The China Blames Game

Cross-posted at River Twice Research.

So bipartisanship isn’t dead. By a vote of 348-79, Democrats and Republicans alike put aside their acrimonious differences and agreed, at least for a moment, to stop blaming each other for the sad state of American economic life. Instead, they agreed to blame China.

The bill authorizes the president of the United States to impose tariffs on Chinese goods in response to what it considers an illegal subsidy of Chinese exports in the form of an undervalued currency. It helps that the supporters in the House know that this bill has precious little chance of becoming law; it will not pass the Senate and it is unlikely that it would be signed into law by Obama if it ever came to that. As a result, the bill is the perfect campaign gesture, bombastic, angry, self-righteous, and without much real-world consequence.

The office AFL-CIO union leader Richard Trumka issued a statement that encapsulated the thinking behind the bill: “the House of Representatives voted to put an end to the Chinese government’s currency manipulation, which has destroyed millions of good American manufacturing jobs. For more than a decade, the Chinese government has deliberately manipulated the value of its currency, ballooning our trade deficit with China and costing American communities good jobs….Working people continue to mobilize to elect candidates who will put America’s workers first and are committed to rebuilding an economy that values working people. This November we will send a powerful message that we will support those who vote for an economy that works for everyone.”

 

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The China Blames Game

Cross-posted at River Twice Research.

So bipartisanship isn’t dead. By a vote of 348-79, Democrats and Republicans alike put aside their acrimonious differences and agreed, at least for a moment, to stop blaming each other for the sad state of American economic life. Instead, they agreed to blame China.

The bill authorizes the president of the United States to impose tariffs on Chinese goods in response to what it considers an illegal subsidy of Chinese exports in the form of an undervalued currency. It helps that the supporters in the House know that this bill has precious little chance of becoming law; it will not pass the Senate and it is unlikely that it would be signed into law by Obama if it ever came to that. As a result, the bill is the perfect campaign gesture, bombastic, angry, self-righteous, and without much real-world consequence.

The office AFL-CIO union leader Richard Trumka issued a statement that encapsulated the thinking behind the bill: “the House of Representatives voted to put an end to the Chinese government’s currency manipulation, which has destroyed millions of good American manufacturing jobs. For more than a decade, the Chinese government has deliberately manipulated the value of its currency, ballooning our trade deficit with China and costing American communities good jobs….Working people continue to mobilize to elect candidates who will put America’s workers first and are committed to rebuilding an economy that values working people. This November we will send a powerful message that we will support those who vote for an economy that works for everyone.”

 

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What the Russian Spy Scandal Really Tells Us

Much has been made of the recent Russian spy swap, in which ten Russian infiltrators were exchanged for four American infiltrators. The overall reaction has been one of amusement. Russian spies combined with Desperate Housewives? Straight out of a Cold War movie thriller!

In fact, the reaction to the spy scandal reveals far more about American attitudes towards Russia than most classified information would. Simply put, the United States no longer regards Russia as its number-one nemesis and rival. In the days of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union had ten thousand nuclear missiles pointed at America, the reaction would have been far different – far more hostile, and far less amused.

In the United States today, the role of number-one rival has shifted from the USSR to mainland China. Think about what would have happened if the story had been about ten Chinese spies, not ten Russian spies. The media would have had a heart attack warning about the Chinese threat. The New York Times and the Economist – America’s newspapers for the elite – would be filled with dire articles analyzing so-called American decline and Chinese military strength. Fox News would probably warn earnestly about more Chinese spies in the midst of America. (Though those looking for Chinese spies would do well to consider the substantial community of Americans hailing from Taiwan instead of the mainland; telling the difference between Taiwanese and mainland Chinese is about as easy as was telling East Germans apart from West Germans during the Cold War.)

The Russian spy scandal also reveals much about the way American media operates. For the past few months, very little of note has occurred in either the domestic or international front. Perhaps the most notable events have been financial reform’s passage, the Gulf of Mexico spill, and – most importantly – the World Cup. None of these stories is enough to sustain a month’s news coverage (although the World Cup certainly comes close). This is why papers like the Times turn to things like Russian spies.

The spy affair, then doesn’t actually reveal much about Russia that isn’t already known – that it is spying on the United States. What it really does is tell a story about America itself – about Russia’s threat level in American eyes, and about what the media latches onto when there is nothing else to report.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

What the Russian Spy Scandal Really Tells Us

Much has been made of the recent Russian spy swap, in which ten Russian infiltrators were exchanged for four American infiltrators. The overall reaction has been one of amusement. Russian spies combined with Desperate Housewives? Straight out of a Cold War movie thriller!

In fact, the reaction to the spy scandal reveals far more about American attitudes towards Russia than most classified information would. Simply put, the United States no longer regards Russia as its number-one nemesis and rival. In the days of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union had ten thousand nuclear missiles pointed at America, the reaction would have been far different – far more hostile, and far less amused.

In the United States today, the role of number-one rival has shifted from the USSR to mainland China. Think about what would have happened if the story had been about ten Chinese spies, not ten Russian spies. The media would have had a heart attack warning about the Chinese threat. The New York Times and the Economist – America’s newspapers for the elite – would be filled with dire articles analyzing so-called American decline and Chinese military strength. Fox News would probably warn earnestly about more Chinese spies in the midst of America. (Though those looking for Chinese spies would do well to consider the substantial community of Americans hailing from Taiwan instead of the mainland; telling the difference between Taiwanese and mainland Chinese is about as easy as was telling East Germans apart from West Germans during the Cold War.)

The Russian spy scandal also reveals much about the way American media operates. For the past few months, very little of note has occurred in either the domestic or international front. Perhaps the most notable events have been financial reform’s passage, the Gulf of Mexico spill, and – most importantly – the World Cup. None of these stories is enough to sustain a month’s news coverage (although the World Cup certainly comes close). This is why papers like the Times turn to things like Russian spies.

The spy affair, then doesn’t actually reveal much about Russia that isn’t already known – that it is spying on the United States. What it really does is tell a story about America itself – about Russia’s threat level in American eyes, and about what the media latches onto when there is nothing else to report.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

Reset: Stephen Kinzer's Vision of a New U.S. Relationship with Turkey and Iran

Until quite recently, it seemed that Turkey had a clearly defined role in the Middle East, from the standpoint of U.S. policy. They were the "good Muslims," who were part of NATO, who contributed troops to U.S. wars, and who had good relations with Israel.

In the past few weeks, therefore, some Americans may have been startled to see the government of Turkey seemingly playing a very different role. First, together with Brazil, Turkey negotiated a nuclear fuel swap agreement with Iran to defuse the standoff over Iran's nuclear program and forestall a controversial U.S./Israeli push for new sanctions against Iran at the U.N. Although the deal was very similar to one proposed by the Obama Administration - and Brazil and Turkey had a letter from Obama encouraging them to press forward with the deal - Obama Administration officials dismissed the deal, and far from being grateful to Turkey and Brazil, made a show of being angry. But instead of being chastened, Turkey and Brazil insisted their deal was good - invoking their letter from Obama to demonstrate their case - and insisted that the U.S. should pursue it.

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