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    Great Powers: America and the World After Bush
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    by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett
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    The Emily Updates (Vol. 4): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
    by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Vonne M. Meussling-Barnett
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    The Emily Updates (Vol. 5): One Year in the Life of the Girl Who Lived (The Emily Updates (Vols. 1-5))
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3:32AM

The good, the bad, and the Kim Gone Crazy

ìSigns That North Korea Is Coming to Market,î by James Brooke, New York Times, 3 June, p. W1.


ìNorth Koreaís Drug Habit,î by Victor Cha and Chris Hoffmeister, NYT, 3 June, p. A27.


Kim gives a rare economics lecture to a factory thatís been designated a new showcase of profitability. Ooooh! Hereís the joke about such an experiment in a regime that controls the economy as tightly as Pyongyang does: all such ìexperimentsî succeed simply because everything associated with their production, labor, distribution, etc. is prioritized in the otherwise-totally commanded economic system.


Meanwhile, a good story about how Kim really keeps his amazingly cruel regime propped up: the government directs farmers to grow opium poppies which are then harvested and marketed globally by the regime as heroin. Good evidence exists that Pyongyang exports its illegal narcotics to at least 20 countries.

3:30AM

Saudis: What meóworried about terrorism?

ìPreying On Saudi Arabia,î by Jim Hoagland, Washington Post, 3 June, p. A19.


ìTo Thwart Terrorism, Saudis Outline Controls on Charities,î by Susan Schmidt, WP, 3 June, p. A16.


ìSaudi Attack Spurs More U.S. Workers To Pull Up Stakes,î by Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, p. A1.


Hoaglandís article highlights an argument Iíve been making for a while in conferences: the real sign of success in the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT) is that the bombs are going off in the Middle East and southern Europe and not over here. During the heyday of Middle East terrorism in the 1980s, thatís where the bombs went off as wellóand terrorism was a ìEuropean problemî that had little to do with us.


Hereís the best excerpt:

ìThe terrorists ëare acting not out of strength but out of desperation, using up the resources they have left,í a senior Saudi official told me recently. Local al Qaeda affiliates ëstrike soft target within their range,í rather than execute strategic plans made elsewhere to break American power and install an Islamic caliphate as the new global hegemony.


That Saudi analysis sounds too good (and too self-serving) to be true. But there is evidence on both sides of the proposition from recent events.


After nearly a decade of aiming its heaviest blows at distinctly American targets, al Qaeda is operating closer to home. Its two most important terrorist attacks in May were on foreign workers at Saudi oil installations, in Yanbu and then Khobar. Those atrocities followed two bloody suicide bombings in the kingdom last year, as well as other skirmishes there, and al-Qaeda-style attacks in Morocco, Turkey and Spain.î

Well, 9/11 gets the world a U.S.-led GWOT and since then, no attacks in U.S., but plenty back in the same spots where such terrorism flourished in the 1980s. I guess the big question will be over time: How will Europe react to the return of terrorism?


Second article is one that all the major papers are running: the Saudis finally start cracking down seriously on charities that obviously fund terrorism. The royal family is going to force all the old charities to merge under the control of an official Saudi commission that will oversee their operations. Why did this finally happen? U.S. Treasury officials were set (and did so at a joint news conference with Saudi officials yesterday) to designate the chief of al Haramainóone of the biggest and strongest Saudi charities whose chairman is a government minister!óas a financier of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.


Hopefully, thatís $40 to 50 million taken off the table in the GWOT.


Meanwhile, al Qaedaís plans to drive out Westerners from the kingdom is proceeding apace. A lot are leaving after the latest attack in which 3 of the 4 terrorists escaped scot-free.


Are the Saudis worried? Not yet. As the oil minister declares, ìThere is a market illusion how much the kingdom is affected by foreign workers.î


Wrong. There is an illusion about how much the kingdom is dependent on Western foreign workers. The kingdom is very dependent on foreign workers, the vast majority of which are south Asians and southeast Asians.


