Bret Stephens | America’s Crumbling Global Position – The New York Times

“A “complex, coordinated and deliberate attack,” was how John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, on Monday described a recent drone assault on a U.S. military outpost in Syria that helps train local allies to fight ISIS. It was carried out with as many as five Iranian drones, launched by Iranian proxies, and conducted with Iran’s aid and blessing.

We’ll see if there’s any kind of U.S. response. The Biden administration is still desperate to get Iran back to the negotiating table to sign a nuclear deal that would free up billions of dollars in funding that Tehran can use to conduct more such attacks.

Also on Monday, The Times’s David Sanger reported that a Russian intelligence agency, the S.V.R., is once again engaged in a campaign “to pierce thousands of U.S. government, corporate and think-tank computer networks,” according to Microsoft cybersecurity experts. This comes just a few months after President Biden personally warned Vladimir Putin against renewing such attacks — while also going easy on the penalties the U.S. imposed for previous intrusions.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment;
Dear Bret, I have become a fan of yours, for many reasons, but this is one of your weakest pieces ever. If any of your points are correct and true, you didn’t convince me, since you covered too much, too poorly. On Afghanistan, I suggest you study the op-ed today by Thomas L Friedman. I think the L stands for smart. I haven’t fact checked his piece, and I don’t know if you are allowed to, but it the whole mid east is moving in interesting directions since we left Afghanistan somewhat abruptly, then bravo for Joe Biden and his team. Maybe we still have to wait for the month, after the month after the month.
I know some things about China through my book on Vietnam, and you are so off base from my view there. The Chinese are running jets towards Taiwan to distract their population from the bankruptcy of one of their biggest real estate and construction companies, and numerous other problems. You really sound like chicken little, and should also read Socrates in these comments. What you miss most, the elephant, is that Biden pulled out of Afghanistan, which was draining us dry, so he would have the power to stand up to China, and if necessary, prepare for war with them. I heard a rumor the other day, that chicken little was also a chicken hawk.
And, where in your analysis, was the climate crisis. I recommend the amazing video in the Times today about Greta Thunberg, and why she has hope.
David Lindsay wrote “The Tay Son Rebellion,” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Sylvie Kauffmann | Why France Is Angry About the U.S.’s Submarine Deal – The New York Times

Ms. Kauffmann, the editorial director of Le Monde, writes extensively about European and international politics.

“PARIS — Make no mistake. This is a crisis, not a spat.

The new partnership announced last week between the United States, Britain and Australia, in which Australia would be endowed with nuclear-powered submarines, has left the French angry and in shock. And not just because of the loss of their own deal, signed in 2016, to provide Australia with submarines.

French officials say they have been stonewalled and duped by close allies, who negotiated behind their backs. The sense of betrayal is so acute that President Emmanuel Macron has uncharacteristically opted to keep silent on the issue, delegating the expression of a very public rage to his otherwise quiet foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian. Asked on public television whether President Biden’s behavior was reminiscent of his predecessor’s, Mr. Le Drian replied, “Without the tweets.” “

U.N. General Assembly: China to limit coal plant production – The New York Times

“President Xi Jinping of China told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday that his country would stop promoting the growth of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel overseas, in a major step to address climate change: China, he said, “will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad.”

Mr. Xi’s announcement, in prerecorded remarks, was a surprise move designed to lift his country’s standing on global efforts to rein in global greenhouse emissions.

China currently produces the largest share of emissions. It is by far the biggest producer of coal domestically, and by far the largest financier of coal-fired power plants abroad, with an enormous 40 gigawatts of coal power planned.”

Floods in China Leave Many Searching for Loved Ones Amid Outages – The New York Times

MIHE, China — Chen Shuying was sitting at home with her husband and their 3-year-old grandson on Tuesday when water began to surge through the door. Within minutes, it was well above her waist. “The water came so fast,” she said.

They made it to the roof, where they waited for hours for the water to recede. Two days later, she still cannot return home, she said. They were lucky. Three neighbors — a grocery shopkeeper and two of the grocer’s customers — were swept away by the floodwaters and have not been seen since.

