Tilting at Windmills.
So our very own Don Quixote has decided after all to tilt at the Chinese windmills. This is a moment to take stock.
The US market looks very strong – we are to a dgree insulated from the economic issues being faced elsewhere in the world. If ever there was a time to take on an intransigent foreign adversary it is now. There are two challenges in so doing:
– the first is our ability to speak softly as well as wield a big stick.
– the second is the extent to which we can present coherence in our thinking to the rest of the world.
Get thse two wrong and we are creating enemies out of friends,confusion where people want clarity and a world of conflicting and potentially harsh misunderstanding.
We are not doing so well.
China has a vast and rich history*. It will soon be our fellow super power – its third time as such and the first time that two super powers have shared the world. How this situation turns out will shape our futures. At the moment the “Don” is walking away from a win/win of profound collaboration, and from a vision to improve the world. His noise will sound good to the unthinking – but it will set a hard road for this great country in the future.
As for coherence or clarity – difficult to see any in our bro-like enthusaism for Kim Jong UN, for Hungary’s racist despot or for Putin merrily disrupting elections in europe, and soon in the US itself.
There are long term friends of America in need today of the President’s moral and intellectual support ; they are turning away in disgust. In part they cannot stand the man, in part they do not trust him, and in part they se China as offering at least as interesting a set of aternatives.
So waht happens next?
The US, for so long the thought leader, the technological leader and genuinly building a good life for many of its people, can at least for a time take the easy road – it can rest on its past. Bombastic, zenophobic, revelling in the random cover of alternative truth, this may work for some especially within the worst of the US political heartlands. But trade with China and Europe will suffer, as will the opportunity for nation building in Africa and South America. Our technological lead will be threatened, we are already sliding in our ability to compete educationally, and our luddite stance over Climate Change not only denies all the skills and patents this nation aready has but turns away from new industries where we could have been dominant. .
Have a good day, James
*Look at my talk “China, the US and World War 111” and be very concerned.
And here are two fine books well worth reading:
“Destined for War” by Graham Allison.
“War by other means” by Blackwill and Harris.