This is why we need Indian and Chinese troops in Iraqótheir oil, soon their blood too.


But the arrogance of the Saudis is stunning: today al Qaeda focuses on Westerners, then all foreigners, and then when the Saudis are left alone, theyíll focus on the royal family itself. That the Saudis are too stupid to see this strategy is simply beyond meóeither that or theyíre too afraid to admit al Qaeda is winning for now.

3:24AM

Doctors without bodyguards

ìFive Aid Workers Shot to Death In an Ambush in Afghanistan: The Taliban admit to the killings and promise more,î by Carlotta Gall, New York Times, 3 June, p. A5.


The effort by the Taliban to re-disconnect Afghanistan from the outside world is not going away any time soon. Thirty-two aid workers have been killed since March 2003.


The Taliban was pretty clear about what theyíre doing. Abdul Hakim Latifi, their spokesman, said, ìWe killed them because they worked for the American against us using the cover of aid work . . . We will kill more foreign aid workers.î


The five who died were from Doctors Without Borders.

3:18AM

China wants Britneyóbut not too much

ìPop Notes,î by K. Wilcox, Washington Post, 2 June, p. C5.


The Chinese Ministry of Culture approves the proposed tour by Britney Spears on one condition: they have to inspect all her outfits before she goes onstage.


Britney, the live Barbie doll, recalls my story from the book about Iran banning all Barbies in their country (something Saudi Arabia later did as well).


China, ever more relaxed on things sexual (they have no choiceóthanks to the Internet), wants their Britney and the connectivity she brings; they just want to manage her content a bit.

3:16AM

Another EU in the makingóinside China!

ìChinese Provinces Form Regional Economic Bloc: Beijing Backs Move to Lower Barriers,î by Keith Bradsher, New York Times, 2 June, p. W1.


The leaders of nine provinces and two special administrative regions in booming SE China announce theyíre setting up a regional trade bloc within China. Itís population will rival the EU all by itself!


Why necessary? For the longest time, the provinces in China have acted almost like mini-states in terms of trade, with lots of barriers. In many ways, China is closer to a confederation economically than a unitary state (something it comes far closer to being in terms of politics).


This is China synching its internal rule sets on trade with the emerging global rule set. Huang Zhiquan, one provincial governor, puts it baldly: ìToday, weíve produced regional cooperation to match the global trend . . . Weíll try to eradicate unreasonable interferences and market barriers.î


For centuries, Beijing has discouraged such cooperation, fearing rival centers of power, and since the end of the Cold War, many experts on China were predicting the opposite: that these booming provinces would seek to distance themselves from one another and the rest of China.


Shiu Sin-por, a Chinese economic expert, said that this level of cooperation ìwas unimaginable 10 years ago, both in terms of the politics and economics.î


Why is Beijing letting this happen? A big but little noticed overhaul of the tax codes in China during the 1990s created a host of federal taxes that makes Beijing confident of its ability to draw revenue from the provinces, which, up to then, were the main tax collectors in the system.


Rules baby! Connectivity! Integration!


And another sign that the worst-case scenario of China melting into civil war following an economic meltdown is fading away with each year.

3:08AM

GlasnostóChinese style

ìChina Opens a Window on the Really Big Ideas: The public gets to hear the great decisions of state kicked around,î by Howard W. French, New York Times, 2 June, p. A4.


The head of the Chinese Communist Party, or todayís version of Mao, Hu Jintao, is getting a lot of good press for his open meetings with intellectuals to discuss the great issues facing China today: ìhow great powers rise and fall; global economics; constitutional law; crisis management; changes in the worldís military forces; and regional security.î


As the article states, ìBy so publicly consulting outsiders in a classroom-like setting, many here are saying, Chinaís Communist leadership is taking one more step away from the pretense of infallibility it once professed but began shedding under Deng 25 years ago.î


As one Chinese policy wonk put it, ìChina is actually beginning to create the infrastructure for public policy formation.î

2:43AM

How to buy a war without really approving

ìCurrency exchange rates matter and will play a prominent role in determining the kind of recovery the U.S. economy experiences,î Hal R. Varian, New York Times, 3 June, p. C2.


