Watching today’s video, I don’t think I really hammered home the point I was trying to make with the section on Wolf Warrior 2. So let me do that here. The Chinese public is being primed to embrace the idea of “humanitarian” intervention in Africa. Modern China doesn’t have much of a history of international adventuring (other than scoring points on its borders with India and Vietnam), but “Chinese Hollywood” is doing its best to build support for it. The Chinese public apparently has a tremendous appetite for this kind of film. If you look at this list of the biggest Chinese blockbusters you can get a sense of just how dominant Wolf Warrior 2 has been. But following up in second place we have this year’s Operation Red Sea, which is apparently a vastly exaggerated recounting of the Chinese Navy’s extraction of Chinese nationals from the war zone in Yemen.
I actually sat through both of the Wolf Warrior movies, and I have a very long twitter thread to show for it. I’d recommend you read that twitter thread. The first Wolf Warrior film presented a very standard, and very old message. Essentially: “Leave Us Alone!”. The first film provided a bit of weird cognitive dissonance for this American viewer. It was profoundly odd to see all the tropes of large scale US action film making translated into a Chinese context. It was weird fun, but there was little in the message presented to object to.
As you’ll see if you read the twitter thread, Wolf Warrior 2 was not fun. It was downright scary. The messages presented were heavily in favor of intervention, and the whole movie implied that China had a responsibility to help the poor defenseless Africans its with massive military power. This is of course just a mirror image of the messages that Hollywood has been pumping into the US public for decades. It’s profoundly disturbing to see China’s nationalist messaging moving in the same direction. But that’s what is happening. Wolf Warrior 3 is apparently going to be about fighting terrorists. It’s really, really sad to see China adopting the worst parts of US militarist ideology. It’s hard to see how it won’t eventually lead to conflict, as I point out in today’s video.
Oh, and if you want to check out my whole “World War 3” series thus far, which takes a serious look at how this conflict, which I view as being decades off, might take place you can check it out here…
Video Transcript after the jump…
Hey there. Probably by the 2020s and certainly the 2030s the US race with China will really start to heat up. It’s unclear what this will look like but we should be working hard to define the terms today.
This competition will definitely include heavy handed diplomatic efforts across all seven and fierce competitions for economic and technological advantage. We really dont want this competition to be military. If it is it will be a tragedy for the world, and a tragedy for the US and China as well.
Over the first couple decades of US war on terror idiocy China was content to sit on the sidelines. This is unlikely to be the case in the third and fourth decades. As this January’s new US national defense strategy makes clear, the Pentagon now intends to keep the absurd budget and all the bases they were given to fight terrorism and use it to play great power games everywhere from Africa to the Asian seas. If we stay on this infantile path, China will not let that go unchallenged.
The history of great power competition in the late 19th century show this. Germany had a couple brutally mismanaged African colonies, not because they were at all useful to Germany, but because the British had African colonies. And China has the potential to be a lot more powerful than Germany ever was.
2017 saw The release of the film Wolf Warrior 2 in China. The most popular film in Chinese history is … a rousing story of a plucky humanitarian Chinese special forces guy battling evil US imperialists in Africa. This hasn’t happened in reality yet, but there is no reason it couldn’t. China already has a large anti piracy force. Who could object to them deciding to help out with a couple bases in Somalia? Shouldn’t the great sufferings of the people of Somalia be alleviated? The fact that this would involve a large Chinese presence on one of the world’s most important shipping lanes would just be a small bonus.
For decades the US has been the only country powerful enough to mask its geopolitical goals with semi-plausible humanitarian justifications. It has been one of our most important advantages. That will be over by the 2020s. China already has one African base in Djibouti. The US has been stepping up its military involvement all over the continent. We only got the vaguest sense of the extent of this involvement when we learned that four US soldiers, acting in an advisory capacity, died in a heated battle in Niger in October 2017. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see proxy wars in Africa between the US and China by 2030. This will all be completely pointless of course.
It doesn’t have to happen this way. It was the policy of the US over the past 15 years, with its pointless wars in Iraq and now Syria that set the tone. And we haven’t even paid for any of it. The cost of the past 15 years of war has all just been added to the national debt. The story of the 21st century will be one of competition with China. And we chose to start out by going into massive debt to make it a military competition. We just started a marathon with a sprint.
This channel is dedicated, in part, to trying to stuff that particular genie back into the bottle, but it may already be too late. What’s important now, whether we are headed back into the era of great power competition or not, is to make less mistakes than the other guy.
History tells us exactly what these mistakes look like. From the US in Iraq, to the Soviets in Afghanistan, to the US in Vietnam, to the Axis powers in Africa, all the way back to the British Boer War in South Africa in the early 1900s, it’s a question of not committing to pointless wars.
You want to get the other guy to over commit. At the moment many in the US are trying to get us to commit more money and troops to Syria. That’s nuts. In the name of humanity and decency, we should never have been involved in Syria. But screw all that. Getting out of Syria as soon as possible may be a question of survival for the US world system.
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