic of China; it makes it possible to fight against the harmful effects of climate change on our military installations and to modernize our capacities to face the sophisticated threats of tomorrow ”.
On Thursday, Austin and General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testifying before the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, made chilling remarks about the need for the United States to ‘improve and modernize their army in order to prepare for war against their “strategic competitors”, primarily China.
Austin said, “We need to maintain and enhance this advantage on land, at sea, in the air and in emerging areas including space and cyberspace. I have no doubts that the President’s budget request helps us achieve this. This demand is driven by the recognition that our competitors – especially China – continue to improve their capabilities. We must go beyond their progress to remain a credible deterrent to conflicts around the world ”.
Austin stressed that the U.S. military needs to modernize its forces in line with technological advancements to maintain “the rules-based world order that we have helped promote over the past seven decades” (i.e., the rules fixed by US imperialism after World War II).
Expressing the increasingly desperate position of the American ruling class after decades of economic decline and financial free-riding, he warns: “China has invested heavily in new technologies, with the declared intention of completing the modernization of its forces by 2035 and have a “world-class army” by 2049 ”.
“Russia has shown that it is not afraid to target the United States in contested areas like cyberspace, and it continues to show an interest in regional hegemony. Iran continues to advance its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and support destabilizing proxy groups in the Middle East, with the aim of threatening its regional neighbors. We also face the challenges of North Korea, a country that has the ambition to be able to strike the American homeland ”.
On “regional challenges,” Austin started with China and the India-Pacific region (focusing on North Korea and Iran); then, it moved on to Europe (targeting Russia), the Western Hemisphere (alluding to China’s growing economic influence in Latin America), and the continental United States. In this regard, he noted positively the continued deployment of troops on the US-Mexico border and their role in the imprisonment of migrant children.
He spoke of virtually every square inch of the world’s landmass as places to be “defended” by the US military, including the Arctic. It also includes US military dominance of space and cyberspace.
Austin concluded by presenting, as part of a necessary preparation for a military conflict against “strategic competitors,” the efforts of Biden’s Department of Defense to root out sexual harassers and extremist elements. He bragged about his guidelines to remove barriers for transgender people in the military. This reflects both serious concerns within the military staff about the potentially disruptive impact of far-right elements in pre-war conditions and the political need to give a welcome gift to the class. upper middle class, obsessed with identity within the Democratic Party.
Milley was even more direct in his remarks to the committee.
“China,” he said, “is our first geostrategic security challenge… China challenges the status quo of peace in the Pacific and intends to revise the international world order. here the middle of the century. China is conducting large-scale exercises in the region, with an emphasis on amphibious landings, joint fires and maritime strike scenarios. These actions threaten the autonomy of our allies and partners, endanger the freedom of navigation, overflight and other legal uses of the sea, and undermine regional peace and stability. In short, China has developed significant nuclear, space, cybernetic, land, air and sea military capabilities and continues to do so ”.
Milley pointed to the vast changes in warfare since the end of World War II, stressing the need for the US military to intervene with massive forces much faster than in the past.
“The United States, as a nation, has always had the advantage and time of a long military build-up before the outbreak of hostilities. The operational environment of the future is unlikely to afford us the luxury of time needed to project the force. So having modernized forces, large enough and ready, will be the key to maintaining deterrence and peace and, if deterrence fails, combat and victory, ”he said.
He concluded by stating that “the United States joint force is a flexible and adaptable force ready to deter, fight and win our nation’s wars. Budget Request PB22 increases force readiness by developing the Joint Force of the Future… Many enemies have grossly underestimated the United States and the American people in the past. They underestimated our national resolve. They underestimated our capacities, our skills and our fighting power, and each made a fatal choice which ended in their inscription in the trash of history ”.
The new or expanded weapon systems listed in the Pentagon’s budget announcement are:
- B-21 long-range attack bomber – $ 3 billion
- Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine – $ 5 billion
- Missile LRSO (Long-Range Stand-Off) – 609 millions de dollars
- Ground Based Strategic Deterrence (GBSD) – $ 2.6 billion
- Sea-Based Ballistic Missile Defense System (AEGIS BMD) – $ 1 billion
- Ground-Based Missile Mid-Term Response (GMD) and Enhanced Home Defense / Next-Generation Interceptors (NGI) – $ 1.7 billion
- 85 F-35 Joint Strike fighters – $ 12 billion
- 14 KC-46 tanker replacements – $ 2.5 billion
- 30 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters – $ 825 million
- FORD CVN-78 class aircraft carrier – $ 2.9 billion
- 2 Virginia-class submarines – $ 6.9 billion
- 1 destroyer Arleigh Burke DDG-51 – 2,4 milliards de dollars
To partially offset the increased spending and reorient the strategic focus towards more high-tech weapons and communications systems, the budget includes some reductions in existing military programs. This will undoubtedly provoke opposition from MPs in the pay of defense contractors in their districts whose profits could be affected.
The immense danger of a war launched by the United States against a nuclear-weapon rival such as China or Russia can and must be avoided. The only social force capable of disarming imperialist war criminals is the international working class. The crisis of world capitalism, intensified by the pandemic, which drives imperialism to the madness of nuclear war, also creates the conditions for its gradual resolution by means of the world socialist revolution.
(Article first published in English on May 29, 2021)