Yves here. It’s noteworthy that a mainstream venue like The Conversation would run a piece that describes how the Biden approach to China and Russia is backfiring. While the press spoke in almost one voice against Trump’s policies towards China and Russia, even when it was aghast at Trump’s belligerence, I believe most countries on the receiving end discounted it as bluster and would wait to see what if any actions would follow.
By contrast, the campaign pitch for Biden was that his leadership would put the adults back in charge. Yet it’s been hard to ignore the stunning and pointless Biden slap at Putin, shortly followed by the train wreck of the China summit in Alaska. The incoming team is managing the difficult task of making Trump look not terrible. Those who have met Trump say he’s usually affable, even charming in a meeting, even though he’s likely to screw you in the 24 hours after that.
So the big difference is the US press (for the most part) not calling out these Biden bombs. Funny that.
By Tony Kevin, Emeritus Fellow, Australian National University. Originally published at The Conversation
The past week has marked a watershed moment in Russia’s relations with the West — and the US in particular. In two dramatic, televised moments, US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have changed the dynamics between their countries perhaps irrevocably.
Most commentators in the West have focused on Putin’s “trolling” of Biden by dryly — though, according to Putin, unironically — wishing his American counterpart “good health”. This, of course, came after Biden called Putin a “killer”.
But a more careful and complete reading of Putin’s message to the US is necessary to understand how a Russian leader is, finally, ready to tell the US: do not judge us by your claimed standards, and do not try to tell us what to do.
Putin has never asserted these propositions so bluntly. And it matters when he does
Putin’s Message to the New US President
The tense test of strength began when Biden was asked about Putin in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos and agreed he was “a killer” and didn’t have a soul. He also said Putin will “pay a price” for his actions.
Putin then took the unusual step of going on the state broadcaster VGTRK with a prepared five-minute statement in response to Biden.
In an unusually pointed manner, Putin recalled the US history of genocide of its Indigenous people, the cruel experience of slavery, the continuing repression of Black Americans today and the unprovoked US nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the second world war.
He suggested states should not judge others by their own standards:
Whatever you say about others is what you are yourself.
Some American journalists and observers have reacted to this as “trolling”. It was not.
It was the preamble to Putin’s most important message in years to what he called the American “establishment, the ruling class”. He said the US leadership is determined to have relations with Russia, but only “on its own terms”.
Although they think that we are the same as they are, we are different people. We have a different genetic, cultural and moral code. But we know how to defend our own interests.
And we will work with them, but in those areas in which we ourselves are interested, and on those conditions that we consider beneficial for ourselves. And they will have to reckon with it. They will have to reckon with this, despite all attempts to stop our development. Despite the sanctions, insults, they will have to reckon with this.
This is new for Putin. He has for years made the point, always politely, that Western powers need to deal with Russia on a basis of correct diplomatic protocols and mutual respect for national sovereignty, if they want to ease tensions.
But never before has he been as blunt as this, saying in effect: do not dare try to judge us or punish us for not meeting what you say are universal standards, because we are different from you. Those days are now over.
China Pushing Back Against the US, Too
Putin’s forceful statement is remarkably similar to the equally firm public statements made by senior Chinese diplomats to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Alaska last week.
Blinken opened the meeting by lambasting China’s increasing authoritarianism and aggressiveness at home and abroad – in Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. He claimed such conduct was threatening “the rules-based order that maintains global stability”.
Yang Jiechi, Chinese Communist Party foreign affairs chief, responded by denouncing American hypocrisy. He said
The US does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength. The US uses its military force and financial hegemony to carry out long-arm jurisdiction and suppress other countries. It abuses so-called notions of national security to obstruct normal trade exchanges, and to incite some countries to attack China.
He said the US had no right to push its own version of democracy when it was dealing with so much discontent and human rights problems at home.
Russia and China Drawing Closer Together
Putin’s statement was given added weight by two diplomatic actions: Russia’s recalling of its ambassador in the US, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s meeting in China with his counterpart, Wang Yi.
Beijing and Moscow agreed at the summit to stand firm against Western sanctions and boost ties between their countries to reduce their dependence on the US dollar in international trade and settlements. Lavrov also said,
We both believe the US has a destabilising role. It relies on Cold War military alliances and is trying to set up new alliances to undermine the world order.
Though Biden’s undiplomatic comments about Putin may have been unscripted, the impact has nonetheless been profound. Together with the harsh tone of the US-China foreign ministers meeting in Alaska — also provoked by the US side — it is clear there has been a major change in the atmosphere of US-China-Russia relations.
What will this mean in practice? Both Russia and China are signalling they will only deal with the West where and when it suits them. Sanctions no longer worry them.
? #Lavrov: #China ?? is a truly strategic partner and a like-minded country for #Russia ?? Our cooperation on the international stage is having a stabilising effect on the global and regional situation.
? Read the full #interview: https://t.co/enOQZBTrnd#RussiaChina pic.twitter.com/hBzvgvroMQ
— MFA Russia ?? (@mfa_russia) March 22, 2021
The two powers are also showing they are increasingly comfortable working together as close partners, if not yet military allies. They will step up their cooperation in areas where they have mutual interests and the development of alternatives to the Western-dominated trade and payments systems.
Countries in Asia and further afield are closely watching the development of this alternative international order, led by Moscow and Beijing. And they can also recognise the signs of increasing US economic and political decline.
It is a new kind of Cold War, but not one based on ideology like the first incarnation. It is a war for international legitimacy, a struggle for hearts and minds and money in the very large part of the world not aligned to the US or NATO.
The US and its allies will continue to operate under their narrative, while Russia and China will push their competing narrative. This was made crystal clear over these past few dramatic days of major power diplomacy.
The global balance of power is shifting, and for many nations, the smart money might be on Russia and China now.
Read more: Nato-Russia tensions: what a Biden administration can do to lower the temperature
Biden faces the world: 5 foreign policy experts explain US priorities – and problems – after Trump
Australia’s strategic blind spot: China’s newfound intimacy with once-rival Russia
“The global balance of power is shifting, and for many nations, the smart money might be on Russia and China now.”
About what you wrote. Affability in person is very helpful no matter the party or ideology. Reagan/Gorbachev, Nixon/China, Trump/North Korea (quickly sabotaged of course).
Does Biden have any? Maybe when he was younger in better health. My guess is we see very few if any one on one’s between Biden and other leaders of powerful nations because his team knows he can only handle short controlled situation on those terms.
Changing subject a bit, wish Germany would step up and move closer to Russia/China. We saw at the beginning of Obama’s attempt to isolate Russia that a large part/most of Europe was against it, because the US had to apply extra pressure to get the European establishment follow US orders. If Germany where to lead on this, yes others would resent this because they don’t want German power to be too obvious but in the end they follow if only because I don’t think non establishment Europe was never on board with Russian isolation.
I doubt the US has ever been ok with Nordstream II…..
One domino falls on another which falls on another, etc. But one has to push the first domino over.
I hope the Germans build Nordstream II and then III and IV and as many as they like. It will prevent the US gas industry from selling any LNG to Europe. That will keep the price of NatGas in America nice and low. That will keep luring electro-grid power-makers away from coal. Hopefully it would finalistically and irreversibly exterminate the power-grid thermal-coal industry in America.
The meme is that “Biden called Putin a killer.” Looking at the video, Biden just answered “yes” to that snake Stephanopolous’s opening, “So you know Vladimir Putin, do you think he’s a killer?” Same thing with “Will you make Putin pay a price?”
Maybe I’ve just missed it, but I haven’t seen any place where the Gerontocrat in Chief has emitted those gaffes heard ‘round the world from his own volition, rather than in the kind of setup that ABC News put up there to spin the pedals of the Narrative Bicycle that Putin authorized meddling in the US electoral games…
But there it is.
Politicians learn “no comment” at an early age.
That Biden didn’t deflect the questions may indicate the mental decline that people note.
@ John Wright
Could be true about Biden versus Putin. However the attacks on China were not by Biden.
Interesting, I didn’t notice that.
Apparently Biden was either too senile or too inherently stupid to realize what gangrenous filth the subhuman Clintonite scum Stephanopoulis is, was and always will be. And put his stupid senile foot into Stephanopoulis’s clever little bear trap.
Well, those are hardly trick questions or subtle ones. And Biden temporizes perfectly well when he wants to. He didn’t want to. I’d be mildly surprised if he hadn’t been told to expect these particular questions. Stephanopolous has form for lobbing cooperative softballs at the right sort of democrats.
Pretty sure this was exactly the message Biden’s people wanted to send, whether because they really think this sort of thing will “work” on the world stage or because they’ve gunned up the Russia nonsense so hyperbolically for so long that their domestic audience now demands it.
If your interpretation of “what Stephie-poo was thinking” and what Biden was expecting are correct, then Biden is indeed the same sort of Clintonite filth that Stephanopoulous himself is.
