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The U.S.-China Undeclared Cold War and Tougher Times for African Americans
By Dennis Boatwright,
Sept. 23, 2006

The United States and China are engaged in an undeclared Cold War that promises to have far-reaching consequences. The Bush administration's preoccupation with the debacle in Iraq, as well as Iran's nuclear ambitions, are distractions to take our attention away from a more pressing concern--China. When the U.S. disengages from these diversions one can expect the icy temperature of U.S.-China relations to dip below zero.

Discussions of the Cold War, particularly among African Americans, conjure up notions of an over-reaction to reality, and of a time when spooky, far-fetched doomsday theories (straight from the Sci-Fi Channel) were designed to instill fear. One might think of the 1983 epic network television film, The Day After.

In reality, Cold War politics should be of paramount concern to average Americans - and especially African Americans, who will be more adversely affected. Officially defined, a Cold War is a state of tension and military rivalry between nations, which stops just short of a full-scale war. A common understanding of it is the adversarial relationship between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union between 1945 and 1990. That Cold War began with the partitioning of Berlin, the ravaging of Indochina, and the under-writing of coups d'etats and civil wars in Africa and Latin America. But the term "Cold War" was rather misleading, because there was never anything "cold" about it. Cold Wars are heated and include limited military conflicts and the partitioning of the globe
between larger ally countries and often unwilling non-aligned "Third World" countries, which become satellites within self-proclaimed spheres of control.

Political observers characterize China as a rising superpower that poses a formidable threat to America's global hegemonic status. After the collapse of Communism in the former Soviet Union, Islam replaced Communism as America's perceived ideological foe. Although Islam posed a credible challenge to Western-style capitalism, its prestige and cosmopolitan appeal declined in the 1990s, and again in the post-911 era, following the humiliating defeats of Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. policy-makers today view radical Islam as a nuisance rather than a serious threat.

The re-structuring of China's state-planned economy to more of an open market model has catapulted China into a rising superpower. The irony of this growing conflict is that the hallmark of U.S. criticism has been China's reluctance to open
its markets to foreign investors. It's protectionist economic policies, commentators surmise, prevent the spread of democratic values within the country. There is an adage about being careful what you wish for. China's careful opening of its colossal economy has brought about its rival superpower status. It now has the fastest growing economy (above 10% annually) in the world, a favorable trade balance with the U.S., and it holds hundreds of billions in U.S. debt. The United States and China are engaged in quite a different Cold War than the U.S.-Soviet Cold War.

Beijing is aware of its growing clout and aggressively pursues its national interest, to the chagrin of Washington. Examples of China's assertiveness include the establishment of friendly relations with Zimbabwe, Sudan and Venezuela -
all countries that the U.S. State Department has designated as "rouge nations" or state sponsors of terrorism. China's unwillingness to support tougher U.S.-sponsored sanctions against Iran viewed by U.S. government officials as another
example of Beijing flexing its muscles. As China asserts its foreign policy objectives, this Sino-U.S. Cold War will only magnify. China's refusal to raise the exchange value of the Yuan to the dollar, U.S. concerns over North Korean nuclear capabilities, China's posture towards Taiwan -- are all topics for political sparing.

Wars are costly both in terms of human casualty and environmental destruction. Military expenditures can absorb 40-60% of a country's GDP. Cold Wars are more expensive because of their duration and complex dimensions. Government revenues normally used to fund domestic programs are diverted
to Cold War efforts. For this reason the growing Sino-U.S. Cold War should concern people of African descent and low-income Americans.

During President Reagan's first term domestic funding for programs crucial to African American and other low-income communities were drastically reduced or terminated to pay for the second resumption of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War in
the 1980s. In White Nationalism, Black Interest, Dr. Ronald Walters notes that food stamps and school lunch programs were cut, social service block grants were reduced by 33% and training for the disadvantaged was reduced by 36%.
In late Spring 1984, federal aid for youth summer employment was slashed by $100 million. These reductions diminished the flow of economic resources to urban areas. During this same period of time the Reagan administration increased military expenditures by 41%, or 86 billion dollars.

Once the U.S. and China locks into a full-fledged Cold War, African Americans and the average American will suffer the most - as needed social programs, such as college grants and health insurance, are all placed on the chopping block.
If the U.S.-Soviet Cold war is any indication of how long the Sino-U.S. Cold War might last, then we can expect for important affirmative action bills to linger in the committee phase for at least another twenty years.

Dennis Boatwright is a 36-year old, self-taught Detroit native who has been in prison since 1989. His academic interests include economics and political science, with a strong focus on International Relations and Pan-African politics. He is multi-lingual and is an avid learner. He is being held at a maximum-security prison, where he is held in his cell for 23 hours per day. He enjoys being
challenged to the best of his abilities and describes himself as open-minded, yet serious about life and the causes he represents.

You may write to Dennis at:

Dennis Boatwright, #206715
Alger Maximum Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 600
Munising, Michigan 49862

You may contact Dennis Boatwright directly by writing to him at the address listed above. The following link offers tips for writing to prisoners:


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