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A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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The rise and fall of empires has long been a story at the heart of history. Since the Europeans first burst out of their then-marginal region on wooden sailing ships mounted with cannons in the fifteenth century, the planet seldom has had a moment in which several imperial powers weren’t competing for supremacy. In 1945,... Read More
Or How China and the U.S. Are Spawning a New Great Power Naval Rivalry
Amid the intense coverage of Russian cyber-maneuvering and North Korean missile threats, another kind of great-power rivalry has been playing out quietly in the Indian and Pacific oceans. The U.S. and Chinese navies have been repositioning warships and establishing naval bases as if they were so many pawns on a geopolitical chessboard. To some it... Read More
The Pentagon Plans for a Perpetual Three-Front “Long War” Against China and Russia
Think of it as the most momentous military planning on Earth right now. Who’s even paying attention, given the eternal changing of the guard at the White House, as well as the latest in tweets, sexual revelations, and investigations of every sort? And yet it increasingly looks as if, thanks to current Pentagon planning, a... Read More
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Let's begin this discussion with a few, basic questions. Question one: does anybody sincerely believe that “Putin” (the collective name for the Russian Mordor) really attempted to kill a man which “Putin” himself had released in the past, who presented no interest for Russia whatsoever who, like Berezovsky, wanted to return back to Russia, and... Read More
Introduction US Presidents, European leaders and their academic spokespeople have attributed China’s growing market shares, trade surpluses and technological power to its “theft” of western technology, “unfair” or non-reciprocal trade and restrictive investment practices. President Trump has launched a ‘trade war’, - raising stiff tariffs, especially targeting Chinese exports – designed to pursue a protectionist... Read More
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"This is a Game We Can Win"
In 2003 I congratulated a young Chinese banker on his country’s accession to the WTO, cautioning that the trade body was a Western ideological post-Cold War creation designed not merely to enshrine export-oriented development models but to advance neoliberal trade norms. After a moment’s reflection he responded, “I agree with your view of the WTO’s... Read More
Will China’s paramount leader Xi Jinping disprove Lord Acton’s famous maxim that all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely? Are we entering an era where many of the world’s great nations are ruled by strongmen, despots or modern monarchs? Look at America’s would-be king, Donald Trump; Russia’s Vlad Putin; and India’s Narendra Modi. China’s... Read More
Xi Jinping, brother Xi Yuanping, father Xi Zhongxun in 1958
In 1980 Deng Xiaoping set 2020 as the completion date for his Reform and Opening program–a 40-year overhaul of China’s economy. On June 1, 2021 President Xi will announce that all Deng’s goals have been reached and a basic xiaokang society established: no one is poor and everyone receives an education, has paid employment, more... Read More
"We got China wrong. Now what?" ran the headline over the column in The Washington Post. "Remember how American engagement with China was going to make that communist backwater more like the democratic, capitalist West?" asked Charles Lane in his opening sentence. America's elites believed that economic engagement and the opening of U.S. markets would... Read More
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`We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists, but great-power competition – not terrorism – is now the primary focus of US national security.’ Henceforth Russia and China will be America’s main enemies, with Iran and North Korea thrown in for good measure. So declared US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, last week in... Read More
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The Chinese sure can be exasperating. Paul Midler writes in his new book What’s Wrong with China: (Laowai is the common—informal, non-hostile—Chinese term for a foreigner, equivalent to Japanese gaijin. Pronunciation here. During my own China days in the early 1980s the usual expat term for the syndrome under discus
saigon-2018
With their brief existence, and dumbed down now by a degraded and warped education, most Americans have a telescoped and cartoony sense of history, so nothing matters, really, beyond the last two or three presidential elections, and each foreign country is represented, at most, by a caricature or two, so Germany is Hitler and Merkel,... Read More
Vinh Chau Chinese at the Seven Wonders Restaurant, Saigon, 2018
In the 17th century, the Manchus conquered China, causing thousands of defeated Chinese soldiers and their families to flee to Vietnam, then divided between north and south. The Nguyen Clan, rulers of the south, granted these Chinese land in nominal Cambodian territory, paving the way for Vietnam’s annexation of a third of Cambodia. This obscure... Read More
He took a remarkable star turn at Davos -- and, no, I don’t mean President Trump. I was thinking about Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2017, when he claimed the title of globalist-in-chief in a highly praised speech to the world’s assembled CEOs and plutocrats. He was then promoting a “community of shared future for... Read More
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Giving American Isolationism New Meaning in the Twenty-First Century
In his State of the Union address, Donald Trump warned grimly of “rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values.” In response, he demanded that Congress give even more money to “our great military” and fund the growth and modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, making it “so strong... Read More
On January 21st the Screen Actors Guild gave Gary Oldman their “Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role” award for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. The movie is about Churchill coming to power as Prime Minister in May 1940 and the events leading up to the evacuation from Dunkirk.... Read More
