For the American President’s navigation: the rise of Hitler and fascism in Germany, Italy, and Spain; the development of an expansionist imperial Japan; polarization in the United States between the forces of self-serving fascist sentiment related to business and popular interest in the Far Left answers to abuses generated in Far Right circles.
Add the global Great Depression.
I have not yet reached the middle of this eye-opening and insightful history, but the story of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “working the issues” rings clear and sound for this day.
I have made much and will continue to make much of the tensions between politically medieval and modern worlds, and my own energies and hopes are with the modern world, its potential great breadth in personal freedoms, and its obligations as steward of the earth and humanity.
Whoever you may be and wherever you are in the world — and whether you enjoy or have to make yourself do this kind of reading (smile) — this volume will set the benchmark for understanding the United States and the western civilizational project in the appreciation and defense of humanity.
The world is neither hopeless nor helpless in light of its collective issues and future. It may be crime ridden, fractious, and violent, but the measurable qualities of evil may be diminished with time. We have not, thank God, had our World War III but while living perpetually in a state of competition or conflict with China and Russia — those may be considered the Orwellian two other powers — we have developed sustained lower-intensity conflicts and the transnational crime organizations that fuel their fires. Well, if we can develop greater conscience in some, temper greed, and deal with practical pressures, we might be able to draw those down.
If the Devil’s winning, Mark, it’s our own fault (for not understanding how the Damned Thing works).
For corrupt Palestinian leaders, the real primary incentive appears to be relationships with elites yielding money and personal security. Some at the top of that heap should try purchasing a less self-centered and parochial conscience.
From whence comes the broader consideration of others in the world by those who by way of their own wealthy and powerful circumstance have the wherewithal to lead it?
In casual talk, I’ve suggested evolution.
Nature grows our minds.
In more serious psychology, altruism, caring, conscience, love, and the related apprehension of duties, obligations, and responsibilities toward others seem altogether healthier characteristics than fearful and compensating tendencies toward the meanest and smallest minded expressions of the will to survive as a will determined to destroy or dominate others.
For those with seriously Up There — Plutocratic — Clout, which is the better direction and why grind against it?
Why not formulate ideas and programs better fit for both a challenging global and personal future by simply enjoying what has characterized the past in dogma and politics — there’s no need to dishonor the past for anyone — while moving on to “well, we are all here on just this one marble of an island in space and time — and our first priority should be keeping our own conditions — environmental and broadly social — better than survivable”?
There are those with the power to drive forward of their own circumstances and life experiences, the present is always the place in time (and there is no better) where some cultural rivers and their ideas (and associated behaviors) needs must dissolve in their own delta while others — more fit for future time and space — flow from new wellsprings.
Wherever we are in time — this moment! — we’re not going to be in the same place tomorrow. It may look that way on the outside — same writer here, same desktop: differently informed and perpetually gathering, recombining, reformulating ideas, information, plans.
Former American President Trump’s tenure proved the nation’s distraction from all but itself with the exception of China for Trumpian finger pointing over the “Wuhan Flu”. Now the state’s perhaps a little startled to find itself again a part of the free and do-good world of the Atlantic Alliance. With concern for Russia’s now baldfaced aggression in Ukraine, President Biden will have to pick up on Russia’s crude squatting there and degrading and subverting industrial and other Ukrainian assets in the process of its imposing its largely unwelcome presence and will.
We each of us know what belongs to each by way of our persons and our families, and if we’re a little larger than that, our companies and communities, but we falter some with “my air; my water; my mountains; my rivers; my shores”. Some objects are too large for singular possession. Even subdivided and sold off in lots — so one might own a patch or an estate (and hunting grounds) — such resources and spaces may have lives of their own and greater than appreciated. OUR rain forests, for example, may be critical to OUR planetary oxygen supply.
