The High Druid's Homily

A blog about Druidism, Paganism, Politics, Southern Life, Sex, Entertainment, Sci-Fi, and a lot of crap like that.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"Let's Poke It With A Stick!"

Just when you thought that W couldn’t get more moronic . . .

This morning it was reported that George II gave a speech in Japan – which has just come under fire throughout the East Asian world for its Prime Minister visiting a shrine dedicated to Japan’s Imperial war dead from WWII. Seen as offensive by the countries that the old Rising Sun Empire tried to conquer – or did conquer – in WWII, this hardly makes Japan the ideal spot for a major policy speech on East Asia.

Strike One!

While George astutely avoided repeating history by NOT throwing up on his hosts, in retrospect this might not have been a bad alternative to what he did do: he mentioned how the People’s Republic of China really needed to ease up on the whole repression of democracy thing and let folks who disagree with the Party have their say without imprisonment, reeducation, forced labor, and all that great Maoist stuff that lies so near to the Western-style surface of modern China.

Strike Two!

Not satisfied with antagonizing a rising superpower by mentioning its dirty laundry in public, he continued his speech by praising Taiwan – which the PRC considers a “renegade province” and swears it will eventually re-integrate back into Greater China by hook, crook, or cruise missile – as a glowing example of how a free and democratic Chinese nation can enjoy Western-style prosperity.

Strike Three! And he threw the bat.

Usually, when a President’s domestic poll numbers start to fall, he hits the road, where he can look Presidential by attending state dinners, visiting troops, and greeting foreign leaders instead of dodging “helicopter questions” from a rabid press corps. This has worked for most POTUS in the past, Clinton, Nixon, Carter and Reagan among them. It didn’t work as well for George I (that vomiting/Halcion thing in Japan, remember? Good times.) and it doesn’t look like George II is going to be able to recapture any public relations points or recoup some political capital on this one.

And with that speech, he may have just dragged us five feet closer to a war with the biggest, meanest, most fanatical army in the world. Go George.

Things wouldn’t look so bad, if George II had better sense – or at least sound economic policy. But he doesn’t. Consider that after decades of Republicans accusing Democrats of being “Big-Government-Tax-And-Spend-Liberals”, running up taxes and paying for inefficient social welfare programs, George II and his Neocon posse have made one of the classic mistakes: getting involved in a land-war in Asia.

Invading Iraq was a bad idea – I’ve always said so. Threatening to invade Iraq was a brilliant idea. We could have done that for years and it would have cost us pennies. But George and his gang – Darth Rove, Cheney, Condi, Rummy, Wolfowitz of Arabia and others – had the stupidity to drum up a pretext for an invasion, and then went and actually did it. The result is widely publicized, and the last thing I want to do is to rehash just why it was stupid. We’re talking about China.

So what does China have to do with Iraq?

Well, a lot, actually. Because instead of being “tax-and-spend” types, the Bush Imperium is a “borrow-and-spend” outfit. We are currently spending about $1 Billion a month in Iraq, over $400 Billion so far (and don’t forget the opening act, Afghanistan) and we haven’t raised taxes to pay for it. Indeed, George II has cut taxes repeatedly. And wants to do some more. So where are we getting the cash to pay Haliburton to fight in Iraq?

The People’s Republic of China.

America funds its debt by issuing Treasury Bonds, one of the most stable, secure investments in the world. Backed by the full faith and credit of the United States of America, we sell these bonds to investors around the world, promising to repay them at a decent rate of interest. Problem is, the last decade or so, China has taken its exploding economy (averaging about 11% annual growth over the last ten years) and invested the proceeds in US Treasury Bonds. So China is one of the USA’s biggest creditors.

Oh, wait. It gets better.

You see, even though China is trying to shed its Maoist image and cash in on free-enterprise without giving away the Party store, it is still a command economy. If the Party says do something, something is done. There are no alternatives. The Chinese Communist Party is filled with conservatives, and among their ranks are the ultra-conservative generals who run the People’s Liberation Army. Thanks to a five-thousand year old cultural precedent, Chinese Armies are encouraged to be as self-sufficient as possible, keeping the costs of having a truly huge army down for whoever held the Mandate of Heaven. Back in the good old days of the Emperors, when the Army was needed to keep the Central Asian savages out, this meant soldiers farming and practicing skills for the enrichment of the army. Today, it means Generals are as much CEOs as military commanders. The PLA accounts for a hefty chunk of ownership of most of the state-owned enterprises, and has partnered pretty heavily with foreign investors to take advantage of China’s manufacturing expertise, low labor costs, and government subsidies to produce really cheap stuff to sell abroad.

