Has Obama 'moved on'?

#1
Just watching the BBC coverage of his meeting with the Chinese president.

I foresee our "Special relationship" having a definate position in the 2011 deadpool thread.

Based on my little knowledge of China politics I do think Obama is making the right call. Is it about time the UK did as well?

Smartascarrot's opinion most welcome.
 
#2
On second thoughts:

Crap thread. One for the hole perhaps?
 
#3
Step away from the crack pipe.
 
#4
The problem with relations between the two countries is that they neither really understand the other. The US is the ultimate individualist society - land of the free, etc. - while Chinese look at the US's incredible wealth and wonder how they can justify calling themselves 'last, best hope for humanity' while so many of its citizens live in squalor. A recent internet board showed a collection of pictures taken from the deep southern states of poor black folk and most Chinese posters refused to believe it wasn't Africa.

Frankly, the better they get to know each other the stabler the world will be. There just has to be a recognition - on both sides - that 'the way things used to be' isn't good enough any more. That's not to say the new one can't be pretty damned good, either. Economics isn't a zero-sum game and it is most definitely all about the economy.

Edited to add: there are a series of interesting comments in response to Matt Frei's BBC blog.
 
#5
The Chinese look at the US and see a bloated arriviste sliding into debt fueled decadence. They've been around as a polity for more millennia than the US has centuries. The party does not give a shag about more than assuring a comfy stable future for the Han. That means cornering hydrocarbons, sea lanes etc. After their brief flirtation with Messianic Maoism I see no sign that they have any urge to take up the foolish imperial white man's burden but plenty of foresight and purposeful positioning. Humanity can go hang. Barry has feck all idea about this, it just does not compute and DC is crippled by two year electoral cycles and a feckless electorate obsessing on cheap gas, low taxes and inane culture wars.
 
#6
The problem with relations between the two countries is that they neither really understand the other. The US is the ultimate individualist society - land of the free, etc. - while Chinese look at the US's incredible wealth and wonder how they can justify calling themselves 'last, best hope for humanity' while so many of its citizens live in squalor. A recent internet board showed a collection of pictures taken from the deep southern states of poor black folk and most Chinese posters refused to believe it wasn't Africa.
As my American uncle says "America is heaven of earth if you make it, but hell on earth if you don't"
 
#7
Dr Strauss (RIP) comments in Let Them Drift Away . . .
Much ado regarding Chinese CP Chairman Hu’s visit to the States. We’ve all seen the Chinese military’s slap at Gates during his recent visit. Testing their still embryonic 5th generation fighter also a pointed embarrassment — again — to the undeniably shaky Chinese civilian control over the PLA and its sprawling infrastructure.

Hu’s doing his final rounds as President, stepping down soon. This visit for a variety reasons always was going to be more tonal than substantive. The hard decisions on policy and direction will await his successor. For the Chinese, kicking the can further down the road has the added benefit of being smart geopolitics. The soft and hard power curves are moving their way on sheer inertia alone. The junky still remains addicted to both Chinese credit and cheap Chinese trinkets. Even Obama’s vaunted ‘green’ industry that he said will produce ‘thousands of good, high wage jobs’ is already stamped ‘Made in China’. A provision regarding restricting government contracting and Chinese goods a symbolic. Doesn’t alter the above.

We’ll have more to say about this as the visit unfolds.
 
#8
Dr Strauss said:
Much ado regarding Chinese CP Chairman Hu’s visit to the States. We’ve all seen the Chinese military’s slap at Gates during his recent visit. Testing their still embryonic 5th generation fighter also a pointed embarrassment — again — to the undeniably shaky Chinese civilian control over the PLA and its sprawling infrastructure.

Hu’s doing his final rounds as President, stepping down soon. This visit for a variety reasons always was going to be more tonal than substantive. The hard decisions on policy and direction will await his successor. For the Chinese, kicking the can further down the road has the added benefit of being smart geopolitics. The soft and hard power curves are moving their way on sheer inertia alone. The junky still remains addicted to both Chinese credit and cheap Chinese trinkets. Even Obama’s vaunted ‘green’ industry that he said will produce ‘thousands of good, high wage jobs’ is already stamped ‘Made in China’. A provision regarding restricting government contracting and Chinese goods a symbolic. Doesn’t alter the above.

We’ll have more to say about this as the visit unfolds.
Dr Strauss is more like Dr Seuss - telling stories for children.