The formidable destructive power of the floods that engulfed Henan Province in central China became clearer on Thursday, even as new areas were inundated. Still more rain is in the forecast, following days of torrential downpours, including the strongest on record in the area on Tuesday.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
The silver lining of this tragic flooding in central China, is that the Chinese government deserves to be reprimanded for its insistence that it is their turn now to pollute for 300 years, like the western countries did in the last 300 years. They continue to build new coal plants in China and around the world, and insisist that they can increase their carbon emissions for at least another 15 or 30 years. While their position makes good sense morally, it ignores the science of the climate crisis. And it isn’t good for the people of China. The people of earth have to stop all climate change causing pollution emissions, or we all will suffer the awful consequences. The problems we are seeing today are just the prequel, the beginning of what could turn out to be an existential threat of floods, droughts, famines, epidemics, dislocation and war over diminishing resources.
David Lindsay Jr is the author of the Tay Son Rebellion about 18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Bret Stephens | How Will We Win the Second Cold War? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…VCG/Getty Images

 

“In the First Cold War, the United States and our allies had a secret weapon against the Soviet Union and its satellites.

It didn’t come from the C.I.A. Nor was it a product of DARPA or the weapons labs at Los Alamos. It was Communism.

Communism aided the West because it saddled an imperialist Russian state with an unworkable and unpopular economic system that could not keep up with its free-market competitors. “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work” — the quintessential Russian joke about working life in the workers’ paradise — goes far to explain why a regime with tens of thousands of nuclear warheads simply petered out.

Now we are entering the Second Cold War, this time with China. That’s the takeaway from this month’s U.S.-China summit in Anchorage, in which both sides made clear that they had not only clashing interests but also incompatible values. Secretary of State Antony Blinken bluntly accused China of threatening “the rules-based order that maintains global stability.” Yang Jiechi, his Chinese counterpart, replied that the U.S. had to “stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world.” ” . . .

25 Days That Changed the World: How Covid-19 Slipped China’s Grasp – The New York Times

Chris BuckleyDavid D. KirkpatrickAmy Qin and 


“The most famous doctor in China was on an urgent mission.

Celebrated as the hero who helped uncover the SARS epidemic 17 years ago, Dr. Zhong Nanshan, now 84, was under orders to rush to Wuhan, a city in central China, and investigate a strange new coronavirus. His assistant photographed the doctor on the night train, eyes closed in thought, an image that would later rocket around China and burnish Dr. Zhong’s reputation as the nation’s medic riding to the rescue.

China’s official history now portrays Dr. Zhong’s trip as the cinematic turning point in an ultimately triumphant war against Covid-19, when he discovered the virus was spreading dangerously and sped to Beijing to sound the alarm. Four days later, on Jan. 23, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, sealed off Wuhan.

That lockdown was the first decisive step in saving China. But in a pandemic that has since claimed more than 1.7 million lives, it came too late to prevent the virus from spilling into the rest of the world.

The first alarm had actually sounded 25 days earlier, exactly a year ago, last Dec. 30. Even before then, Chinese doctors and scientists had been pushing for answers, yet officials in Wuhan and Beijing concealed the extent of infections or refused to act on warnings.”

Opinion | John Kerry: China’s Chance to Save Antarctic Sealife – By John F. Kerry – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Kerry served as U.S. secretary of state from 2013 to 2017.

Credit…Liu Shiping/Xinhua, via Getty Images

“Even as the United States and China confront deep disagreements, there is a global challenge that simply won’t wait for the resolution of our differences: climate change.

While some have decided that we are entering a new Cold War with China, we can still cooperate on critical mutual interests. After all, even at the height of 20th-century tensions, the Americans and the Soviets negotiated arms control agreements, which were in the interests of both countries.

Climate change, like nuclear proliferation, is a challenge of our own making — and one to which we hold the solution. We have an opportunity this month to make clear that great power rivalries aside, geopolitics must end at the water’s edge — at the icy bottom of our planet in the Southern Ocean, which surrounds the entire continent of Antarctica.

The first post-World War II arms limitation agreement — the Antarctic Treaty signed in 1959 at the height of the Cold War — banned military activities, created a nuclear-free space, set aside territorial claims and declared the continent a global commons dedicated to peace and science. Now we have the opportunity to extend that global commons from the land to the sea.”

