As Expected, But There’s Something Missing
It seems so much happened over the past, say, month. But how much of all this is just appearance?
On the Iraq front, US officials are reportedly in talks with insurgents, a story that has been alluded to for some time now. But is this kind of thing really news? Even US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says, openly, such meetings are really rather routine and “go on all the time” [cited in AP, 26 June 2005. Posted at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050626/ap_on_re_mi_ea/us_iraq
]. The British are busy leaking documents suggesting much of the reasoning for going to war was, some may argue, fabrication, and this story is being pawned off with great fanfare, as some kind of leading edge news. Democracy is coming to the Middle East, and tremendous strides are being made, say some. On the other hand, car bombings across Iraqi cities and a much more organized insurgency continue pummeling coalition and government forces, say others. What may be noteworthy is that US servicewomen appear to be prized insurgency targets, and the whole issue of women in combat, seen by some as interesting, may be much more worthy of analysis than perhaps many suspect. Iran, just having had elections, is back firmly in the hands of hardliners. Nothing new there, and of even less interest is the so far entirely predictable response from the West.
In Canada, little continues to be done on the foreign affairs stage. The bureaucracy is left handling business with Washington, and the most active and effective public face on Ottawa’s efforts is new Ambassador to the US Frank McKenna. McKenna may just be the only Canadian with even a glimmer of a clue. When the elected elite addresses foreign policy, the contribution amounts to worrying about trade issues and begging permission to be allowed a role in some areas, such as Darfur. A typical delegation of Canadians abroad seems to believe, somehow oblivious to the changing nature of globalization, that visiting another country must include inking some sort of deal, if only in principle, on some aspect of free trade. This is done while other bureaucrats work to close off ties to the rest of the world, dedicating themselves to the ideal of Fortress North America. In all, it has been a year of political scandal, which has rendered the Liberals incapable of governing, and even less able at managing. Their greatest ally has been the Tory party, which has shown itself, over the past months, most adept at imploding, effortlessly, and on a daily basis. Could this current clutch of Liberals even dream of staying in office were it not for today’s crop of Conservatives? Whenever the Liberals seemed not merely vulnerable, but down and out, Tory leader Stephen Harper could be relied on to rise to the occasion with an assist. All this has made the Tories promise to renew their image, and Harper himself has taken the lead by attempting a complete makeover. How goes that, so far? Not too long ago Harper joined tots in a photo op, where he admonished the youngsters during a finger-painting exercise, pointing out the last thing his new shirt needed was extra dye. Even more recently, he was seen mainstreeting during an Ontario heat wave, decked out in a warm suit, his sweat glands rising to the occasion, and ensuring the leader would be doing his finest impression of an EastVan sprinkler system/fire hydrant on warm June evening. A man of the people? Good luck Stephen.
Meantime, there’s one story that seems to be unfolding barely mentioned, woefully underreported, or entirely misunderstood. Certainly, there’s been coverage of China’s rising superpower status. What hasn’t really been dealt with is the accelerating rate at which China’s rise is impacting the existing global order. Indeed, China’s rendition of capitalism appears ready, unlike our own centuries’ old understanding, to link success and opportunity with overproduction. I suspect that goes for the output of currency and credits as with any other commodity. Awash in paper money, China seems poised to redefine trade relations. Our understanding of China’s willingness to invest in our Western debt system seems to be tied to only part of what’s going on. Having accumulated so much Western currency through trade, is China gearing up to export even more deflation not through its handling of credit/bond purchases, but by a willingness to use its stockpile of cash to buy North American companies? And if it’s prevented from doing so, where will the incentive be to revalue the renminbi? And even if there is a revaluation, why, if I’m right about the rate at which China’s printing presses run, is there such a strong belief that China’s money must appreciate? And if we believe, perhaps wrongly, there are imbalances in commodity prices, how will China’s emerging global role impair or define the relationship between pricing and strategic commodities? Could we yet live to see fossil fuels and uranium the targets of outright confiscation? In any event, these issues are for down the road, assuming the questions I’ve asked ever become analysis-worthy.
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