Gen. Townsend’s China alarmism

China alarmism isn’t new to Washington, but it’s increasingly being taken to absurd heights.

Take, for example, recent comments by Gen. Stephen Townshend, head of U.S. Africa Command. Speaking to The Associated Press, Townshend expressed alarm about alleged Chinese plans to install a military base on the west coast of Africa, where, he warned ominously, “the Chinese are outmaneuvering the U.S.”

It’s not clear whether plans for such a base even exist, but let’s take the general at his word. The new base, when completed, would be China’s second in Africa, after their already-existing base on the east coast of Djibouti. Combine these two with all their other overseas military bases, and the grand total would be — two.

The U.S., by contrast, has over 800 overseas bases, including 29 in Africa.

Townshend’s alarmism is part of a larger pattern, where huge increases in already-exorbitant military funding are justified by citing the alleged threat China poses. President Biden’s proposed $753 billion defense budget for fiscal year 2022 is already the largest ever, but congressional Republicans are demanding even more. Newly minted liberal heartthrob Liz Cheney said anything less than 3-5% would cross a “red line,” while Republican leadership absurdly claims that China hopes to replace the U.S. as the “dominant superpower.”

The Republicans, along with their allies in the Democratic Party and the military-industrial complex, are running an old play: hype a foreign threat, start an arms race and reap the benefits. The American people will pay the costs.

Benjamin Smith,


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