As our species matures — however else we may think of ourselves (as framed by our nearly 7000 living language cultures and directed, somewhat, by our 4300 active religions), we may consider the fragility of our species foremost — we may do well to look far forward of our positions rather than fix and freeze ourselves as we are. If we are to contemplate, for example, the end of the Eon of Oil and continued Global Warming or merely increasingly severe oscillations in temperature, this may be the best time to think about the energy resources and insulating technologies of the 22nd Century.
Why not — and why not this minute?
It’s never too late?
It’s never too soon.
What if the world hadn’t to deal with what have become essentially political criminals?
What are we — or what is the world — still doing here — in the same frozen situation — with Ukraine?
Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said on January 11 that Russia “has done everything to fulfill nothing.” His latest attempts with his German counterpart “to hold another round of talks at the level of foreign minister were unsuccessful,” Mr. Kuleba said. He said the continuing deadlock is a situation in which, “on the one hand, there is progress on Donbas, and, on the other, there is no progress.”
While it may be understood that we are not all angels, one might wonder why any state population must be made to weather the bullying criminality of gangs, more or less, of so-called “state elites” and leaders — or invasion by alien forces ordered by the same with precisely that mentality?
I had thought both the feudal and medieval eras known to European and Russian history finished off by the allied powers of World War II.
While at this post-Trumpian moment (start HIS history as an American President with Manafort, his first choice for campaign manager), no American has the right to ask how others could have been blown so far off course from the modern and practical demands for accountability, integrity, and responsibility in governance, the complaint begs a question as applicable to every capital as well as Kiev and Moscow: who would be the good stewards of states and regions and on up the scale to global assets?
These “leaders” that draw out crowds to brave their batons and bullets and mass arrests — who would have time for them were they not so brazen and stuffed full of themselves?
An advertisement for Good Stewards of any geopolitical space: ability to both imagine and think beyond one’s own existence and interests; ethical; good-willed; holistic; honest; magnanimous; possessed of high integrity; responsible; sense of humor a must.
What if through democracy coupled with ambitious public education, the world really could think about and tend to its own collective future well being as expressed through Qualities of Living x Area-Squared (or Cubed) for any geopolitical space?
I know at this point — I am 65 — my references are a bit dated but I feel their spirit still to be realized. If those who wish for themselves and future generations better lives, the answers, means, and methods are certain to be found in the comprehending of global issues and the development of related cooperation across space and time.
The slogans, e.g., “Think Globally — Act Locally”, have been around for a long time. The businessmen and politicians up to the challenge of producing a better world NOW and for setting up into the next century? Apparently, far less than would seem immediately desirable.
Books and circulars, first, radio, television, and films, later, have long presented us to ourselves, and so much so that it has long been common to reference our behavior in terms of characters well known. There has been the Great White Hunter’s perspective too in which the white guy — the Ernest Hemingway of one American generation; the Peter Beard of another — would view the journey into the “back of beyond” as exotic, and one day not too long ago, it was exotic.
The Grand Tour may be that no longer.
We are all here making our appearance known on desktop around the world. “Global Culture” — what we look like in recordings worldwide — has had these other and epic tours since the 1990s, and now we in North America have had in place for at least 14 years an astonishing “World Wide Web” through which all may see the world — including themselves — in states closer and closer to real time — or with live feeds within seconds of “real time”.
How are we now supposed to separate?
It’s too late — and we’re not going to go backward into more parochial decades or centuries.
In fact, we’re going to go through the life process and illness and death in the company of our virtually relayed but quite real familiars — our Facebook buddies, Twitter rosters, Instagram producers, and such — thousands of miles from our own desktops. When these new old friends fall ill . . . we’ll know it depending on our emotional and relational distance, not our geography. We’ll be asking what can be done (hit the FB “Cares” icon!) and what can we do — and about so many things: what can be done and what can we do sitting where each of us sits?
