A former US Army Colonel has blasted Department of Defense’s (DOD) latest report on China's military capabilities as a "budget ploy".
"You’re looking at a situation where the only thing [the DOD] can ask for, in terms of fixing any of this, is money — more and more money" retired Colonel Lawrence "Larry" Wilkerson said of the DoD's annual report prepared for Congress entitled, "Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2019".
Wilkerson, who served as former chief of staff to US Secretary of State Colin Powell, described in an interview with The Real News that hyping the China threat taps into a well-trodden American pastime of fear-mongering in order to squeeze more precious taxpayer dollars towards inflated budgets.
The Pentagon report focused heavily on President Xi's plans for rapid modernization of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), especially China’s ambitious plans for the region’s “largest navy” — which has lately included ongoing construction of the country's third aircraft carrier (the first full-sized one), with plans for seven total by 2025.
Watch the interview with Army Col. (ret.) Larry Wilkerson below.
Col. Wilkerson dismissed the idea that China’s aircraft carrier or latest much reported naval modernization initiatives were real causes for concern:
We’ve got a dozen [aircraft carriers]. They’ve got one at sea, one… about to come out, and another one perhaps, and ours are so far ahead of theirs that it’s 10, 15, 20 years before they even achieve the kind of capacity we have.
He explained that "aircraft carriers are extraordinarily vulnerable and we’re going to find that out when one of them with 5,000 hands and $14bn worth of taxpayer money is sunk in less than 30 minutes, whenever we get engaged in something real."
Now a military analyst who teaches at The College of William & Mary in Virginia, Wilkerson addressed the familiar Pentagon cycle of threat inflation in the interview:
The [US] army could not expand; it could not take on a real enemy today without massive conscription and full mobilization. And I wonder if the nation could even stand that today. And so, you’re looking at a situation where the only thing [the DOD] can ask for, in terms of fixing any of this, is money— more and more money.
However, he did warn that the heightened rhetoric and blustering amidst a trade war could serve to paint both sides into a corner, resulting in a scenario of blindly bumbling toward war, as other analysts have described of the so-called "Thucydides Trap".
Wilkerson said an increasingly aggressive US posture toward Beijing could create a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” wherein each minor escalation based on inflating threats begins “demarcating the highway to war with China,” - according to the interview.