Who’s Afraid of Chinese Garlic?
Mike Brenes and I started writing The Rivalry Peril because we saw how great-power competition was leading to dumb, violent, reactionary thinking (we’re doing final revisions on the manuscript now).
In the name of rivalry with China, Washington has been amplifying racial animus, aligning itself with the forces of reaction at home and abroad, and—crucially—securitizing everything. And I mean every damn thing.
It’s not just that China is the chief justification for a military that now costs close to $1 trillion annually (and by some estimates, spending is already up to $1.537 trillion annually). It’s that politically convenient paranoia about China has become the basis to cast everything as a national security threat.
To wit, Congress’s newly formed Select Committee on China has variously insisted that China poses not only a threat to allies, democracy, the U.S. military, innovation, U.S. technology, and human rights, but also a threat to food supplies, public health, medical supplies, the “stability of our healthcare system” (!), and the minds of children. I’m not kidding.
This path doesn’t end well. Spending on social democracy gets diverted. Political grifters gain power. Innocent Americans get caught in the crossfire. Peace movements wither under state repression. Mass surveillance gets normalized. And the developing world has to eat it. We’re all worse off.
Now, garlic—yes, garlic—has become the latest fear fetish. And who benefits? Ethnonationalists and oligarchs, as ever.