A paratrooper conducts security at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 29, 2021. (U.S. Army Photo by Master Sgt. Alexander Burnett/Handout via Xinhua)
WASHINGTON/GENEVA, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Open any book on American history, and hardly can you find a long period of time when the country was not part of a conflict. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter simply referred to it as "the most warlike nation in the history of the world."
There are historical, commercial, and geopolitical contexts behind the lust for wars, in which the United States has gained independence, interests, and influence. Over the past decades, the country has launched or engaged in wars all over the world in a never-ending endeavor to establish and retain hegemony.
The United States, according to diagnoses of historians and scholars, has morphed into a perpetual war machine that feeds on and profits from warfare, with the mighty military-industrial complex at the helm and media complicit in justifying government policies and whitewashing its actions, leaving the war mania beyond cure.
FEEDING ON WARS
"Our nation was born in genocide," American civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his 1963 book Why We Can't Wait. "We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population."
The United States was founded on 13 British colonies in North America where the indigenous, some of who helped the first Europeans to settle down on the continent, had lived for thousands of years. However, instead of acknowledging the rights of the Native Americans or Indians after the Revolutionary War, the federal government embarked on a century-long campaign to eliminate them.
"We massacred them," Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, an American-Swiss historian and former United Nations independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, told Xinhua during an interview in Geneva, Switzerland. "We demonized the Indians. We call them devils. We call them wolves ... and it was a lot easier if you demonize your rival in order to kill them."
In Westward Expansion under the so-called Manifest Destiny, a 19th-century doctrine that Americans were destined to expand across the continent, the United States extended its western border to the Pacific Ocean following a chain of land purchases and annexations, along with significant territorial gains after the Mexico-American War in the 1840s.
"U.S. territorial expansion from 1789 to 1854 -- from sea to shining sea -- was the most rapid and extensive in human history," Paul Atwood, senior lecturer in American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, contended in a 2003 article titled War is the American way of life. "It was carried out by armed violence with genocidal results."
In the 1890s, the United States began actively pursuing overseas expansion, decades after the Civil War put America's foreign policy objectives on hold, as senior government officials came to believe that their country is entitled to compete for "naval and commercial supremacy of the Pacific Ocean and the Far East," according to the late American historian Julius Pratt, who specialized in foreign relations and imperialism.
The United States became a Pacific power after the 1898 war with Spain, with new territorial claims stretching from the Caribbean to Southeast Asia, and was elevated to a superpower after World War II. "We tell ourselves that we have emerged from this war the most powerful nation in the world," then U.S. President Harry Truman declared in a speech from the White House on Aug. 9, 1945.
Over the previous decades, the militarily powerful United States has intervened in or waged a succession of significant wars, including the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War, while initiating or being involved in numerous overt and covert operations.
The global "War on Terror," which the United States launched in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, was extended to an astonishing number of 85 countries between 2018 and 2020, and the world's sole superpower controls about 750 bases in at least 80 countries worldwide and spends more on its armed forces than the next 10 countries combined, studies have found.
"This state of war is the norm in U.S. history," author and professor of political anthropology David Vine concluded in his 2020 book The United States of War: A Global History of America's Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State.
According to the Congressional Research Service, a public policy research institute of the U.S. Congress, American troops have staged wars, engaged in combat, or otherwise invaded foreign lands in all but less than 20 years of its existence. "The people of the United States have arguably never been at peace," commented Nikhil Pal Singh, professor of social and cultural analysis and history at New York University.
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex," then U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower said in his farewell speech from the White House on Jan. 17, 1961. "The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist."
Despite Eisenhower's warning, the formidable union of the military, private defense contractors, and the government has grown stronger and more entwined. Daniel Kovalik, adjunct professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, told Xinhua during an interview via video link that the tremendous vested interest that the retired five-star Army general was talking about "was nothing compared to what it is today."
According to Brown University data, the Pentagon has spent over 14 trillion U.S. dollars since the start of the Afghanistan War, with between one-third and half of that going to for-profit defense contractors. Meanwhile, over the last two decades, weapon manufacturers were estimated to have spent over 2.5 billion dollars on lobbying, employing hundreds of lobbyists per year.