In terms of the larger picture, the significance of the Euromaidan, or generally the Maidan, of 2013-14 can hardly be overstated: it not only caps the period of hybrid post-Soviet existence initiated by independence in 1991, but also provides a kind of closure to the complex and drawn-out process of Ukrainian nation-formation that began in the 19th century.
This assassination campaign began in the aftermath of 9/11 when Pakistan allowed Taliban fighters and other allied fighters who were forced to flee Afghanistan to resettle in parts of former FATA. Over the years, these groups systematically eliminated tribal leaders and politicians who raised their voices against them. To this day, the Pakistani state has not solved any of these murders, perhaps because it has been tacitly using these unlawful groups to foment instability in Afghanistan and consolidate its influence over the region.
What follows are thoughts from the lengthiest of observations having to do with the Pashtun’s natural position between state forces and processes having to do with international development and war much, much larger than themselves.
When our President Nixon (a long time ago) initiated a new relationship with China, it was with hopes to offset Soviet Russian power and bring China closer to the normative behaviors of the modern world expressive of global compassion supported by international trade. On the topside, we do things for one another. Rather on the surface, well, we do things for money — and that makes “big picture” sense of Asian labor and western raw goods and Asian finished goods sold (for good profit — good markup — in western markets).
Mercantilism has been much the way of the world.
In the modern open democratic and liberal west, the abuses and excesses of business have been tempered through the actions of elected administrations, legislatures, and courts in the interests of electorates and justice. In the west, capitalists and wealthy have not gotten free rides from popularly elected governments even if seeding political careers and wins with their own money. There are just too many with too many differing motives for playing that game broadly.
In Asia, perhaps, money — and with China, now overwhelming wealth — does its work between elites and military behind closed door (“behind the curtains” goes the phrase fit to medieval politics) — and guess who’s in the way of the greater enrichment and glory of the disinterested or remote powerful?
It doesn’t help the Pashtun — and whoever and for whatever reason — to attack PakDef military posts (IF that is what has actually happened recently), for that gives the military excuse to bother or maraud the Pashtun community.
With regard to some Larger Forces — here, Chinese and Pakistani trade interests representing government, military, and private entities — “anomie” (worth the looking up) may be a real issue.
Don’t look to Russia for help — that state has minted defense sales using Syrians as targets for demonstration of its wares. In the AfPak region, its arms, however acquired, have helped sustain what looks to me an unfathomable misery borne of endless low-intensity conflict that has no end without financial, political, and religious insight plus political will and near immediate reconciliation.
The draconian nature of the FCR lies in the concept of “collective punishment”, where a whole tribe can be punished for the crime of one member of the tribe. It is telling that even after British India got its independence in 1947, the people of ex FATA were still facing the same colonial legal injustice till the year 2018. And while things definitely have changed on paper, there still is a long way to go before there is a change in the situation on the ground.These draconian punishments have always served a purpose, whether it was British India of the 20thcentury or the Pakistan of the 21stcentury. These laws are meant to subdue a population into giving up their rights, so that they can be sacrificed on the altar of “greater good”. Goes without saying that this greater good, has never been good for us, the people of ex FATA.
Launched in 2015, CPEC is a logical partnership for China and Pakistan—two close allies keen to cooperate on much-needed infrastructure projects in Pakistan, while contributing to China’s strategic goal of facilitating access to far-flung markets and expanding its global footprint.
Chinese Banking and Development Worldwide : flexes China’s financial muscle while leveraging infrastructure building expertise into a gateway for Chinese labor — which accompanies its projects — and through that mechanism Chinese cultural influence agents. As much would update the Cold War Era Soviet practice of sending thousands of Communist agents into the Middle East as embedded in the labor contingents attached to development contracts in targeted states.
PakDef | ISI –> Taliban encouragement : goad to Kabul : encouragement of “Islamism” within : further marginalizing of the Pashtun as a coherent and cohesive political force.
The above two paragraphs represent my thinking in cryptic fashion. If the world were practical and less inclined to fear and threat — as well as deeply dependent on international arms sales that support manufacturing bases and untold wealth in related Research & Development competitions — the promotion of dogma into violence — or “extremist dogma” — would be less attractive. As it is, “The Terrorists” (wherever “who” has become both ambiguous and ubiquitous) have turned out handy for some elites in the world’s more corrupt and cynical circles of military and political power.
With the authoritarian President Trump in the White House, it may be difficult to argue that the three “superpowers” have turned out other than feudal polities plundered by politically connected and wealthy elites. Nonetheless, and in the most simplified fashion, the following now comes to mind in relation to the quick assessment of China’s political character and culture.
China’s overseas lending, which was virtually zero before the turn of the century — well, about $500 billion in 2000 — stands today, ostensibly, at around $5 trillion. Indeed, they are now the world’s largest creditor, being twice as large as both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, combined.
Colagrossi, Mike. “New study uncovers China’s massive hidden lending to poor countries.” Big Think, July 18, 2019.
The low-hanging fruit may be plucked with the search string, “China, predatory lending” and, I’m sure, “China, debt trap” will do as well.
Difficult to beat for audacity, Chinese business, engineering acumen, and ethics have caused the more advanced and liberal world some concerns. The projects I have in mind are these: Three Gorges Dam; Coca Coda Sinclair Dam (Ecuador); oil extraction, South Sudan — while Sudan appears to be coming on to track with the west, the Sudanese of what is now South Sudan will have memories of a callous Chinese presence through the Darfur Genocide. The worst business and related ethical decisions and policies — or absence thereof — become always diminished the shoulder shrug accompanied by the dull observation, “it’s only business”.
Here is but one example of what has come out in the news in relation to the Thousand Talents espionage program:
Dr. Qing Wang, a professor of molecular genetics at the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western University, was arrested Wednesday on charges of lying to investigators and wire fraud related to more than $3.6 million in funding that he and his research group at the Cleveland Clinic received from the National Institutes of Health under false pretenses. At the same time that he was receiving millions of dollars in U.S. government grants, court documents reveal he concealed how he was also the Dean of the College of Life Sciences and Technology at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China. He was also receiving grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China and hid his participation in China’s Thousand Talents Program, a Chinese Communist Party effort to recruit academics to gain access to foreign technology and intellectual property.
It should go without saying that the recipients of large research grants may not care to think too much about their financial good luck when it comes to keeping their laboratories, themselves, other faculty, and students flush in research missions and means.
A modern question comes to mind: Are the world’s leaders obligated to reproducing the worst of the world’s potential for feudal, medieval, and tribal warfare — or may the same be obliged to accept a deeply interconnected modern (and democratic) variegated world capable of cooperative strong integration without supposed “exclusive” genetic, racial, or religious “winners”?
The world’s refusal of Islamic supremacist tenets has produced some medieval resurgence through parochial versions of “New Nationalism”, and the Chinese have been no less susceptible to that than White Europeans and North Americans expecting to wake up and see a world that looks (and thinks) just as they do.
Whatever the answers, add a classic “house of mirrors” complication:
January 1, 1979
The United States normalizes diplomatic relations with China. Three years later there are 10,000 Chinese students in the US, and the FBI begins directing field offices to recruit students for counterintelligence operations.
As long as machines, materials, and processes produce exchange, people (and states) will steal proprietary information to either remain at parity with competitors and threats or get an edge up on them.
What has changed throughout the world: online proximity x time.
Here, for example, is a 2020 U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) unclassified statement involving China’s commitment to suppressing illicit trade related to fentanyl:
Effective May 1, 2019, China officially controlled all forms of fentanyl as a class of drugs. This fulfilled the commitment that President Xi made during the G-20 Summit. The implementation of the new measure includes investigations of known fentanyl manufacturing areas, stricter control of internet sites advertising fentanyl, stricter enforcement of shipping regulations, and the creation of special teams to investigate leads on fentanyl trafficking. These new restrictions have the potential to severely limit fentanyl production and trafficking from China. This could alter China’s position as a supplier to both the United States and Mexico.
