Roger Cohen writes in the New York Times
It’s the end of the era of the white man.(...) The West’s moment, I thought, is passing. Money and might are increasingly elsewhere. America’s little dose of socialism from Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson might stave off the worst but cannot halt the trend.(...) Asian statistics can be numbing. With one third of humanity, the numbers get big. There are now 450 million cell phones in China.(...) By 2030, India will probably overtake Japan as the world’s third-largest economy behind the United States and China. (...) What you feel in Asia, said Claude Smadja, a prominent global strategist, is “a burst of energy, of new dreams, and the end of the era of Western domination and the white man.”(...) Everything passes. In the 17th century, China and India accounted for more than half the world’s economic output. After a modest interlude, the pendulum is swinging back to them at a speed the West has not grasped. It’s the end of the era of the white man; and, before it even began in earnest, of the white woman, too.
The US presidential campaign drags on, taking on more of an "out of body", purgatorial aspect daily: casting a drugged, dreamlike, veil of censorship over the discussion of America's role in the world. A discussion which the Bush presidency had heretofore so productively stimulated.
Most affected and surrounded by taboos at presidential campaigning time is, of course, the Middle East and the relationship between Israel and the USA. Mearsheimer and Walt, Jimmy Carter, James Baker and even hapless Zbigniew Brzezinski have all become as radioactive as the Reverend Wright... Joe Lieberman doesn't let "maverick" John McCain out of his sight.
The relationship with Israel and its effect on America's role in the world is a forbidden topic which has to treated gingerly and tiptoed around with euphemisms like "neocon", which is a little like a circus veterinarian having to speak elliptically of elephants: "can I say large? oops, did I say large?".
Anyone who is interested in this relationship will find no more interesting reading than in one of web's better blogs, "Mondo Weiss", by Philip Weiss, essential daily reading for anyone with a finger on the pulse of America's zeitgeist. The relationship is in crisis whether it can be spoken about or not. Because, as Roger Cohen writes in the New York Times, this is the end of the era of the white man.
In the end, the rise of China will settle the Middle East.
The invasion and occupation of Iraq was supposed to set in motion a domino effect which would lead to new democratic regimes in Iran and the Arab world that would recognize the state of Israel. Instead it has only hastened the decline of American influence there and around the world. Among the beneficiaries of this decline are the Chinese and among the biggest losers are certainly the Israelis who have bet all their chips on American hegemony and their ability to manage it.
The only possible interest that the Chinese have in the Middle East is regional stability and a steady flow of oil without political risk. The only thing the Chinese want from the Israelis, military electronics, the US won't let them buy. What do they care about Israel? China is the ultimate obstacle to neocolonial "values-based, gunboat diplomacy"; the giant defender of the Treaty of Westphalia. A treaty that ended a war without end.
Probably a lot of Israel's present behavior is explained by the hysteria-producing feeling that this is the "last dance": the "last days" of the White Man's Burden. The feeling of having made flesh the slogan for Sam Peckinpah's classic western, "The Wild Bunch"... "they came too late, they stayed too long."
In a few years the Israelis simply won't have the same levers of power in their hands they do today and they will be forced to make what Ariel Sharon called "painful concessions", only a bit more painful than Sharon ever dreamed (dreams?).
This is not a plot or a conspiracy, it is simply that the world is not longer a white soliloquy. What was abnormal was that China wasn't a central player in world affairs. The "Judeo-Christian" canon is no longer the universal instruction book.
Israel, a tiny country without raw materials for China's industry, with its eternal distortion of the Middle East and its interference in internal American politics, is nothing more than a pain in the ass to the Chinese. The Chinese aren't antisemites, one round eyed "foreign devil" is probably much the same as another to the inhabitants of the Kingdom of the Center. China certainly cannot be shamed by our demons either.
If anything were ever in America's interest it is to have peaceful relations with China. The people you step on going up are the people you meet on your way down. However there are countless Hollywood stars and a multitude of pundits and politicians of both parties that are eager to confront China at every turn: it is certainly bi-partisan, stretching from Madelene Albright in the Democrats to the Republican neocons. Both Obama and McCain want to increase the size of America's ground forces. All of them seem eager to involve the United States in dozens of Wilsonian armed goose chases around the globe. it reminds me of the famous riddle, "how do you hide a circus elephant on 5th Avenue?". The answer is, of course, "in a parade of circus elephants". DS