King of the Hill?
…the outlines of
As it evolves on a spectrum somewhere between Nazi
So when do the masks drop? When does the challenge become explicit?
Howard French, Letter from
Perhaps future historians will regard Hu Jintao’s speech in
In a speech to Nigerian lawmakers, Hu underlined
His message is that we’ve probably moved beyond globalization as panacea thanks to the Bush administration’s polarizing zero sum politics and creeping confrontation with
Hu is also declaring we’ve moved beyond the rhetoric of the “world’s only superpower” thanks to the worldwide unpopularity of the Bush administration and the
But the idea that
In retrospect, the rather pathetic farce of Hu Jintao’s reception in Washington, its non-state visit-lunch-only character, with its screaming protester miraculously admitted onto the White House lawn, with the sleeve-tugging, and the snoozing, looks more and more like an intentional and feckless attempt to assert America’s pre-eminence and China’s second-tier status.
But superpower status is not granted, it is earned—or even seized--and Hu took an important step in his direction with his
The reportage clearly communicates the hunger of third world countries for an alternative to brusque and unilateral American leadership, and nostalgia for the good old days of the Cold War, when fear of Soviet inroads modified and moderated
Analysts said Hu's offer of an alternative to the
"China is saying it wants to build a new world order based on consensus and tolerance, not the clash of civilizations," said former foreign minister Bola Akinyemi.
"It is bound to resonate in
It is a perverse credit to the current administration that only Bush’s unique combination of folly, incompetence, and cruelty could have made it possible for a rickety Communist state with an out-of-control economy to even think of defying US pretensions to world hegemony.
It’s another clear sign that we’re not in a post 9/11 world anymore. We’re in a post-Iraq world.
How long we stay in this particular world depends on the nature and quality of Bush’s response.
Bush is famously vindictive and short-sighted, especially when his jealously-guarded position and prerogatives as the world’s supreme law-giver are questioned.
Or will we mount an effective and attractive challenge to
The answer will be important to
P.S. The reference to "tianxia" in Howard French's quote strikes me as a reference to a passage in Zhang Yimou's film "The Emperor and the Assassin". One of the conspirators undermines Jin Ke's resolve to kill Qin Shih Huang by writing the characters "tian xia" in the sand. In Zhang's reading, Jin Ke realizes that the emperor has the power to unite the feudal states and turn China into a genuine moral actor "under heaven", instead of a collection of squabbling, self-centered princes and warlords. So Jin doesn't kill the emperor. That's not the way Sima Qian tells it (Jin Ke suffers a cartographic malfunction and his wholehearted attempt to assassinate the emperor fails). Zhang attracted a good amount of unfavorable comment for his variation on this famous Chinese historical theme, since the Qin Emperor is generally viewed as a stand-in for Mao Zedong. To some, Zhang seemed to be excusing Mao's excesses because he had unified the country and elevated it to the status of a world power.