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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Saturday, May 26, 2012

So Goes America So Goes the World

Timothy Birdnow

More evidence that U.S. power and influence is on the decline around the world.

So South Korea is actually moving into the Chinese orbit, ditching the U.S. and our staunchest oriental ally Japan. What this tells us is that the world is losing confidence in America, and South Korea is certainly a bellweather for this confidence, as they physically in close proximity to China while the U.S. is far away. If they believed the U.S. could provide them with adequate security that does not mean that the U.S. WOULD provide such security, and given the Obama track record it would be folly for South Korea to hope that we will somehow come to their aid.

But, lest we think China's star is rising too high, it should be noted that North Korean pirates seized some Chinese fishing boats recently, and the pirates spoke perfect Mandarin and were wearing North Korean military uniforms.

What does this tell us? It suggests that North Korea may not be as respectful of her mighty neighbor as one would expect.

What is not well understood by those claiming this will be the Chinese century is that China's economy is intimately tied to that of the U.S., and chinese power is tied to Chinese economic growth. China has gargantuan sums of cash invested in U.S. debt - a terrible investment that is likely to cost them money in the end. The Chinese sell their cheap merchandise to America, and the economic crisis in the States has caused a slowdown in the Chinese economy, one that has fueled fears of a Chinese recession or total meltdown. Should the U.s. economy tank again, the Chinese economy could go down the drain with it. They are too closely tied to our economic prosperity.

Doubtless the rules in Pyongyang understand this, too. They have been cozying up with the Russians and quietly asserting their independence from China.

I think this is a stunning development, because China is looked upon here in America as somehow omnipotent. But not everyone agrees, and we may be seeing the first cracks in Chinese Asian hegemony.

This is also a very dangerous development, because the Chinese aren't going to give up their dreams of power so easily. If they see their hopes about to die they may do something rash.

I'm already worried about the Russians; their whole national policy was predicated on a monopolistic domination of energy supplied to Europe, and the hydraulic fracturing revolution is about to make that strategy mute. Russias entire post-Soviet success comes from oil and gas, and if the Bear can't use energy to influence events she will likely turn to the old tried-and-true method of military confrontationalism. If Russia were to try to impose control of energy through military adventurism the Chinese, desperate for a steady flow of energy, could react badly. Things could spiral out of control.

Where would that happen? I fear Iran could be the lynchpin.

Iran is Russia's strategic partner in the energy monopoly game. Iran is also nearing the endgame on it's nuclear program, and even Obama won't be able to ignore this much longer. I suspect Obama is waiting to use a strike on Iran as an October Surprise and the surprise could be Russian military intervention, which could lead to Chinese intervention. We could end up in a world war if everything breaks wrong.

I wonder if Obama didn't kill the XL Pipeline for this reason; Canada has been shipping its oil to British Columbia, then on to China. Was this a sop to the Chinese? Perhaps, but I don't see Obama thinking that strategically. Mr. Obama is, after all, a dogmatist, a man with bigger fish to fry than geopolitics. He, like Woodrow Wilson, thinks the international community will right all wrongs in the end. His job, as he sees it, is to get that community in a position of authority.

At any rate, American power is waning, but Chinese power does not appear to be growing. The most dangerous times come when the ball is up for grabs, when every power thinks it can seize world leadership. That time appears to be coming.

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