Opinion | The Chinese Decade – By Ross Douthat – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Kin Cheung/Associated Press

“It is quite extraordinary that a pandemic originating in a Chinese province, a disease whose initial cover-up briefly seemed likely to deal a grave blow to the Communist regime, has instead given China a geopolitical opportunity unlike any enjoyed by an American rival since at least the Vietnam War.

This opportunity has been a long time building. Across the 2000s and early 2010s, China’s ruling party reaped the benefits of globalization without paying the cost, in political liberalization, that confident Westerners expected the economic opening to impose. This richer-but-not-freer China proved that it was possible for an authoritarian power to tame the internet, to make its citizens hardworking capitalists without granting them substantial political freedoms, to buy allies across the developing world, and to establish beachheads of influence — in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, American academia, the NBA, Washington, D.C. — in the power centers of its superpower rival.

Eventually, America responded to all this as you would expect a superpower to react: It elected a China hawk who promised to get tough on Beijing, to bring back jobs lost to the China shock, and to shift foreign policy priorities from the Middle East to the Pacific. But there was one small difficulty: This hawk was no Truman or Reagan, but rather a reality-television mountebank whose real attitude toward China policy was, basically, whatever gets me re-elected works. A mountebank, and also a world-historical incompetent, who was presented with exactly the challenge that his nationalism was supposed to answer — a dangerous disease carried by global trade routes from our leading rival — and managed to turn it into an American calamity instead.”

Opinion | China and America Are Heading Toward Divorce – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“My favorite story in John Bolton’s book about the Trump Fun House — sorry, White House — was that President Trump appealed to China’s leader to buy more U.S. agricultural products to boost Trump’s farm vote and his re-election.

Donald: Stop begging. Both Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin have decided to vote for you. Don’t worry!

They know that as long as you’re president, America will be in turmoil. For Xi, that means we’re a less formidable economic rival, and for Vlad, that means we’re a less attractive democratic model for his people. They also both know that as long as you’re president the U.S. will never be able to galvanize a global coalition of allies against them, which is what China fears most on trade, human rights and Covid-19 and Russia on Ukraine and Syria.

Don’t take it from me. Here’s what Zhou Xiaoming, a former Chinese trade negotiator and deputy representative in Geneva, told Bloomberg’s Peter Martin: “If Biden is elected, I think this could be more dangerous for China, because he will work with allies to target China, whereas Trump is destroying U.S. alliances.”

Chinese officials, Martin reported, see a unified front on trade or human rights by the U.S. and its allies as “Washington’s greatest asset for checking China’s widening influence,” and Trump’s behavior ensures that will never come about.”

David Lindsay:

It has become clear to me that Bolten’s publisher sent free advance copies of his new book to every columnist at the NYT who writes about foreign policy ever. I should complain to my own publisher, and perhaps fire them, for not doing the same courtesy for my book, The Tay Son Rebellion!

Opinion | China’s Man in Washington, Named Trump – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Nicolas Asfouri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Nobody has been tougher on China than me,” President Trump has declared repeatedly, and he is trying to exploit anti-China feelings for his re-election. He portrays Joe Biden as soft on China, and his backers have run ads denouncing “Beijing Biden.”

All that is preposterous, for it is Trump who has been China’s stooge, a sycophantic flatterer and enabler of President Xi Jinping. If that wasn’t already evident, John Bolton’s new book, “The Room Where It Happened,” portrays Trump as practically kowtowing to Xi.

The kowtow meant prostrating oneself before the emperor or a patriarch and knocking one’s head on the ground. Today it takes the form of a fawning American president publicly declaring, “President Xi loves the people of China” and hailing Xi’s “very capable” handling of the coronavirus.

I’ve been gasping as I read an advance copy of Bolton’s book, particularly his chapter on relations with China, because China policy perfectly captures Trump’s soaring hypocrisy wrapped in venal incompetence.

 

The passage in the book that got the most attention concerns a telephone conversation between Trump and Xi last year.

“He [Trump] then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton writes.

The government clearance process redacted Trump’s exact words, but Vanity Fair says he told Xi, “Make sure I win.”