If the PLA leadership were not firmly under civilian control, Xi Zhongxun's boy wouldn't be prime of place for the next leader and Chairman of the CMC while Zhu Chenghu wouldn't have suffered 'career firing, career stops' after his nuclear weapons/Taiwan remark; if they wanted to make a show for Gates's visit they'd have unveiled it and flown on the same day he was visiting, not had it taxi around the airstrip a few days before, abort and head back to the hangar. That just makes it look like they couldn't get it airborne on the first go.
 
#9
SC you may have point, Dr S is speaking from the grave and from within the Beltway chatter fest.

As the figurehead of the US Military Industrial Complex (50 years of stealth socialism, hurrah!) visits the #1 excuse for lavish US defense pork and home of the greedily off shored US industrial base just when the press is full of over blown talk of China's menacing blue water navy. The hosts obliging roll out a balsa stealth terror jet onto the tarmac, which will do nicely as a dumbass tax dollar vacum. If Bob Gates is embarrassed it's probably by the generous marketing for Lockheed Martin et al. Of course holding all those deficit dollars a little back door Keynesianism is of couse in Beijing's interest.

While there is a great deal of faction play from what I see it's not the PLA that the danger in China, the civilians who mostly run the place aren't notably less aggressive just diplomatic as mandarins tend to be, what's slightly worrying failing party control, if that country ever falls to a color revolution expect a virulent entirely representative nationalism like 30s Japan. About the only circumstances I can imagine Chimerica butting heads. Tricky blighter Freedom's March.
 
#10
what's slightly worrying failing party control, if that country ever falls to a color revolution expect a virulent entirely representative nationalism like 30s Japan.
It's often hard to judge between nationalism and, if I can coin a phrase, culturalism. Chinese are extremely proud of being Chinese - and I mean by that Taiwanese, Singaporeans, Malay Chinese, hell even the residents of W1D. That's not to say there's any particular attachment to any one polity. Having said that, I wouldn't volunteer for first assault wave of any invasion of Dalu. I suspect that would be a) a very poor career move and b) entirely the right thing to do if we wanted hardliners back in Zhongnanhai.

Of course, pushing the reformists into a corner and strengthening their enemies for the sake of easy sound-bites and some quick scapegoating on the domestic stage would be the sort of thing our enlightened and selfless politicians are sure to avoid...
 
#11
On TAC How the Chinese Must See Us by Pat Buchanan
"O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us,” wrote the poet Robert Burns.
As Hu Jintao wings his way home, America’s hectoring still ringing in his ears, he must be thinking that maybe we Americans should stop lecturing them and take a closer look at ourselves.

Revalue your currency, we demand of the Chinese, stop running these trade surpluses at our expense, start practicing free trade, and abandon these mercantilist and protectionist policies.

But why should they? Why should China abandon a trade policy that is working marvelously well for them, and adopt a trade policy that is failing dismally for us? Does that make sense?

Why should any nation emulate the U.S. trade policy of the Bush-Clinton-Bush era that has stripped us of a third of our manufacturing jobs and made us dependent on China and the world for the needs of our national life and the borrowed money to pay for them?

Why would China, seeking to make herself an independent and self-sufficient nation, adopt a policy that cost us our independence?
And what are the Chinese doing in their ascendancy to first power on earth that we did not do in ours?

Are our Milton Friedmanite free-traders unaware of how it was that, in the last third of the 19th century, we left the British in the dust? Are they unaware we had the highest tariffs on earth to price British products out of our market and goad rapacious Yankees into building new factories to produce the same goods we were then importing from Great Britain?

Lest we forget, the Americans who turned this country into the industrial marvel of mankind were known as “Robber Barons.”

As they put America first in our rise, the Chinese are putting China first.

Our grand strategists demand to know why the Chinese are making these brash claims to all the islands in the South China and East

China seas. Why are they telling us to keep our aircraft carriers out of the Yellow Sea and out of the Taiwan Strait? Who do they think they are?

Well, maybe they think they’re 19th-century Americans.

Did not James Monroe and John Quincy Adams brashly tell the great powers of Europe to stay out of our hemisphere?

What are the Chinese about, other than imposing a Monroe Doctrine of their own? As historian Walter McDougall writes, Otto von Bismarck was as affronted by us as we are by the Chinese, declaring that the Monroe Doctrine represented “a species of arrogance peculiarly American and inexcusable.”

Hu Jintao got an earful from us on his human rights records. Stop the repression of Uighurs and Tibetans. Stop jailing political dissidents. Allow more freedom of the Internet and the press.

But on his way home, Hu must be thinking to himself: Who are these Americans to lecture us?

Is this not the same tribe that enslaved black people for 250 years and segregated them for a century? Is this not the same tribe that drove the Indians off their lands, then stuck them all in Bantustans called reservations? Are these not the only people in history to have dropped atomic bombs on defenseless cities?

