Morning Report 7/12/05
The Empire Strikes Out

While the Bush regime sinks into Iraq quicksand, China and Russia remake the world order

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Cartoonist Twenty Nine's vision in this week's issue of the Black Commentator. Meanwhile, when it comes to global diplomacy, we're living by the sword and dying by it. So are our soldiers (1,755 as of 10 a.m. July 11) and Iraqi civilians (an estimated 22,000+).

GWOT happens, shit happens.

We're losing the battle in our self-described "Global War on Terror," but more importantly, the neocons are losing their war to remake the world.

Typical of its bungling, the Bush regime and its smug unilateralism have driven China and Russia closer together than they've been in decades, perhaps ever.

On July 1, Vladimir Putin and Hu Jintao, top dogs of the two authoritarian nations that are drifting slowly—slowly—toward democracy, signed a Joint Statement on the International Order of the 21st Century. It's more than just a piece of paper. Both China and Russia have made major moves in recent weeks to reclaim influence in Central Asia, and it's working. Why do you think Uzbek despot Islam Karimov is now trying to kick out our troops? Nanu-fucking-nanu: Looks like Robin Williams won't be paying any more visits to the troops at Karshi-Khanabad.

We're losing the Great Game—and this round of it had just barely begun.

My guess is that Hu Jintao's team is not only smarter and shrewder diplomatically than the one assembled by Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and Don Rumsfeld, but that it's even more conservative and better at bidness than the neocons or their pals.

Look at the Chinese company CNOOC's bid for Unocal, if you don't believe me. CNOOC's controversial bid, led by its chairman, Fu Chengyu, is backed by two sets of propagandists: the Chinese Communist Party and Texas's Akin Gump law firm. Hell, CNOOC seems to be run by a sharper crew of capitalists than the corrupt, bloated, corporate-welfare-fattened execs who run most U.S. firms. As a July 7 New York Times story by Joseph Kahn put it:

    CNOOC is unusually lean and profit-driven. It employs just over 2,500 people and offers few of the social perks, like schools, housing and hospitals, that bloat the budgets of most big government-run enterprises.

    The company's shares trade in Hong Kong. Outside directors on its board have a real say in the company's affairs, initially delaying its plans to buy Unocal for further study. Company managers hone their skills in partnerships with Western companies.

    Fu and CNOOC's public relations teams in Beijing, Hong Kong, Dallas and Washington have emphasized a commercial focus.

    "The idea of buying Unocal was purely initiated by our company," Fu said during an interview in his spacious office suite overlooking the diplomatic quarter of Beijing. "The idea did not come from the government, and not one cent of government money is involved in the deal."

China already has the creepy symbiotic relationship between government and business that the GOP and most Democratic pols hunger for and are driving us toward in the U.S. Face it: The Chinese are better capitalists than we are. That's pretty scary for our jobs and economy.

And you don't hear public bluster from Chinese government officials these days. None of this George W. Bush "not on my watch" bullshit.

During a July 7 press conference in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao (see photo below) had a fascinating exchange with a reporter that sheds light on China's sophisticated and newly jargon-free posture toward the U.S. and the rest of the world.

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Chinese Foreign Ministry

Liu points to a questioner during his July 7 press gaggle


This is a new generation of Chinese government officials. Here's the passage that piqued my interest:

    Q: The China-Russia Joint Statement talked about the international order. I sense that China and Russia wish to promote multilateralism in the world, which implies that unilateralism exists in the world. Can you tell us whether the document between China and Russia is targeted at any unilateralist country?

    Liu: As a matter of fact, you asked a self-evident question. Not only China and Russia, but also many other countries advocate multilateralism and a multi-polar world. We believe that the trend and process of multilateralism is an inevitable direction of the evolution of international order, and an important embodiment of more democratic international relations. Certainly, it will take a long and tortuous process.

No saber-rattling by Liu, you notice. Didn't mention the U.S. by name—maybe he had difficulty translating "neocon" into Mandarin. On the other hand, "multilateralism" just rolled off his tongue. None of the stilted "coalition of the willing" crap inflicted on us by the Bush regime.

Actions speak louder. China just played host to Condoleezza Rice, brokering talks with North Korea. To the west, China is reaching out assertively—not aggressively—to the Central Asian dictatorships.

In fact, China and Russia are the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a Central Asian combine whose four other members are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The SCO is a handy tool for China to use in bolstering its influence in Central Asia. Not to mention the SCO's size, which I will anyway: Three-fifths of Eurasia, a population of 1.455 billion—a quarter of the world's total.

Elsewhere, China's pouring money and talent into Venezuela and into Africa. China's already forgiven debts from many African nations. China's even talking with longtime rival India.

We're the most prominent country dropping bombs far from home on people of color. We're fucking up.

The Bush regime's dunderheaded diplomacy continued yesterday in Thailand, illustrating the point. As the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler reports, Condi Rice showed up in Thailand, after her trip to China, as a "goodwill visit" post-tsunami.

Turns out that this month is the annual ASEAN meeting, a "regular diplomatic stop" for Rice's predecessors, as Kessler puts it. So Rice is going, right? Wrong. Here's Kessler:

    For more than two decades, every secretary of state has attended important meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and Rice's choice—which she officially confirmed Monday—has been interpreted in the region as a major diplomatic snub. Her deputy, Robert B. Zoellick, will go instead, she said.

The State Department's transcript of Rice's July 11 press conference in Phuket shows that Kessler is doing his job:

    Q: Glenn Kessler, Washington Post. Madame Secretary, you are the first Secretary of State in more than two decades to skip the ASEAN Regional Forum. Many in the region are offended by this decision. Are you trying to send a signal that the possibility that Burma will chair ASEAN next year is unacceptable? And also there are many in the region that say that the Thaksin Government has been an enabler and supporter of the Burmese regime. Do you agree with that assessment? And do you believe that they need to do more?

    SECRETARY RICE: Well, on the first question about ASEAN, I have made clear my deep interest in and engagement with ASEAN, as has the United States. And let me just note the President has himself met with ASEAN leaders on a couple of occasions at other summits. I, myself, met, I think, 10 days ago or so ago with ASEAN officials who were gathered in the United States. Of course, one reason that I wanted to come here to Thailand, in addition to working on our very strong bilateral relationship, is that Thailand is our dialogue partner for ASEAN. And so we have had a discussion of ASEAN.

    I'm very sorry that I'm not going to be able to go to the ASEAN summit this year and to the ARF [ASEAN's special group on security and terrorism] because I think this is a vital organization with which we want to engage more. I do have other essential travel that I have to do in roughly the same time frame.

What bullshit! Whom does she think she's kidding? The ASEAN meeting is the kind of no-brainer thing that you go to. But the Bush regime's arrogance is out of control. Led by the stupidest president in our history, the Bush regime thinks everyone else in the world is stupid. How stupid is that?

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