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January 20, 2011

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Danube of Thought

I do not know why this event took place.

clarice

The Obamas seem to have a penchant for state dinners.No sense of protocol and crappy foreign policy, but they love those state dinners.
Why?
Do they feel these ceremonial black tie events will persuade us O is really presidential after all? Does Michelle just think this her path to history books describing her as a 2d Jackie Kennedy?

It's a mystery to me.

I can't imagine what we get from this.

Terry Gain

I love the caption. It's pure genius.

Terry Gain

Clarice

It's their time to hold the brass ring. Their sense of entitlement is a profound as their lack of bona fides. They will take whatever this sucker nation gives them. And smile as liberals assuage their collective guilt.

Thomas Collins

It is of no interest to me where Hu ranks in some poll of most powerful folks in the world. What is of concern me is how Obama's international chess game is in general, and how it is going to respond to China's totally understandable desire to become ascendant in the international arena, both economically and militarily. My greatest concern is that Obama's international chess game is still clouded (although perhaps less so than in Jan. of 2009) by the notion that the maintenance of a strong US military force (for example, by focusing on upgrading the capability of our nukes and continuing aggressive development of defensive weapons) may be a threat to world stability.

It is of continuing amazement to me that many supposedly intelligent folks fail to recognize that the international system is essentially a dog eat dog system the stability of which depends on modes and orders grounded in brute force (whether of one or two hegemons or of a several hegemon system). Talk about the triumph of hope over experience.

MarkO

He's just not that smart.

Army of Davids

irony

The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner host for dinner they guy who is holding the 2010 Noble Peace Prize winner in jail.

A little material for Jon Stewart.

Jane

Obama's favorability ratings are about 15 points higher than Reagan's were at this point in his administration.

Threadkiller

--"...neither exactly commanding the stage in their home countries."--

It might be tough on Obama since Michelle says ">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLDHDfPNBME"> “Barack's Home Country Is Kenya”

Stupidamericansouranswerisweaponswhenitshit

They love state dinners to humiliate america.See its not our fault.I dont think she groped him like the queen,but he was ahead and it had to run........

Mustang0302

Not mine, but still funny: "Last year's Nobel Peace Prize laureate holds a fancy dinner for the thug who's got this year's Laureate in prison."

Nothing to see here, keep moving along. Ooh, look! We get to keep the pandas!

A bet: Rep. Giffords recovers quicker and more fully from the grievous wounds she sustained than that Fuller moonbat with his "GSWs to the knee and back."

And with her pride and dignity intact.

Any takers?

squaredance

Here is a good take on it.

Jane (sit on the couch or save your country)

Obama served a wine at the dinner that cost $100 a glass.

Captain Hate

That wine's a bargain compared to the lease terms for the pandas.

Whaddya bet they didn't offer him a hit on the peace pipe.

One wonders what and where the Chinese sneaked to smoke after dinner. They are tobacco and wine ophiles.
====================

anduril

I don't read Krugman often, but I read his entire article today: China Has Fallen Into a Monetary Muddle.

One thing that puzzles me is all this talk about China being an economic "superpower." It seems true that China has, for most of history, been the biggest economy in the world and is heading in that direction once again. That bears out Huntington's views on China, as far as that goes. But Huntington also maintains, for reasons given (it's too high maintenance, geographically speaking), that China has been and always will be a poor country with a wealthy minority. China may be hard to ignore, because of its sheer size, but to me it's arguable whether it's somehow irreplaceable (at least in a relative sense) as a true "superpower" would be. It's not like it's leading the world in innovations--it's the world's sweatshop.

anduril

While we're on the subject, John Diamond (author of "The CIA and the Culture of Failure: U.S. Intelligence From the End of the Cold War to the Invasion of Iraq") has an interesting article re the first Gulf War: Gulf Gap. He points out that the CIA estimates in three categories were totally wrong, and that for the Iraq war they pretty much just reversed their estimates and were wrong again. There are counter arguments to that assessment, but it's a pretty fair debating point. He ends, however, with this call to reassessment:

The Persian Gulf War liberated a small country from a brutal occupation. It restored America's confidence in its military. And it upheld the fundamental principle that international aggression should meet with international opposition. But its longer-term legacy is deeply mixed.