How would we have reacted if Hu, instead of pretending he couldn’t hear the translation of that question about human rights, retorted, “We Chinese are also concerned about what we read of human rights at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, of renditions, torture and something called ‘water-boarding.’”

This is not written in defense of the Chinese communists who are a purposeful and ruthless lot, but to suggest that we Americans no longer look like the self-confident nation of Dwight Eisenhower and JFK that was unintimidated by the brutal and bullying Soviet Union of Nikita Khrushchev.

We were in a great struggle then — and acted like we could win it.

But as America sinks economically and retreats strategically, while China grows at 10 percent and bristles with confidence, we appear to be a nation of whiners. They are eating our lunch, and we sound like losers in a locker room.

We demand that the Chinese be more open and tolerant of opposition and dissent. But when they look at the gridlock of American democracy, the pettiness of our politics and the failure of our policies, while they are on the move at home and all over the world, why should they want to be more like us?

Has our American capitalism in this century performed as well as their autocratic capitalism? Is our political performance an argument for the superiority of our ballyhooed democracy over their one-party state?

We can’t win or end our wars, balance our budgets or control our borders. Great states like California and Illinois appear about to go belly-up. The U.S. government is running a third straight deficit of near 10 percent of our entire economy. We used our stimulus money to save government jobs. They used theirs for bullet trains.

Time to see ourselves as others see us.
My bold, nail well hit. Some sober American self examination should be a prerequisite in this very special relationship. Instead Hu gets harangued by a Senate filled with haughty buffoons and preening self congratulation after a decade of debt fueled emboldened stupidity. A dysfunctional American polity isn't much of an advert for the Washington Consensus.
 
#12
Thanks, Alib. That's a remarkably perceptive analysis for a mainstream(ish) US media figure.

It's been quite remarkable, given those within the Beltway who like to characterise PRC as belligerent, that not even the hardliners have been flinging Guantanamo in the Yanks' faces recently. They've been being comparatively civilised about it.
 
#13
Speaking of the difference between the Chinese and Western attitudes.

Fascinating podcast Howard French on Africa in a Chinese Century
HF: I was struck every time I got on a plane: the Westerners tend to be rich American tourists on their way to seeing lions and giraffes; or aid workers and NGO people — coming with a mission to minister to Africans about capacity-building or democracy and what my father used to do: public health. I say none of this with scorn, but the Chinese have a very different mission. The Chinese that I saw on the planes — and by the way, ten years ago I saw no Chinese; now they’re maybe a fifth of all the passengers — are all, almost to a person, business people. They’ve pulled up their stakes wherever they lived — in Szechuan province or Hunan province — and they have come to make it in Africa. And they’re not leaving until they do. Whatever it takes for them to make a breakthrough in farming or in small industry, they’re going to work 20 hours a day till they make it. They see Africa as a place of extraordinary growth opportunity, a place to make a fortune, to throw down some roots. These are not people who’re there for a couple of years. They’re thinking about building new lives for themselves in Africa. So you have this totally different perspective between the Westerners and the newcomers. One sees Africa as a patient essentially, to be lectured to, to be ministered to, to be cared for. The other sees Africa and Africans as a place of doing business and as partners. There’s no looking down one’s nose or pretending to superiority. It’s all how I can make something work here.

CL: I just wonder: among those development geniuses who argue about Trade vs. Aid as America’s next gift to Africa, in the face of all the Chinese activity buying forests, or building railroads, or planning the sale of billions of cellphones, what is the West’s better bet? Do we have one, or are we still asleep?

HF: I think we’re still asleep.
However expect no guilt fueled missionary urge to shoulder the white mans burden:
And what are Africa’s chances of doing well in the new Chinese “deal”? Howard French sees “an incredible opportunity for Africa,” but no guarantees. States with a vigorous civil society, strong elites and an informed view of “how people’s daily and longer-term interests will be served” stand to get good results. “In states that are stuck in the kleptocratic authoritarian mode, the Chinese will pay cash on the barrel for whatever they want and all of the contracts will go through the state house and none of the money or very little of it will enter the public budget. Twenty years from now, China will say: it’s not our fault if the money is frittered away on Mercedes and villas in France and Swiss bank accounts. We paid you exactly the amount we said we were going to pay you. Don’t blame us if you have twice as many people and all of your iron ore is finished.”
 
#14
They know. Anyone that cares to know, knows.
The US is broke. It's constituent parts, or states, are broke. It is morally and societally bankrupt. An aggressive, failing, world power with a huge trade deficit and a junkies' reliance on oil.
What could be worse?
 
