Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's Money That Matters

Now that they've pretty much wiped out the protests (and no doubt used them as an excuse to arrest anyone else they had always wanted) China is letting journalists into Tibet under the kind of strict controls you would expect. It's nice to see that George Bush wasn't letting this bother him too much, but then he seems to have really stopped caring or even paying much attention to anything, if he ever did.
China learned the lessons of the Soviet fall well; it's economics that matters (Putin seems to have figured this out too;he swings that oil hammer fairly well). We could boycott the 1980 Olympics and play all sorts of political games with the Soviets because they posed no real threat; they couldn't take us militarily and their economic system didn't work. We could wait for them to implode. China is different. We can rattle sabers, but they're too big and too nuclear-armed to take on militarily(even if we could scrape together a viable army; thanks again Bush), and they know that just threatening to unload the huge amount of US currency they hold would tank our economy. Besides, so many US businesses rely on items manufactured there that no one is going to rock the boat. Perhaps other countries that aren't in such deep hock to them can step up, but the US is pretty much impotent. Our only leverage is that they also realize that if we go down hard we'd take their economy with us.
The only reason this has amounted to anything is that China is still new to this international stuff, and their history of being exploited by other countries has given them a bit of an inferiority complex that makes them hypersensitive. Once they truly learn to use what they have (perhaps by watching Putin) it could get ugly.

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