Friday, January 29, 2010

216) Opinion: Passing the buck to China

A very interesting description of a future, when no longer the United States, but China delivers peace and security. Well, just raw futurism, with no reflections about human rights or democracy. PRA.

Op-Ed Columnist
Exit America
The New York Times, January 28, 2010

NEW YORK — I see that Gore Vidal, in an interview with the British daily The Independent, has been predicting America’s demise with scurrilous relish, awaiting the day when it takes its place “somewhere between Brazil and Argentina, where it belongs” and China reigns supreme.
The United States, he suggests, can then bow from the stage, war-drained, broken by “madhouse” politics, to become “the Yellow Man’s burden.”

I think Vidal’s lost it, as the irrepressible Christopher Hitchens points out in a recent Vanity Fair piece entitled “Vidal Loco,” but I have to say the words of the grand old man of letters echoed in my head during a recent visit to China, especially as I watched footage of the coffins of eight Chinese peacekeepers killed in Haiti being returned to Beijing.

This was a big event in China to which national television devoted many hours. The flag-draped coffins of the Chinese United Nations personnel, greeted at Beijing airport by sobbing family members and solemn Politburo members, put me in mind of numberless flag-draped American coffins returning to Dover Air Force Base from far-flung wars.

President Obama wants out of those wars. Indeed, to judge by the nine paltry minutes devoted to international affairs in a State of the Union address of more than one hour, he’s weary of America policing the globe.

When Israel-Palestine merits not a word from a president, you know the United States is turning inward.

The coffins have weighed on all Americans, however deeply repressed the pain. A fractured, draft-free America no longer has a Main Street. But somewhere out there the feeling has coalesced that some of the billions spent in Kabul could be used to create jobs at home.

China, in its “peaceful rise,” has had no such distractions. Commentators on Chinese TV made much of how the Haiti sacrifice of the eight “heroes” was part of being “good global citizens.”

But I found my mind wandering, fast-forwarding to 2040. I tried to imagine a time when such images would be frequent, when China could no longer freeload on a declining America and was obliged to step up to great power status with the attendant cost and sacrifice.

(I believe the rise of China is unstoppable. As Obama noted, Beijing is not “playing for second place.” After my last column about bulldozing Chinese development, a reader wrote describing how a new semiconductor plant in Albany, New York, only got the go-ahead after “almost two years and two million dollars to prepare the environmental impact statements” to present to “more than 100 local public meetings.” Extrapolate from that to grasp how diktat outraces democracy.)

So, jump ahead to 2040. The United States has long since withdrawn its troops from Okinawa — “If the Japanese don’t want us, we can no longer justify staying” said Democratic President Mary Martinez in 2032 — and Japan has predictably gone nuclear in the absence of a U.S. security guarantee.

Now tensions between nuclear-armed China and nuclear-armed Japan have flared in an Asia where the United States no longer serves as the offsetting power. A naval clash over disputed, gas-rich islands in the East China Sea has revived century-old World War II grievances.

Asked about the escalating conflict, a State Department spokesman in Washington says: “We believe in good global citizenship, but frankly we don’t have a dog in that fight. You’ll have to ask Beijing.”

But Beijing is busy. U.S. troops have also long since withdrawn from South Korea — “the 38th parallel will just have to take care of itself,” a departing U.S. general was heard to mutter in 2034 — and China finds itself having to deploy its own troops to restrain the increasingly wayward North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, from his threats to reduce Seoul “to an ashtray.” A drunk-driving incident involving a Chinese general in Pyongyang and the death of three schoolchildren has prompted Kim to accuse China of acting “with imperial disdain.”

“Beijing seeks the wellbeing of all people on the Korean peninsula, regrets the Pyongyang incident, and calls for dialogue,” a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman says. The U.S. State Department has no comment but officials privately confess to a certain “schadenfreude” at Chinese difficulties.

These difficulties are not confined to Asia. A shadowy terrorist group called ARFAP (African Resources for African People) has just claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of 12 Chinese executives attending a Lusaka conference on copper extraction. Video has gone global showing the execution of two executives and threatening the murder of two more if China does not withdraw “from all predatory exploitation on the African continent.”

The United Nations Security Council (now down to four permanent veto-bearing members since the United States chose in 2037 to resign a position serving only for “sterile institutional haggling over faraway nations that do not need our counsel”) has been locked in discussion of the African crisis, but China is complaining of “paralysis.”

A State Department spokesman says, “We hope China finds a way to negotiate with ARFAP. War is never a good option. We also hope the Chinese brokered Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire in Gaza, which is unraveling, can be saved by Beijing.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are useful, provided that they refer exactly to the subject of the post, and present some relevant argument.
Comentários são bem-vindos, desde que relativos ao tema do post e apresentando argumentos substantivos.