Great article explaining currency rates to the layman. Me, I could read it without moving my lips hardly . . . ever.


I have said many times that China and Japan effectively paid for the war in Iraq by buying U.S. Treasury bonds floated for that purpose. Did they have a choice?


In many ways no, but that doesnít mean their motives were purely economic. It just means that the way America wages war is intimately connected to how we conduct trade in peace. Japan, China and Taiwan all bought U.S. Treasury bonds in order to keep their own currencies cheap relative to the dollar and their exports attractive even as the U.S. cut taxes, depressed interest rates, and insisted on funding a fairly expensive war.


Whether they wanted to pay for it or not, they had little choice because of the intense economic connectivity that exists between them and the United States. There is no such thing as waging war unilaterally in this day and age.

2:38AM

The Core is ready to get real on ag subsidies

ìW.T.O. Moves to Revive Talks on Farm Subsidies: After disappointment in Cancun, a mood for compromise between the rich and the poor,î by Elizabeth Becker, New York Times, 2 June, p. C4.


The Old Core led by U.S. Trade Rep Bob Zoellick (the underappreciated visionary of this administration) is ready to deal on ag subsidies, and the EU as a whole is stepping up to the plateówith the French grumbling mightily, mais oui!


Look for a real breakthrough on this current set of negotiations done in advance of a bigger meeting later this summer.


Experts always love to talk about the WTO talks ìbreaking downî and ìcollapsing.î Reality is, people deal when they are ready to dealóand they are getting ready to deal on this one. This is both very good and very important.

6:11PM

The Book Notes transcript in full

Dateline: control booth, Baruch Hall, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University, Ft. Leslie McNair, Washington DC, 2 June


Just finished lunch following my all-morning presentation of the max current brief (54 slidesóusually do about 30). I started at 8:40 am and went straight to 10:15, then a 10-minute break for the audience, then 10:25 to 11:10, followed by 20 minutes of Q&A from the audience (current study body and faculty of ICAF). Audience of about 200 in beautiful hall with lots of wood grain, wonderful well-lit stage, and instead of usual screen, a wall of integrated video monitors.


I ran the brief off the hallís system and it behaved quite well. Sound effects came through beautifully and I wore a clip-on mike, so I could roam the stage at will. I tried to move as slowly as possible, so the CSPAN main camera could track me. The second camera filmed me some, some the monitor and did crowd reaction shots. CSPAN techs said later that they felt the capture was greatóespecially the brief.


My performance was solid, but not spectacular, but my hosts were very happy. I flubbed a few one-liners. My mouth was a bit out of sorts at various pointsóperhaps fatigue.


Anyway, itís over and in the can.


I was amazed to see my Amazon number drop only to 21 through yesterday (now 32). Woodward and a couple others of my sort ahead of me. To my shock, Clarke behind at 67. Will be interesting to the measure the half-life on Book Notes. So far, itís longer than the Wall Street Journal, to my complete surprise.


Speaking of Book Notes, hereís the transcript in full, with a few corrections from me (e.g., they misspelled my wifeís maiden name and my second middle-nameóMeussling).


I will offer comments in brackets following my entries where I see fit:


Here's the transcript: /published/bn.htm


COMMENTARY: Overall, the best interviewówithout a doubtóI have ever given. One thing I have learned: you are only as good as your interviewer in any interview. Lamb is superb, and Iím only sad that you only get to appear on the show once in your life. But I got the mug, and Lamb said only people who get one have appeared on the show, so thatís cool.


