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Yuen Yuen Ang says the Trump Administration's attacks on China were as much about globalisation as about China itself

Yuen Yuen Ang says the Trump Administration's attacks on China were as much about globalisation as about China itself

US President-elect Joe Biden’s impending inauguration has raised hopes that his administration will “make America lead again.” If the United States is to transform its rivalry with China into constructive competition, this is the right approach. But whether Biden can restore and sustain America’s global leadership depends on how effectively he mends domestic fractures and addresses deep-seated misgivings about globalisation held by segments of the US electorate.

Biden has repeatedly pledged to restore America’s international reputation and global standing, which were severely damaged under Donald Trump. To that end, he will quickly rejoin multilateral institutions (such as the World Health Organisation) and international agreements (beginning with the Paris climate agreement) from which Trump withdrew the US.

These pledges point to a vision of the US back at the head of the liberal international order, a position from which it can more effectively compete – and cooperate – with China. But there is good reason to believe that many Americans do not want their country to lead again.

Biden’s electoral victory in November fell short of the decisive repudiation of Trump and his toxic brand of populism that liberals expected. Yes, Biden won over 81 million votes – more than any US presidential candidate in history. But Trump received more than 74 million – the second-highest number on record – and increased his share across minority groups, compared to 2016. This is despite an unprecedented parade of scandals and a disastrously mismanaged pandemic.

What explains Trump’s enduring popularity? One explanation, advanced by Peter Singer in November, is that nearly half of America has “lost its soul.” This diagnosis is certainly true of the most disturbing elements of Trump’s voter base, which includes the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who stormed Capitol Hill on January 6. And even those who do not fit into this category did vote for an openly racist president, who refused to denounce white supremacy.

Still, it would be simplistic to dismiss support for Trump as nothing more than an endorsement of bigotry. It is worth remembering that 13% of those who voted for Trump in 2016 voted for Barack Obama in 2012. And Trump received ten million more votes in 2020 than in 2016.

Trump draws support from a motley array of sources. Racism and xenophobia are among them, but so is anger among rural and working-class voters over stagnating incomes and rising inequality. Some Asian voters also fell for his hawkish stance on China. As a political outsider, Trump was able to exploit resentment of the political establishment, hack the Republican apparatus, and package himself as a champion of the disaffected.

These voters have been misguided to put their faith in Trump, who never intended to address their grievances in any genuine way, and has no qualms about inciting them to mount an insurrection and then abandoning them. One structural factor has made it easy for Trump and his conspirators to dupe these voters: globalisation has created many losers alongside winners.

The winners include big companies that shifted their manufacturing to cheaper locations, thereby considerably expanding their profit margins, and the developing economies – especially China – to which they moved. The losers include millions of American manufacturing workers who have lost their jobs. Mix in America’s legacy of racism and the spread of fake news via social media, and the result is flammable.

But it is not only the working class that is disillusioned with globalisation. As the global economy’s center of gravity has shifted toward emerging powers like China, these countries have gained a greater say in international institutions, which are supposed to represent all countries rather than only these institutions’ architects. For many US policymakers, this was unacceptable: if the US bears the costs of sustaining a world order, they believe, it should get to ensure that its interests come first.

True to his promises of “America First,” Trump withdrew the US from its previous global leadership commitments, pared down its engagement overseas, and built a wall. He delivered exactly what his voters wanted. But his policy inevitably produced a consequence that US leaders couldn’t accept: China’s rising profile, as it stepped in to fill the leadership vacuum the US left behind.

In response, the Trump administration portrayed China as America’s mortal enemy, launched a ruinous trade war, and imposed a slew of sanctions. For Beijing, such hostility confirmed long-held suspicions that the US would never accept its rise without a fight, so it has reacted defensively. The resulting vicious cycle of mistrust and antagonism has yet to be broken.

For the Biden administration, two lessons stand out. First, the US cannot have it both ways. It cannot withdraw from global leadership and refuse to allow anyone to take its place; if it insists, confrontation and brinkmanship will ensue. Second, America’s clash with China over the last four years has been as much a divorce from that country as a divorce from globalisation.

This means that, if the US is to reclaim the leadership position that will enable it to compete constructively with China – and retain it for more than an election cycle – the Biden administration must tackle inequality and the costs that globalization has brought. Otherwise, Trump – or, worse, a more competent version of Trump – could well recapture the presidency in 2024 or 2028, and reverse whatever progress the Biden administration makes in the coming term.

