(Swans - December 2, 2013) Aren't you glad you do not walk in the shoes of President Obama? Sure, sure, you would do a much better job than him if you were sitting in his chair in the Oval Office. Because you know it all, right? I am aware of someone who holds definitive opinions on everything, wants to launch a revolution and become our next savior, once a few heads have been beheaded and he is still alive. I, for one, have never been interested in power, except from an outside observation post. Indeed, I have no power, not even over my dogs, and I simply cannot sell the house that has been giving me grief for years after original aspirations and joy. So, indeed my power is nil. Mr. Obama has extraordinary powers with a legion of capable assistants and counselors. He literally can decide on my living or dying (or yours), but he has little interest in contrarians. I thank him for that. So what are his current interests?
Due to the calendar, Thanksgiving must have been on his radar screen. How much wastful and unnecessary stuff Americans buy bolsters the GDP, employment, and the like? His health care plan turns out to be the failure it was meant to be -- any mindful analyst asked for Medicare for all, not the cash cow it stands to become for the private insurance industry. Can't make the Web site work. A joke. Forget about immigration reform. It's not going to happen. We want the Latinos in when the economy is humming, and out when shit hits the fan.
Mr. Obama, such a powerful man with a beautiful wife and two gorgeous daughters, Malia and Sasha, could help us sell our house in the boonies and stop losing money by the buckets (eh, if someone needs to make a bundle, others have to loose their shirts). We'll move to San Francisco. I promise we will let the NSA, the CIA, and the FBI learn our new address and phone number (though I don't think they need us to find out...just ask AT&T or our Internet service provider).
So, there is nothing new on the front end of our domestic policies, but foreign or international policy keeps your eyebrows raising day in and day out. Israel and Saudi Arabia are howling against the tentative rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran, potentially ending close to 35 years of vindictiveness and reshuffling the Middle East strategy. It's happening before our eyes. Whether Mr. al-Assad of Syria survives the civil war is of little interest to the United States. A deal will be done with Russia. Whichever side wins will be opposed to US interests. Saudi Arabia keeps supporting the anti-Assad forces and being pissed off with the US administration's position. The U.S. stays quiet about this irritation. Everybody knows that Saudi Arabia would not exist much longer without Uncle Sam, oil & gas notwithstanding. Saudi Arabia needs the U.S. It's not the other way around. The cards are changing hands (the U.S. does not need the oil); the chessboard is up to a new game. The U.S. is indeed moving on. Even Israel ought to take notice, for her own sake. I am not certain the U.S. still wants to stick to Eurasia (too much blood and money). Asia and Africa (besides the American continent) are becoming the center attention of US strategy, not Europe and the Middle East.
In this light, China's unilateral move to declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) last week over a large area that includes a few desolate islands administered by Japan but claimed by China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan is particularly worrisome (they have one name in Chinese -- Diaoyu -- and another in Japanese -- Senkaku). Why now, fully knowing that it would draw a strong reaction from Japan and the U.S.? The question is not whether China was entitled to declare an ADIZ. She was, though it overlapped several countries' zones. Japan already had an ADIZ over that area. The Chinese leadership had to have taken into consideration the moves from the other side(s) -- you know the game plan, another party of chess. So, now all planes flying over the zone must identify themselves and provide a flight plan to the Chinese authorities. Evidently, the U.S., Japan, and South Korea refused to accept the Chinese decision and sent military and reconnaissance planes to fly over the zone. China did not react, though its government had threatened that any such intrusion would face immediate "defensive emergency measures." This is a dangerous game. The U.S. repeated its total support for Japan and its willingness to get engaged militarily to defend its ally in case of war. The concern is that China, in making this assertive move in the East China Sea, will follow suit in the South China Sea, thus surrounding Taiwan. China, quietly but persistently, has been implementing policies to become the regional superpower and weaken American preponderance in the Pacific. Some analysts, not neglecting pride, self-esteem, honor, and long enmity between Japan and China, aver that this move has to do with oil and gas that have supposedly been found in the area. Others suggest that taking control of these islands will allow China to use the underwater as a base for their nuclear submarines and open the door to the Pacific Ocean (check the map). Finally, there are those who suspect that China is taking advantage of the United States' relative decline.
Who is correct or incorrect (right or wrong) is not for me to decide, but this is indeed a dangerous situation. As Utah governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., who was ambassador to China under the first Obama administration, said: "When you have an unexpected crisis, things escalate very, very quickly without any plans for de-escalation." He added: "That's one of the big challenges we have in the U.S.-China relationship."
In other words, we all are playing with deadly fire. Forget about the Mall, the health care debacle, and the usual pettiness of our daily politics. Open your windows to the world. It's becoming quite fascinating, if not worrisome. I hope we can sell our house soon and downsize drastically.
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