Monday, December 28, 2009

Is China the new America?

In the good old days, back at the end of the last millennium, the coming century was supposed to be the New American Century. The neoconservatives of the "Project for a new American Century (PNAC)" boldly held forth in their signature document, Rebuilding America's Defenses, that globalization behooved the US to institute a Pax Americana, (re)armed to the teeth. This was in September 2000. If only the American public could be persuaded to spend the money. All that was required was "some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor". A year later, on September 11, 2001, President Bush was to write in his White House diary; "The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today."

Ten years later the PNAC website, is defunct, its domain name for sale. It's topics though can still be seen on Google, like fragments of a dream; "A neoconservative organization supporting greater American militarization, challenging hostile governments, advancing democratic and economic freedom, ..." In December 2009, after the turbulent Copenhagen environmental conference that saw China, not the US, calling the shots, it is widely held that China is the new America.

Since 9/11 the US has spent more than $850 billion on the Iraq and Afghan wars, plus $12.8 trillion bailing out businesses following the vaporising of its own economy. On the credit side it reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2.2% in 2008. China on the other hand increased its GHG by about 11% in 2008 and has earned 60 trillion since 2000.

So what can we expect from China? Some have been arguing that it's time for people to take charge of policies covering science, technology and the environment, and this may be possible in a democracy. But China isn't a democracy. More like wage slavery, of which western "greed is good" advocates can't get enough. Should democracies refuse to trade with China until it is liberated? Fat chance.

Will the people of China turn away from their autocratic regime? Perhaps, but not tomorrow. After all, Machiavelli said "one of the most efficacious remedies that a prince can have against conspiracies is not to be hated and despised by the people". And did not Jackie Chan, star of Rumble in the Bronx and Shanghai Noon say "we Chinese need to be controlled." In fact Chinese society has been managed continuously longer than any other, and world-wide respect for its gift of Yin and Yang endures.

Hmm. Wasn't it China that decreed families can only have one child? That policy has roughly halved their birthrate since the 1980s. China's GHG emissions have increased 120% since 2000, compared to 13% for the US. Pointing fingers at developed nations as a rationalization for not curbing emissions is the easy way out, and an un-Chinese activity. Other nations did not force China to curb its birthrate, China made that tough choice all on its own. Halving GHGs could be done the same way.

How about it, China? Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
(video - China demands apology at Bali)
Escaping the progress trap

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