And what of today? When “kinetic” military power against nation states increasingly encounters 4th Generation actors, who really is the pre-eminent Power? The U.S. moves feebly to rebuff its creditor, China, by threatening WTO sanctions on . . . wait for it . . . glossy paper. Also, in a separate dispute, the White House takes a stand for the hated liberal subversive Hollywood and its intellectual property rights.
The U.S. has virtually no real hand to play with China and would lose any 'trade war' much as it lost Iraq: badly. Apparently, the Administration believes it can play brinksmanship as foreshadowed this way:
Beijing's growing dollar hoard represents the most dangerous imbalance in today's global economy. The United States is both importing heavily from China and borrowing heavily from the country to finance those purchases, pushing the dollar down and putting the two economic superpowers on a collision course. Washington politicians demand that Beijing raise the value of the yuan against the dollar, and Chinese officials have hinted that if pushed too hard they might shift their near-trillion-dollar reserve out of U.S. Treasury bonds, which could trigger a U.S. and global recession. The main thing preventing this confrontation is the fact that both sides have too much to lose. Former U.S. Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers once called this “the balance of financial terror.” What has gone widely unremarked is that, increasingly, this balance is threatening China as much as the United States.
The one thing going for the Administration is that the Chinese are more astute at managing national power than they are. But we can count on that only for so long. What's really needed? A long term non-military national strategy to revitalize and restore American industrial, manufacturing and wealth accumulation. Far more urgent than any Neocon-inspired plans to use American transient military power to safeguard the Realm. Such an approach, by necessity, would alter the distortive and corruptive incentive skews in American life toward consumption and debt accumulation. Many established ideologies will have to be overthrown, such as unthinking globalist/Adam Smith pablum. Moreover, even Walter Isaacson can be right once in a while, as he is today hawking his Einsten book:
Einstein has come to personify the perception that modern physics is something ordinary folks can't try to appreciate. Indeed, scientific illiteracy is sometimes worn as a badge of pride. Most educated people would be ashamed to admit they didn't know the difference between Hamlet and King Lear, but they might jovially brag that they don't know a gene from a chromosome or relativity theory from the uncertainty principle.
Where will any possible impetus come from to salvage a future for us and posterity? First, let's concede that “free market” faith-based canonical thought largely describes most of the Republican base. They understand economic theory, Hecksher Olin curves and all the rest about as well as they do science. On top of that, we happen to believe that Gary Wills' excellent “Country Ruled By Faith” is accurate mostly because we saw it first hand ourselves. Note that Wills reports on “faith based Justice Department” here in Nov. 2006, long before Gonzogate. The Executive Branch is now riddled with such personnel at all levels from GS-5s to 16s and supergrades. Post Bush, we must understand that a significant portion of America remains anti-Enlightenment and committed to magical thinking, Faith and irrationality. And that may prove to be the biggest dead weight on America's future in the 21st century.
Tags: China, WTO, Enlightenment