Normally I do not use or go to this source, but in this case I make an exception, since it highlights the fundamental problem with the US Empire's foreign policy: it is ossified, and completely backward looking. Indeed, by tying it to a regressive and backward looking country like Suadi Arabia, Mr. Trump may have committed a strategic error that will affect Americans, Saudis, and for that matter, Arabs elsewhere, for generations to come. My thoughts about the implications of his trip, and the ambiguous long term rationale behind it, were expressed, albeit somewhat clumsily, in last Thursday's News and Views from the Nefarium.
This piece, however, which was shared by Mr. H.B., highlights the problem: while Mr. Trump was dancing with a few backward Saudi tribesmen, Mr. Xi was hosting a large gathering of nations in Beijing to expand the economic cooperation of the BRICSA bloc, and to work out details of building out China's New Silk Road project:
Note, the following:
Even countries that are cool on the Chinese initiative, including India and Japan, sent representatives to the summit that carried a bit more clout than the pathetic representation of the United States, Matt Pottinger, a little-known special assistant to Trump and the senior director for East Asia of National Security Council. In fact, the only reason Trump sent anyone to represent the United States at the Beijing gathering was because of a special request made by President Xi during his recent meeting with Trump at the president’s private Mar-a-Lago Club resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
South Korea, which saw relations with China sour over America’s placement of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea, sent a delegation to Beijing after a phone call between South Korea’s new liberal president, Moon Jae-in, and President Xi. Moon responded to the phone call by sending a delegation led by his Democratic Party’s veteran legislator to Beijing.
Even North Korea, which rankled South Korea, Japan, and the United States by firing a ballistic missile into waters near Russia, sent a delegation to the Beijing meeting headed by Kim Yong Jae, the North’s Minister of External Economic Relations. The Trump administration, which sent a virtual unknown to Beijing, complained loudly about North Korea’s representation at the Silk Road summit. But Washington’s complaint was conveyed by someone as unknown as Mr. Pottinger, Anna Richey-Allen, a low-level spokesperson for the U.S. State Department’s East Asia Bureau. The reason why the United States is being spoken for by middle-grade bureaucrats is that the nation that still believes it is the world’s only remaining «superpower» is now governed by an administration rife with top-level vacancies, inter-agency squabbling, and amateur league players.
Yes, that's right: Japan, India, North and South Korea, all sent high level delegations.
So did eastern Europe:
These EU member state leaders included Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Czech President Milos Zeman, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Moreover, had British Prime Minister Theresa May not been in the middle of a general election campaign, she would have been in Beijing. Nevertheless, she sent British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond in her place.
As did the following institutions and other countries:
The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, was there, along with the President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde. Also present in Beijing were the presidents of Turkey, Philippines, Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Switzerland, Kenya, Uzbekistan, and Laos, as well as the prime ministers of Vietnam, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Fiji, Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
Ministerial delegations from Afghanistan, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Finland, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Maldives, Romania, Nepal, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda, and the United Arab Emirates were at the Beijing summit. Japan was represented by the senior adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party, Toshihiro Nikai. France, which was experiencing a change of presidents, sent former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.
The Silk Road initiative has projects planned in all the nations whose governments were represented in Beijing, except for the United States and Israel. In addition to the nations represented by their government heads of state and ministers, Silk Road agreements were signed between China and Palestine, Georgia, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Tajikistan, Brunei, Croatia, and East Timor.
But, hey, according to former House Speaker Newt Gangrene...er... Gingrich, the USA can herald the new foreign policy triumph of Mr. Trump selling one hundred billion plus dollars to the (out)house of Saud as a major foreign policy shift and breakthrough.
Have we really lost our collective minds to this degree? Granted the regime of China leaves much much to be desired, as do the regimes of many of the countries represented in Beijing. But they are agreed, it seems - even the Japanese and North and South Koreans, heck, even the Saudis smelled the coffee and sent a delegation - on one thing, and that's getting something done that will benefit everyone, like building railroads and highways and so on.
While the USSA is selling arms, and the means to manufacture them.
I don't think for a moment that Mr. Xi is so naive to believe that all of these countries get along with each other, or don't have competing interests.Nor do I think Mr. Xi is so naive as to believe that a conference this large, with this many in attendance, will really accomplish anything, much less bring everyone together in a group hug and kumbaya moment. We've all been to those "required meetings". They do nothing but waste time, solve or settle little, and accomplish even less. But they do do one thing, and that is they simply get people talking about and thinking about certain things, and then, when enough of a critical mass of thought congeals, about doing and accomplishing them. That, it seems, is part of his - and China's - cultural and economic strategy: simply generate excitement about accomplishing something and getting it done. Already in the past few months we've seen the first freight train from China arrive in London, and return to China. Turn the clock back just ten years, and this would have been unthinkable. Now translate that into highways running from, say, Beijing to Berlin(dwarfing the Kaiser's old Berlin-to-Baghdad railway), and you get the idea.
Meanwhile, we're concerned about the peanuts of a mere one hundred billion of arms sales to the Saudis.
And that's the point: Mr. Xi is offering the world a vision. We may not like Mr. Xi. We may not even like (I certainly don't) Communism in any form, even the modern "benign" Chinese form(benign if one compares it to Mao, or Stalin). But Mr. Xi is offering a vision nonetheless. (Heck, being a [much out of practice] organist, I find it very interesting that China seems to be on a pipe-organ-building spree and the Chinese appear to be enjoying what, for them, is an [increasingly less] rare instrument. Translation: China is also trying to become a bridge or unifying culture.)
Now compare that to what the USSA is offering (which is what, exactly? Drones? Surveillance? Tanks? Bombs? bad refrigerators? shoddy computer software operating systems? pay for play bottomlessly corrupt politicians? pedophilia?) and you get the idea. We're fast becoming as irrelevant and unwanted as the Yugo, the latest in Serbo-Croatian technology.
See you on the flip side...