Yuen Yuen Ang, Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is the author of How China Escaped the Poverty Trap and China’s Gilded Age. Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2021, published here with permission.

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The author asks good questions but offers no answers. That is unsurprising as there are no easy answers if any at all. The nation is vast and fractured, divided on a vast scale with massive and deeply entrenched racial and class disharmony. They have had a Humpty Dumpty sitting on the wall and now after the fall, face the same aftermath. Maybe Biden produces a reuniting role in the vein of Gerald Ford? Hard to see isn’t it but at least he does have cross party experience, credibility and some respect in that regard. Needs to keep the Democratic shrills in the houses muted if to succeed and the impeachment will not build any bridges either. The problem is, with regard to China at least and not on their own, that the USA economy and consumers have been geared to the benefits of Chinese manufacturing to the point of being reliant and while that may now be being regarded as undesirable, unpatriotic even, not many are prepared to forgo those benefits, if it is going to hurt the pocket.

Why would the World want US to lead again ? The so called US leadership has not been good for many parts of the world for the past 3 decades or so. Ever earlier it was good mostly for the Oil interests of the US. Only two things stand out from the past about US Leadership. The Marshall Plan which rebuilt Europe and the Opening to China which was the best thing that could have happend for World Trade and lifting many individuals' financial well being.
It has been downslide after that. With successive Administrations stoking the ME fire, the Afghan fiasco, the African misadventures, etc. Not to mention the destruction of environment and other social problems.
So, better the World pray that the US takes a break from World Leadership (Which is an oxymoron anyway).

Agreed wholeheartedly

So which world power would you have fill the vacuum? At least America has a semblance of democracy over China and Russia.

Not sure which planet you've been on for the last 30yrs buddy, America only has a "semblance of democracy" when you agree with their version of it, which generally revolves around outsized profits for "chosen few" companies.
Personally I don't have much of a preference for either of the so-called "super powers" - Maybe the EU could step up?

Well if the EU was to step up, based on recent history, Germany would need to lead it. On the face of it, even before reunification, they were/are anyway. Some irony in that. Wonder how Wilhelm & Adolf would view this particular pathway, compared to theirs.

Yes Fox, totally agree with the irony factor of German leadership and you're also right about Germany's role. Remember AH rode the same feelings of disenfranchisement, separatism and resentment into power as Trump did. Ideally we don't see the same end result but I feel the US has some hard rows to hoe ahead of it and some serious introspection required. Will the Dems have the backbone?? I doubt it. Trumps tribulations could well be rallying call for pent up hatred and frustration. Biden and Pelosi and Harris have one chance to cut the right wire.. and it may not be the red one

Biden will try, sincerely too I believe, to achieve political consensus. He is of course long experienced in Washington. He has too received endorsements from the Bush and McCain Republican party stalwart. While we are discussing ironies his greatest obstruction to such success could well be provided by the Democrats themselves. Quite a few shrills pent up, vindictive, and poised amongst their representatives.

I guess like the Labour Party here.. they have the majority vote. This is their best and possibly only chance to reshape the landscape.. get it wrong, or delay too long, will be a death knell for them.

Not sure which planet you've been on for the last 30yrs buddy, America only has a "semblance of democracy" when you agree with their version of it, which generally revolves around outsized profits for "chosen few" companies.

The same planet that the Wikipedia editors live on that puts America at #25, Russia #134, and China #153 according to the Democracy Index. As for the EU they're well below China on the democratic process list, given they're a bunch of career politicians elected by other politicians and all that jazz.

Well Ezy if you want to view the world through a Wikipedia lens then more power to you. I've watched the US destroy and coerce multiple nations around the world for their own means - all in the name of "Democracy" but in actual fact it's been about corporate/political expediency. Each to their own I guess, but maybe you should ask a Palestinian, an Iraqi, a Syrian, a Yemeni, an Iranian, someone from the Marshall Islands or Bimini or Bikini Atoll, anyone from Kosovo, Cuba, Venezuela. The US is toxic. The less the world has to do with it the better.. it's a cesspit. Maybe that's why it produces so much porn. They've F@#$d everyone so may as well charge for it


Happy the most important new year -- 2021.

The CCP is to celebrate its 100th birthday, which will mark the formal start of the China era.