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America's greatest strategic mind of global recognition, Alfred Thayer Mahan, in his seminal work The Influence of Sea Power upon History saw the World Ocean and activity in it as the foundation for national greatness and power. The pivot of this greatness was a powerful navy. Through Mahan, the Theory of Navalism reached American elites... Read More
Mao Reconsidered, Part III
Part One of this trilogy described in detail how Mao did more good for more people than anyone in history. In Part Two, his logistical genius saved millions from dying in what could have become an epic famine. In this final episode Mao spends his last decade ending peasants’ ‘deaths from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty... Read More
There is much President Trump does not understand about the outside world. High up on the list is the crucial importance of US trade policy in creating and sustaining the American Empire. The key to the post-World War II US imperium was granting other nations commercial access to the huge, vibrant American domestic market. This,... Read More
New York, 2016
At age 18, Theo volunteered for the Marines and was sent to Vietnam. Based near the demilitarized zone, he saw much fighting and lost most of his left arm in 1968. Post war, Theo learned karate, opened a dojo, married, fathered three children, got his college degree and became a high school teacher. The Philly... Read More
DPRK Special Forces on Parade
First, the bragging dummies Trump and Haley are still at it. The want to force China to take action against the DPRK by threatening to take North Korea "into their hands" if China refuses to comply. Haley said “But to be clear, China can do more, (...) and we're putting as much pressure on them... Read More
"We will never accept Russia's occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea," declaimed Rex Tillerson last week in Vienna. "Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine." Tillerson's principled rejection of the seizure of land by military force -- "never accept" -- came just one day after President... Read More
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Shake Up and Shake Down
Introduction Major changes are roiling the states, societies and ruling classes of the biggest industrial economies, oil regimes and military complexes. China is re-allocating its economic wealth toward building the most extensive modern infrastructure system in history, linking four continents. Saudi Arabia is transferring a trillion dollars of pillage from princes to princes, from old... Read More
Introduction For almost 2 decades, the US pursued a list of ‘enemy countries’ to confront, attack, weaken and overthrow. This imperial quest to overthrow ‘enemy countries’ operated at various levels of intensity, depending on two considerations: the level of priority and the degree of vulnerability for a ‘regime change’ operation. The criteria for determining an... Read More
After the 19th national congress of the Chinese Communist Party in October, one may discern Premier Xi Jinping's vision of the emerging New World Order. By 2049, the centennial of the triumph of Communist Revolution, China shall have become the first power on earth. Her occupation and humiliation by the West and Japan in the... Read More
Starving Chinese Child, 1946, Life Magazine
Judging from the copious comments, it appears that Part One of this trilogy demonstrated conclusively that Mao Zedong did more good for more people than anyone in history. In Part Two, we examine the common belief that–whether through malice, indifference or incompetence–Mao also did great harm by starving millions of people to death. But before... Read More
The US selection of leaders has virtually nothing to do with democratic processes and outcomes. It is useful to contrast this with the process in China. In most instances, China’s selection of leaders is far more meritocratic, successful and performance-based. In both the US and China, the process lacks transparency. US Economic, Political and Cultural... Read More
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(Lumpen Capitalism refers to an economic system in which the financial and military sector exploits the state treasury and productive economy for the 1% of the population.) Introduction US journalists and commentators, politicians and Sinologists spend considerable time and space speculating on the personality of China’s President Xi Jinping and his appointments to the leading... Read More
China was blessed by two great leaders in the 20th century. Mao Zedong created modern China out of the wreckage of a nation devastated by war, western and Japanese imperialism, ferocious poverty and lack of national spirit. ‘Great Helmsman’ Mao made catastrophic mistakes that killed millions and was dotty at the end, but he put... Read More
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That's the Rub, It Can't
In order to understand China and how the world works, I am very lucky to have lived here during two very different time periods. It started 1990-1997. In the first book of The China Trilogy, 44 Days Backpacking in China, I called this period the Wild East Deng Xiaoping Buckaroo Days. It was intense, crazy... Read More
Mao and Family
One Hundred Percent Good
Colleagues, rivals, academics and propagandists East and West have written much nonsense about Mao Zedong yet, when we correct for bias and discard patent falsehoods it becomes clear that, apart from the bloodshed that accompanies wars and revolutions, it’s doubtful that Mao killed anyone and indubitable that he gave life to billions. Indeed, no-one has... Read More
Readers at home and around the world want to know what to make of the announcement that China henceforth will conduct oil purchases and sales in gold-backed Chinese currency. Is this an attack by Russia and China on the US dollar? Will the dollar weaken and collapse from being discarded as the currency in which... Read More
As deplorable as we Badwhites are, our medieval forebears were deplorabler. Here’s one: Geoffrey le Barbu (“the Bearded”), Count of Anjou, around a.d. 1065: Now that’s Badwhite! (Geoffrey, by the way, was a great-granduncle of the English King Henry II, first of the Plantagenet Dynasty. His younger brother, who rejoiced in the epithet Fulk the... Read More