And that would be very unfortunate. It means that Biden is just as war-risky with Russia as Clinton would have been. And yes, the massed millions of “Putin stole the election” Pink Kitty Kap Klintonites want, need and demand this sort of agitprop. They and their precious spokes-creeps like that anti-Russianitic MSNBC news show hostess whose name I absolutely cannot remember just now.
Ha! Rachel Maddow. It just came to me.
And do you remember who her mentor was? Roger Aisles. Yeah, him. And after an extensive education, including a Rhodes scholarship, she sells her integrity out on her program for about $30,000 a day now-
Maybe she never had any integrity to begin with. Maybe she was always and only about working the media rackets, just like her reciprocal one-schtik-phoney opposite number Tucker Carlson over at Fox.
I would be surprised if Stephanopoulos wasnt asked to ask those questions.
Europe and Germany appear to be disappointingly wishy washy over Russia, they seemed happy to play poodle and follow the lead of the UK in expelling Russian diplomats after Theresa May falsely claimed that the presence of Novichok indicated a “state actor”, a standard the US with its various drone assassinations (such as of Qasem Soleimani) is never held to. I suspect German attitudes to US foreign policy are driven mostly by concerns over exports, knowing full well the US propensity to link trade with supporting their foreign policy, the US remains the sole biggest destination for German exports (from what I can tell via google at a little over 8% total exports, in and around $110 billion per annum) and in the absence of the Euro being the global reserve currency I would imagine for the time being they (and by extension Europe as a whole) will remain somewhat reluctant foreign policy poodles to the US, so long at least as the new cold war remains cold.
It’s a bit difficult for Germany to ‘Step up’ when the majority of their clout is derived from their close association with the US. While they have strong backing from some of Europe, they do not have the strong backing of a number of key members since the introduction of uneven austerity measures in 2009 which means without the US, they would not be able to portray themselves as leaders
Too much money riding in the other direction, too much trade–and access to oil–in the balance. Eventually the tide starts flowing in the other direction. Whether this is accomplished through some dramatic change in leadership, or more quietly. I’d bet on the latter. At least this is what I thought I saw in the attitudes of my cousins and their families while on two trips to Germany over the last decade. Some–of course–of the (failed) push by Trump to improve relations was welcomed here, too. To see this through the narrow prism of liberal and conservative ideology likely obscures more than it reveals.
It is always helpful to remember the words of “Arthur Jensen”: “You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today.”
“You may have all the money, Raymond, but I’ve got the men with guns.”
—Frank Underwood in House of Cards
And in addition to having the most lethal weaponry, most currencies are issued by nation states.
…and the US will soon have to decide if it wants guns or butter (infrastructure/income equity).
In fact, finding a way for China, Russia, the US (and India) to cooperate is essential to resolving global warming. Without it we’re all toast.
The US will address Global warming if and when it’s profitable.
But Blue States, Blue Zones, and Blue people can begin addressing it now, in the teeth of DC FedRegime opposition if necessary.
Putin has perhaps realised that unflappability and civility, long his calling cards in diplomatic relations with the West, even when coming under the most vicious attacks, will never win him or Russia any favour with the western mainstream press and their political class overlords. You can’t reason with a bully so might as well do a more polished version of Duterte telling Obama to “go to hell” as Putin and China are doing here. The pillars of American foreign policy are increasingly being shown up to be relics of a bygone era, anachronistic and maladaptive in the extreme.
The world has moved on and people are no longer buying the “America is a force for good” story. They see the worst of American cultural values e.g. excessive consumption, being exported by Hollywood to their societies and American companies swooping in to harvest the demand for useless stuff that comes as a result of this. Dismounting the high horse will be difficult for America to do but I don’t see that she has any choice here, the world is starting to signal strongly that we’ve all had enough of the exceptionalism and belligerence borne of entitlement with which the US engages with other nations.
Yes, and perhaps the most important task before R/C is how to bring the now-former hegemon down off its high perch, quietly and gracefully, or at least without triggering an all out war. I do hope they can pull it off, otherwise it’s curtains for us all.
But it is not the first time p. Putin told the West Russia will go its own way. The 2007 Munich security conference put all on notice; some just refused to listen.
But if we take those 5 min 25 sec, and the Chinese statement in Anchorage that USA has no qualifications (!) to speak to China from the position of strength, we should see that the world’s distribution of power has changed. In spite of more tricks and subterfuge that the West will no doubt deploy, what matters more now is the self-confidence these two nations have finally owned. For us, the little folk, however, it will get worse before it gets better.
“…how to bring the now-former hegemon down off its high perch…” is a bit ambitious.
It may be instead be to minimize the inevitable global damage caused by an empire in decline.
In South Africa specifically, what per cent of useless stuff is sold by American companies? What percent of useless stuff is sold by non-American companies? Are there any facts and figures on that?
Let’s just say, as per an equity analyst friend of mine, a not insignificant percentage of listed consumer facing brands/companies on the JSE have a not insignificant American ownership through the likes of Blackrock, The Vanguard Group and others. Apple is the only smartphone brand in the country that now entices people to upgrade their phone every 12 months, that to me is a definition of useless. Bain Capital, a US private equity firm swooped in and took over Edgars, a department store with a long and storied history, and they engineered for this retailer the same much publicized fate suffered by the likes of Toys R Us. Walmart owns Massmart, the third largest retailer in South Africa. McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC together account for a significant share of the junk food market.
Whether through ownership of listed assets, American hqd consumer brands like McDonald’s or the taking over of local ones by the likes of Bain Capital, American companies have their tentacles into the SA economy.
Well, that’s a start. Someone should perhaps do the difficult and long research process needed to come up with figures and percents.
The next question is . . . how much of the product carried by these names and sold from these names’s venues is made in America? As against made in Asia? That too would be deeply revelatory.
And of course the names you name also have their tentacles into the American economy. Some of them are responsible for turning the one-time American economy we used to have into the present-day American ex-economy we have now, which is another way of saying the American economy we don’t have any more.
To go back to a previous BTL discussion on Patrick Cockburns recent article in Counterpunch, Bidens missteps so early on are a very worrying indicator that his foreign policy team is worse than just being malign. They are incompetent. Thats a very dangerous combination.
I don’t think the Russians, Chinese, or most other major countries (apart from Europe) had a fundamental problem with Trumps approach. They understood him, and were quite happy to ignore his bombast and threats and focus instead on what was happening in the real world. But things are different for someone like Biden, and I’m very surprised nobody in his team seem to realise this. When he talks on the record, its assumed that it is a reflection of a real policy. At first, I thought maybe he was just doing the usual new guy in power thing of talking tough to set the ground for later compromises (the opposite of Obama, who appeared very weak to other leaders, and then just looked indecisive when his policies turned more hardline). But that does not seem to be the case so far.
I’ve no idea what the final outcome will be, but I do think that this is one of those points in history where things take a very sharp and irreparable change in direction. Obviously, things have been brewing for years, but the ineptness of US foreign policy seems to have created a strategic Russian/China alliance which will force many countries to make some very hard choices about which side of the fence they are on.
On a related note, I woke up this morning to find that a speech by Lawrence P. Wilkerson, who is associated with the conservative paleoconservatives is getting very wide circulation in China (you know this has to be officially approved otherwise it disappears very rapidly on WeChat. He makes a claim that the CIA back in the early ’00’s intended to use the Uigurs as a sort of proxy army to destabilise China. For all sorts of reasons, I would doubt that, but it is now widely believed among Chinese people, even those who have no liking for the CCP. The notion that the Uigurs are a sort of third force within China, and as such need to be destroyed now seems to be very deeply embedded in Chinese thinking, and the interference by ‘official’ western NGO’s are undoubtedly making things much worse for them.
“[Wilkerson] makes a claim that the CIA back in the early ’00’s intended to use the Uigurs as a sort of proxy army to destabilise China. For all sorts of reasons, I would doubt that, but it is now widely believed among Chinese people, even those who have no liking for the CCP.”
Just curious as to what your reasons would be for doubting this. The CIA has been doing precisely this all over the world for over 70 years. There is a clear pipeline between the Uighurs in China and the CIA-supported “rebels” in Syria. The expatriate Uighur organizations that are integral to the Western propaganda apparatus is supported and amplified by the NED and other CIA fronts, as your last sentence implies. This is not to deny the historical Uighur desire for autonomy in Western China, nor to defend Chinese policies toward them. Rather, it is to acknowledge the CIA’s use of ethnic tensions to sow chaos and division in non-conforming nations *everywhere*.
Its unlikely because:
1. The US has had little to no success in its many attempts to establish an intelligence foothold in China. There is zero evidence, direct or indirect, that it has had any successful contact with Uigur groups directly, although contacts via others, such as the Pakistani or Turkish intelligence agencies are possible. If there was even the tiniest amount of evidence of such a link, the Chinese would be broadcasting it from the skies, and not just re-messaging out tired CT stuff. Chinese intelligence is far ahead of the US in that region, so they would certainly know if something like that was happening.
