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China in the Mediterranean

Reading on the American founding, I recall a quote (my indebtedness to anyone who can produce the source) which held something "as rare as a Catholic in America." Times change, as Catholicism is now the largest single religion in America.

Chinese war ships entered the Mediterranean today. "As rare as a Chinaman in the Mediterranean," it seems, would be another anachronistic reflection of the past. A Chinese frigate conducting anti-piracy escort missions in the Gulf of Aden rendezvoused with a Greek ship evacuating Chinese citizens from Libya and will dock in Crete.

All of this continues to raise questions not only regarding China's political and economic influence in Africa, but also its emerging military intentions. North Africa has often looked to China as a potential economic model, respecting its rapid growth within an authoritarian regime. However, Franco Zallio's Policy Brief for GMF suggests that "China will prioritize the defense of its economic interests over its political relations with incumbent regimes," and potentinal "new governments in the Mediterranean region will be much less attracted by the Chinese 'model' than the fallen regimes."

Though a country with nuclear weapons, China's military has been kept in check and not played a significant role in domestic or international affairs. However, Rodger Baker provides a warning as China's Military Comes Into Its Own

For most of modern China's history, the military has been an internal force without much appetite for more worldly affairs. That is now changing, appropriately, due to China's growing global prominence and reliance on the global economy. But that means that a new balance must be found, and China's senior leadership must both accommodate and balance the military's perspective and what the military advocates for. As Chinese leaders deal with a generational transition, expanding international involvement and an increasingly difficult economic balance, the military is coming into its own and making its interests heard more clearly.

Like North Africa, China is on the cusp of generational shift. While many of the dynamics vary, the consequences for world stability are even more perilous. Let us hope America is not again caught by surprise and afraid to confront a potential crisis. 

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Discussions - 3 Comments

The wording isn't exactly the same, but I believe this is the quote you were trying to find:

"A native of America who cannot read and write is as rare an appearance as a Jacobite or a Roman Catholic, that is, as rare as a comet or an earthquake."

John Adams. "A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law." Boston Gazette. 1765.


You, Jesse, are a great and noble scholar.

I owe you a beer.

Zallio's policy brief is quite good(so it is interesting that it is GMF), but the Germans and the Chineese also have a lot of business together, see Simens and the whole geopolitical story on China Rail. (300 billion in debt, but loosing money at a rapidly declining pace that could make the gamble pay out with higher oil prices:)

"However, the United States and the European Union, dedicated for some time to come to solving their fiscal and debt crises, will not necessarily seize the opportunity to boost their relations with Mediterranean countries."

Germany might, except that germany is trying to get the rest of europe on board with Maastricht stability or so the story goes. Plus if Kadafi is any indication, of what happens when you try too hard to boost relations in the Middle East, Germany will be telling Italy, I told you so for a long time.

"While many of the dynamics vary, the consequences for world stability are even more perilous."

Also whose dynamics? The world being flat is to a point great for Capital(except that without war and destruction there aren't enough earthquakes, for the FLUOR and KBR), but the world being spiky is good for pricing power of Labor in a world with an industrial reserve army of 1.5 billion unemployed.

German priorities and foresight might be exceptional, that is maybe the Wall Street Journal is overhyping the Irelands and docking Germany for what on a global ballance could be sensible labor laws, restrictions on banks, insurance companies and huge fines for companies that move overseas and massive fines for needed bailouts to discourage corporate underpricing of risk.

I would even say that maybe Obama does want us to be more like Germany, and I think it is actually fair to say that when Obama looks at the world he morally tries to ballance the advantages of Capital and Labor, much as the Fed tries to ballance something similar in thinking of inflation vs. unemployment.

We don't need to be like Italy and get overextended in Lybia, but it may be too late in Iraq. Who even really knows the baseline that the US itself is working from?

So in a choice among the Axis, we don't want to be Catholic/Kadafi Italy, We certainly don't want to be Japan with debt levels over 200% and americans are not supersavers anyways.

If forced to chose from the Axis I like Germany. China is buying high speed rail from Germany. If high speed rail is a bad investment China takes it on the nose, but the Germans clean up. Just because China is making strange investments doesn't mean we have to, but we are selling them a lot of them(our corporations are building some of the high speed rail, see FLUOR), so sometimes maybe we can fake it by buying in ourselves, in certain areas where it is a close enough call.

In any case serious geo-politics is probably the key to beating random walk and making money in the stock market. But then you are talking hedge fund capital selling a book, and government reliance on it.

For these reasons, and the lessons of Iraq and AIG and many others I think the Germans are better positioned legally with respect to limits on Capital and Labor, and the Germans can ballance a budget, without Marx and Ayn Rand.

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