by James Corbett, The International Forecaster:
Readers will recall that last week’s edition of this column ended on something of an intellectual puzzler. To wit: If the Tiananmen Square Massacre narrative that is routinely used to demonize the Chinese government on the world stage is demonstrably wrong (even by the admission of US diplomats and BBC reporters), then why doesn’t the Chinese government say something?
As I concluded in “The Truth About Tiananmen“:
“This type of silence in the face of attack is unfathomable to the Western mind. When someone is spreading rumors and easily debunkable lies about you, you speak up. You set the record straight. You fight back. You do something . . . don’t you?”
Well, perhaps one key to unlocking this mystery is in the stipulation: The Western mind. We all understand that silence is consent and that anyone who remains silent in the face of accusations is thereby tacitly admitting to their guilt, right? But who is “we”? Does our shared understanding of the meaning of silence come from a specific cultural heritage? And if so, what is the shared understanding of the meaning of silence for the Chinese?
As it turns out, Asian cultures generally (and Chinese culture specifically) do have a very different perception of the meaning of silence. You can go all the way back to Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching for confirmation that, to the Chinese mind, silence is not a sign of guilt or weakness but, on the contrary, “Silence is a source of great strength.”
This is not a trivial observation. In fact, it gets to the heart of one of the problems facing the would-be warriors of the new trade war between the US and China. Unlike other rivalries (economic, geopolitical or otherwise) that we can think of in the past—the rivalry between the British Empire and the Germans that formed part of the justification for The WWI Conspiracy, for instance—we are not facing a competition between two powers who share religious, ethnic, linguistic or cultural roots, but two powers who are completely separated in all those respects.
In other words, what we are facing as the US and China gear up to face off in the New Cold War™ is not merely a clash of powers. It is a Clash of Civilizations!™®©(Patent pending). (For extra fun, take a shot of hard liquor and play some over-the-top TV news theme music every time you hear someone say “Clash of Civilizations” from now on.)
If you’re rolling your eyes about the “Clash of Civilizations,” please note that this is not my formulation. It’s the US State Department’s.
“When we think about the Soviet Union in that competition [the Cold War], in a way, it was a fight within the Western family. [. . .]This [US/China struggle] is a fight with a really different civilization, and a different ideology, and the United States hasn’t had that before. [. . .]In China we have an economic competitor, we have an ideological competitor, one that really does seek a kind of global reach that many of us didn’t expect a couple of decades ago. And I think it’s also striking that it’s the first time that we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian”
Not Caucasian? Really? I’ll start holding my breath for the social justice warrior crowd to protest the people who are literally framing geopolitical conquest in terms of ethnic groups. Or the people who are telling reporters that certain ethnic groups are “genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, [and] gain favor.” Or the people who are calling for the development of race-specific bioweapons. Or the people who are actually developing race-specific bioweapons.
And while we wait for the SJWs and NPCs to show a bit of outrage at issues of world historical consequence (Bohemian Grove, anybody?), let’s reflect on just how far outside the norms of diplomatic rhetoric that Skinner has strayed in her statements. To be sure, this is not the typical evasive and euphemistic blather we are accustomed to hearing from the State Department’s warmongers. Remarkably, it’s even worse.
For one thing, Skinner’s remarks obscure a sleight of hand. She implies that since China is a competitor that it is therefore anenemy that must be fought. As Daniel Larison writes in his article on the speech:
“Most of the criticism of this ‘strategy’ has understandably focused on the ‘clash of civilizations’ rhetoric that Skinner is using, but an even bigger flaw is the assumption baked into all of this that there is a ‘fight’ that the U.S. has to have with China. Regardless of how ‘different’ China may be, it doesn’t follow that the U.S. has to engage in a Cold War-style rivalry with the Chinese government. This ‘strategy’ reeks of trying to essentialize cultural and racial differences as the basis for stoking tensions with another major power. Skinner is quoted as saying, ‘You can’t have a policy without an argument underneath it,’ and in this case both the argument and the policy are awful.”
Precisely. This “clash of civilizations” idea is just a convenient post-hoc justification for a pre-determined policy of aggression. But that’s hardly surprising. If you look back at the history of the term, you’ll find that’s all that it ever was.