Finally, I was so happy to have this amazing chance to present my ideas in such an intelligent format. Add it all up and itís roughly 12,000 in words. Thatís a lot of opportunity. Perhaps I shouldnít have been surprised that it gave me such a bounce in terms of sales.

8:16AM

Calling: Carlton Yates

From Critt Jarvis, the webmaster:


I deleted your last comment because I feel it's inappropriate to simply copy and paste an entire article into a comment, as a comment. Writing a personal thought and citing a URL works best.


Also, please be mindful that your comment is posted to the topic that jiggles your imagination.


If you have questions about my decision, ask me via email.


Thanks,


Critt

7:35AM

Booknotes Transcript

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Thomas P.M. Barnett, what`s "The Pentagon`s New Map"?


Just the link for now: http://www.booknotes.org/Transcript/?ProgramID=1782

5:33AM

Long dayís journey into night

Dateline: Gate 21, TF Green Airport, Warwick RI, 1 June 2004


Up in Chicago at 4am and my son Kevin and I fly SWA to BWI and then to Providence. Run K-man to school and then bolt home for 90 minutes on the PC, getting my mega-brief ready for the Beeg Shoe at National Defense University tomorrow morning on CSPAN (taped for later in the monthóprime time!). Then Iím back in my Honda to Providence airport and a huge flight delay.


But the brief is ready, and according to my hosts, the crowd will be hungry tomorrow. The only bitch is that NDUís military lawyers have banned the sale of my book on the premises. If I had done the normal thing and published 5,000 copies via NDU (or through the government), it would be okay to sell the book on a ìmilitary reservation.î Why? I wouldnít have made any money.


Thatís my essential problem: youíre not supposed to write popular books that occasionally top out at #6 rankings on Amazon. Youíre only supposed to preach to the choir itself.


Damn my capitalist tendencies! Youíd think all those years of studying Marxism at Harvard would have stuck!


Here's my Catch and Commentary over the last several days:


"Offering aid to Haiti, Marines extend stay: U.S. troops have already airlifted 100,000 pounds of food, water,î by wire services, USA Today, 1 June, p. 4A.

Administering the system quietly in Haiti
ìSun Alters Its Pricing Strategy For Sales to Developing Nations,î by John Markoff, New York Times, 1 June, p. C2.
Sun: to each priced by population and development
ìLiberian Ruler Can Be Tried, Court Rules," by Somini Sengupta, New York Times, 1 June, p. A7.
Another brick in the wall of the A-to-Z system
ìA Plea for Enlightened Moderation: Muslims must raise themselves up through individual achievement and socioeconomic emancipation,î by Pervez Musharraf, Washington Post, 1 June, p. A23.
Pakistan asks, ìCanít we all just get along?î
ìCash crunch curbs rebuilding in Iraq: Jobless rate stuck near 30% as businesses seek capital,î by David J. Lynch, USA, 1 June, p. 1B.


ìSome Seek Date for U.S. Troops to Exit Iraq,î by Peter Slevin, WP, 1 June, p. A20.

The real failure in Iraq: the FDI has not flowed
ìSaudis Suffer Fresh Terrorist Attack: Assault Takes Lives of 22; Some Westerners Leave, But Oilís Flow Still Steady,î by Hugh Pope and Chip Cummins, Wall Street Journal, 1 June, p. A3.


ìSaudis act to ease concerns after terror attack: Officials search for al-Qaeda militants,î by staff and wire services, USA, 1 June, p. 5A.

The Saudis as bit players in their own 9/11s
ìInexpensive Chinese cars on way soon? Hurdles remain to importing vehicles as cheap as $9,000,î by Earle Eldridge, USA, 1 June, p. 3B.


ìChinas Opens Retail to Foreign Investors,î by Leslie Change, WSJ, 1 June, p. A2.


ìU.S. Firm to Control Chinese Bank: Newbridge Buys 18% Of Shenzhen Shares,î by Peter S. Goodman, WP, 1 June, p. E1.