A recent quote from Wang Yi -- Foreign Minister of China,
"No country will sustain a leadership by suppressing other countries. The US should focus on fixing its own problems and be a better country. Meanwhile, China will continue to develop and better itself and contribute to the world"


"No country will sustain a leadership by suppressing other countries"

I mean, the irony is just dripping from that statement given:

China's fishing fleets actions globally violating other countries exclusive economic zones
China's actions in the South China Sea
China's actions in Tibet
China's actions in Xinjiang
China's violations of international treaties in Hong Kong

Almost as sarcastic as your average Kiwi!


Turns out China's "CoronaVac" is barely 50% effective once they decided to actually, you know, test it. That still the one you want xing? Oh, and apparently too dangerous to give to over 60s.

Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong are all part of the People's Republic of China. The statement is valid in such a sense, technically.

True. Taiwan and the south china sea should be enough to raise some eyebrows at that statement, though.

Successful and expansionist states often expand their borders swallowing up former countries that couldn't hack it or considered union desirable for whatever reason. Happens all the time. I guess it's semantics really. Perhaps cultures would be a better word than countries to describe the suppression happening in Tibet and Xinjiang.

Happy new year Xing. When the CCP stops pulling the wool over their own peoples eyes, stops punishing any expressions of indigenous identity, stops undermining democracy in its 'new territories' and stops propping up crony capitalists at home, China has a chance of being seen by the rest of us as making a genuine effort to better itself. Maybe start with "...thou shalt not covet/annex thy neighbour?". When all this happens China's leaders will have demonstrated (to me at least) that they are worthy co-stewards of a united world. Till then... keep taking the tablets eh?

It's the USA's 245th birthday this year. Hopefully CCP can learn from their elders.

this is a good article which IMV correctly summarises some of the bigger issues, but it also contains quite a bit of irony.

Ang correctly identifies the people's disenchantment with the political establishment, but she does miss that establishment's utter failure to sit back and try to understand why someone like Trump could get elected and then move to fix those issues. Then she doesn't mention that establishment's moves to simply dig in to maintain their power and privilege.

She then talks about the big companies exporting significant jobs, but does not identify that neither those companies nor the political establishment understood that to do so also meant they were exporting their economic base. Where did most of that economic base get exported to? Their biggest economic competitor of course! (IMV I am still amazed that they do not understand that they have done this, or that they need to bring it back.) And then they went and built a wall! That wall is not just literal, but figurative as well as they have alienated many of their trading partners.

I think she also misses the point on lessons. Yes those two lessons are big ones, but I suggest that the biggest is "Democracy". America sells itself as the greatest country on earth, and the basis of that is democracy and freedom, before economic might. The lessons of the Trump presidency, and globalisation are that America has forgotten what Abraham Lincoln's words from his Gettysburg address really mean; "A government of the people, for the people and by the people".

Repair that democracy substantially and then the leadership will return. Fail do do so and the continued demise of the American nation is assured.

Good post and I completely agree. In part I think the failing is ours because we project onto democracy the society we would like to be rather than the society we actually are.

Also in the Western world our attitude needs to change. There is not and will never be one clear path forwards brought by a visionary leader. If we i
the west want to lead the world we must be willing to take measured risks and elect men of action who can tolerate small failures. Think of a New Zealand context for example. The government did not fail at KiwiBuild because it didn't have the right answer the first time, it failed because it gave up on a program that was important to a great many New Zealanders when it didn't quite get the formula right first time and turned out to be more difficult than initially expected.

Fair comment. It is far too easy to be a critic and blame others, for example the PC brigade who find offense in every uttering, or the boomer blamers. But our politician absolutely MUST understand that they represent all of our society, not just those who voted for them. And if they consider themselves smart enough to have a role to play in government, then they need to be thinking about consequences too.

A big part of the problems in the US are also issues in NZ. One of Chris Trotter's articles last year showed a picture of Mike Moore huddled in a meeting with David Lange and Richard Prebble, and CT said he was advising them to the group they absolutely could not piss off - business owners and big money. This is just wrong. Our Government represents all of us, not just the money. To fail to understand and acknowledge this is a blatant betrayal of their constituents - we the people! The consequences is the corruption we see as evident in the US and a disenfranchised and disenchanted population.

It's human nature to blame. We delude ourselves because it is more comforting, we want to place the blame somewhere specific and external to ourselves, rather than reflecting on our shared human nature. People blame boomers now, but boomers themselves blamed the generation before them. The cycle goes round and round.