Furthermore, because of the revolving door, high-ranking Pentagon officials frequently leave their government jobs to work for defense contractors as lobbyists, board members, executives, or consultants.
Kovalik said it explains why the U.S. war in Afghanistan, which ended after a hasty pullout in late August, lasted nearly 20 years.
"Because the defense industry companies that make the bombs, that make the planes, that make the vehicles, and also the private military contractors that now are fighting the wars in lieu of public military personnel, they made trillions of dollars as long as the war continued," he expounded. "So they didn't care if the war was ever won, the goal was for the war to simply continue forever."
De Zayas also chastised U.S. intelligence operatives and the media for spreading fabricated information and fake news to name and shame its targets and stoke public discontent before and during the intervention. National security, democracy, freedom, human rights, and humanitarianism are the themes of narratives they have sought to create and promote.
"The idea is to anesthetize the population so that they accept regime change so that they accept a military intervention to achieve regime change," he said.
In an article published by The Washington Post in September, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editorial director and publisher of U.S. magazine The Nation, suggested that "the military-industrial complex's sheer breadth of influence -- to the point where it might more accurately be called the military-industrial-congressional-media complex -- can make dismantling the system seem hopeless."
DAMAGE TO WORLD
The New York Times published in November an investigative report, disclosing that the U.S. military covered up the 2019 airstrikes that killed up to 64 women and children in Syria. The revelation came less than two months after the Pentagon acknowledged the last U.S. drone strike before American troops exited from Afghanistan mistakenly killed 10 civilians, including seven children.
Unfortunately, such possible war crimes would likely be forgotten quickly because no one appears to be able to hold the United States accountable. When the International Criminal Court (ICC) was seeking to investigate American personnel for alleged crimes in Afghanistan years ago, the U.S. government responded by imposing sanctions on ICC officials and threatening more actions against The Hague, Netherlands-based tribunal.
The civilian deaths, however, were only a drop in the bucket of tragic consequences from America's unchecked drone strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen, and only a speck of the human toll inflicted by Washington's addiction to violence and war in pursuit of resources, geopolitical clout, and hegemony. The post-9/11 wars alone were reported to have killed more than 900,000 people.
Meanwhile, the "endless wars" have wreaked havoc on many countries and cities, resulting in a tangle of political, economic, and social complexities that have obstructed the rebuilding and revival of economies and civilizations. "If we can't just overthrow you, we will destroy you," Kovalik said. "That's what the U.S. has done time and again."
When the U.S. troops fled from the Vietnam War, they left a devastated land riddled with millions of land mines and unexploded ordnances, which had also been defoliated by millions of gallons of Agent Orange, a deadly herbicide that causes cancer, neurological damage, and birth defects. Since 1975, over 40,000 Vietnamese have died from the deadly remnants of war, and over 60,000 have been injured.
In Afghanistan, decades of war have not only shattered the country but also traumatized its people. The International Psychosocial Organisation, a non-profit agency, reported in 2019 that 70 percent of the country's population needs psychological support.
"Numbers certainly can tell us only so much. Quickly they can become numbing. Ultimately, there's no adequate way to measure the immensity of the damage these wars have inflicted on all the people in all the countries affected," Vine, also assistant professor at American University, stressed in his book.
"International polls showed that world opinion regarded the U.S. as the greatest threat to world peace, no other country even close," renowned American linguist and foreign policy critic Noam Chomsky said during an interview with U.S. magazine CounterPunch in August.
What Chomsky was referring to appeared to be a global survey conducted by the World Independent Network and Gallup in 2013, in which the United States had been voted by respondents from over 60 countries as the most significant threat to world peace, and a Pew poll in 2017 that showed 39 percent of respondents across 38 countries consider American influence and power a major threat to their countries.
"America has never cared to help those we have pretended to 'save' by these wars. For that reason alone, America has never had the broad support of local populations that would have been essential for any kind of success in these misguided wars," Jeffrey Sachs, American economist and public policy analyst, wrote in an article published by The Boston Globe in September.