2. Uigur groups in general such as we know about them tend to be as virulently anti Western as anti Han Chinese. All evidence suggests that the brand of Islam that has been belatedly introduced into those regions is essentially second hand Wahhabism (traditionally, they were never all that religious).
3. Any such attempt could be easily countered by China – simply by dumping Uigur radicals into Afghanistan to bolster the Taliban, or anywhere else that would create trouble. The fact that they haven’t done this strongly suggests that the Chinese themselves see no link.
4. US military intelligence is often a misnomer, but even the CIA can’t be stupid enough to think that fostering another islamic state on the borders of Afghanistan is anything but a terrible idea.
Of course, no doubt some mid ranking CIA officer may have circulated some report saying more or less ‘hey, maybe we can use those Uighurs or whatever they are called’. But thats an entirely different thing from suggesting that there have been active links and a strategy for using them to destabilise the borders of China. The reality is that the US has been entirely unsuccessful in any attempts (when they’ve been made) to undermine China via internal Chinese ethnic or religious groups.
Incidentally, the reliability of Wilkerson (who I actually quite like and who says some interesting things), on that topic can be measured by his statement that the invasion of Afghanistan was motivated by an attempt to stop the Belt and Road Initiative. It’s quite impressive intelligence if that was the case as the invasion predated the Belt and Road Initiative by more than a decade.
Yes, I think the important point is your last one. It’s not out of the question that on a rainy afternoon in Virginia some junior CIA analyst amused himself by sketching out such an idea, and one day the product may leak and be presented as “proof.” But for the reasons you give, the political leaders who would have to approve the scheme would turn it down, even if it were physically possible. I doubt it would be, actually: from what little information is publicly available, the US seems to be having little or no luck penetrating that area.
Thanks for the systematic reply. I appreciate each of your points, and pretty much agree with the first one – including your comment about Turkish intelligence. But regarding the others, the fact that we are talking about anti-Western Wahabist radicals does not mean the CIA (or elements of the CIA or other military/intelligence operations) would hesitate to weaponize them if possible. We did this in Afghanistan, Bosina, Kosovo, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Chechnya… etc. Indeed, we seemed to *welcome* the fostering of an Islamic State in Eastern Syria, because the various jihadists were a means to destroy the Syrian government. When the goal is to foster chaos and destruction in order to *undermine* an existing state, the calculus of unleashing the head-choppers is different than if we were actually interested in fostering stability in the region. I admit that such a strategy might sound insane to *us*, but Einstein’s definition of insanity seems to rule our National Security Establishment.
Not PK, but I would suggest these cases are not only different from each other, but also different from the Uigurs. Essentially, there was a war going on in all of these cases, and the US (and they were scarcely the only ones) decided to try to get a bit of influence by arming one or more of the factions. This is a tactic which is as old as arms themselves, and has a pretty spotty record of success, if that. Its advantage is that it is low-key and doesn’t require a massive presence (the classic case is the Soviet Union and the Chinese flooding Africa with AK-47s and copies in the 1960s and 1970s). But the cases you mention are very disparate. In Bosnia there do seem to have been some (illegal) CIA deliveries to the Muslims in violation of the embargo, but these were very small scale and in any event the Muslims were one of the major parties to the conflict, as well as constituting the de facto government in Sarajevo, because the other ethnicities had withdrawn. Likewise, and in spite of preening memoirs and films, the US influence in Afghanistan was quite small : the mujahideen were already forming in the 1970s, and the only contribution the US really made was to supply anti-aircraft missiles, which complicated the Russians’ existence quite a bit. But actually fomenting and arming an insurgency next to one of the three or four major powers on the planet, with highly skilled intelligence services? There is stupidity and there’s downright insanity.
I the 1950s, the CIA and MI6 trained and armed the “Forest Brothers” in the Baltics. Neutral Sweden and Finland were across hundreds of km of water. Land access was through Soviet territory or satellites. There was no significant international trade or commerce in the area at the time. Yet they had tens of thousands of well supplied (for that era) resistance fighters that took a decade for the USSR to stomp out.
To suggest that today’s CIA is incapable of stirring things up in a well-connected Xinjiang when thousands of foreigners travel there, tons of business shipments and international flights and road transport is a mystifying statement. Particularly after CIA’s decades of experience managing jihadis all across North Africa, Mideast and Central Asia, more than a few being Uigurs.
And suggesting that the only thing the US supplied the Afghan jihadis were Stinger missiles is far off the mark. It was a multi-billion dollar per year operation conducted by the US with collaboration of the ISI and Saudis. All those tens of thousands of jihadis didn’t arrive by camels and make slingshots.
I agree “There is stupidity and there’s downright insanity” in fomenting troubles in Xinjiang. The US has already passed that test. Many times.
We are three generations past the 1950s. Not a relevant example.
The US is not even remotely as good as you’d have to believe to accept this theory. For starters, we don’t begin to have enough people with native level language competence, much the less willing to live there long enough to be trusted. They’ll take our arms, but our directives?
It is in the interest of the CIA to take credit for all sorts of things where their role was non-existent to marginal because funding.
David put it so much better than I could.
I can’t claim any great knowledge or insight into the region, but the notion that the Uighurs were part of a grand CIA strategy, or that they have had sufficient influence in the region to manipulate them into opposing China, just doesn’t pass the smell test. Unfortunately, like the notion that Covid is spread on frozen food, so far as I can tell it is now considered ‘a fact’ by most Chinese, inside and outside the country. As a result, even Chinese who strongly dislike their government are not at all bothered by reports coming out of the region.
For what its worth, I knew an English guy who lived for a few years in Urumqi with his Chinese wife about 15 years ago. He was virulently anti-muslim and didn’t much like the non-Chinese locals he met, but I remember at the time that said that what he saw around him convinced him that things were going to end very badly for the Uighurs, the Chinese were just waiting for the opportunity to wipe them out. I was in Tibet at that period (I was fortunate to get a visa on the last year solo traveller were allowed in) and witnessed the way Tibetans were openly abused on the street by Chinese soldiers. Even Tibetans said that the Uighurs got it worse.
The US government and privately motivated US citizens have no credibility on this issue. That means if anyone is going to raise it, it will have to be someone other than America or Americans.
That doesn’t change the fact of Great Han Lebensraum genocide-policy against the Uighurs on the part of the Chinese Communazi Party. And Chinese statements about their Lebensraum genocide against Uighuria are just as much hasbara as Israeli statements about antiPalestinianitic persecution in the Occupied West Bank.
And if that purely-private opinion of a mere U S citizen makes any Great Han hasbarists ( or might I say . . . Hansbarists) on this thread mad, then that makes me happy.
Your friend was English; I have not seen this attitude on the part of Chinese friends or Chinese I’ve talked with. I was traveling on a domestic flight in China a number of years ago and found myself sitting on a plane next to a random Chinese soldier — a memorably tall, handsome young man. He spoke English well enough to have a discussion (the relaxed atmosphere and the need to pass the time does wonders when it comes to breaking down language barriers). Major Uighur terror attacks and unrest had been in the news (around 2009), so I asked him what he thought about it. He said that he grew up in Xinjiang. His parents were Han Chinese who had first come to Xinjiang during the cultural revolution to build some local infrastructure/improvement project (he described it to me but I don’t remember the details). They saw their goal as improving conditions in the region. Of course, the government wanted to solidify Chinese presence in that region of their country, but I heard no hint of anger or derision toward the Uighur. He said he was very concerned that the Uighur people were happy and he hoped China could find a way to mend the relationship. He said that growing up, there were many mixed Chinese/Han marriages and that “people say” that mixed Han/Uighur marriages produced the most physically beautiful children. I didn’t see any evidence of the malignant racism you describe on the part of your English friend.
Strong central governments vs violent separatist movements tend to create lasting problems. Growing up in a border state over 100 years after our own civil war, I grew up with the fact that many people had still not let go of that resentment. Southerners still maintained a sense of grievance back then. The Maryland state song that I learned as a child is only now being decommissioned by the state legislature. One stanza refers to the “Northern scum”.
This week’s WaPo headline: “Maryland poised to say goodbye to state song that celebrates the Confederacy”.
If your Han Chinese interlocutor’s feelings are widely shared among the ruled-over rather than ruling-over ordinary majority of Han citizens, then it would appear that it is the MonoParty RegimeGovernment ruling over China which is Communazi, not the people as such.
Regardless, it will be up to countrygovs which have moral standing in this area to comment or not, not the US anymore. At least for now.
Probably the Uighurs have it even worse than Tibetans because Uighuria is very inhabitable by Han settlers whereas Tibet is high and dry enough that ( I have read), that lowland-adapted Hans have trouble physically coping over time with the lower oxygen levels at Tibet altitude.