It spawned a library of histories and memoirs published in the aftermath of the coalition's victory. Two decades later, with U.S. forces still deeply embedded in Iraq, and with Islamic enemies determined to force the United States out of the Middle East, the Persian Gulf War is ripe for another look.

My view is that that's probably a bit simple, but it's one way to start.

anduril

Also, Heritage Foundation has a fairly lengthy but readable assessment of the Chinese economy: China Grows 10 Percent Again: Is This Believable?

NK

I have a bunch of work to do, but I must comment again-- Anduril-- who are you and what have you done with AnDrool? Lucid comments about Left Wing hypocracy, food plans and now the Middle Kingdom. WHERE IS ANDROOL! I DEMAND PROOF HE IS UNHARMED!

As to China. She will be the 'largest' economy in the world because of her size, but never per capita. China for millennia has be governed by wealthy mandarins and populated by mass peasants. That remains the same today, except they are called 'brigadier generals' and 'migrant workers'. But make no mistake, modern Chinese mandarins are mercantilists and desire world economic power, not just power over their peasant countrymen. They are a danger to free markets, free labor, and freedom itself. Work with the dragon, but work with other pacific nations -- especially India-- to keep the dragon in its lair.

NK

...work with other pacific and asian nations--especially India--

anduril

NK, if you liked that stuff you'll luv this one: China – A Paper Tiger: Hu Jintao's visit showcases American cluelessness about China. The author goes after the whole spectrum of uniformed US opinion on China, from Right to Left--or Left to Right, depending on where you jump in.

As to your affected surprise and concern--you just haven't been paying attention.

anduril

NK, I disagree to some extent. I can readily agree that China is a menace to its near neighbors--e.g., North Korea, Tibet, Vietnam. However, the inherent costs of maintaining stability within China have always discouraged China from foreign adventurism. That's Huntington's view and one that I share. His chapter on China is one of his best.

narciso

You were doing so well, Mark, and then you relapsed. China is certainly a rising power,
like Wilhemine Germany with 20 times the population. Their military is funded in large part from their exports to us. It's
likely resource competition, will force us into a military confrontation, sooner rather than later.

NK

Narciso-- I am far less pessimistic that military confrontation will result, especially from 'resource competition'. Too complicated a subject to discuss here, but one thing you may want to think about. demographics. China's rapid industrialization and the policies of the mandarin dictators has coverted 500 million rural peasants into itinerant industrial workers who have purchasing power and aspirations for their children, but at the same time the same mandarin mercantilist policies are impoverishing those new income earning workers --dollar peg causing inflation. The result is a birthrate cratering to Japan, Italy and S. Korea levels, well below replacement and a rapidly aging population. What will the mandarins do with those 500 million elderly workers in 20-30 years? No one can know, but it certainly will be a different China than today.

narciso

Doesn't mean they'll succeed either, NK, but look at the gender imbalance precipitated by their family policies,

Captain Hate

O/T It's as cold as an ex-wife's heart in NE Ohio today. Good thing for global warming climate change or it'd be *really* frigid.

anduril

NK, re "purchasing power," you'll want to read this: The Last Chinese Banking Crisis Actually WAS Painful, And The Next Will Be Worse. The author, Michael Pettis, is a professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, where he specializes in Chinese financial markets, and a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

NK

Last thing on this thread then I have to finish work: China-- a vast complicated society. But as far as America is concerned, we have to watch the mandarin elites. They are xenophobic (racist in fact) and power hungry and they have a lot of cash. They also have a HUGE tolerance for the economic and physical pain of the hundreds of millions of modern Chinese peasants who support their mercantile system and the mandarins keep the peasants in line with a combination of state power (cops), financial bribes (increased income) and national/ethnic pride. The mandarins are dangerous, and the US has to lead a coalition of the Euros, Anglosphere (UK, Canada, Australia, NZ and Singapore) and India to convince the mandarins that an expanding world economic pie is best for all, and that means no mandarin hegemony.
Your Sources: prof. pettis knows what he's talking about, the Raimondo guy has most of the facts right, but his Lefty conclusions are of course largely wrong.