ìChina Sees Success in Taming Growth: Senior Official Says Prices Of Commodities Are Easing. Investment in Toning Down,î by Kathy Chen and Constance Mitchell-Ford, WSJ, 1 June, p. A15.


ìThe Most Populous Nation Faces a Population Crisis,î by Joseph Kahn, NYT, 30 May, p. WK1.


ìAsiaís Tigers Are Back, With More Muscle,î by George Melloan, WSJ, 1 June, p. A17.

China huffs and it puffs, hoping its house wonít blow down

5:05AM

Administering the system quietly in Haiti

ìOffering aid to Haiti, Marines extend stay: U.S. troops have already airlifted 100,000 pounds of food, water,î by wire services, USA Today, 1 June, p. 4A.


Weíve been going to Haiti for about a century nowóroughly every decade or so. This time itís almost 2k Marines doing the HA/DR, or the Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief response. ìSince arriving, Marines have cleared garbage, refurbished schools, donated notebooks and pencils and played soccer with street gangs.î


Whatís the big difference between this effort and much of the work in Iraq? Thereís simply no combat component. Many times the Sys Admin response features no real shooting of any note, and sometimesólike in Iraq since May 2003óit features quite a bit. But either way, the baseline work is largely the same.


And, as is the norm, the UN troops are later and getting later. The UN promised 8k, and so far only a few dozen have shown up. So the Marines hang around longer than expected.


You say, how much can that matter? Youíd be surprised how few of the 170k Marines in uniform can actually put their boots on the ground overseas at any one time, so every effort counts in the grand scheme of things when an Iraq is sucking so many resources right now.


But no matter what big fights we choose to wage, the Sys Admin work goes on and on and on and on. Thirty-five coups in 200 years in Haiti. We donít ìbreakî Haiti, nor do we ìfix it,î and thatís why it will remain inside the Gap until further noticeóand effort.


All of the Marines, from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, will be heading to Iraq next.

4:55AM

Sun: to each priced by population and development

ìSun Alters Its Pricing Strategy For Sales to Developing Nations,î by John Markoff, New York Times, 1 June, p. C2.


Interesting article about Sun pricing its products to developing countries according to each nationís development status as measured by the UN. Iím sure theyíre some crafty marketing strategy in there somewhere, but on the face of it, it sounds like a nice way to shrink the Gap.


Anybody conclude differently

4:54AM

Another brick in the wall of the A-to-Z system

ìLiberian Ruler Can Be Tried, Court Rules," by Somini Sengupta, New York Times, 1 June, p. A7.


A UN-backed international war crimes court in Sierra Leone (the same one whose transnational indictment (sounds about right for transnational actors, huh?) sent corrupt dictator Charles Taylor packing from Liberia in the first place, has ruled that he can be tried in that same court for his role in enabling a rebel insurrection in Sierra Leone.


To me, this is another good sign of an emerging A-to-Z global rule set on processing politically-bankrupt regimes and their leaders.

4:51AM

Pakistan asks, ìCanít we all just get along?î

ìA Plea for Enlightened Moderation: Muslims must raise themselves up through individual achievement and socioeconomic emancipation,î by Pervez Musharraf, Washington Post, 1 June, p. A23.


I rarely have anything much nice to say about Pakistanís government, but their current leader, the ex-general Musharraf is a goodóif largely ineffective leader.


Hereís some quotes from his excellent op-ed in the Post:

ìThe world has been going through a tumultuous period since the dawn of the 1990s, with no sign of relief in sight. The suffering of the innocents, particularly my brethren in faithóthe Muslimsóat the hands of militants, extremists and terrorists has made it all the more urgent to bring order to this troubled scene. In this spirit, I would like to set forth a strategy I call Enlightened ModerationÖ


The unfortunate reality is that both the perpetrators of these crimes and most of the people who suffer from them are Muslim. This has caused many non-Muslims to believe wrongly that Islam is a religion of intolerance, militancy and terrorism. It has led increasing numbers of people to link Islam to fundamentalism; fundamentalism to extremism, and extremism to terrorism . . .


