Most observers view the recent bout of rising anti-China sentiment in the
as a direct reflection of worsening United States trade statistics. Since the numbers are not turning around, a culprit needs to be found. And this time, it’s not U.S. — but Japan . China
Others engage, seemingly more nobly, in an analysis of
’s democracy deficit — and see the country as being on the same path as early-20th century China when it pursued militarism instead of true democracy. Germany
So much for the conventional wisdom. What really explains much of the
bashing is that China policymakers and opinion leaders are just plain frustrated — about their own internal inability to get anything done. This is true between the Congress and the Bush Administration, between Democrats and Republicans — and even within their own respective party confines. In essence, the U.S. blame game is a reflection of the China ’ collective self-hatred. United States
Given this dysfunctional state of affairs, few have the courage to express what really ails the
: the demise of the quintessentially American virtue of pragmatism — and the corresponding inability to simply get things done. United States of America
The collective inability to develop a coherent national strategy on key issues of our time — from education to health care to immigration — is indeed stunning.
The reason why politicians rarely express this sentiment is because they are both the chief perpetrators and victims of this process. Perpetrators — because it is they, in their legislative chambers, who seek to block each other’s every move. And victims — because it is enormously frustrating to work in a profession systematically focused on perpetuating stalemate.
Nothing can be more frustrating to
policymakers than to find themselves resorting to playing games of moral relativism toward U.S. . It wasn’t meant to be that way. But that is where they find themselves at this point. China
In essence, the Bush Administration’s ill-fated unilateralism has created a “global bad” in
that exceeds the “global bad” Iraq is committing in China and elsewhere. Thus, once again, Sudan is off the hook politically as well as morally. China
engages in some questionable activities, such as supporting rogue regimes in China Africa, any criticism of such moves is implicitly discounted around much of the world due to the loss of the moral power and authority of the U.S. in world affairs. What adds insult to injury is that China gains not by investing more in its military, but just by standing idly by and letting the United States diminish its own. United States
Consequently, the entire world wonders, what gives the United States the right to play “holier than thou” and criticize China — before apologizing for the human rights mess it has created in Iraq? And, even more poignantly, what gives Americans the right to criticize
’s activities in China Africa— considering how miserably Americans failed to stop their own leadership from engaging in an ill-advised and unnecessary war in the Middle East?
Faced with this turn of events, it is no wonder that there is real potential for self-hatred — and a corresponding need to deflect this self-loathing onto another nation, namely
. If only that would help. In reality, engaging in that blame game is incredibly short-sighted because it seemingly absolves the China to get its act together, which would be one monumental task. United States
politicians continue to play their mind games. Why does nobody among them talk about what’s really going on? Because doing so would be considered highly unpatriotic — and effective political suicide. U.S.
One would have to call that ironic — if it weren’t so tragic. After all, the only patriotic thing to do is to rally the country to improve on itself — not to blame others so as to argue that all is well and good in the
. United States of America
The process of facing up to this challenge is tough and painful indeed. After all, it would involve acknowledging, on the part of Republicans, that nobody has done more to propel
’s rise than George W. Bush, given the morass created by his ill-advised foreign and domestic policy moves. China
The fallout from these poor decisions detracts a lot of key decision makers from focusing on the real battle — adjusting critical
policies to position the country for the long term. U.S.
Democrats would feel the pain as well. They would have to acknowledge that “getting tough on trade” is not the answer to the nation’s core woes. The truth of the matter is that Democrats have failed, for a long, long time, to put into place a number of policies that workers in other advanced countries have long called a basic right — such as continuing health care in case of being laid off.
The Chinese, to be sure, are far from being above reproach. However, they are not the be-all and end-all of
’s problems — not even those of America manufacturing workers. And both parties, as well as opinion leaders across U.S. society, will have to come clean with another painful admission: The power dynamics vis-à-vis U.S. are such that the China will inevitably see its own power slip on a relative basis. United States
Faced with that inescapable reality, the
establishment and the country at large have three choices: They can keep on ignoring this fundamental reality — or they can acknowledge it and seek to act smartly in order to ensure the U.S. ’ continued preeminence. United States
At a minimum, while Americans are still making up their minds between these two basic choices, they can opt for a third interim solution — doing nothing unilaterally that serves only to accelerate
’s rise. China
And that, first and foremost, would entail acting in a more far-sighted, consensual manner in the foreign policy arena. That China has come to be seen as a rather rational and balanced player on the world stage is in part due to the country’s return to long-standing principles of balance-of-power politics — and a rising level of constructive engagement on a variety of issues (such as North Korea).
Ultimately, however, even if the moves advocated here are implemented, the world would still need to reckon with a significant dose of
That same realization of a relative decline in power is hitting the
these days. Tragically, the Bush Administration — and even many Democratic leaders — has seen fit to respond to this new reality by emphasizing the unique power status of the United States . United States
That is humanly comprehensible — because it absolves them of shedding the comfortable, albeit fake, cloak of patriotism. True patriotism would mean dealing with reality — and preparing the nation for a prosperous future — by focusing on one’s own shortcomings and developing plans to overcome them.
Such a move is long overdue. The
’ continued failure to act on this most crucial front stands in stark contrast to United States , whose leaders are totally focused on the process of constant self-improvement. They are living the " China principle" — of relentlessly engaging in a continuous, daily improvement process. It is high time that the Toyota , the modern world’s first society to do just that, reawakens to its own best traditions. After all, before it was called the “ United States principle,” the process of seeking constant self-improvement was called pragmatism. Toyota
Under the label of “American pragmatism” — in politics, industry and elsewhere — it became the great envy of the world. However, in the last few years,
’s competitiveness, power and prestige have been eroded because it has abandoned its defining virtue. The America cannot afford to continue giving short shrift to pragmatism. In the end, that is what the United States challenge should really remind every American of. China
Unlike with Francis Fukuyama below, I often agree with Stephan Richter of the Globalist. To me, he is a person who simply "gets it." It may seem strange that this German fellow keeps coming up with some of the most trenchant insights into American affairs, but hey, if that's one of the things globalization brings then I'll gladly take it. In his commentary on the roots of China bashing, I agree with him wholeheartedly, especially when he assigns blame not only to the United States for the current impasse but China as well. It takes two to trip over while doing the tango, to paraphrase matters. And, at the moment, both sides are making a hash out of things IMHO. In particular, the US is using China as a scapegoat for what ails it instead of confronting substantive problems that are largely homegrown: