by Noam Chomsky

Revealing how little fundamental assumptions have changed, US strategic analysts describe the result of China’s military programs as a “classic ‘security dilemma’, whereby military programs and national strategies deemed defensive by their planners are viewed as threatening by the other side”, writes Paul Godwin of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. The security dilemma arises over control of the seas off China’s coasts. The US regards its policies of controlling these waters as “defensive”, while China regards them as threatening; correspondingly, China regards its actions in nearby areas as “defensive” while the US regards them as threatening. No such debate is even imaginable concerning US coastal waters. This “classic security dilemma” makes sense, again, on the assumption that the US has a right to control most of the world, and that US security requires something approaching absolute global control.

While the principles of imperial domination have undergone little change, the capacity to implement them has markedly declined as power has become more broadly distributed in a diversifying world. Consequences are many. It is, however, very important to bear in mind that - unfortunately - none lifts the two dark clouds that hover over all consideration of global order: nuclear war and environmental catastrophe, both literally threatening the decent survival of the species.

Quite the contrary. Both threats are ominous, and increasing.

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