Despite clear evidence that Washington has chosen the path to conflict with Russia and China, European governments have not objected. Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltics even seem to demand more conflict or a quicker path to conflict. The European peoples themselves have not elected leadership that is willing to repudiate vassalage to Washington and conduct... Read More
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How It Might Actually Be Fought
[This piece has been adapted and expanded from Alfred W. McCoy’s new book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power.] For the past 50 years, American leaders have been supremely confident that they could suffer military setbacks in places like Cuba or Vietnam without having their system... Read More
At the U.N. recently, Donald Trump followed up on his bloodcurdling threat to unleash on North Korea “fire and fury like the world has never seen” (essentially a warning of nuclear terror) with an even grimmer threat: to “totally destroy” that country. In his histrionic bluntness, Trump was not alone in raising the nuclear issue.... Read More
Is there anyone in Trump’s government who is not an imbecile? After years of endless military threats against Russia—remember CIA deputy director Mike Morell saying on TV (Charlie Rose show) that the US should start killing Russians to give them a message, and Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley threatening “We’ll beat you harder than... Read More
Two of America’s most populous states, Texas and Florida, are in hurricane ruins, and Washington is fomenting more wars. The US national debt is now over $20 trillion, and Washington is fomenting more wars. The entire world is helping Washington foment wars—including two targeted countries themselves—Russia and China—both of which are helping Washington foment more... Read More
Old Chinese saying: ‘when elephants battle, ants get crushed.’ Think of the current crisis on the Korean Peninsula in which the government in Seoul has been all but ignored. South Korea’s newly elected president, Moon Jae-in, keeps insisting that the US must not launch war against North Korea without South Korea’s agreement. President Donald Trump... Read More
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Still too soon to tell?
In 2005, Germany transferred her high speed rail technology to China. Today, China’s HSR is bigger, faster, safer and cheaper than Germany’s, runs entirely on Chinese intellectual property and Chinese trains are displacing Germany’s in the world market. Coincidentally, in 2005, The Carter Center began transferringAmerica’s democracy knowhow to China. Today, China’s democracy is bigger,... Read More
A Broad Spectrum Column
OK, I’m trying to figure out cars. Especially the electric and nuclear-powered ones. Mostly the fizzing and fuming about how great electrics are, or maybe the end of civilization, seems political. Liberals love them because they will prevent pollution, end global warming, and maybe stop hair loss. Libertarians hate them because they associate them with... Read More
Russia is under economic and propaganda attack from the US. Additionally, the US is surrounding Russia and China with military and missile bases, leading both countries to the conclusion that Washington is preparing a surprise nuclear attack. Despite the high level of threat that Washington represents to the two nuclear powers, the English language Russian... Read More
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The US submarine captain says, “We’ve all got to die one day, some sooner and some later. The trouble always has been that you’re never ready, because you don’t know when it’s coming. Well, now we do know and there’s nothing to be done about it.” He says he will be dead by September. It... Read More
In the Reign of Kaiser Don
Why do those inadequate little men in Washington and New York dream of new wars? Because the empire is near a tipping point. Washington must either either start a war in Korea, or get faced down by the North, its carriers ignored, its bombers “sending signals” and making “shows of force” without result. For the... Read More
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Washington and Brussels’ response to foreign affairs challenges, as they face their own political and economic disasters and decline, has been to impose economic sanctions, boycotts and issue increasingly reckless military threats against rival nations. The ruling and main opposition parties in the US and EU have taken over the major media, turning ‘news programs’... Read More
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Amid the proverbial doom and gloom pervading all things Syria, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune sometimes yield, well, good fortune. Take what happened this past Sunday in Beijing. The China-Arab Exchange Association and the Syrian Embassy organized a Syria Day Expo crammed with hundreds of Chinese specialists in infrastructure investment. It was a... Read More
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It is not an easy task for someone without a background in Chinese culture, including the language and the history, to write about this country. However, this becomes necessary when looking at the Chinese view of the outside world and especially when writing about the emerging Russo-Chinese alliance. There is very little doubt anymore about... Read More
President Donald Trump flew off for his first meeting with Vladimir Putin -- with instructions from our foreign policy elite that he get into the Russian president's face over his hacking in the election of 2016. Hopefully, Trump will ignore these people. For their record of failure is among the reasons Americans elected him to... Read More
Ancient Silk Road Routes.  Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Peter Frankopan's The Silk Roads: A New History of the World shows why we need to re-vision history
The word revisionist derives from roots meaning "to look again." And since history is an ongoing project, whose main purpose is to help us understand where we have come from and where we are going, we obviously need to keep taking fresh looks at the past as we propose new visions of the future. Obligatory... Read More
Pretty much everything our media tells us about China is wrong–or at least one-sided–including its tales of a China ‘debt problem’. The Chinese are, in all times and places, debt-averse and China’s government which, unlike ours, must take long-term responsibility for the economy, is no different. Mao set the example and grew GDP by 6.2... Read More