If that is so, then the High Tibetan Plateau at least would not provide Lebensraum for millions of Han Settlers in any case, so why clear the Tibetans off the plateau and out of existence? Not so much need, in Tibet’s case.
I have no knowledge about points 1 to 3, but totally disagree with point 4.
The hubris and desire of the US alphabet agencies to meddle is remarkable. A current example is the CIA support of jihadis in Syria that the US military itself is fighting against.
Interesting caution re Wilkerson – do you have a link?
But the BRI could certainly be one of the reasons we stayed there.
Here is a link to an article talking about that talk PK. Having a coupla thousand Uygurs in Syria gaining combat experience for use later who knows where was probably proof enough for China of western intentions. Just think of the other Jihadists who have been used in places like Libya and the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war and the Chinese would be drawing their own conclusions-
So many USians (as in “people who use far too many resources”) really believe, as President Obama intimated on so many occasions, that this country is exceptional. My readings of ancient Greece remind me of Athens: as Edith Hamilton pointed out in The Greek Way, that city-state’s decline began when its rulers treated “client states” as conquered territories to be plundered. Athens’ decline in power thus began when its rulers, having become so arrogant, became unconcerned with the rights of others. In our own time, we see that our “leaders” not only couldn’t care less about the rights of others in terms of foreign countries, but also with regard to Americans not of their class, race, and social/academic pedigrees.
Nevertheless, as a fervent anti-imperialist, I think we should celebrate the incipient loss of Washington’s power.
Funny that the neocons claim to be admirers of ancient Athens but seem blissfully unaware of the Thucydides Trap.
According to Mary Beard & others Thucydides is incredibly difficult to translate resulting in variations depended on the translator.
Perhaps not surprisingly Donald Kagan, Victoria’s husband Robert’s Father produced his own hawkish assessment of what Thucydides should teach us today.
I suspect that is not the result of a translation problem, but because in this case, Thucidides doesn’t say what Kagan and Nuland want them to say.
Even if Thucidides never mentioned it, the problem is real and accurately describes observable reality.
“Every generation gets the ancient Greeks and Romans it deserves.” – Anon.
Just going by the number of articles in mainstream channels about avoiding the Thucydides Trap, I doubt that.
The Thucydides Trap is a clownish misreading of history by simplistic International Relations scholars who should spend more time talking to real historians of the relevant period. Graham Allison is on record as having done no research on China, he just assumed the parallel with the Peloponnesian war. From my PhD dissertation, which included addressing such simplistic and historically-ignorant theories in International Relations:
The ahistorical, Eurocentric and universalist shortcomings of neorealism with respect to a rising power such as China are evident in analyses such as Allison’s (2017), that rely upon the assumption that the small-scale Peloponnesian wars of more than two millennia ago are applicable to the modern world of superpowers and weapons of mass destruction, with the internal dynamics of each nation deemed to relative irrelevance. Furthermore, both classical realist and neorealist scholars may utilize simplistic readings of Thucydides, an author that may in fact be a highly unreliable narrator (Podoksik 2005). There is a great deal of disagreement among historians about who actually started the Peloponnesian wars; it could have been Athens, Sparta, Corinth or even a combination (Dickins 1911; Tannenbaum 1975; Kagan 2013), and therefore the main lesson to be learnt is the complexity of the real world, even the ancient one. In addition, as Bagby notes (1994, p. 133), “Thucydides thinks that an understanding of the political and cultural differences among city-states before and during the Peloponnesian War is crucial for understanding their behavior”; Sparta and Athens could easily be seen as greater ideological competitors than the Cold War US and Soviet Union.
Actually it’s pretty common knowledge among classisists that there was no Thucydides Trap. Whatever his many merits one thing Thucydides didn’t even begin to do was to prove his central claim about jealously between a rising and an established power making conflict inevitable.
The book The Thucydides Trap is a 100% misreading of Thucydides. But that never stopped ideologues.
Alex Cockburn (RIP) once commented that he didn’t think GWB was as bad as some people thought — because through his (admittedly awful) recklessness in Iraq and elsewhere he was inexorably driving the American Empire into failure and eventual dissolution. (My paraphrase, mind you.)
Dog, I detested GWB and remember the huge anti-war march in London that day. And had tears in my eyes at 2AM in a Tokyo hotel watching Obama being inaugurated. But St Barack if anything extended W’s wars — along with fellow warmongers Hillary and Biden, of course. Trump conversely tried to remove troops from Afghanistan only to have the Permanent War Party (Dems & Repubs) deny him the chance.
Well, as the post points out, Biden’s foreign policy advisors are definitely the B Team but seem to have the hubris of the A Team. A bad combination.
As for the new Russia-China axis, I recommend Pepe Escobar’s writings; he has been following this for some time.
Anyway, please excuse the rambling — I meant to praise LowellHighlander for his final sentence. (^_^)
Sorry, but what does “dog” mean?
“God” for the non religious…
Thank you, Pavel.
“Although they think that we are the same as they are, we are different people. We have a different genetic, cultural and moral code”. This needs to be played in a loop 24-by-7 in State department and NSA’s offices.
The default mode of American foreign policy thinking has been, “We have the greatest political & economic system in the world. So everyone else in the world must want the same. If they don’t they are being oppressed by cruel tyrants. And it is our job to liberate them”. This has led to absolute disasters like Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Gone is the cool-headed realism of FDR “Sure he’s a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch”. Basing foreign policy on moral judgements is a very dumb thing to do.
Re making Trump look not terrible, he picked fewer fights with Russia compared to Obama. He did a lot of dumb and evil things, but he was careful enough to not pick fights with all of America’s adversaries at the same time. Most of his spats were with allies and friendly nations – NATO, Mexico, Canada.
When you are faced with too many powerful enemies, a useful strategy is to divide and conquer. If we soft-pedal on either Russia or China while ramping up pressure on the other one, it is easier to prevent them from cooperating. What Russia wants is to be able to sell it’s oil, gas and weapons freely and dominate Eastern Europe and Central Asia. China wants to dominate the entire world, but their immediate target is East-, Southeast- and Central-Asia. And they also want to preserve their resource trade flows from Africa and West Asia. China’s entry into Central Asia is making Russia nervous, but they have no choice but to play along. China also wants to grab Russian far east for it’s mineral resources. Cutting Russia some slack might give more leverage over China, but no one seems to have thought of that.
FDR’s stupid remark about ‘our son of a bitch’ referenced Somoza in Nicaragua. Four decades later his favourite dynasty was overthrown by the Sandinistas.
This mindless, tough-guy form of US thinking persists to this day, as seen in its support for despots in Saudia Arabia, Israel, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Brasil, and many other unfortunate countries.
Yes, I knew FDR made that remark with reference to Somoza. But the despot I had in mind was Stalin. Well before WWII, USA knew of Soviet Union’s horrific human rights violations. Yet the USA decided to form an alliance with Soviets because they understood that Germany was the bigger threat. Nearly a century later, we are in a similar situation. We are facing a country with unlimited territorial ambitions, ruled by a dictator, committing genocide on its own people because of their race, and rapidly catching up with us in technology. We are not the America of 20th century. We don’t have overwhelming economic and military superiority over the entire world.
I am not rationalizing USA’s support for all the despots you mentioned. We have supported some despicable regimes we had no reason to. But morality alone cannot be the guiding principle for foreign policy. We need a sense of realism about what is best for our interests.
what is best for our interests.
The interests of who? A fail son like Hunter Biden? General Dynamics? Or a winery? Boeing before it bought McDonnell Douglas? children?
In general, we need a greater understanding among the populace that “politics stops at the water’s edge” is just garbage to distract from policies designed to benefit very few. We need functional discussions of interests and to stop pretending anyone saying “patriotism” should be listened to.
My memory is that its in Fahrenheit 9/11, but a Microsoft exec says on camera how great the GWOT was for their business before going, “oh, its terrible for people.”
The genocide was terrible and it started in earnest as it became obvious the Nazis were going to lose big time. And of course US industry and the Catholic church was frightened to death of Communism and managed to frighten the Germans and the Nazis sold themselves as the anti Communists. The US had plenty of opportunity to take all of them in. So did England. They were an issue with Catholic Europeans for a thousand years. No one wants to talk about that on the allied side. A negotiated peace in 1942 would have been a much better ending especially vis a vis the cold war and Russia’s takeover of Prussia etc. And not arming Britain and joining the war would have led to a negotiated peace very quickly. And the horror of the genocide could have been stopped. It was the Wilsonian arrogance repeated one more time and the need for Anglo domination of the continent that led to act two of WW 1. The war, a continuation of the terrible policies of Woodrow Wilson, could have been managed much better and much of the carnage could have been avoided. And I blame the doctors who fed the leadership with speed and dope and whatever and basically rendered the leadership incapable of thinking straight. But we got most of the mess from anti Communism and there was one group in Central Europe that was not farm based but lived in cities and that could think and was educated and that group had many members that promoted socialism and Communism. That ethnic group, mine as well, selling socialism in the South here in the US did not do well the last primary. Read a little James Baldwin. I have lived in rural Bavaria and rural Georgia and Mississippi and North Carolina and the differences in attitude are not as great as one might think. Like World War 1 WW2 solved nothing. War simply does not work the way one thinks it might. The current war talk out of Washington simply reflects the inexperience and arrogance of our leadership. Let us hope they don’t see China in the same light especially vis a vis the Uighurs. If we care about them I am sure China would gladly let them emigrate to the US. Just as if we really cared about Afghan women we might just give them all a green card rather than continue a worthless war.