"Our nation has been at war for centuries," Sachs continued. "Will the United States adopt a new foreign policy based on peace and problem-solving? That's the real question."
-- Entering 2021, the start of China's new five-year plan period, authorities have stepped up regulatory oversight in a number of sectors.
-- Analysts from global financial service firms viewed the regulatory measures as part of China's long-standing efforts to make growth more sustainable and inclusive, which will benefit the regulated sectors and the broader economy in the long run.
-- The regulations are conducive to the long-term growth of the Chinese economy and the capital market, analysts said.
BEIJING, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Some global investors have seemingly observed a "turn" in China's economic governance recently.
In addition to multiple anti-trust probes and data security checks on the country's biggest internet companies, regulators have imposed tough regulations on the off-campus tutoring sector and stepped up food safety checks on popular food brands.
The intensive regulations across sectors have made these investors wonder: Is there a change of course in China's policy direction? How will the regulatory moves affect the capital market and China's economic structure in the long run?
Analysts from global financial service firms viewed the regulatory measures as part of China's long-standing efforts to make growth more sustainable and inclusive, which will benefit the regulated sectors and the broader economy in the long run.
Entering 2021, the start of China's new five-year plan period, authorities have stepped up regulatory oversight in a number of sectors.
In April, the country's top market regulator vowed to strengthen anti-trust law enforcement, imposing record fines on the country's tech behemoth Alibaba and launching anti-monopoly investigations into internet giant Meituan.
The off-campus tutoring businesses were put on the brakes in July, when central authorities published guidelines that restricted financing for the for-profit off-campus training companies, in a bid to ease the burden of students.
The country's market regulators have also stepped up crackdowns on food safety violations, carrying out on-the-spot checks on a number of chain stores of popular food brands and urging rectifications from the involved firms.
"The regulatory moves should be framed against the broader context of China's economic transition," said Robin Xing, chief China economist with Morgan Stanley.
For instance, the anti-monopoly regulations addressed issues such as the over-concentration of market power in a few tech giants, which could squeeze the profit margins of small and medium-sized companies, he said.
"The recent policy indicated more emphasis on social equity, which will facilitate a healthier economic structure, more stable growth and happier lives for the people," said Wang Peng, an analyst with Hangzhou-based Yongan Futures.
Shi Jialong, head of China internet and new media research with Nomura, said the regulatory actions on China's internet sector were not aimed at curbing its growth, but a signal to let the big platforms channel their resources and energies away from excessive competition into research on advanced technologies.
"We believe the internet industry, known for its resilience, should be able to adapt to the environment and sustain healthy growth," Shi said.
The emphasis of quality rather than mere speed of development has long been going on. Since the idea of "high-quality development" was highlighted at the 19th Communist Party of China National Congress in 2017, China has been restructuring its economy in an effort to make growth more sustainable and inclusive.
Battles have been waged to defuse financial risks, eliminate absolute poverty and tackle environmental pollutions. Meanwhile, the deepening of reforms on all fronts has been high on the government agenda to foster a new development paradigm.
The recent meeting of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs, attended by the country's top policymakers, once again stressed high-quality growth, while emphasizing "common prosperity" in the pursuit of it.
"If you look back, you will find that all the policies can be traced back to the development philosophy outlined in public documents," Wang said.
"Some people missed the signs or failed to fully understand it," he said.
For instance, social equity has always been a policy priority, Wang said.
China is on track to meet its 2021 growth target of "above 6 percent", with a GDP expansion of 12.7 percent in the first half of this year.
"This means the country has left enough room to push policies that are key to long-term development," said Victoria Mio, director of Asian Equities at Fidelity International.
The regulations are conducive to the long-term growth of the Chinese economy and the capital market, Mio said.
Bullish on the prospects of the Chinese market, Fidelity International has applied to set up a fund management company that it fully owns. The application was approved by China's top securities regulator in August.
Other global asset management giants are increasingly becoming China bulls. In an interview with the Financial Times in August, an investment strategist with BlackRock's research unit recommended investors lift allocations to China's markets.