For instance;

Arguably, one of the most successful boomer bands, Genesis said, in the song Land of Confusion;

"I won't be coming home tonight
My generation will put it right
We're not just making promises
That we know, we'll never keep
Too many men
There's too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go 'round
Can't you see this is a land of confusion?"

Great sentiment but looking back, they were not the generation that put it right. They just became part of the problem.

We have to stop looking at this country or that country, this generation or that generation. We are a SPECIES. The same goddam species. We have infinitely more in common than we have different and our evolved nature is what propels us to keep repeating the same group behaviours. We have to share the same planet. We cannot keep constantly blaming some external "other".

I like Mike and the Mechanics too

"Every generation
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door

I know that I'm a prisoner
To all my Father held so dear
I know that I'm a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Oh, crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
I'm afraid that's all we've got

You say you just don't see it
He says it's perfect sense
You just can't get agreement
In this present tense

We all talk a different language
Talking in defence
Say it loud (say it loud), say it clear (oh say it clear)
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late (it's too late) when we die (oh when we die)
To admit we don't see eye to eye

So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
It's the bitterness that lasts...."

Ahu and Ginge - I love it how so much wisdom is wrapped in music lyrics. I just wish people would pay more attention.

A very good post murray, but what about the counter factual?
The manufacturing base that was exported wasn't accidental, it was planned, deliberate and encouraged. Shareholders (and consumers but not employees) were the beneficiaries as were the Boards and Executives.
America has been selling a mirage when it comes to democracy (peace through superior firepower) and freedom (only on their terms) The so called "American Dream" never existed except for the privileged few and their meddling in world affairs has caused more misery, destroyed more peoples way of life than if they'd just STFO of other countries affairs
The world will be a better place when America is viewed as a "partner" not a "leader"

I have heard that view too Hook, but would suggest that if the exportation manufacturing base wasn't accidental (as opposed to a by-product of globalisation), then it could be viewed as treasonous? Strong words I know, but a part of this debate must be about what America (and of course NZ which has in part followed a similar course) really is about - just a love affair with the almighty Dollar? Or is it truly about democracy and freedom? Is patriotism defined by ones level of wealth?

The mirage has always been there, but it actually had more substance through to about the mid seventies when the 'free market' started to take more effect. And even recently people with spare cash could make money through investment. But that mirage is rapidly fading into the mere shimmer that it truly is.

The long term consequences for any country which sits idly by and watches companies sell off it's manufacturing base are fundamentally dire on many levels, and must inevitably lead to impoverishment. The trap here is that we think we are just talking about America, but IMV NZ is following a not too dissimilar path. Our pollies want to entrench their power and privilege, and don't want to do necessary things that truly benefit the population.

I agree with some of what you say murray - especially about NZ. However you've been around long enough to a Boards first responsibility is to it's shareholders and if that means finding lower cost bases offshore then that's what will happen. It's not treasonous at all - it's actually a legal requirement to act in the best interests of the Company (and by proxy, it's shareholders)
In the case of Companies it is the shareholders that vote to allow a takeover, the Board composition, and any ultimate offshoring. It is easy to blame faceless "companies" and paint them as the villain but in reality the true blame lies much closer to home (it could be your neighbour)

staff reporting to general management, reporting to the chief executive, reporting to the board/chairman reporting to the shareholders. While that is nominally still in place, it is drastically weakened in terms of oversight and discipline. 2008 exposed the bonus driven cut throat nature of individual executives who didn’t give a toss about anyone else than themselves, their earning power. That embedded and rampant culture bought down for instance, Lehmans, AIG, RBS and more, many more. The players involved as such in that, were unaccountable, cannot imagine they had any concern whatsoever to any authority, let alone shareholders.

Fox, whilst those examples are good ones of very poor management oversight within the Banking sector (the same thing happened in Aus and here) I was more talking about manufacturing.

I was in the manufacturing sector for thirty years. My last employer is still around. Agree in that function as opposed to say financial markets, there is not as much rope available to foul play with. But nonetheless during my time I witnessed a steady decline in the ethos and the hierarchical respect for reporting lines and accountability, wherein the ambition of an individual got to outweigh the good of the firm. Interestingly what made that starkly obvious was my experience with German and Japanese clients where those old traditions and disciplines continued to hold sway.

