By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Revised for October 22, 2007
While the U.S. has been tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan, Russia and China have surged ahead economically, militarily and as “super powers” with immense wealth and global influence.
Moreover, China and Russia have strengthened their strategic relationship and cooperation in opposition to the United States.
Like the giant Gulliver from “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift, the U.S. has seemed at times “tied down” by the little people. Now, with oil prices rising, some economists are saying “The ‘R’ Word” (recession) for the near-term U.S. economy.
Meanwhile, Russia and China are flush with petro-dollars and not looking back. Militarily, Russia and China conducted, for the second straight year, unprecedented joint military training exercises. And diplomatically, Russia and China have thwarted attempts by the U.S., U.K. and others to stifle Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Huge trade surpluses have swelled the foreign exchange reserves of China and Russia as they export more manufactured goods and produce more oil.
Now globalization faces a real test: the rapid rise of state-run investment arms by China, Russia and other cash-rich nations.
|Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
Владимир Владимирович Путин
Strangely, against all this as a backdrop, in the presidential primary debates to date there seems to be more interest in social issues like gay marriage, healthcare and immigration. While these and other issues are important they ignore the elephant in the living room: the world’s only super power has re-invigorated rivals of the most dangerous sort.
Newt Gingrich has spoken eloquently about the future of America on a grand scale but he has already excused himself from consideration for the White House. The others, it seems to us, have been too silent on the bigger issues of the world.
At the G-7 meetings this past weekend finance chiefs planned to ask China and other nations to give more data on state-run fund activities.
These countries want to earn better returns on their massive currency reserves, but some in the West fear sovereign wealth funds may try to control strategic assets or invest for geopolitical reasons. The Group of Seven nations — the U.S., Japan, U.K., Canada, France, Germany and Italy asked China re-value its currency – and idea rebuffed before.
The deputy governor of the Chinese central bank, Wu Xiaoling, insisted that Beijing was moving to reform its exchange rate mechanism.
“Moving the exchange rates in the absence of economic restructuring policies will hurt China,” Wu told a forum at the Peterson Institute of International Economics.
“Since China is one of the driving forces of the global economy, this will accordingly hurt the global economy. Therefore China’s authorities decided to reform the foreign exchange regime in a controlled manner on its own initiative and in a gradual fashion.”
In other words, we’ll restructure when we want because what is good for China is good for the global economy.
This past year has been a banner year for China and new trade initiatives.
President Hu Jintao has personally led the charge, visiting and striking deals in several African countries. Not to be outdone, Russia’s President Putin has been on the road too – including to Iran in a landmark visit.
Chris Buckley of Reuters wrote on October 21, 2007, “Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong retired from the Communists’ upper ranks on Sunday, bolstering Party boss Hu Jintao’s grip on power and clearing the way for a younger generation of potential successors.”
Putin and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made it clear there is no room for others seeking Caspian Sea resources.
Vladimir Putin is set to step down as President of Russia but news reports paint the picture of a man seeking tremendous behind the scenes influence once he is no longer heading the Kremlin.
Putin has also created a new nationalism in his “Nashi” youth cult – a sort of recreation of the communists summer training camps of the Lenin years.
Putin’s Nashi manifesto states, “Today the U.S. on one side, and international terrorism on the other, are trying to take control of Eurasia and the entire world. Their sights are set on Russia. The task of our generation is to defend the sovereignty of our country the way our grandfathers did 60 years ago.”
Militarily, Russia has again commenced bomber patrols and surveillance of U.S. bases and China is embarked upon a secret restructuring and rebuilding of its military.
Meanwhile, the U.S. fights the war against terror or sleeps – depending upon one’s point of view.
Next year is likely to be China’s year as Beijing hosts the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Those seeking the U.S. presidency should start to formulate and articulate their strategies now on how to deal with a resurgent Russia and a burgeoning China.
Wikipedia says Gulliver’s Travels (1726, amended 1735), officially “Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts, By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships,” is a novel by Jonathan Swift that is both a satire on human nature and a parody of the “travellers’ tales” literary sub-genre.