For Wang, investors have reasons to stay upbeat on Chinese assets.
From the financial market perspective, China's bond yield is among the highest in major economies, while its stock market valuation is lower than most developed economies, Wang said, pointing to the long-term investment value of China's assets.
"Staying confident in China and in its assets is out of question," he said.
Produced by Xinhua Global Service
China's top legislature unanimously adopted the "landmark" law on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong.
People convicted of the national security crimes could face up to life imprisonment.
The law is a "sword" deterring people who endanger national security and a "guardian" protecting Hong Kong residents.
BEIJING, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Chinese lawmakers Tuesday voted to adopt the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).
The law was passed unanimously at the 20th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature.
President Xi Jinping signed a presidential order to promulgate the law, which goes into effect on the date of promulgation.
With 66 articles in six chapters, the law clearly defines the duties and government bodies of the HKSAR for safeguarding national security and four categories of offences -- secession, subversion, terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security -- and their corresponding penalties.
According to the law, the central government will set up an office in the HKSAR for safeguarding national security.
The HKSAR will establish a committee for safeguarding national security, which is under the supervision of and accountable to the central government. To be chaired by the HKSAR chief executive, the committee shall have a national security adviser designated by the central government. The Hong Kong police force will also set up a department for safeguarding national security, according to the law.
After the law was passed, the NPC Standing Committee consulted its HKSAR Basic Law Committee and the HKSAR government, and adopted on Tuesday afternoon, by a unanimous vote, a decision to list the law in Annex III to the HKSAR Basic Law.
The newly-adopted decision stipulates that the law shall be applied locally in the HKSAR by way of promulgation by the region.
The law came into force in Hong Kong at 11:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday upon its promulgation by the HKSAR government in the gazette.
HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a statement that the HKSAR government welcomes the passage of the law.
"I am confident that after the implementation of the national security law, the social unrest which has troubled Hong Kong people for nearly a year will be eased and stability will be restored, thereby enabling Hong Kong to start anew, focus on economic development and improve people's livelihood," she said.
The law came after prolonged social unrest and escalating street violence had plunged Hong Kong into the gravest situation since its return to the motherland in 1997. Rampant activities of "Hong Kong independence" organizations and violent radicals as well as blatant interference by external forces have disrupted Hong Kong residents' daily life and threatened their safety.
Addressing the closing meeting of the NPC Standing Committee session, Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, said the unanimous passage of the law and the decision has reflected the common will of the Chinese people including Hong Kong compatriots.
Stressing that national security, social stability and the order of rule of law are the premises of the development of Hong Kong, Li said the legislation represents the aspirations of the people and an irresistible trend of the times.
In a statement, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council voiced firm support for the law, calling it a "milestone" event that will usher in a turning point for Hong Kong to end chaos and bring back order.
In a separate statement, the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR said the promulgation and implementation of the law at the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland is an event worth celebrating for all Chinese people, including Hong Kong compatriots.
Nearly 2.93 million Hong Kong residents earlier signed a petition in support of the national security legislation during an eight-day campaign starting May 24.
"SWORD" AND "GUARDIAN"
The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said in its statement that for a tiny number of people endangering national security, the law will be a "sharp sword" hanging over their heads.
But for the vast majority of Hong Kong residents including foreigners in Hong Kong, the law will be a "guardian" that protects their rights, freedoms and peaceful life, said the office.
According to the law, people convicted of the national security crimes could face up to life imprisonment.
Convicted criminals will be disqualified from running for public office, and people in public office who are found guilty of the crimes will be removed from their posts.
The law shall apply to acts committed after its entry into force for the purpose of conviction and imposition of punishment, according to its provision.
Upon promulgation, the law will resolutely and effectively safeguard national security and ensure that the "one country, two systems" cause is steered toward the right direction, said top legislator Li Zhanshu.
The law will vigorously uphold the constitutional order and the order of rule of law in the HKSAR, forestall and deter external interference, and safeguard Hong Kong's fundamental, long-term and current interests, he said.
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