To make things even more difficult, Muslims are probably the poorest, most uneducated, most powerless and more disunited people in the world . . .


My idea for untangling this knot is Enlightened Moderation, which I think is a win for allófor both the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds. It is a two-pronged strategy. The first part is for the Muslim world to shun militancy and extremism and adopt the path of socio-economic uplift. The second is for the West, and the United States in particular, to seek to resolve all political disputes with justice and to aid in the socioeconomic betterment of the deprived Muslim world.î

He then goes on to blame the West for encouraging radical Islam against the old Soviet bloc in the 1980s and then ignoring it across the 1990s (both quite true), and ends with ìWe must adopt a path of moderation and a conciliatory approach to fight the common belief that Islam is a religion of militancy in conflict with modernization, democracy, and secularism.î


All good stuff and all largely inconceivable to the bulk of this leaderís own population, a good chunk of which ably provides sanctuary to al-Qaeda. But have no doubt: itís better to listen to Musharref than bin Laden, or Arafat, or Saddamóall great disconnectors who prefer (or preferred) to keep their own people stupid, isolated, and under their power. If Musharref had his way, Pakistan would open up to the outside world. Itís just sad it won't go his way in that country any time soon.

4:37AM

The real failure in Iraq: the FDI has not flowed

ìCash crunch curbs rebuilding in Iraq: Jobless rate stuck near 30% as businesses seek capital,î by David J. Lynch, USA, 1 June, p. 1B.


ìSome Seek Date for U.S. Troops to Exit Iraq,î by Peter Slevin, WP, 1 June, p. A20.


The first few paragraphs of this piece hit the issue right on the nose:

ìBusinessman Louay al-Tahanís biggest problem isnít the postwar chaos that often keeps his employees from their jobs, the daily power outages that idle his machines or even the unexploded artillery shell sitting in the rubbish heap alongside his factory.


Al-Tahanís biggest problem is a lack of cash. Despite Iraqís turmoil, he sees a huge opportunity to expand production to meet surging demand. But to do that, he needs $1.8 million to replace his gear. ëTo renew our factory, we really need to rip out all our equipment,í al-Tahan said. ëWe donít have the liquid cash.í


With bank lending almost non-existent and foreign investment in Iraq about as common as a snow-storm. Iraqi businesses are struggling to secure the credit they need for life after Saddam Hussein. Whether these midsize businesses succeed or fail with their job-creating expansions is critical for stability: Iraqís anti-American insurgency is largely made up of unemployed young men. If the economy generated more jobs, extremists couldnít recruit foot soldiers as easily.î

No businesses invested in themselves under Saddam because to do so was to become profitable and attract the attention of Saddamís sons, who would simply loot the place over time. So businesses did nothing beyond surviving under that rule.


So far the coalition governments involved in the occupation has disbursed about $7.5 million in micro-loans, but billions are needed.


Who will supply that sort of money? Private corporations that see a future in Iraq. Killing that future is exactly what that insurgency is all about; they would prefer a smaller pie they could control that a larger one no one in particular could control (unless you believe multinational corporations control your life as well).


Meanwhile, the ìempireî strategists are leaving this sinking ship. Andrew Bacevich, one of the real kingpins of this movement, says ìThe destruction of the Baathist regime is the fullest expression of liberation that we can accomplish . . . It is simply beyond our ability to bring into existence a liberal democratic order, and to persist in attempting to do so is, first of all, to end in failure.î


So thatís the judgment of the empire crowd: itís war and nothing else; itís smoking holes and ìweíre outta here.î Apparently it's all (democratic order overnight) or nothing at all.


Thatís grand strategy alright: give it a year and then bail.


Remember World War II: it was all success upon success for the U.S. in its first year, and everyone in America was behind the war from the get-go.