If this were a movie, Dana Andrews would be jumping over the lunch counter about now.
World War II answered the question of whether Nazi Germany would get to holocaust the Poles and the Russians. The answer turned out to be ” no”. So those people who feel that a successful holocaust of the Poles and the Russians would have been a problem will say that WWII solved and prevented that problem from happening.
Here is another theory about the origination of the ” . . . our son of a bitch” quote. This theory attributes it to Cordell Hull, commenting about Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. Maybe both men said the same thing at different times about different sons of bitches on “our side”.
What are the facts that indicate that “China wants to dominate the entire world”? There is little or no evidence of that. Just repeating this pabulum on and on doesn’t make it true. It just makes hoi polloi think it is true.
There is no specific speech or document that clearly states that China wants to dominate the entire world. It is an inference from many things pieced together, some of which are:
1. China’s behavior after it was admitted to WTO. When it happened in 1999, the expectation was that they would open up their market to global firms. Instead, what happened was rampant technology theft and currency manipulation. They manipulated their industrial policy to deny foreign firms a level playing field that Chinese companies were given in other countries.
2. The Belt and Road projects. These are basically debt traps for poorer countries in Asia, Africa and Europe in the name of infrastructure development. They give soft loans to these countries for economically unviable infra projects, and when they fail, the Chinese take ownership. Kinda like loan sharks loaning money to gamblers.
3. They have started grabbing territory from all neighbours using salami tactics, showing some old “maps” that was never agreed and claiming they own the area. (Google “Nine-dash line”).
Add to this the planting of spies using Confucius institutes, secretly paying many academic researchers to steal technology (Example: Charles Lieber from Harvard), paying newspapers to carry China Daily propaganda supplements (WaPo, NYT, LA Ttimes, The Boston Globe, WSJ just for starters), the Houston embassy spying, They have done this stuff not just to USA but most major countries in the world.
Now of course we can ask, “But where did they say they want to rule the world?”. Well, Hitler didn’t either. In 1938, he solemnly swore to Neville Chamberlain, the British PM that he had no intention of conquering another country. We all know what happened after that. Naivete is dangerous in these situations. If a country acquires enough power, it will start having imperial ambitions. It’s human nature. Germany under Bismarck in 1880s tried to stay away from conquering other countries as long as possible, but they couldn’t resist the temptation. Now none of this means China will try to dominate the world at any cost. If others resist strongly enough, they will back off. But that’s something we have to do, and get others to do.
1. So China copied the way in which the US industrialized in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Following the Washington Consensus script has a history of leading to dependency – Ha-Joon Chang has written some very good papers and books on the basic hypocrisy of the West in this area. In the eighteenth century Britain protected its infant textile industry against the Indian one with very high tariffs. They also stole woollen technology from the Dutch.
2. This is Western propaganda, perhaps reflecting the IMF/World Bank efforts of yore upon China. The “debt trap” BRI myth has been pretty much debunked among academic researchers, but that doesn’t fit the Western anti-China discourse.
3. Grabbing territory from all their neighbours? What territory? Compare the nine-dash line mirrors to the declared hegemony of the US over the Caribbean and Central American nations – backed up by repeated invasions and destabilizations (Haiti, Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba etc.). Take a look at the US history of grabbing lands (the Philippines, Puerto Rico, half of Mexico, Hawaii), China is exceedingly tame compared to US history, as well as the US recent aggressions such as the illegal invasion of Iraq and destabilization of Syria.
The MSM that you quote are the purveyors of fake news with no actual backing apart from intelligence community briefings, the “stenographers of the intelligence community” as one commentator put it. This is the classic propaganda designed to rile up the population to support action against a new “enemy”, very 1984.
1. Oh I know they are China is copying USA’s policy in 18th and 19th century. That is what is concerning. That is a successful playbook to gain a lot of economic power very quickly. Of course the USA pointing fingers is hypocrisy. But that does not make this any less of a threat.
2. Debunked by “academic researchers”? Care to share some sources? Multiple countries like Malaysia, Kenya, Myanmar, Sierra Leone and Bangladesh have either cancelled projects or trying to renegotiate them. The reason is because the projects are nothing but jobs and demand creation programs for Chinese workers and companies. Contracts are awarded at inflated rates to Chinese contractors without competitive bidding. Then they bring in workers and equipment wholesale from mainland china. Some projects are economically viable, others are just white elephants, like the highway in montenegro or a port/airport in Sri Lanka in the middle of the jungle.
3. I am not denying what USA has done to other countries. China is just starting, so what they do looks tame. Give them a little time.
I fully agree that the MSM are purveyors of fake news. I was referring to how they all have taken Chinese money to print stuff favourable to them, and even articles entirely written by Chinese foreign ministry. Now of course, they might change tack and start beating the war drums if TPTB wants them to. That confirms my opinion that most MSM are just mouthpieces for hire with no moral principles.
Please note, I am not defending all the terrible things America has done. Pointing out that China is a threat need not come attached with any moral judgement on America.
Also, the proper response to China IMO should be more in economic policy than military saber-rattling. Tariffs are just a start. Why are we not building more manufacturing in USA? Sure, wages are high and prices will shoot up. But do we really need to import 15bn worth of sneakers (that’s about 200 mn pairs a year)? Let us make shoes in America that may cost twice as mush, but three times more durable. Same with cellphones. Decrapifying products will go a long way in making american manufacturing viable. But that requires great sacrifice by the consumers. Shopping or goodies has been turned into a dopamine-drip. Investing class and business are just as addicted to high profit margins & ROIs. Cut the dependence on China, and watch them scramble to fix their internal issues like falling wages and unemployment. The pity is we have lost the will as a nation to make such sacrifices.
I am not sure the will does not exist. I think the will might be suppressed and thwarted.
We would need a Protectionist Party to explain everything you have touched on and run candidates on that basis and on that program to see whether the diffuse and muffled will might be uncovered and re-aggregated and recovered and weaponised for domestic political re-conquest of government and hence of political economic policy.
I envision a delicious scenario-vision in which the Protectionist Party finally wins all three branches and the Protectionist Party President makes a speech and at the end of that speech, AND IN MANDARIN to to make sure the prime perpetrator of export aggression hears the message and gets the point, the following phrase . . . . in MANDARIN, remember . . .
” America has stood up!”
Hmmnm “If a country acquires enough power it will start having imperial ambitions?” I agree completely with your statement. The rest seem pretty much what I have been reading in the Washington Post and New York Times lately. I am not sure about their objectivity. One thing is certain and that is that war talk very easily can slip into war. Having served in the military for over 30 years and deployed many times the best advice I ever got was from that political analyst Mike Tyson, “Everybody has a plan……until they get punched in the face.” War talk with China and Russia and Iran and trying to cripple economies with sanctions never has and never will work but we can always try to educate a new young generation of politicians like Joe.
The last time China attacked another country was 1979.
The United States since that time?
Carry water for the MIC much?
Nah. But I know we need a military to defend ourselves, especially if something that happens on the other end of the world would make the supermarket shelves go empty in a jiffy. I think we need to reduce external economic dependence and then cut the military to a fraction of it’s current size, just enough to patrol the borders and coasts.
The bulk of the “rampant technology theft” was their insistence on building the requirement for specified technology transfers into the agreements that let companies set up shop there. They had watched neocolonialist behavior long enough not to want to be locked permanently into a subservient position. This part was of course not theft at all. For the rest of it, yeah, industrial espionage is a thing. But one notes that the firms generally stayed there.
Currency manipulation is only bad when the other guys do it. We have periodically deliberately weakened the dollar to try to address balance of trade issues, and in the aftermath of the ’08 recession everybody was doing competitive devaluation, trying to accomplish by that means what they would have tried tariffs for in an earlier era.
I haven’t seen a decent scholarly piece that concurs with the propaganda about belt and road loans as sinister debt traps.
Territorial disputes aside, most of those neighbors have China as a major trading partner, and none of the disputes have gone hot. The neighbors are also not entirely lacking in power. Russia and India are nuclear powers, and if Japan chose to field a more formidable military it could easily do so.
