No to the new cold war with China: an African American perspective

The following article by Ajamu Baraka was published in Global Times in China, Black Agenda Report, and Monthly Review in the US. It is a speech made by Ajamu Baraka to an online conference ‘No to a new cold war’ held on 25 July.

Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. Baraka serves on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Peace Council and leadership body of the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC). He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch. He was recently awarded the US Peace Memorial 2019 Peace Prize and the Serena Shim award for uncompromised integrity in journalism.

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China’s Ambassador to the United States posed a very simple question:

Is the United States ready or willing to live with another country with a very different culture, a very different political and economic system … in peace?

The answer to this question must be that despite the intentions of the U.S. rulers, the people must opt for peace.  For the Black liberation and anti-imperialist movement in the U.S., we are clear: War is a class issue and we say not one drop of blood from the Black working class and poor to defend the capitalist oligarchy.

It is important that this position is clear because the U.S. state wants to disconnect the ongoing black struggle for human rights, anti-colonialism, and authentic democracy in the U.S. from the broader anti-colonial and revolutionary struggles and movements globally. The U.S. state wants to project our movement as one concerned only with Black Lives or winning “civil rights” or something called racial justice, which objectively is an impossibility for a white supremacist settler colonial state.

This was the strategy of the U.S. in the late 1940s when Africans in the U.S. were in the forefront of agitation for a radical notion of human rights that centered democracy, racial justice and national and people(s) self-determination.  The politics were often explicitly anti-capitalist, seeing that what we refer to today as racial capitalism as providing the material basis for white supremacist power. This is the Black radical internationalist tradition and is the perspective that informs my positions on the question of China and a new cold war.

This Black internationalist perspective was captured in the response of Nelson Mandela during his first visit to the U.S. after he was released from prison in South Africa, when he was asked, in what was supposed to be one of those ‘got you’ questions, about the support that the ANC and other South African liberation movements received from Cuba, Libya and the PLO.

He answered by saying that the “the mistake some make is assuming that their enemies should be our enemies.”

Our movement–the African radical, anti-imperialist, internationalist movement, sees the Chinese state and the Chinese people much differently than the U.S. state and its ruling class. We center the collective human right of self-determination and national sovereignty for all peoples, nations and states, and, therefore, take a position of resolute opposition to the efforts by the U.S. state to isolate, subvert and militarily threatened the Chinese state.

We opposed the so-called pivot to Asia under the Obama administration and the designation of China along with Russia as global threats in the 2018 NDAA.  We oppose the provocative military maneuvers by the U.S. in the Asia-Pacific region, specifically the unnecessary and intentionally aggressive actions in the disputed waters of the South China sea. And we condemn the militarization of the waterways and maritime routes from the Malacca-Singapore strait to the South China Sea and East China sea by the U.S. state, which is aimed at intimidating and threatening the Chinese state.

We take the position that all disputes in the Asia-Pacific region should be resolved solely by the nations of that region.  In Particular, we oppose the proposals to enhance U.S. basing in the Asia-Pacific region.


My friends, we are living at a moment of history that is extremely dangerous. The irreversible decline of U.S. imperialism and the anxiety it is producing, along with the recklessness and mediocre character of U.S. decision makers, has created a volatile situation that some argue is more dangerous than at any point during the Cold War period with the Soviet Union.   Insane strategies like the concept of “pre-launch interception,” the theory that the U.S. can launch a first strike to destroy the intercontinental ballistic missiles of Russia and China while they are still in launchers, are becoming accepted possibilities.

U.S. policymakers responded to questions from their European allies regarding the U.S. commitment to NATO after the announcement of the U.S. pivot to Asia by saying that “the European NATO powers should welcome the fact that the U.S. is willing to engage in this new strategic challenge on behalf of the alliance.”

It is clear for those of us who understand the white supremacist mentality–because our lives depend on us understanding it–the position voiced here is an acknowledgement of the common interests the white West in maintaining global Western dominance. This is the collective imperialism that is committed to upholding the white supremacist colonial power that Kwame Nkrumah talked about that characterized U.S. leadership of the Western powers coming out of the Second World War.  This is the mad psychopathology of white supremacy. They are preparing for war, a winnable war, with the Chinese.

And what has been the response from the Chinese?

They said that they will vigorously oppose the deployment of new weapon systems into the Asia-Pacific region. In just the last two months, U.S. public opinion has hardened against the Chinese with veiled racial coding from Donald Trump, Joe Biden and corporate press suggesting an impeding and inevitable conflict on the horizon. Today the language might be coded but its intent to shore up the common interests of the Pan-European colonial/capitalist white supremacist project is absolutely clear.

That is why BAP says that we must name the Pan-European white supremacist colonial/capitalist patriarchy as an existential threat to all of humanity.  Our task must be to take away the power that they have to destroy the world.

This is a historic imperative; whether we can do that will determine if we live or die.