Jim,MtnViewCA,USA

From instapundit, one measure of the value of the Hu visit in terms of trade orders:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2013975730_chinaorder20.html?prmid=related_stories_section
A White House fact sheet released Wednesday... said: "In preparation for this visit, several large purchases have been approved including for 200 Boeing airplanes. ... The approval, the final step in a $19 billion package of aircraft, will help Boeing maintain and expand its market share in the world's fastest growing commercial aircraft market."

The deal President Hu signed does not include any new jet orders....all of the airplanes in the sale were announced and booked by Boeing as firm orders over the past four years. Chinese airlines had already paid nonrefundable deposits and signed contracts for the jets, most of them as far back as 2007...The White House announcement said the total value of the orders was $19 billion. But that's the list price, which airline customers never pay.
Based on market data from aircraft-valuation consultancy Avitas, the actual price for those 200 planes is about $11 billion.

anduril

NK, good for you if you at least glanced through Raimondo. And even better if you understand the value of reading people with whom you're not in lockstep. I'm not an apologist for Raimondo, but your characterization of his conclusion

Far from a looming giant whose shadow threatens our own delusions of grandeur, China’s ruling elite is beleaguered on all sides, barely able to ride the tiger of popular moods and constantly in fear of some massive upheaval that will undo all the patient work of the post-Mao era. China, in short, is a paper tiger, from which we have little to fear – except insofar as we insist on creating an enemy of our own making.

as "Lefty" is, I think inaccurate. His conclusion largely mirrors the views of Samuel Huntington. It's one thing to be wary of the "mandarins," as we should be, and to cooperate with other nations vis a vis China with regard to our own as well as our common interests. It's another thing entirely to make of them some sort of global threat boogey man, which they needn't really be. "Paper Tiger" may be rhetorically too strong, but "superpower" is equally wide of the mark.

Rob Crawford

Someone's citing Justin Raimondo?

That pansy got his shorts in a wad over a toy a number of years back. He'd only be worth taking seriously if he painted his face and joined a circus.

NK

Raimondo's poo-pooing mandarin mercantilistic imperialism is far more naive than realistic. An obvious example-- the Party is FAR more likely to manipulate the masses by whipping up nationalistic and xenophobic support for foreign adventurism as times get tougher for the masses in China, than it is to withdraw from intervention to make the masses happy. The Party uses the masses as grist for the mandarins' mill, so the masses demanding more comfort and causing stress on the regime is more likely to have international repurcusions than Chinese tranquility, so raimondo has that conclusion backwards. That's what Lefties do with facts, the draw they wrong conclusions.

anduril

I'm very much aware of the cynical uses to which the CCP puts nationalism and xenophobia. OTOH, if you read Chinese history--in particular for the last less than 200 years--you'll see there's a logical explanation for Chinese feelings. We'd be pretty damn suspicious if we'd been subjected to anything remotely like what the Chinese people have suffered through. True, they made some bad choices, partly as a result of being woefully unprepared intellectually for their encounter with the Western world and Western ideologies--look at the damage modern ideologies did in the West that gave birth to them. Is it any wonder the effect they had in China? And, in fact, Chinese are typically far less xenophobic than some of our Asian allies, like Japan.

Based on the historical record, I'd say Raimondo has pretty reasonable grounds for being skeptical re Chinese foreign adventurism. Moreover, Chinese capabilities are pretty suspect, as well. Of course we need to be prepared, but Raimondo's correct that hysteria is not warranted. Moreover, if the economic shit hits the fan in China, I believe the CCP will have their hands far too full dealing with the populace to embark on foreign adventures.

matt

Hu represents the Chinese state and the small clique at the top that runs the country. Just as we used to have Kremlin watchers, we also have Forbidden City watchers to suss out the inner dynamics of the ruling class.

However, we really don't hear much about Sinologists anymore, do we? One might classify Friedman as one these days despite his utter incompetence. So where are the grown ups?

China is a consensus driven society and thus cannot be analogous to our own political structure. It is also a three ring circus, thus the phrase "Chinese fire drill".

Having spent a good portion of my career doing business there, I find them much like Americans in their humanity, but their rules are not our rules. IP is a gift from God (or Mao), and most deals are agreements to agree for as long as it is convenient.

This also applies on the macro scale.Thus treaties are a tool. In fact, we are the same in this regard in many ways. Our national interests come first, unless of course you are a schmo like Obama or Carter.

Much of this week's hoopla was simple kabuki. Hu wanted us to grovel a bit, and Obama obliged.

The world order has changed. Taiwan has effectively been coopted by China as it has invested billions upon billions on the mainland. Japan is deeply concerned on a visceral level, and they are afraid we might write them off or that we are now a toothless tiger. Of course they don't know how to act on this scenario, yet....

China are now the driving force in international trade whether we like it or not. We are still number 1, but they're gaining fast and are scooping up ports and mineral rights and huge swathes of farmland to feed themselves. We are watching the rise of a new empire, and it is an empire.

Hu represents the Central Committee and as such is the face of the decision making matrix. In a sense, we are still dealing with the mandarins who are jockeying for position. It was the same under Mao with the Gang of Four and their opponents. Only the names change in the game of power politics.

Ain't goin' back, neither.  Got to go find Marco Polo, wherever the Hell he went.

A Catholic savant once took the standing Chinese Buddhist Pantheon and gave every character an analogous place in the Christian Pantheon? It would have made an apt and tremendously powerful device, but it was rejected within the Vatican as demonic.
===============

Enlightened

"Obama's favorability ratings are about 15 points higher than Reagan's were at this point in his administration."

Of course they are - he received the wished-for national tragedy, the pollsters skew in his favor and he has a corrupt media machine at his back.

Inappropriately, usually.

Sometimes I even question myself.
===============

NK

Matt- thanks for the insight. I guess the China as "benign" empire case is best made by pointing out China is using its current account surpluses in order to buy up ports and farmland which are necessary long term assets, before those reserves have to be spent in 20 years on an aging population and when desertification further cuts down on domestic food production. But that case does not explain balistic missle development and anti US surface ship capabilities. Even pantywaist CJC Mullen recognizes Chinese military development is geared directly at keeping the US out of the Western Pacific. I have a hard time accepting the logic of a benign empire case.

glasater

Can't remember who said it but there was a US diplomat or some such that was a Sino specialist--saying China is a huge joke.

Tanker or transport pilots, I believe.

They have female astronauts.
==============

anduril

NK, this isn't black and white. You don't have to regard China as "benign" to question the basis for some of the hysteria we've been hearing. And Matt is right about the humanity of the Chinese people. They're very proud of their civilization, but they're not the crazed xenophobes that some portray them to be.

lyle

Obama served a wine at the dinner that cost $100 a glass.

NightTrain has a grand cru/classified growth?

matt

it some Washington State swill no less....obviously they bought it based on price. Not that I am biased in any way.

Uh, they can be crazed xenophobes as well. Ask the Japanese every time one of them is walking through some regional town when the Chinese government decides to create an incident with the Senkaku islands.Or when they hold major demonstrations against their own human rights activists or beat up reporters trying to interview a Nobel Laureate. All part and parcel of a very complex people.

NK

Matt-- I would characterize Chinese nationalism/xenophobia/racism as follows: given the rapid development in the last 30 years and great national wealth that has been created, it is understandable even justified. However, compared to the average American/Euro/Japanese man in the street? Chinese/Han nationalism/racism is OFF THE CHARTS, maybe dangerously off the charts. We'll see

anduril

Ask the Japanese...

There is some history there, after all. If the Japanese had actually invaded the US and inflicted a proportionate amount of death, destruction and general suffering and inhumanity I suspect we be more understanding of Chinese attitudes. Especially given the refusal of many Japanese (including government officials) to face up to what they did.

glasater

One of those "swill" wines was indeed from my part of the state.

Poet's Leap is a very nice company. Don't know how much the wine costs around here though.
We have well over one hundred wineries and most of them are hurting big time!

anduril

NK, show me those charts. I can't believe you're unaware of Japanese attitudes toward foreigners.

maryrose

Obamas continue to waste ans spend our money on pomp and circumstance,
OT: I turned 61 yesterday and somehow I feel more like 41. What a difference 20 years can make. Here's hoping on Jan. 20th 2013 we will inaugurate someone of the Republican party.

matt

xenophobia and racism are part and parcel of the North Asian psyche.China, Korea, and Japan are ethnocentric to the point of mania at times.

3 days ago I was in Tokyo on my own for a night and was refused service in a restaurant for being a gaijin. As I speak "point and mimic" as well as most, I was pretty ticked off, as it looked pretty good. But then after so many years I'm used to it.

The whole invading each other and wiping out foreigners and kowtowing thing has something to do with it, I believe. I'm glad I'm a pure American. Yellow devils....

NK

Japanese today-- even a guy selling fish in the market are far more cosmopolitan than virtually any corresponding Chinese. Compared to American/Euros Japanese are far more nationalistic and ethnically chauvenistic. However, the Chinese Han are far more nationalistic/chauvenistic than the Japanese, that's the point. Western Lefties who project their own racial "tolerance" on the Chinese Han are making a huge mistake.

anduril

OK, matt, but when was the last time you were refused service in China? I'll admit, I can see it happening, but not as easily as in Japan. But China "off the charts" compared to Japan? That's hard to see. I'm not special pleading for the Chinese in particular, just urging a balanced view.

matt

I'm teasing about the wine, glas.....You know us Californios.....inordinately proud of a monolithic wine culture...cab's, merlots, pinot's and chards when the Italians have 1,300 different grapes under viticulture....

It just doesn't feel the same wearing a beret and being trendy in Snohomish....

NK

Matt-- I'll send you an email about -- what I think anyway-- is a hilarious story of a 9 day trip I took to Japan with US Middle School students-- my daughter included. Oi -- talk about the twains not meeting.

anduril

I hope you're not projecting Lefty views on me, and I'm not projecting such tolerance as I may have on the Chinese. What I'm saying is that Chinese ethnocentrism--which I've acknowledged several times--is unlikely to translate into foreign adventurism: 1) because it never has in the past in any significant way, and 2) the common people are far more likely to turn on their own government--as has happened frequently enough in the past. News accounts of China--outside the main cities--are full of accounts of unrest and rioting. It won't be easy for the government to deflect public unrest if things go south economically, and Hu and his gang know it. That's why wealthy Chinese like to have second homes here.

glasater

Heh Matt! I see you've been to Snohomish:)

California has the most consistently best wine in the world--no doubt about it.

matt

no way...I give that to Italy hands down. There are some pretty bad California wines like a lot of the Gallo product.

There is a special section in the Catholic book of sins (Italian chapter) making it a mortal sin to sell bad wine in Italy. However, if they sell it to the French there is a special plenary indulgence.

We were in a village in the Italian mountains not far from Monte Cassino a couple of years ago. I was doing a battlefield survey (Romans v Sabines and Allies v Germans), and were famished.

Found a roadside salumeria/deli where they were selling the local plonk for 1.5 Euros/liter out of 30 gallon Igloo containers; bring your own bottle. The Aglianico was to die for, and the Primitivo the same. We figured we could retire and stay soused for the rest of our lives for somewhere around $10K.

Just about anywhere you go in Italy the wines are of an incredible quality and value except the Super Tuscans and ultra vintages here and there, which are stratospherically priced.

California wines can be excellent, but with good land at exorbitant prices, this is reflected in the price of the wine. That and there are a lot of prima donnas who like to outduel each other on price and snobbery.

Frau Sowienoch

"And, in fact, Chinese are typically far less xenophobic than some of our Asian allies, like Japan."

I don't feel the love being called a "ghost" by some Chinese." Of course, I get my info from SF literature.

anduril

ghost, paleskin, what's the diff? big nose is another term, or round eye. but they call the japs pirate dwarves from the east.

heh. i once showed an article to a chinese friend about how japs are now taller than the chinese. she went totally ballistic: that's not true! that's not possible!

but it is true, which is why the government is trying to encourage milk consumption as an easy way to get more protein and, hopefully, more height. or at least enough extra height to overtake the pirate dwarves from the east.

but, hey, i see plenty of racist slurs on this forum.

anduril

there's plenty of good euro wine that's relatively inexpensive. my problem with california wine is there's too much to sort through easily and the good stuff's too expensive anyway. people give me what they tell me is good stuff, but i mostly don't like it. however, my brother gave me a california sangiovese that i thought was good.

glasater

Matt--Many winemakers in our area make a pilgrimage of sorts to Italy to try and replicate their wines.

Ignatz

--We were in a village in the Italian mountains not far from Monte Cassino a couple of years ago.--

Hey, matt what is left there?
My dad's planes bombed the heck out of it and he still regretted the orders, forty years later.

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