Monday, December 6, 2010

Our Government is Paralyzed and Polarized

I don't always agree with Tom Friedman. He has, for example, been far too enthusiastic about the benefits of globalization. But I think he is spot-on in his recent rant in the New York Times. Taking a page from the recent Wikileaks dustup, Friedman imagines he is sharing with us a cable, intercepted if you will, between Beijing and the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. (You can read the whole article here).

The tone is one of satisfaction, even relief, because America is demonstrating a contemptible inability to face up to its challenges, especially those posed by China.  Here are some excerpts.

"Things are going well here for China. America remains a deeply politically polarized country, which is certainly helpful for our goal of overtaking the U.S. as the world’s most powerful economy and nation." 

"...There is a willful self-destructiveness in the air here as if America has all the time and money in the world for petty politics. They fight over things like — we are not making this up — how and where an airport security officer can touch them. They are fighting — we are happy to report — over the latest nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. It seems as if the Republicans are so interested in weakening President Obama that they are going to scuttle a treaty that would have fostered closer U.S.-Russian cooperation on issues like Iran. And since anything that brings Russia and America closer could end up isolating us, we are grateful to Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona for putting our interests ahead of America’s and blocking Senate ratification of the treaty...."

"...Americans just had what they call an 'election.' Best we could tell it involved one congressman trying to raise more money than the other (all from businesses they are supposed to be regulating) so he could tell bigger lies on TV more often about the other guy before the other guy could do it to him. This leaves us relieved. It means America will do nothing serious to fix its structural problems: a ballooning deficit, declining educational performance, crumbling infrastructure and diminished immigration of new talent."

"But the Americans are oblivious. They travel abroad so rarely that they don’t see how far they are falling behind... In foreign policy, we see no chance of Obama extricating U.S. forces from Afghanistan. He knows the Republicans will call him a wimp if he does, so America will keep hemorrhaging $190 million a day there."

"Most of the Republicans just elected to Congress do not believe what their scientists tell them about man-made climate change. America’s politicians are mostly lawyers — not engineers or scientists like ours — so they’ll just say crazy things about science and nobody calls them on it. It’s good. It means they will not support any bill to spur clean energy innovation, which is central to our next five-year plan. And this ensures that our efforts to dominate the wind, solar, nuclear and electric car industries will not be challenged by America."

...Thank goodness the Americans can’t read our diplomatic cables."

And that does not address what the Europeans think about us, our broken government, and our downward spiral to oligarchy. That will be another post.

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