I agree with you Hook. Boards are culpable and should be held so. But look at what it takes to get on one, wealth and status, and most of them demonstrate that they really aren't as smart as they think they are.

I struggle with the way companies get off the hook when they make decision that are just wrong and the authorities let them off the hook by saying it is a company and not people! Just bullshit! People are a company and people made those decisions that caused the outcomes and they need to be accountable! Putting shareholders first is another BS call. I know they do it but they live and work in communities that are impacted by those companies actions. It needs to be much more than profits that drive them, but community health and welfare too. Tax avoidance is another issue. Any company doing business is benefiting directly from all the things that legislation provides from laws, education, health care and infrastructure, but they believe they do not have a responsibility to contribute to the cost of these?! So I am strongly against companies being able to avoid, one way or another, tax. Especially foreign own companies.

Don't get me wrong, i am not against companies or them making a profit, it's just how they go about it that is the problem.

Sorry murray - Companies aren't charities other than providing employment opportunities. All shareholders have the ability to put motions to the Board during the Annual meeting process, so if it's community programmes they want, then that's their chance to advance them. Interestingly, many companies (including some offshore owned ones) do exactly that.
As for Tax avoidance that is a price the Govt is willing to pay for the provision of employment. Employees have certain non-taxable allowances so do Companies. Incidentally a company can only avoid paying tax (through things like depreciation, artificially high expenses or wages etc) for so long... eventually it must start paying it's dues or face an expensive audit, fines and more tax
As for foreign owned companies, remember NZ has quite a few offshore based companies as well - Fonterra and A2 eg. The same rules apply to them

I think you miss understand what I said Hook. I'm not talking about community programs. I agree that many already do that, but their reasoning is just about PR. What I am talking about is the economic damage and ecological damage that many companies create. Huge profits when they only pay the minimum wage to the majority of their staff, or dumping toxins into the land and waterways.

Tax avoidance? Rubbish to your comment. Companies actively avoid paying taxes (on the existing model) meaning that they gain the biggest benefits from stuff they avoid paying for. I do like the MMT perspective of where a government gets it's money fom as a basis to change the purpose of tax. But that is another discussion. Companies with these attitudes are nothing more than parasites on society. They think that somehow they are separate and above society, but in fact they are a part of, and firmly embedded in the communities they do their business in.

Do you think that if there were laws that held companies more to account for the harm they do, forced them to provide decent working conditions and pay, and ensured they paid their fair share of taxes, that they would close shop and go somewhere else? A small number probably would. But most wouldn't.

From a NZ context murray, can you provide some examples of the perpetrators? Seems to be a lot of sweeping generalisations there.
As for actively avoiding tax.. of course they do!! As does any registered business. Show me a business that pays more tax than it legally has to and I'll show a bankruptcy. As for going offshore did you not read the multiple sob stories about small businesses that had offshored their manufacturing or supply chains and it all went titsup when the lockdowns came along. It's not just large corporates mate.. it's anyone who can.

Ivo Watkins Dow in New Plymouth poisoning the ground with Dioxin is just one that immediately comes to mind.

And I agree, but the tax deductions are the consequences of intense lobbying of Governments who have enacted legislation to let them off the hook at the expense of ordinary working kiwis. I do agree that business's must minimise their cost base, but some actions for short term results have huge implications either for the company or the country or both. these must be understood thoroughly.

As Covid showed us, resilience requires local capability.

Board members are appointed on merit murray - not "wealth and status". It takes relevant qualification, industry experience and proven experience within other Boards. True some companies have appointed ex politicians to the Board with varying results (Shipley @ Mainzeal, but also Creech @ OCD), often they are viewed as "door-openers" in offshore markets

Look at what the Board of Air NZ did, when they bought Ansett. No politicians there. Shipley wasn't on her own in that board, and nor is Creech, or Key. There are many examples. And merit, true some of these people look good on paper, but my experience is that it is more about politics. I have seen a number of boards in action and without fail I have sooner or later been disappointed as the politics surfaced.


Much of my capital is in the stockmarket, so i have a stake in this game. Where is it enshrined that a board's first responsibility is to its shareholders? That was certainly Friedman's view and indeed he went further and and said tht that was its only responsibilty.

I think that is nonsense. A board has just as much responsibilty to its employees and customers and those companies which act on these principles tend to produce better long -term results for its shareholders. Well treated staff are more motivated and stay longer.