As Dr. Evil would say, ìRrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiight . . ..

4:33AM

The Saudis as bit players in their own 9/11s

ìSaudis Suffer Fresh Terrorist Attack: Assault Takes Lives of 22; Some Westerners Leave, But Oilís Flow Still Steady,î by Hugh Pope and Chip Cummins, Wall Street Journal, 1 June, p. A3.


ìSaudis act to ease concerns after terror attack: Officials search for al-Qaeda militants,î by staff and wire services, USA, 1 June, p. 5A.


Al-Qaeda is doing well in its efforts to scare out all Westerners from Saudi Arabia, but Westerners account for only about 100k of 6m foreign workers, the vast majority of which are south and east Asians.


So I ask yet again: why donít we have India and China in this coalition? Itís their oil, and their people working there. The reality is that killing or scaring off all the Westerners wonít cripple Saudi oil production one bit.


Thatís because the Saudis are bit players in their own 9/11s: of the 25 who died in this biggest terrorist attack in over a year, only 3 were Saudis. The rest were 8 Indians, 3 Filipinos, two Sri Lankans, an American, a Briton, an Italian, a Swede, a South African and a kid from Egypt.


Let them eat cake? Hell, let them eat the bullets too . . ..

4:30AM

China huffs and it puffs, hoping its house wonít blow down

ìInexpensive Chinese cars on way soon? Hurdles remain to importing vehicles as cheap as $9,000,î by Earle Eldridge, USA, 1 June, p. 3B.


ìChinas Opens Retail to Foreign Investors,î by Leslie Change, Wall Street Journal, 1 June, p. A2.


ìU.S. Firm to Control Chinese Bank: Newbridge Buys 18% Of Shenzhen Shares,î by Peter S. Goodman, Washington Post, 1 June, p. E1.


ìChina Sees Success in Taming Growth: Senior Official Says Prices Of Commodities Are Easing. Investment in Toning Down,î by Kathy Chen and Constance Mitchell-Ford, Wall Street Journal, 1 June, p. A15.


ìThe Most Populous Nation Faces a Population Crisis,î by Joseph Kahn, New York Times, 30 May, p. WK1.


ìAsiaís Tigers Are Back, With More Muscle,î by George Melloan, WSJ, 1 June, p. A17.


The next threat from China? The Great Wall Deer pickup and the Great Wall Safe SUV. Itís chin-ching at a mere 9 to 18k per unit.


But whatís this? China opening up its retail sector big time. Out go the old rules, such as all ventures must be joint ventures, and in come the new, such as Walmart can start its own stores and set them up anywhere.


Damn those tricky communists! Every time I think I have a handle on them, they confuse me yet again.


Iíd call them inscrutable if they were issuing so many new rules in direct compliance with WTO regsócurse their growing transparency!


Whatís worse is that theyíre beginning to let Western firms own banks in China. More connectivity. More rules. More transparency.


Why submit to our bankersí tyranny? Could it be $500 billion in bad loans in the system? So the infusion of cash at the price of ownership means we get to buy distressed banks.


Hmmm. How very capitalist of us . . ..


Latest news from China says its efforts to cool down the economy is showing signs of working in certain key raw materials like steel and aluminum. Good news. Too much of the global economy is tied to China already, and China needs that foreign direct investment to flow for years and years.


Why? China is aging faster than any major country in human history. All this nonsense about China somehow blowing past the U.S. economically and posing a huge military threat completely ignores the huge demographic shifts already in play and inescapable to all: China will get old before it becomes rich. Add this race to the many China is running with itself.


Yes, yes, I know. All those pissed-off young men without wives (thanks to the one-baby policy) will get angry at their lot and decide to invade the world, displaying an overseas aggression that China has yet to display in about 5,000 years of history (but those damn tricky communists will unveil it any minute now!).