Mostly to America. Prominently to Wal-Mart.
(“These Extra-Low Prices brought to you by Haliburton and the People’s Liberation Army! Merry Christmas!”)

So one of the major investors in US Treasuries is, ironically, the Red Army. China is funding the Iraq War. And George II, like a little boy who has come across an animal he doesn’t think is really alive, just poked them with a sharp stick. It’s like calling out the banker who handles your mortgage during a Rotary Club meeting and telling him he should really be nicer to his troubled teenager and alcoholic wife. While it might be true, it’s just not a very wise thing to say.

But wait! There’s more!

You see, along with China’s record economic growth (due to selling cheap stuff to Wal-Mart without tariffs – Yay Free Trade!) comes a growing dependence on petroleum for its energy needs. All those Hummers the People’s Generals now drive don’t run on rice. Nor do the textile and furniture factories they own. And China has virtually no domestic sources for oil. Like Japan, she has to import every barrel. Which presents an interesting situation:

Our biggest creditor is also our biggest supplier of Cheap Crap; their economy is dependent upon two things: petroleum and American markets. We control a bunch of the former, and most of the latter (being GATT signatories, as well as members of other free-trade treaties, obliges us not to arbitrarily raise tariffs on foreign merchandise.) In order to get the oil that they need, they have to buy it on the open market, and because of all sorts of market factors and artificial manipulations, the price of oil has skyrocketed, which has severely curtailed the profits involved in the Cheap Crap trade. Right now the American military thinks that it can keep a check on any militaristic moves by the PRC by the simple expedient of choking off its oil. Almost 90% of which comes through a single narrow strait in the Indian Ocean. We hold that strait, we control China by its economic balls. Brilliant plan, that.

Only China is also intensely aware of that fact, and it is rapidly taking steps to block any such move. In addition to spending its fortunes on upgrading its missiles and navy to something a little more 21st century, it is quietly looking out its back door to the wide steppes of Central Asia towards some of the states there: the Stans, they’re called. If the might and economic clout of China can bring these poverty-stricken former Soviet republics into their camp, then China will have the means to build a pipeline across the old Silk Route into the heart of Central Asia.

Where Iran lives.

Iran doesn’t like us. They don’t particularly like China, either, but they dislike us a lot more than them. If China offered them a good deal on pumping oil into a Central Asia pipeline to get it to western China – and out of the reach of our subs and aircraft carriers – they might just look at it as a good idea. Why? As stated previously, they don’t like us. And they have a big army, too, and oil to (pardon the expression) burn. They have nuclear aspirations. And they now have American puppet governments set up in the states on either side of them. A powerful, nuclear armed ally might be a good thing to have. Especially if China’s manufacturing machine could pay for that oil with war material.

Then it wouldn’t have to listen to what George II – and his successors – say about pretty much anything, anymore. They’d be able to pursue their ambitions of regaining Taiwan, and possibly extending their influence more heavily among the other East Asian nations. And they would fund these Imperial ambitions by cashing in on their valuable US Treasury bonds, even as their surrogates in Korea stirred up trouble against our allies and military bases there. It could go after Taiwan a lot more aggressively, no longer having to worry about the economic consequences of a blockade of oil tankers from the Middle-East. With their oil issues taken care of, their economy would only have to deal with markets – the US market, to be exact. And while we could impose tariffs on Cheap Crap from China and make it unprofitable here (which would also put a hurtin’ on Wal-Mart, its employees, stockholders, and folks who have achieved a dependency on Cheap Crap) China is also developing other markets which, while they are less profitable, are nonetheless adequate. Latin America, India, Asia and Africa – oh, and don’t forget Russia. Plenty of places left for Wal-Marts.

Does your head hurt yet?

This whole complicated mess comes back to a simple question: George, what the hell are you thinkin’, son? When you come across a bear in the woods – even a panda bear – your first inclination should not be to poke it with a stick to see if it’s alive.

‘Cause it might be. And that could be bad. Worse than throwing up in an ally's lap.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kira said...

I GET THE FIRST COMMENT!!! I rock.

How dare you accuse George II of thinking! He never does that new-fangled stuff...

4:45 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Ok, now my advice: stop with the politics. Politics is evil. And sticky -- it gets on your clothes.

And what's with this comment moderation crap? I want immediate feedback that I've posted, dammit! :)

5:46 PM  

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