#15
Speaking of the difference between the Chinese and Western attitudes.

Fascinating podcast Howard French on Africa in a Chinese Century
However expect no guilt fueled missionary urge to shoulder the white mans burden:
QUOTE "The Chinese that I saw on the planes — and by the way, ten years ago I saw no Chinese; now they’re maybe a fifth of all the passengers — are all, almost to a person, business people. They’ve pulled up their stakes wherever they lived — in Szechuan province or Hunan province — and they have come to make it in Africa. And they’re not leaving until they do. Whatever it takes for them to make a breakthrough in farming or in small industry, they’re going to work 20 hours a day till they make it. They see Africa as a place of extraordinary growth opportunity, a place to make a fortune, to throw down some roots.

Hmm, wait until the Africans see them having success and then watch to see if the Africans do what they did to the Europeans in Zimbabwe or the Indians in Uganda & other places!
 
#16
Surely the difference is, as I understand it, that the Chinese government have little desire to "rule" in Africa. I'm not sure the Chinese people have a burning desire to see the Red Flag flying victorious over the Dark Continent either. They wish to do business that is advantageous to them, but territorial expansion over vast swathes of the non-Asian world is no great part of their anticipated future. If one African country kick off and doesn't want to do business any more, there are always others.
 
#17
They know. Anyone that cares to know, knows.
The US is broke. It's constituent parts, or states, are broke. It is morally and societally bankrupt. An aggressive, failing, world power with a huge trade deficit and a junkies' reliance on oil.
What could be worse?
Well they could be Ireland, our dreadful leadership makes even their clown show Congress look competent. The US may be in decline but is still a magnificent country, they just need to get to grips with governing themselves.

Septics do realize their government is horribly ineffectual. Congress has polled in the low teens for some time, but few make the connection with their madcap electoral cycles or that in throwing the bums out they are often just waving in another spineless set of lobby harried disgraces that will promise tax cuts, entitlements, deficit reductions while simultaneously planning to chase pork and spend like a crack whore once in office. Despite the high decible whining about socialism and being a declining power I see no sign that the consequences of this have sunk in. Healthcare spending soared above 17% of GDP in 09 and the latest Pentagon budget is the highest in real terms since WWII.

This isn't surprising, half a century after Suez it's only now that London has finally embraced decline and slashed defense spend by practically abandoning its expeditionary capacity.
 
#18
Some interesting articles Alib, thanks for sharing.

And I think Britain should take heed to this:

Time to see ourselves as others see us.
And how do others see us? A mere shadow of our former selves, desperately trying to cling to that former glory by kowtowing to the US and following them to the other side of the world launching wars with little direct benefit to us.

We are truly pathetic. We are an increasingly insignificant power trying to make ourselves significant by tying ourselves to another slowly sinking superpower who have shown they are more then willing to take advantage of us if they deem it within their interests. Obama knows this as well which is why he hasn't bothered trying to appease us- he doesn't even need to.
 
#19
Surely the difference is, as I understand it, that the Chinese government have little desire to "rule" in Africa. I'm not sure the Chinese people have a burning desire to see the Red Flag flying victorious over the Dark Continent either. They wish to do business that is advantageous to them, but territorial expansion over vast swathes of the non-Asian world is no great part of their anticipated future. If one African country kick off and doesn't want to do business any more, there are always others.
It has little if anything to do with ruling Africa, I think you will find that the Africans expropriated the land & businesses of Indians & Europeans AFTER they had achieved Independance, mainly due to the fact the incumbents concerned were doing well, creating, in the Africans mind, something they could just grab! Most of the aforesaid farms have since returned to the old pattern of totally inefficient subsistance farming, which is why Zimbabwe, which was able to export large ammounts of food, is now starving! This of course excepts the huge estates in some places such as Kenya, which somehow magically became the property of such well known political leaders such as Jomo Kenyatta!!
It will be interesting to see once the Chinese are seen to be achieving success, if the old green eyed monster of ENVY starts to cloud the Africans minds! No matter how hard the Chinese work, I think they will be viewed in the same way as the Indians & Europeans, who also worked hard for what they had, with jealousy! Unfortunately in my experience many, if not most Africans, do NOT have the same work ethic as either the Chinese, Indian or former European settlers had!
 
#20
Sadly not much different to to how the hard working Chinese and to an extent the Poles have been received in Belfast. Do well and some "patriotic" local hood will burn you out.

Audacious intervention in other cultures can be very rewarding but carries great risk and often leaves a substantial number of losers not worthy of sympathy. It's a hard game and the Chinese at least won't be whining about the roll of the dice.
 

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