Nelson Mandela and the world I knew and a G-2 ?

Nelson Madela

Nelson Madela

Pray for Nelson Mandela and the world we used to know.

Mandiba is seriously (seriously ill).

It has become an increasingly frequent occurrence but each time the anxiety deepens rather than diminishes. At 1.30am on Saturday, when the affluent suburbs of Johannesburg were dark and deathly quiet, Nelson Mandela was whisked from his home to the hospital with a recurring lung infection.
South Africa’s first black president, who turns 95 next month, is said to be in a serious condition – a rare choice of word for government officials who have played down past health scares.
But they also insisted that he is stable, conscious, able to breathe on his own and believed to be communicating with his family. His wife Graça Machel, from Mozambique, who on Thursday cancelled a trip to a hunger summit in London, accompanied him to the hospital and remains at his bedside.

I have little else to say, except that I am extremely moved. Moved to tears and afraid for many reasons. Why?

Because a 29-year-old former C.I.A. computer technician went public on Sunday as the source behind the daily drumbeat of disclosures about the nation’s surveillance programs, saying he took the extraordinary step because “the public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong.”
During a 12-minute video interviewthat went online Sunday, Edward Joseph Snowden calmly answered questions about his journey from being a well-compensated government contractor with nearly unlimited access to America’s intelligence secrets to being holed up in a Hong Kong hotel room, the subject of a United States investigation, with the understanding that he could spend the rest of his life in jail.
The revelation came after days of speculation that the source behind a series of leaks that have transfixed Washington must have been a high-level official at one of America’s spy agencies. Instead, the leaker is a relatively low-level employee of a giant government contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, that has won billions of dollars in secret government contracts over the past decade, partly by aggressively marketing itself as the premier protector of America’s classified computer infrastructure.
The episode presents both international and domestic political difficulties for the Obama administration. If Mr. Snowden remained in China, the White House would have to navigate getting him out of a country that has been America’s greatest adversary on many issues of computer security.
Then the United States must set up a strategy for prosecuting a man whom many will see as a hero for provoking a debate that President Obama himself has said he welcomes — amid already fierce criticism of the administration’s crackdown on leaks. The court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who released a vast archive of military and diplomatic materials to WikiLeaks, resumes Monday.
In his interview with The Guardian, Mr. Snowden said his job had given him access to myriad secrets that the United States government guards most jealously, including the locations of Central Intelligence Agency stations overseas and the identities of undercover agents working for the United States.
But he said he had been selective in what he disclosed, releasing only what he found to be the greatest abuses of a surveillance state that he came to view as reckless and having grown beyond reasonable boundaries. He was alternately defiant and resigned, saying at one point that the C.I.A. might try to spirit him out of China, and speculating that it might even hire Asian gangs to go after him.
Fareed Zakaria says, in his Washington Post article (related to his GPS – CNN program)
“The United States has been accused of having a confused, contradictory foreign policy, as each administration reverses its predecessor. This is often a mischaracterization, never more so than with China policy. Since Nixon and Kissinger opened the door, U.S. foreign policy toward China has been remarkably consistent over 40 years and eight presidents. Washington has sought to integrate China into the world, economically and politically. This policy has been good for the United States, good for the world and extremely good for China.
But many of the forces that pushed the two countries together are waning. For the first two decades of relations, Washington had strategic reasons to align with Beijing and shift the balance of power against the Soviet Union. While China was in its early years of development, it desperately needed access to U.S. capital, technology and political assistance to expand its economy. Today, China is much stronger and is acting in ways — from cyberattacks to its policies in Africa — that are counter to U.S. interests and values. For its part, Washington must respond to the realities of Asia, where its historic allies are nervous about China’s rise.
That’s why the meetings between Obama and Xi are important. Both countries need to take a clear-eyed look at the relationship and find a new path that could define a cooperative framework for the future, as Nixon and Zhou did in 1972. Both sides should seek to create a broad atmosphere of trust rather than to work through a “to-do” list.
Some Americans want to see these meetings as a “G-2” alliance of sorts between the world’s largest economies. That would not serve U.S. interests nor those of broader global stability and integration.
China is the world’s second-largest economy and, because of its size, will one day become the largest. (On a per-capita basis, it is a middle-income country, and it might never surpass the United States in that regard.) But power is defined along many dimensions, and by most political, military, strategic and cultural measures, China is a great but not global power. For now, it lacks the intellectual ambition to set the global agenda.
The scholar David Shambaugh, who has always been well-disposed toward China, put it this way in a recent book: “China is, in essence, a very narrow-minded, self-interested, realist state, seeking only to maximize its own national interests and power. It cares little for global governance and enforcing global standards of behavior (except its much-vaunted doctrine of noninterference in the internal affairs of countries). Its economic policies are mercantilist and its diplomacy is passive. China is also a lonely strategic power, with no allies and experiencing distrust and strained relationships with much of the world.”
Beijing wants good relations with the United States and a general climate of external stability. That’s partly because it faces huge internal challenges. Chinese leaders want to embark on serious reform at home (described as “rectification”) and are searching for a way to generate greater legitimacy for the Communist Party, experimenting with both a return to Maoist rhetoric and a revival of nationalism. Beijing wants to rise without creating a powerful anti-Chinese backlash among Asia’s other powers.
The United States should seek good and deep relations with China. They would mean a more stable, prosperous and peaceful world. Further integrating China into an open global system would help maintain that system and the open world economy that rests on it. But this can happen only if China recognizes and respects that system and operates from the perspective of a global power and not that of a “narrow-minded” state seeking only to maximize its interests.
In other words, when China starts acting like a superpower, we should treat it like one.
The world is swamped and crying. Rivers are rising and wikis are leaking and I don’t understand anything anymore as I once did, or at least, pretended I did.

Gerald Thomas (the one I used to be)

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