The hardest thing for so many experts in my field to accept about China is that it is destined to disappoint the Pentagon greatly as a ìrising near-peer competitor.î Instead of seeing Chinaís development for what it isóa huge opportunity for strategic partnership, the Pentagon prefers to dream of distant wars full of high-tech platforms.


As usual, the Wall Street Journal puts it all in perspective:

ìThe emergence of growth-oriented free-market policies in India and China has produced a happy synergy. The developed world supplies them with investment, capital goods and know-how. They supply the developed world with low-cost consumer items that help hold inflation in check even in a period, particularly in the U.S., of monetary stimulation. Both sides benefit.î
Oh no they donít! The Pentagon is losing its dream date. A country old and fat and waddling around Walmarts just wonít do . . ..

1:57AM

Roger and me

Dateline: Holiday Inn Express at Midway Airport, Chicago IL, 31 May


Spent a half-hour today with a friend who goes all the way back to

kindergarten--Roger Haney. Roger was always the biggest kid in the class by

about 3 inches and 30 pounds--even in kindergarten. Gentle as giants go,

not the smartest guy but always the most polite and kindest, Roger

unwittingly taught me manners throughout my childhood.


Let me tell you how.


I had numerous ear problems throughout my early years, going substantially

deaf on several occasions and suffering through a half-dozen operations over

the years. Suffice it to say, I sometimes didn't hear so well. Like most

kids, my comeback to anything I couldn't make out was "Huh?"


Roger never said "huh." His mom was my 5th grade teacher at Immaculate

Conception and none of her kids ever said "huh." They all said, "Pardon

me?" Not snotty or anything, but with the perfect raising of their tone at

the end to signal both a question and to lighten the request--making it

almost sound like "please."


Whenever I heard Roger use this, I was really impressed at how well it went

over with people--especially adults. It was like Roger had this secret

knowledge that never failed to impress. Simply put, he was smooth in a very

basic way, and yeah, it was impressive for a kid.


So I spent years mimicking Roger on this one small point. To this day, I

will use "pardon me" over 90% of the time, and each and every time I do, I

think of him and how he made me just a little bit better of a person for

knowing him.


Roger is dying from an inoperable brain tumor. He's way past the surgeries,

the radiation, and the chemo that won't do him any good. Roger is waiting .

. . and living his life as only someone as polite, and upbeat, and kind as

he possibly could.


My Mom and I sat in the Haney living room with Roger and his mom Betty for

about 30 minutes today. Roger's mind was as sharp--and as funny--as ever.

He made historical and political arguments with ease, described joking with

doctors, discussed the weather and how much he enjoyed watching me on CSPAN

last night. We talked briefly about how we teamed up on a forensics skit in

high school that took us all the way to state in class A, where we won a

first-place ranking--my only state "championship" despite all my success in

multiple sports. Roger played the Romeo (Pryramus) to my Juliet (Thisbee)

in the play-within-the-play of Midsummer Night's Dream. It was the most fun

acting I've ever had, and one of the great memories of my youth.


It wasn't sad to see Roger today. As always, it was simply great to be with

him yet again and remember our young lives together. Roger says every day

above ground is fine with him.


Meanwhile the emails poured in from those people who saw me on CSPAN last

night (the effusive accolades, the occasional hate mail filled with

accusations and expletives, and the always humorous instant review of the

book on Amazon from someone who admits he's never even read it!). Meanwhile

my Amazon ranking hit a new high around 4:30 pm at #6 (right behind "The

Davinci Code" and just above the "South Beach Diet) and my B&N similarly

peaked at#14--another all-time high.


That "love" will come and go--like a 30-minute visit in a life stretching

over 4 decades in length. And yet none of that attention compares to

hugging Roger one more time and briefly holding Mrs. Haney--my fifth-grade

teacher--in my arms.


Life is a long journey--harder for some and sweeter for others. We all seek

connectivity and love at every possible traction point along the way. I

found one huge traction point today, and--as always--it made me a slightly

better person for having found it.


Thanks again Roger.