Peter Kirsanow suggests my new book may get the blame for the earthquake. I’m happy to take credit for the downgrade and the London riots, but to the best of my recollection there’s no ‘quake in there. However, since he brought it up, I’d like to put in a word for my book’s general line on China re Joe Biden’s disgusting remarks on Beijing’s one-child policy and its attendant industrial-scale ”gendercide.” My views on this have been well aired in this space over the years.
China is a weak power. When I point that out, people think that’s the good news. It’s not. As I say in the prologue to my new book;
That’s actually worse news than if China was cruising to uncontested global hegemony – because it means that Beijing’s calculations on how the Sino-American relationship evolves are even less likely to align with ours. China has to maximize its power before demographic decay sets in. In other words, it has strong incentives to be bold and to push, hard and fast.
Nevertheless, we owe ‘em a ton of money. Which means you can figure for yourself the likelihood of an American vice president standing up in public and expressing his repugnance at the wholesale slaughter of China’s baby girls. A few lines before the passage above, I quote Jonathan Swift’s “Run Upon The Bankers”: “They have his soul, who have his bonds.” China has our bonds, and thus in a certain sense they have our soul. Or at any rate Joe Biden’s. The big theme of my book’s prologue is that it starts with the money but it never stops there. For three decades, U.S. foreign policy “realists” have assured us that China’s economic liberalization would inevitably lead to political liberalization. As Biden’s wretched remarks suggest, the inverse was always more likely: The reality of China’s economic dominance is Western acquiescence in its repulsive politics.
Later on in my book, I discuss the post-Second World War transfer of global dominance from Britain to America. As these things go, that went relatively smoothly — except for Suez in 1956, when Eisenhower decided to scuttle the Anglo-French-Israeli operation against Egypt. Like China vis a vis America today, Washington had London’s bonds (the World War Two debt) — and Ike ordered the Treasury to sell them:
In London, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Harold Macmillan, reported to the Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, that Britain could not survive such an action by Washington. The sell-off would prompt a run on the pound, and economic collapse, very quickly. Britain, humiliated, withdrew from Suez, and from global power.
It starts with the money. But it won’t end there. It never does.
What might prompt the Sino-American rerun of Suez? Taiwan? North Korea? Something subtler involving China’s resource interests in Africa and beyond?
But you can bet it will be something. One day Washington will be on the receiving end of Beijing’s Suez moment. They have our soul who have our bonds.