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One World – An Ostrich Approach Won’t Cut it, “America First Means America Last”

September 29, 2020

Earth Day, April 2017. Denver, Colorado

Friends… the U.S. – it is not just Trump – has, over the past two decades in particular, pushed China and Russia into a stronger strategic alliance that will not just reshape their relationship – but, melodramatic as it might appear – the world as a whole. It results from bipartisan American bullying, the vilification of the leaders of both countries, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, a policy of surrounding both countries will military bases and engaging in all kinds of disruptive activities.

In this period after the collapse of the USSR and E. European Communism, when, had the U.S. used the power that it had judiciously, it could both avoided the precipitous decline we are now facing. It’s decline could have been graceful, manageable and lasted centuries – no world power lasts forever – instead it is graceless, a danger to itself, its citizenry and the rest of the world – on a road to nowhere. Leading the charge for the moment, one Donald Trump who has done untold damage to an already ailing body politic, both domestically and globally. If Trump remains in power, the dangerous circus will continue; if defeated – as hopefully will happen – it, the circus, will continue as well, but at a slower, somewhat more manageable and humane pace.

Keep taking potshots at Russia, Putin; keep attacking China for its human rights shortcomings, magnified beyond reality when it comes to both Hong Kong and the Xighurs. China and Russia will deal with their own human rights shortcomings. We’ve got a circus of shortcomings here in the USA to address. People in glass houses…

Beyond the fact that it either exaggerates or actually fabricates false scenarios concerning both country, these character assassinations have another disturbing consequence: they crminalize detente, making it difficult or impossible for any mainstream politican to pursue serious dialogue, certainly with Russia and more and more with China over issues of climate change, the nuclear arms race, or our more immediate global problem: defeating the global COVID-19 pandemic

“America First” means America last…

I know that generally Americans, friends included, don’t follow foreign affairs that much and as a result, swallow the mainstream cool aid as to what is going on. Certainly foreign policy is hardly an issue in the coming election. This is typical too. Yet we live in one, interconnected world and need to know about what is happeing abroad – and care about the fate of people everywhere, not only because we influence their fate and they ours… but because it is the right thing to do.

My whole life has been swimming upstream against “the tide.” When U.S. capitalism was on the rise in the 1950s and 1960s,  at an early age – and without much or any of a political analysis – all I knew that is that the scramble for material wealth was empty and shallow and turned good people into something less – Arthur Miller, the playwright, (that my mother tells me she once dated – but didn’t like because as she said, he was “too smart”) got it right. Read any of his plays, but “All My Sons” would be a good one to start with.

And today, our country is experiencing a paroxism (look it up) of patriotism.; and again I cannot relate as both Democrats and Republicans compete with one another as to which is more patriotic; and the way that this patriotism is framed becomes increasingly narrow, bigoted and jingoistic. As the United States becomes more “patriotic,” – I believe “selfish” would be more accurate – I become less so, more of a global citizen, more radical.

My personal sentiments aside, without a general understanding of what’s going on in the world outside the cocoon called the United States of America, a self-contained intellectual bubble,  – in a general way, the world will, like a boomerang, come back to hit us all in the side of the head. One of the most significant changes in the world today is the reconciliation between Russia and China. Under intense pressure from the United States (and its allies), these two great nations (and that they are historically) are finding each other once again after a long estrangement.

In the last century Russia was the senior, China the junior partner. That relatioship has reversed; the Soviet efforts at reform – for all its good intentions – Gorbachev’s “perestroika” and “glasnost” failed. The Chinese learned a great deal from the Soviet collapse and their reforms have been – not with problems admittedly – but still, a tremendous success by any measurement, and will continue be so.

Let us be frank, as long as post-Communist Russia was led by a U.S. supported drunken idiot, Boris Yelstin, who ran his country into the ground to the degree that in the late 1990s it nearly imploded, guided by the mis-concepts of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund – “America” – with very few exceptions, celebrated the Russian reforms – ie, cheered its declined. Once Vladimir Putin came to power and helped pull Russia out of the abyss, taking control of a battered country and economy, Russia could do no right. In the meantime, pushed by Washington, NATO began encroaching closer and closer to Russia’s borders with military bases, causing havoc in Russia’s periphery. Russia fought two painful crushing wars in the 20th Century to maintain a buffer zone between itself and W. Europe only to see it slip away with the NATO orgy of military build up closer and closer to Moscow.

As for China, it’s post 1948 history for the next thirty years is filled with turbulence and mismanagement, Thirty years of political turmoil and economic stupidity followed. Mao Tse Tung might have been – he was – a great strategist for seizing political power from the likes of Chiang kai-Shek and U.S. supported nationalists, but like many Third World revolutionaries, once in power, frankly, he didn’t have a clue and nearly drove China into the ground. As is well known, the turn came in the late 1970s, when Mao had finally “passed from the scene.” A combination of a mixed state run and market-oriented economy, directed by a single Communist (at least in name) Party followed. Studied from any perspective, it shapes up as one of the greatest success stories in world history. Hyperbole? Check it out. As long as Washington et. al were under the illusion that they could “manage” the Chinese Renaissance – and profit from it – offering a breathtaking entry into Peking’s domestic markets, “they” – the world capitalist class – was content. But as in the Russian case, Washington lost control. Actually that is inaccurate, they never controlled the Chinese reforms in the first place. 

China and Russia have found each other once again. Of course given the vagueries of history, one never knows if this strategic alliance will last – but all indications from where I am sitting are that not only will it last, but that the world as a whole will be better off as a result.

The world is changing. Washington is losing control. In fact, it’s lost it despite all its weapons, its sanctions, its military bases around the world. The article below, the first part of a series helps understand how so. The author might not be familar to you; he’s a retired Indian diplomat, M. K. Bhadrakumar. Not a lightweight. It should be read, discussed…

The Sino-Russian Alliance Coming of Age.

The Silk Road – Back In The Day…

One Comment leave one →
  1. William Conklin permalink
    September 29, 2020 9:39 am

    Good article, but the assumption that the United States is inside of an: “intellectual bubble” is quite optimistic. A more accurate statement would be that the United States is locked inside a cloud of “moronic, narcissistic, neo-liberal, colonial dogmatism.” The consumers of Network Television will not have the last-laugh.

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