Truth to tell: as regards the transnational narcotics business, China may not stand out as more or less problematic or troublesome than other states saddled with similar issues. Aided by corruption, suppressed by shifting tides in law, politics, mercenary and military relationships, and the value of facets of reputations, the operations known to TCOs (Transnational Crime Organizations) shift always to the paths of least resistance and highest profit. As example: https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/10259-unodc-warns-of-rising-role-of-organized-crime-in-southeast-asia (July 19, 2019).
Giant China, however, appears able to field labor sufficient for cultural incursions and producing huge financial obligations via huge critical infrastructure projects in client states. It’s when it comes to cooperation involving funding or manning investigations into smuggling the trail goes — and perhaps appropriately — dim. The chemicals get through and course through the illicit manufacturing economies of Central and South America, and while the products move north — and the money moves south — political instability driven by practical insecurity help create the chaos that also drives migration north.
As a dimension for thought, none can help but notice the North American pull that draws the business from the south. One may excoriate suppliers only so much.
Mass Surveillance State
The above header needs little support here, which bothers me, lol, but China has produced an extraordinary reputation for mass surveillance and the development of related methods of social control. Here’s a lead from a Human Rights Watch report on the matter —
Classical totalitarianism, in which the state controls all institutions and most aspects of public life, largely died with the Soviet Union, apart from a few holdouts such as North Korea. The Chinese Communist Party retained a state monopoly in the political realm but allowed a significant private economy to flourish. Yet today, in Xinjiang, a region in China’s northwest, a new totalitarianism is emerging—one built not on state ownership of enterprises or property but on the state’s intrusive collection and analysis of information about the people there. Xinjiang shows us what a surveillance state looks like under a government that brooks no dissent and seeks to preclude the ability to fight back. And it demonstrates the power of personal information as a tool of social control.
This society may seem dystopian, but it isn’t farfetched: It may be China in a few years. The country is racing to become the first to implement a pervasive system of algorithmic surveillance. Harnessing advances in artificial intelligence and data mining and storage to construct detailed profiles on all citizens, China’s communist party-state is developing a “citizen score” to incentivize “good” behavior. A vast accompanying network of surveillance cameras will constantly monitor citizens’ movements, purportedly to reduce crime and terrorism. While the expanding Orwellian eye may improve “public safety,” it poses a chilling new threat to civil liberties in a country that already has one of the most oppressive and controlling governments in the world.
In Xiqiao, a city of roughly 300,000 in southern China, for example, officials have installed more than 1,400 video cameras and over 300 facial recognition cameras since 2006, ChinaFile found. The report said officials have blanketed most of the city’s public spaces with the cameras to address “the difficult problem of how to control people,” according to a government document obtained by ChinaFile.
Mass surveillance in lower-profile cities and territories reflects the 2018 launch of China’s Project Sharp Eyes, an ambitious attempt to equip 100% of Chinese public spaces—street corners, parks, train stations—with video-monitoring capabilities and amass the data into one central platform. China’s government says the project is aimed at improving public safety and security, but it’s seen outside China as a means for more state control.
In one short bash at the keyboard, this, “anti-globalists”, is what “globalization” looks like and, for the most part (the Valdai Discussion Club may be an exception, but it is what Russia offers at this time), with focus on democracy, freedom, and justice in opposition to authoritarianism and the capricious, exploiting, and venal pursuit of power.
In place of fear about “globalist ambitions” (is someone summoning anti-Semitic tropes back to life?), I would suggest a change of axis toward feudal absolute and modern democratic systems of economic, political, and social organization. Modern and visionary outlooks needs must be global while remaining careful of the cultural, ecological, ethnic, racial, and religious diversity extant on our one “pale blue dot” of a planet.