One of the hardest and most disturbing lessons we’ve learned from the Nixon China gambit was that capitalism doesn’t necessarily lead to democracy. Nor is a democratic society a prerequisite for capitalism to flourish.
That came much after the Nixon thaw with China, after the fall of Soviet Union. Francis Fukuyama solemnly proclaiming “End of History” and all that. The turning point was China being let into WTO in 1999. Clinton, Bush II and Obama swallowed that “capitalism leads to democracy” idea hook, line and sinker.
Technology theft, spun any way, is still technology theft. Sure, Industrial espionage is “a thing” that everyone does. So is currency manipulation. Since we feel guilty that USA gained global power by doing all these, we should let others do it too, just to even the scales? Foreign policy mixed with moral feelings is a recipe for disaster.
Russia and China . . . soft-pedal one and hard-pressure the other? To prevent them co-operating? Too late.
That bus has left the station, that ship has sailed and sunk, that dog won’t cut the mustard hunting-wise, etc.
International politics can sometimes be distressingly like the school playground. The bully only lasts as long as he doesn’t show weakness, and, once you start to show weakness you can lose your intimidatory power quite quickly.
I don’t think there’s anything as dramatic as a “change in the balance of power” here. Rather (as PK suggests above) the Russians and the Chinese have given up on Biden and Co already, recognising that the xenophobic politico-media-pundit class that helped to bring down Trump is now actually in power. There is therefore no point in pretending to be calm and measured: if the US wants confrontation, that’s what they are going to get.
But it’s not clear that Washington understands this, or indeed that it understands anything very much.I doubt if there is anyone in Biden’s circle who worried about Russian and Chinese reactions, or even realises that they are a factor. And the hardest thing to swallow is the absolute, unutterable pointlessness of it all.
The point is to get a new desperate deadly cold war under way to re-impose new levels of social discipline and social control against the American population.
The DC FedRegime is America’s most deadly enemy today.
Note that this time, nobody in the foreign policy establishment is wringing their hands over a new Cold War or moaning about “Who lost China?” much less “Who lost Russia?”.
This is entirely intentional, for the current system in the West requires a scary enemy, to justify sky high military and spy budgets, to justify endless pointless war, to justify curtailing liberties domestically, to justify “protection” extended to foreign vassals, to head off any calls for reform.
“Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.”
Does seem very 1984-ish…
Tom Luongo thinks Ukraine about to be brought to the boil by the US.
“Putin understands as well that Biden will allow every escalation in Ukraine, because he’s shackled by it and they need to complete the job started with the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovich in 2014.
That means we’ll see something far worse than Victoria Nuland’s latest Cookie Campaign for freedom. We’re going to see a war for the Donbass soon, likely right after Orthodox Easter and the end of the snow melt.”
I suspect that the United States will order Ukraine to escalate, but that the real goal will be to provide a pretext to further pressure Merkel to cancel Nordstream 2.0.
In that scenario, someone in East Ukraine ( Donbassia) might want to sabotage the gas pipeline across Ukraine, in order to create a further counterpressure on Merkel to complete Nordstream II.
Not necessarily ” blow it up”, but maybe shut off the gas from the Russia side long enough for someone to bore into the pipeline and fill a length of it with concrete.
Or maybe if parts of it are computer controlled, give it a ” Stuxnet Infection”.
When I was growing up, a staple of TV was Hollywood movies about WW2 and the Germans were always two-dimensional characters who were evil, vicious monsters that in the movies – like Imperial Stormtroopers – could never hit who they were shooting at. Indiana Jones continued this idea and even films made in the past year or two still have the cardboard-cutout, evil Germans. They were the baddies for sure. As an adult I got to go to Germany many times and loved the place. I started to learn about what the war was like from the other side and this was really brought home when I read Gregor Dorfmeister’s novel “Die Brücke” (The Bridge) which was almost autobiographical of his early life and which was made into a film-
So I wondered what it would have been like being in Germany and trying to cope with what was going on and all the changes for the worse with civil liberties and the preparations for war. And now I am beginning to understand. I see civil liberties being cut back and more and more powers being given to police and spook agencies. There is a rush for military alliances against Russia, China, Iran, etc. and nothing but threats and sanctions and military deployments. This has a very 1930s feel about it. You want to know the worse? After reading a transcript of Doc Hudson and Pepe Escobar’s talk, I am beginning to even wonder if we are now the baddies. Seriously. This is the system we are part of. The west is now pushing, as per that talk, a worldwide rentier economy for the benefit of the 1% which is also pushing our planet into a climate crisis for their financial benefit. But it is a very uncomfortable question to ask that – ‘Are we the Baddies?’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn1VxaMEjRU (2:48 mins)
i concluded the US Empire is the “baddies”while living out my year in Vietnam, 1967-68, after growing up as a Midwest Boy Scout believing in the virtues of the American Way. And the Empire is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the supranational-corporate syndicate that effectuates the “worldwide rentier economy.”
I am actually expecting that system experiences a more comprehensive myocardial infarction than the the little clots evidenced by stuff like that monster container carrier plugging up the Suez Canal.
“Who can destroy a thing controls a thing…”
What a great essay. I’ve been seeing the same thing for many years.
I see the Anglosphere circling the wagons (that’s the lens I see Brexit thru, btw) as it has come to realize that the Jig Is Up with the Empire biz. Now it’s a rear-guard controlled retreat.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking the policy-makers (not the front people – I’m talking about the policy makers – the people who decide “who our enemies are”). They are most definitely not stupid, or clumsy or mis-informed. They know exactly what they are doing.
The Russian-Chinese cooperation has been gradually building for decades; if it doesn’t crystallize this year it’ll be soon. It’s gonna happen. And, as Yves says, a lot of people are going to have to ask themselves where to put their nations’ chips.
Most interesting to me is what India, Turkey and Germany will do, and how they thread the needle.
Of course we are the bad guys. Who hoovered up all the Nazi rocket scientists and the Gehlen Org after WW2? Who initiated nuclear war against Japan? It wasn’t the Chinese or the Russians.
” ….. (A) staple of TV was Hollywood movies about WW2 and the Germans were always ….. evil, vicious monsters.”
My viewing fare as a child as well, Rev, but I actually saw them on Saturday afternoons in the movie theater. As well as films depicting “Japs” as squinty-eyed, evil, vicious monsters. And North American Indigenous peoples as bloodthirsty, primitive barbarians who routinely scalped innocent European settlers. Hollywood as a giant and effective propaganda machine.
The advent of the internet upset my belief in The Narrative. First, it was Chalmers Johnson’s trilogy on the sorrows of empire and blowback (which may have been recommended on NC; certainly it was some ‘left-wing blog’ I was following back in the mid-2000’s.) Then, it was following up by ‘researching’ our escapades in Iran, toppling duly-elected prime ministers. Then, more on Palestine, countering the “Exodus” version. And that was just the beginning. Everything was out there on the internet, just waiting to be found.
Which has become ‘the problem.’ It’s so much more difficult to keep hold of the Official Narrative, when everyone with broadband access is their own little narrative-weaver. No wonder the Official Gatekeepers are baying for censorship. Like the priests and bishops striving to keep the interpretations (as well as the reading) of the the Bible under their episcopal thumbs, while Luther and other radicals were fighting to allow direct communication between the faithful and God, they are even now resorting to accusations of heresy and probably designing ….. The Inquisition! Expect it!
Are we the Baddies? Maybe. We have, as a Nation (and a group of Allies) done some very very Bad Things. We are certainly not unalloyed Good Guys. Our white hats are caked with mud and blood. We do need to write some new stories about us, devise some more realistic creations myths about our founding, do some serious truth and reconciliation activities.
That … and deal with climate change.
Are we the baddies? No. We are the hostages. We are the shackled galley slaves rowing from below decks.
But every American who refuses to understand that is certainly a baddie-supporter and a baddie-sympathiser.
Those Americans who DO understand this can only try to undermine, tear down and destroy the system, especially the economy, from within and below.
And those Americans who do understand it are rats and Enemies of the State. I’m not sure what their planned pest control strategies for us rats are, but it is likely to be very uncomfortable for the rats.
I remember somebody telling me a story once about a landlord and a rat. The landlord had apparently cornered a rat and was going to kill it with a shovel or something. Apparently the rat had no way to escape so it jumped on the landlord and gnawed a hole into the landlord’s chest.
The landlord bled to death and the rat escaped. That was all worked backwards from the later discovery of the dead landlord’s bled-out body on the basement steps with seeming ratholes bored into the chest. So it was judged to have been a cornered rat.
My younger brother once told me how a friend of his had gotten between a groundhog and its hole and was going to kill it with a shovel. The groundhog got ” inside the shovel” and bit up my brother’s friend’s legs. Younger brother told me it took 47 stitches to close up the groundhog bites.
I offer those two cheery stories to give hope and raise morale.
