Donald Trump and Xi Jinping attend the G20 summit conference. PHOTO: AFP

Why did a US task force claim that China might nuke America?

This speculation isn’t just incredulous, but it’s also irresponsible

Andrew Korybko June 25, 2020
A congressional advisory board claimed earlier in the month that China is secretly plotting to nuke the United States (US) first in the event of a conflict between the two, speculating that its official doctrine against being the first to use nuclear weapons is a sham. The EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security also alleged that China might use these weapons in space, whether by detonating or launching them from there, in order to destroy the US’ communication networks with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

This speculation isn’t just incredulous, but it’s also irresponsible, to say nothing of how scary it is to consider that American decision makers might actually believe this nonsense. The authors of the report assert that China would respond in the manner that they described because it wouldn’t be able to properly detect, realistically thwart, and prospectively survive a nuclear first strike by the US without losing most of its own nuclear second strike potential in the process.

What’s so disturbing about this scenario forecasting is that it presupposes that the US might actually act on its official policy of not ruling out a nuclear first strike, hence why the authors thought to it worthwhile to imagine how China would respond in the event that America indicated that this course of action might be a realistic option for it to take. That’s extremely troublesome for obvious ethical reasons since it strongly implies that the US no longer believes in the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) against certain nuclear powers.

Part of the reason for this fallacy might be that the US’ recent advancements in missile defense technology over the past two decades since it left the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) in 2002 have dangerously deluded it into thinking that it can repeat the horrific war crimes in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in most places across the planet with impunity. It can only be hoped that no US President ever has the hubris to put the fate of the whole world on the line with such reckless abandon.

Another problem with the congressional task force’s report is that it also presupposes that China wouldn’t have any other option to deter the US in the scenario where America is threatening to act on its nuclear first use doctrine. Modern-day warfare has evolved to the point where asymmetrical responses to various forms of saber-rattling and aggression abound precisely for the purpose of preventing any use of nuclear weapons in the first place. It can only be speculated what China would do, but it certainly wouldn’t be to nuke the US first.

It can’t be known for sure, but it surely seems like there’s an ulterior motive behind this report’s publication. The narrative being propagated of “Chinese nuclear aggression” is much too convenient in the current context to be dismissed as purely coincidental. The US is pushing forward with its provocative “Space Force” plans to militarise the cosmos, and the false pretext of doing so to “defend against China” could be easily abused to “justify” this unilateral aggression against what’s literally the rest of the world.

It also neatly fits in with the equally false narratives that have been manufactured since the beginning of the year about the so-called “China threat”, which the US will surely exploit in order to further its aims of “containing” the country. In addition, it can’t be overlooked just how influential the military-industrial complex is in America. This shadowy network stands to make unprecedented profits arming the US’ “Space Force” and contributing to other “containment” measures against China, hence its interest in fearmongering about Beijing.

The world should realise just how dangerous it is for the US to publicly flirt with the scenario of China supposedly plotting to nuke America first in the event of a conflict. This ridiculous claim could be used to advance very destabilising moves by the US such as refusing to renegotiate new arms control pacts with Russia and accelerating the American militarisation of space. Under the cover of protecting itself from an imaginary “Chinese threat”, the US might actually end up being the one that threatens the whole world.
Andrew Korybko
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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