The world is turning but not in our favor

Responding to one of my bottled messages, an ol’ B-school sectionmate of mine garnished his return email with a poem that includes the lines:

“Will señor tell me of my future?”
Her future is all too clear — it has been decided in Berlin.

Which was a bit puzzling until I happened upon Stephan Richter’s piece in the Globalist, “Germany and China: The New Special Relationship”:

Now that the German Chancellor (Angela Merkel) is once again visiting China, accompanied by scores of her top ministers and an outsized contingent of CEOs, the world is beginning to take note.

The Chinese are extremely meticulous when it comes to symbolic moves and announcements. Every step they take, especially regarding expressing favor or disfavor, is calculated to the nth degree. Such is the hallmark of a highly refined, court-centered political culture that reaches back thousands of years.

Thus, when the two countries announced two years ago — in July 2010, during Angela Merkel’s fourth visit to China as German Chancellor — that that they would start a strategic dialogue, it was a significant event.

At the time, most of the world did not notice that the Chinese leadership had just anointed a nation other than the United States the privileged status of conducting a “strategic dialogue.”

That image of things being “decided in Berlin” came even more clearly into focus when next I spied what Ambrose Evans-Pritchard had to say in the Telegraph about ECB goings-on:

The European Central Bank’s ground-breaking plan for mass purchases of Spanish and Italian bonds is fraught with political risk and may soon be overwhelmed by nationalist anger in the crisis states, leading economists and statesmen warned at a gathering of the European policy elites in Italy.


Professor Roubini said the German Bundesbank and will insist that “severe” conditions are imposed on Spain once the country requests a rescue from the eurozone EFSF/ESM bail-out funds and signs a memorandum ceding budgetary sovereignty.

“Plenty of accidents can still occur. There is austerity fatigue in the periphery and bail-out fatigue in the core. Eveybody is restless,” he said at the Ambrosetti forum at Lake Como.

It is unclear whether Madrid will accept conditions harsh enough to satisfy hardliners in the German parliament, which must sign off on any new rescue programme.

There’s that darn Berlin going ahead and deciding again.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S.A., we were, understandably, focusing on our upcoming election where this past week’s spotlight shone upon the Democrat’s dog ‘n’ phony show. Putting such distraction aside as much as possible, I did my weekly checkout of Bill Gertz’s “Inside the Ring” column wherein I discovered:

Romney’s policy liberals

Several conservatives who sat in on closed-door meetings at last week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., came away worried by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s foreign and defense policies.

Of particular concern were statements by Richard Williamson, a former ambassador who was introduced as the top adviser on foreign policy, and former Sen. Jim Talent, the senior defense adviser who in several meetings asserted that Russia is the United States’ “main geopolitical foe.”

By contrast, the advisers described the strategic threat from China as a less-threatening, manageable trade, currency and intellectual-property challenge.(Oh, really?)

Both advisers spoke about Mr. Romney’s Asia policy and were critical of the Obama administration’s new, tougher China policy, called the Asia “pivot,” which seeks to bolster U.S. military forces and build up alliances in the region to counter China’s growing military power and regional aggressiveness.

The advisers said the rebalancing toward Asia is a mistake and that Mr. Romney will not agree to support it as president. Mr. Talent, in one meeting, described the Asia pivot as a “fig leaf” with no substance.

It is true that China is not our only foreign policy concern and this was recently made ever more obvious by Michael Ledeen when he said:

As I’ve written at considerable length, Russia is part of a global alliance aimed at us. Putin et. al. are in cahoots with Khamanei, Chavez, the Chinese, Bolivians, Ecuadorians, Nicaraguans and North Koreans and of course Assad. The Russians don’t have much of an army, but they are helping the terror masters arm and train our would-be assassins. And they work very closely with the Iranians, especially on intelligence matters. A few years ago I was told by an official of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry that if we wanted to understand what the regime was up to, we had to look carefully at the Russian connection. I took him seriously (he was very precise and very accurate, and eventually the regime killed him), and ever since our conversation I’ve sniffed about, trying to figure out what the Russians are up to. . .

That certainly doesn’t let China off the hook. But, could refuge from the uncertainties and dangers of the outside world be found in the proclamations and speechifyin’ wafting out of the Democratic convention? After all, a goodly number of Americans are distracted by political circus as well as our potentially suicidal fiscal/economic shenanigans. Perhaps Mark Steyn can enlighten:

Any space aliens prowling through the rubble of our civilization and stumbling upon a recording of the convention compatible with Planet Zongo DVD players will surely marvel at the valuable peak airtime allotted to Sandra Fluke. It was weird to see her up there among the governors and senators — as weird as Bavarians thought it was when King Ludwig decided to make his principal advisor Lola Montez, the Irish-born “Spanish dancer” and legendary grande horizontale. I hasten to add I’m not saying Miss Fluke is King Barack’s courtesan. For one thing, it’s a striking feature of the Age of Perfected Liberalism that modern liberals talk about sex 24/7 while simultaneously giving off the persistent whiff that the whole thing’s a bit of a chore. Hence, the need for government subsidy. And, in fairness to Miss Montez, she used sex to argue for liberalized government, whereas Miss Fluke uses liberalism to argue for sexualized government.

No, no refuge there. No solace for those of us with extra-national concerns was to be found at the convention. Only distraction. On the other hand, establishment Republicans, including senior Romney policy advisors, appear to be as patriotically self-distractive as their GOP predecessors. Oh, well, there’s always 2016 — if we’re still around at the time.

The Germans proclaim “Deutschland über alles!” Wonder what the equivalent expression is in Mandarin?


P.S. New linking style stolen from Remus at the WoodpileReport. Much neater. However, IMHO, the suggestion of always linking to a single-page format doesn’t necessarily work well at times.

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