“When I was growing up, a staple of TV was Hollywood movies about WW2 and the Germans were always two-dimensional characters who were evil, vicious monsters that in the movies”
– That pretty much sums up what I see as recommended shows on Netflix these days, and nothing about 1930s Russian atrocities against Ukraine or other states, nor anything about Japanese atrocities in China which, in terms of sheer sadism if not total deaths, put the Nazis to shame.
Just like the UK who we were the baddies in the times of the British Empire and before and after. This is one reason why WW2 plays such a mythic role in UK culture, is that it is the one time they can say they were the goodies.
Fortunately for me I am able to listen to podcasts & audiobooks while working to fill gaps in my portfolio, as nothing paid for available as yet. Dropped on an AB written by a Wehrmacht soldier on the Eastern front, followed by the view from a Russian soldier. I then moved on to 2 AB’s which featured around 15 testimonies from German military at or close to the D-day beaches.
Something that became instantly clear was that all the combatants had very similar hopes & dreams but were motivated by each states propaganda & much harsher disciplinary measures than the Allies faced . The German cannon fodder believed that they were creating a United Europe protected from Communism & were in partnership with the French – something that was made all the easier to believe due to the friendly treatment they received from at least some of the French locals. The Ivan’s on the other hand were protecting the Motherland from Fascism & as they progressed were given plenty of evidence that they were correct to do so.
It was like getting a small bubble view of groups of men in either case whose main loyalty was concentrated towards the relatively small group pf men they fought & died with. A view under a microscope totally different from the usual general view from high above when individuals are reduced to numbers with only the top brass being honoured with names.
All described various versions of Hell on Earth, gory with very little glory & one thing that really surprised me in relation to D-day & the so called ” Good War ” was the accounts of the use of early phosphorous weapons & the horror they inflicted on the defenders. I looked it up on Wiki but it only mentions it in relation to the bombing & I assume rocket attacks from Typhoons & the like at Cherbourg. My Great Uncle Tommy came ashore that day & unlike my Grandad he talked a lot about his war experience, which included descriptions of the black burning skeletons of German soldiers in trenches in front of shattered concrete bunkers after air strikes & what he saw as one of the the biggest threats being shrapnel, which soon got him home after his left arm was amputated after being shredded by splinters from a machine gunned tree in the Bocage – his considered opinion on war films was & is not family blogable.
The German accents are a tad Private Schultz, but fortunately for me that soon got lost in the detail.
It seems that those in charge always take what is the best in us to create the worse from us.
True, aided by everybody’s low grade psychopaths that sow the bad seeds that has the rest full of hatred & thirsting for revenge.
Something else that upset me was the fate of the horses & pack mules which for both the Soviets & the Wehrmacht were the mainstay of their transportation. The Germans found that the small Steppe ponies were much tougher than their larger supposedly better bred ones – millions were killed & the Russian soldier who had worked in a mine as a youngster with pit ponies felt it deeply during the times when he witnessed the mortally wounded. He also became aware of the fate of many of the war caused stray dogs at the Russians advanced into totally shattered places like Belarus. They were rounded up & then fed under tanks for a period, before being starved then tied to a high explosive which was timed to go off at the estimated time it took for the them to run under an advancing Tiger, Panther or whatever.
Funnilly enough the biggest thing that shocked the Germans in relation to what was unloaded at D-Day was the fact that there were no horses.
Perhaps the plight of the animals is hard to take for some at least is because they were both totally blameless & innocent.
My grandfather fought in WWI. He volunteered for the Signal Corps, as he did not wish to kill anyone himself.
He would not speak of the war, so we don’t know what he saw, but he refused to watch war movies, etc. thereafter, remarking angrily that this wasn’t what war was like.
Does anyone know V. Putin’s address?? I would like to personally apologize for
Maybe the Russian Embassy. Or a Russian Consular Office. Or the Russian delegation offices at the U. N.
No address, but there’s a webform to do it: http://en.letters.kremlin.ru/
Take an article back in February NC linked to in the Asia Times wherein Pepe Escobar reported that “the two really crucial events at Davos” were speeches given by Putin and Xi at the WEF that “received minimal or non-existent coverage across the wobbly West.”
Here is a link to an analysis of Putin’s speech by Rostislav Ishchenko provided in Escobar’s article
Add the above to the discussion between Pepe Escobar and Michael Hudson provided in the links today.
It would follow, probably at the behest of Wall Street and Silicon Valley, that the aims stated in Xi’s and Putin’s speeches and the material discussed by Escobar and Hudson would produce aggressive rhetoric from Biden and Blinken toward Russia and China.
Interesting that Putin mentioned “financial hegemony” as one of the two tools used “to carry out long-arm jurisdiction and suppress other countries.” I assume he means the eurodollar system of offshore US dollars which remains the dominant currency of global finance and capital markets, and control of the global payments system. If so, what are the workarounds, and who controls them?… or, are we talking Texas hold’em here?
Just an observation here. China is making China a better place; Russia is making Russia a better place; India is India. And the United States looks to be headed in that direction. It is a big job and it will keep our “leaders” busy for a long time. One thing I’d like to see is a cooperating, cohesive and sustainable North America. Canada, the US, Mexico and Central America. That would be a good project for our foreign policy wizards. World War 2 is over. Way long gone. We should let the EU, and especially our long and loyal ally Germany, make their own peace with Russia and China.
China was all onboard for Western neoliberal ideas.
They started to have their doubts when the US, UK and Euro-zone wrecked their economies in a ridiculous financial fiasco in 2008.
When they realised they had made exactly the same mistakes, and nearly driven the Chinese economy into a financial crisis, they realised neoclassical economics was the problem.
They really needed some decent economics and fast.
We never did work out what happened in 2008, the Chinese did.
The Chinese now know the US, UK and Euro-zone went on a joint economic suicide mission before 2008.
After 2008, they went on an economic suicide mission.
Policymakers are rendered completely clueless with neoclassical economics and try and crash their economies.
If the West is sticking with this load of old rubbish, that’s their problem, the Chinese have learned from their mistakes.
Davos 2018 – The Chinese know financial crises come from the private debt-to-GDP ratio and inflated asset prices
The black swan flies in under our policymakers’ radar.
They are looking at public debt and consumer price inflation, while the problems are developing in private debt and asset price inflation.
The PBoC knew how to spot a Minsky Moment coming, unlike the FED, BoE, ECB and BoJ.
A year later, and they had made further progress.
Davos 2019 – The Chinese know bank lending needs to be directed into areas that grow the economy and that their earlier stimulus went into the wrong places.
They had pumped bank credit into areas that don’t grow GDP, and the private debt-to-GDP had risen to a level they were on the verge of a financial crisis.
Everyone does that with neoclassical economics, but they don’t usually see the financial crisis coming, like the US in 1929, Japan 1991 and US, UK and Euro-zone in 2008.
The one good thing about bringing back neoclassical economics.
We know what led to Wall Street Crash in 1929.
The same mistakes have been repeated globally.
At 25.30 mins you can see the super imposed private debt-to-GDP ratios.
No one realises the problems that are building up in the economy as they use an economics that doesn’t look at debt, neoclassical economics.
As you head towards the financial crisis, the economy booms due to the money creation of unproductive bank lending, as it did in the 1920s in the US.
The financial crisis appears to come out of a clear blue sky when you use an economics that doesn’t consider debt, like neoclassical economics, as it did in 1929.
1929 – US
1991 – Japan
2008 – US, UK and Euro-zone
The PBoC saw the Chinese Minsky Moment coming and you can too by looking at the chart above.
The Chinese were lucky; it was very late in the day.
Everyone has made the same mistake; only the Chinese worked out what the problem was.
Our current status is in some respects comparable to Britain in the decades preceding WW I: balancing rival powers off of each other. In Britain’s case, the rivals were Russia, first and foremost, and Germany. But as Germany was perceived to be threatening to both Britain and Russia, Britain made an alliance with Russia (and France) against Germany.
We tried to make a similar alliance with Russia against the growing power of the PRC, but Yeltsin was too weak, and Putin was not eager to become the junior partner of the US in the game of containing Chinese power. Then came the pivot to China (after the failure of Clinton’s “reset” with Russia). That failed too. Trump tried to re-engage Putin and levied tariffs on China. Both moves were ineffective.
We still have something to learn from Britain, though: mainly, how to have a long and gentle glide path into decline and yet still manage to punch above our weight. This is something Lawrence Wilkerson has talked about for the last 15 years or so. We either do this or go bankrupt trying to hold onto . . . what?
Not sure the UK’s decline was long and gentle. The USA will be one of the three major powers in the world for a long time yet. What has gone wrong for the USA imo is that it tried to be a hyperpower, to rule the world, when that possiblity really disappeared when first Russia and then other countries obtained nuclear weapons. The neoconseratives need to stop drinking the koolaid.
Why should we care about punching above our weight?