Although the phrase is now most closely associated with Samuel P. Huntington and his 1996 book on The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, it in fact goes back further than that. Huntington first articulated what would become the basis for his book in an article in the Summer 1993 issue of (surprise, surprise) the CFR’s propaganda rag Foreign Affairs. But before that, this weaponized term was first deployed by Bernard Lewis, whom Executive Intelligence Review memorably labels a “British Orientalist spook.”
Lewis was a Zionist, an Imperial stooge, and a denier of the Armenian genocide whose work laying the psuedo-intellectual framework for Washington’s war of terror was praised by Darth Cheney himself back in 2006. Lewis, Cheney assured us, was “a man of strong moral character and a gentle manner” who stood out for “his great humanity, his terrific sense of humor, and his kind spirit,” which, translated from the Cheneyese, means he was a psychopathic imperialist whose academic work was valuable only insofar as the neocons and other warmongers could use it to justify their wars of aggression. Lewis also introduced his good friend (anddisgraced scam artist) Ahmed Chalabi to the neocon cabal in the days after 9/11, helping that cabal America’s rage from Afghanistan and Al-CIA-da to Iraq and Saddam Hussein.
In “The Roots of Muslim Rage,” published in the September 1990 issue of The Atlantic, Lewis argued that modern day strife between Western powers and Middle Eastern terrorists is nothing new, but instead the inevitable culmination of a centuries-long war against Christendom (and Christianity) by Muslims. In fact, according to Lewis: “This is no less than a clash of civilizations—the perhaps irrational but surely historic reaction of an ancient rival against our Judeo-Christian heritage, our secular present, and the worldwide expansion of both.”
To be fair to Lewis, his article contains nuance and ends with a plea for understanding, tolerance and co-existence:
“To this end we must strive to achieve a better appreciation of other religious and political cultures, through the study of their history, their literature, and their achievements. At the same time, we may hope that they will try to achieve a better understanding of ours, and especially that they will understand and respect, even if they do not choose to adopt for themselves, our Western perception of the proper relationship between religion and politics.”
But Lewis was no rube; he knew exactly what his introduction of the “clash of civilizations” meme would do to direct the discourse on the Middle East. And, predictably enough, just three years later Brzezinski’s Mini-Me, Samuel Huntington, appropriated the phrase “Clash of Civilizations” to launch a new era of imperial warmongering.
“The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.”
In Huntington’s view, the world divides into eight major civilizations: the Sinic (Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean), the Japanese, the Hindu, the Islamic, the Orthodox (Russian), the Western, the Latin American and (“possibly”) the African. Although these civilizations have existed in some form or other for centuries if not millennia, modern advancements in technology have brought these formerly distant and separate civilizations into contact. The result, inevitably, is a struggle for dominance and the eponymous clash of civilizations that, he predicted, would lead to a “small, fault line war” between Islam and the West, and (intriguingly) an “intercivilizational war of core states” between America and China.
I would say “You can see where this is going,” but perhaps I should say “You can see where this thinking has already taken us.” Given life by the founding myth of the war on terror, the 9/11 lie (itself crafted by an expert in the creation and management of public myth), this “clash of civilizations” narrative has been used to justify two decades of war in Afghanistan. It has thrown Iraq into turmoil. It has led to the humanitarian love bombs over Libya. It has fostered a terrorist proxy war in Syria and given rise to I-CIA-SIS. And, given recent events, it seems to be propelling us swiftly towards a war on Iran.
And now, precisely as Huntington predictively programmed, we are being asked to accept the advent of an “intercivilizational war of core states” between America and China.
Talk about weaponized language.
Of course, as those familiar with my work will know, this US/China conflict is being stage-managed from behind the scenes. The upper rungs of the globalist ladder have carefully built up China to be the bogeyman for the 21st century in the way they built up the Soviets to be the bogeyman for the 20th century. But in order to get the public on board with this conflict, they need to present the public with a narrative that makes sense of this new, imminent, existential threat. And just as the threat of Islamic terrorism has filled that role for the last two decades, the threat of the ChiComs is here to fill that role in the coming decades, precisely as Samuel Huntington wrote 26 years ago.
The Chinese, meanwhile, are dutifully playing their part in this geopolitical puppet show. A recent American trade delegation to Beijing were reportedly cornered by a member of the Chinese Politburo who was “describing the U.S.-China relationship as a ‘clash of civilizations’ and boasting that China’s government-controlled system was far superior to the ‘Mediterranean culture’ of the West, with its internal divisions and aggressive foreign policy.” And China’s embassy to the US delivered a similarly bellicose response to this new narrative: