Sunday, December 18, 2005

Left Behind: The Rapture Of Power

Seems that the Asian Century is being started without us.

Today, in Kuala Lumpur, a milestone is being set in Asia, one that will have a profound impact on the future of the region.

Leaders of 16 Asia Pacific countries are meeting in the first ever East Asia Summit (EAS) to define and chart the region’s role during the 21st century. Asia’s great economic and military powers -- China, Japan and India are present, so are the ten member nations of the Asean. The United States, which has always claimed to be a Pacific power and has deployed tremendous military firepower in the region to back that claim, is not. It was not invited.

But two of America’s lackeys or allies, Australia and New Zealand will be around.

Nice cheap shot at our imperialist running dog ANZAC allies, but the gist is the same -- the beginning of the tectonic political shift is under way, and we are conspicuous by our absence. Thanks to our presence in the Phillippines, Korea, and Okinawa, we have been able to keep East Asian ascendancy somewhat in check. But they're on the rise, they want to flex their growing muscle, and the sooner we're out of their faces, the sooner they can start going after each other.

For example, say Korea reunites, and they decide they no longer need our military presence there, as both they and Japan are growing in concurrence on. Now, a reunified Korea would, in subsuming the Yongbyon program in the north, be a bona-fide nuclear power. How do you think that will sit with Japan? They will certainly want in the club, if only for self-defense. Either way, you have a proliferation problem.

Or they can all just line up at A.Q. Khan's House O' Annihilation and throw him some benjamins. The end result is the same.

Then you the growing technological ability of India and Korea, the manufacturing ability of China, and the cultivation of lucrative trade markets other than the US. It's not a problem now, not yet, but look down the road toward the latter half of the next decade, and factor in the ever-decreasing quantity of accessible oil -- and the ever-increasing consumption in that part of the world that has far greater proximity to where most of the remaining oil is. They are going to be flush with cash, where we are stuck with Prince Numbnuts' sack of magic beans.

The US economy may have grown nicely on paper in the last two quarters, but doesn't seem to have gained any ground on our spending deficit or our trade/current accounts deficits with China, which put them in a rather advantageous spot over us.

Nor have we made any progress toward weaning ourselves from the petro tit, which will require squandering more and more resources maintaining a garrison in the Middle East. You think all the troops are coming home just in time for midterms? Fat chance. There'll be a small drawdown, and then rotating maintenance levels in Kuwait and Qatar for at least the next 10-12 years. Whatever your feelings on the morals of the war, that's a huge expense, and we're all still driving, aren't we?

Then we have the nascent South American bloc of nations with left-leaning presidents who have decided to get out from under the IMF, and stop taking orders from us. Worst of all, they're banding together.

Morales tried to reassure investors Monday, saying that while Bolivia will assert ownership rights over its natural resources, "that does not mean confiscating or expropriating property of the multinationals."
He could get guidance from Chavez, who has countered the wave of privatizations that swept Latin America in past decades by asserting more state control over joint energy ventures in Venezuela.
Flush with petrodollars from the world's fifth-largest oil reserves, Chavez also has announced deal after deal with his South American neighbors. Just last week, he and Silva laid the cornerstone for a $2.5 billion refinery in Brazil, and both leaders are talking about developing the region's infrastructure.
"We'll spend $10 billion, $20 billion, but we're going to integrate South America," Silva said.

And what are our brilliant leaders doing about all this to at least protect our position (hopefully without doing it at the expense of others for a change)? They're keeping Cuba out of the World Baseball Classic, out of sheer spite:

U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman Peter Ueberroth called on the Bush administration to reverse its decision to keep Cuba out of next year's World Baseball Classic.

Ueberroth, a former baseball commissioner and head of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, said last week's decision by the Treasury Department to deny Cuba a permit to play in the 16-team event will damage American efforts to host the Olympics in the future. Olympic host countries must guarantee all nations can participate.

"It is important to any future bid city from the United States that this be reversed," Ueberroth said.

To the credit of Major League Baseball, they are doing everything they can to ensure that Cuba is included, as they should be. After all, how many Cubans are going to be on the American team? Not only that, but note who else is on the list of participants -- not only do you have those darned Venezuelan troublemakers, but noted repressive commie regime China. Funny how we ride our high horse like it's the fucking Kentucky Derby when Cuba comes up, but we don't say shit about our vaunted principles to China. Guess everything has its price.

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