“We tried to make a similar alliance with Russia against the growing power of the PRC, but Yeltsin was too weak, and Putin was not eager to become the junior partner of the US in the game of containing Chinese power.”
I don’t see any historical evidence supporting that assertion. The US tried to do a complete sack and burn of the remains of the USSR and walk off with everything worth anything. They didn’t quite succeed at that but did a lot of harm along the way. Russia tried (with Putin no less) to become part of the EU or at least associate with it and tried to become part of NATO (or at least associate with the rest of Europe in military and security matters) and was told to get lost. Then, violating promises, the expansion of NATO began. I think the record shows that the US wants Russia to be an enemy – regardless of what the Russians want. With the history of the past twenty years to go by I would think that both Russia and China (and likely several other nations) now believe that the US simply can’t be negotiated with due to it’s penchant for throwing away treaties and ignoring the rule of law whenever it feels like it. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also the holier-than-thou moralizing that goes along with it.
About a decade or so ago there was serious talk in Washington of a US-China pact as an extension of Chimerica. China would supply the money and the manpower while Washington would supply the brains. The rest of the world could go fly a kite as these two would then run the world but the Chinese for some mysterious reason had zero interest in being the junior partner in this proposal.
That’s because China had already decided to turn America into one of its many Overseas Tibets. ( I have read that the Chinese word for Tibet translates to Western Treasure House. And they also refer to Tibet as Water Tower Number One).
It seems to me that America has little ability to alter the reelpolitik of Russia-Chinese relations, for good or ill. In sum, territorial and demographic realities mean China and Russia can never be friends, whatever happy talk might come out of their politicians. Watch what they do, not….
1. Through hard work and opportunism, the Chinese Empire is in the process of reasserting its historical share of about 1/3 of world GDP, which it lost in the late 1600s. Most people will agree on that.
2. China is an empire; that’s how it likes to run, with a Han heartland, a frontier resource zone and barbarian tributaries beyond. Siberia is squarely in China’s frontier zone, far close to Beijing than Tibet, Xinjiang and the South China sea. It is a thinly populated but intensely resource rich expanse whose natural position is to be under control of, or at least tributary to, the Throne of Heaven.
3. Unfortunately for China, the Russian barbarians occupied the Siberian expanses of Tatary before and during the railway era, while the Qing (Manchu) were too prostrated to defend their own outposts there. It is not by any serious argument a part of the Russian motherland.
4. China has about 10 times Russia’s population and economy, and a massive land border, analogous to US-Canada. If Russia hadn’t remained a nuclear power, Siberia would likely today be a Chinese dependency even if nominally independent statelets. China (among others) has tried nudging autonomy movements and buying off local strongmen, but Moscow won’t have that. Just my opinion, but it’s likely why the Organs Of State (Putin) ascended to power, and not some other clique like the Army; they still had the tools to hold the ship together.
4. China will never stop viewing Siberia as its sphere, but for now there is no military/Han colonization option. So they are content to send armies of Chinese and North Korean coolies up to extract the resources, which generates a lot (most????) of Russian GDP today.
5. A real “alliance” would require Russia to become a Chinese tributary, just as Canada is for practical purposes economic ‘region 5’ of the US today (sorry, Canadian friends. Your establishment sold you out a long time ago and your once lovely civil society is now playing full D, two men down, in overtime).
6. So Russia needs to play a very careful game with the Throne of Heaven. America is not ‘agreement capable’ at present, with its organs of state in the hands of grifters and dilettantes, while the more professional European technocrats govern societies in second childhood. Meanwhile the global metals cartels have shown again and again that they’ll rend Russia like wolves given the slightest opening.
…. So I view these statements of Putin and others through the above lens. Feel free to disagree; I pretend to no insider expertise here, although I am trying not to Make Stuff Up.
China taking over Siberia is for all practical purposes a wet dream of American Enterprise Institute and New York Times. It’s far removed from any reality.
If one looks at the statistics, it’s more likely that Russia will expand to the aging Chinese provinces on the border, that are seeing serious demographic loss already. Even bigger than Russia’s Far East. Nations may be interested in Siberia and it’s resources, but people are moving away from there.
The obvious confrontation with USA ahead, China will have to secure it’s northern and western borders, even if it means a military alliance with Russia. That would also secure it’s practically free access to the Siberian natural resources (16% of Russian exports).
“Eurasian land bridge” (Belt and road initiative) from China to EU goes trough Russia, so China needs Russia to have secure access to European markets. Which, I’ve been told, is the “biggest market” in the world. Not to mention that 7 of China’s 8 international communication cables (Internet) go trough Russia.
Neither China or Russia have nothing to win by turning hostile towards each other, but together they have a shot at constructing an International System that actually follows the UN Charter and restores diplomacy and cooperation as main tools in international relations. Stability is good for business.
The Chinese don’t seem too worried about the competition.
Putin and Xi are jealous of Wall Street.
No matter how hard they try, they have never been able to inflict the same level of damage to the West, Wall Street managed in 2008.
The Chinese know what to look out for to spot a financial crisis coming. They look for the problems brewing in private debt and inflated asset prices.
This nice Chinese chap tried to warn the Americans the US stock markets was at 1929 levels at Davos 2018.
We know what a correction from 1929 levels looks like.
We have seen it before.
“They’ve done it again, I can’t believe my luck. US stock markets are at 1929 levels, this isn’t going to end well” president Xi
Xi has probably rung Putin up to tell him the good news.
I bet they had a right old laugh.
Luckily for the Chinese, the Americans have no idea what they are doing.
The Chinese have been making all the classic mistakes of neoclassical economics, but have been learning from them to ensure they don’t make the same mistakes again.
We haven’t been doing this in the West.
At the end of the 1920s, the US was a ponzi scheme of inflated asset prices.
The use of neoclassical economics, and the belief in free markets, made them think that inflated asset prices represented real wealth.
1929 – Wakey, wakey time
The use of neoclassical economics, and the belief in free markets, made them think that inflated asset prices represented real wealth, but it didn’t.
It didn’t then, and it doesn’t now.
What was the ponzi scheme of inflated asset prices that collapsed in 2008?
“It’s nearly $14 trillion pyramid of super leveraged toxic assets was built on the back of $1.4 trillion of US sub-prime loans, and dispersed throughout the world” All the Presidents Bankers, Nomi Prins.
It wasn’t real wealth, just a ponzi scheme of inflated asset prices.
Real estate – the wealth is there and then it’s gone.
1990s – UK, US (S&L), Canada (Toronto), Scandinavia, Japan, Philippines, Thailand
2000s – Iceland, Dubai, US (2008), Vietnam
2010s – Ireland, Spain, Greece, India
It wasn’t real wealth, just a ponzi scheme of inflated asset prices.
It’s been the same since Tulip Mania.
You can inflate asset prices, keeping them inflated is the hard bit.
The battle of ideas.
Keynesian capitalism won the battle against Russian communism.
The Americans could clearly demonstrate the average American was much better off than their Russian counterparts.
Today’s opioid addicted specimens might have struggled.
It was much easier for the Americans to win the war of ideas last time.
This time they could be in trouble.
Look at the great system we’ve developed to concentrate wealth with the 1%.
http://static5.businessinsider.com/image/557ef766ecad04fe50a257cd-960/screen shot 2015-06-15 at 11.28.56 am.png
It’s not quite the same, is it?
Oh yeah, we had a system like that where all the wealth stayed at the top.
We called it Feudalism.
The Americans are progressing in the reverse direction.
Perhaps certain counter-Feudalist towns, cities, communities, etc. should study up on how certain Free Towns and Free Republics survived in Europe during the Feudalist Period. And try to set themselves up as the Free Towns, Free Cities, Free Republics in the midst of a future Feudalist America.
Thank you, RMO, you summarized US-Russian relations from 1991 to the start of the Putin era much better than me. We really missed an opportunity to integrate the Russians into the US-EU alliance (such as it was), especially with regard to NATO. Bush Jr. compounded this failure by mistaking Putin for an ally in the war against terror, thinking that our concerns in the middle east paralleled Putin’s affairs in Chechen. They could have, but didn’t. Putin was a more strategic thinker. My sense is that Putin played a waiting game for much of the first two decades of this century, and has finally put down some markers or the China side.
Sensible proposal once we codify and make manifest modern serfdom and indentured servitude (i.e. debt slavery). Shouldn’t be too hard.
Yeah Russia, China, but its not complete without threatening India with sanctions and strong-arming Germany to buy overpriced American LNG to the detriment of their economy.
In reading and listening to US/EU aligned pundit class in the US and Europe, the consensus was that Biden was showing allies both in Asia and Europe that he would be their to protect against the Chinese and Russian threat. Nothing about the belligerent comments being undiplomatic or unprofessional or counter productive. But as other commentators have noted, both Russia and China in particular rhetorically gave the US the middle finger. Whatever, this looks like a situation that will get worse.