A founding intellectual principle of globalisation is based on Riccardo's theory of comparative advantage. That has had huge benefits for developing countries, but has sucked manufacturing from developed countries. This has significantly affected the living standards of the middle classes in countries like the US and we have seen the result.

linklater, I also have a big chunk of my capital in the stockmarket so I also have skin in the game. I assume you're referencing ESG principles when you speak of a Boards responsibility - they are far too recent to draw any binding conclusions as to the companies relative balance sheet performance. Much of the stock price movement can just as easily be explained away by the upsurgence of the "wokeness factor" of stock purchasers. Look at Tesla.. crap product, overpriced, competition gearing up across the board and the price keeps climbing.. go figure

Originally the Board's responsibility to the Shareholders meant, conducting the business profitably, paying reasonable and regular dividends, expansion without sacrifiing balance sheet prudence, and protection of shareholder value.
Only during the past 3/4 decades after the advent of Investment Banking and Hedge Funds, rapid increase in stock prices (or preventing rapid decline) on a quarterly basis has become the key focus of Board disguised as Responsibility to Shareholders and the Executives exploited that fully, with unholy rewards.
There need to be a reset for the credibility of the Board to be restored.

Great discussion here Hook, Foxy and the others. Thanks - really appreciate it. There are some who have been able to clearly state much better about what I have considered. I also have skin in the game and a share portfolio, but have often despaired over the ethics and morality of many companies and their boards. The elements of elitism and being untouchable for the consequences of their decisions is problematic for me.

A comment above about board responsibility; my feeling is that a company board should not just consider their shareholders, but their employees, customers and the communities they operate in should also be considered in the consequences of their decisions. Companies can benefit those communities, but they can also be a parasite too.

Why do we need some huge (area wise, always is) with large populations and arms to "lead".
What are the rest of us? School children?
Time for this man chest puffing stuff to be consigned to history.

We don't need it but it is the way nature works unfortunately. The strong dominate the weak - hierarchy.

We've just about removed ourselves from every aspect of nature, we can do that as well

That's our biggest problem. We have become so arrogant as we disregard the natural world completely because of our technological advances. Evolutionary change happens a lot slower than our current situation needs it to.

Exactly right we think we are an advanced and intelligent species when in fact we are stupid because we continue to shit in the nest and ruin the planet that our very existence depends on.

Instead of looking after our planet and reducing our resource extraction, we destroy it in the search of technological advancements that help us to continue down our path of unnecessary consumption rather than change our behaviour. Its baked into human nature - greed

No PA, it is the nature of people as social beings to look for mentors, examples and support. Nations are nothing more than groups of people, and ultimately this is a basic survival reflex. So this debate is important, but we do need to understand the 'why' as well as the 'who'. So much is tied up here. Not just survival and economics but cultural identity as well.

It is also the nature of some groups of people to seek out and clutch power, and this is where the threat lies. If America lost it's leadership position in the western world, for a small country like NZ, where would our cultural identity and economic survival stand? Who would we look to (because sooner or later, I think we would have to, no matter how much we resist it)?

Muz, get to read Victor Hanson’s The Second World Wars. He explains the big picture of it all rather well. In the section concerning the leaders he explains your above point as to how in the end the infighting in a democracy, Churchill, Roosevelt, actually enhanced and strengthened their leadership of the respective populations, whereas that of the dictators eventually collapsed (except Stalin but he ended up alongside the democracies of course.) Also, know your interest here, he expounds well on the overall global economies involved, which in reality doomed the Axis even before they had even started in on it all.

Cheers Foxy - i'll look it up.

“ a vision of the US back at the head of the liberal international order, a position from which it can more effectively compete – and cooperate – with China”
The problem with this view is that many of the countries who constitute membership of this ‘liberal international order’ do not represent liberal or democratic or human rights values. So why should the US or other democratic countries be subject to their dominance or major influence, e.g. the UN. China has no intention of being answerable to the rest of the world.

Can Biden steady the ship and correct course - will we all be amazed.. maybe? I think it might be wishful thinking though, like Trump "draining-the-swamp" - which he just figuratively drowned in this week. The Biden family loves Chinese money and deal making so China must be feeling hopeful.

Countries are just sick of the US dollar. Producers send America goods, America sends them dollars and FBIbook. If countries realize they can exchange their goods for better forms of money, or just keep their goods.. this won't bode well for the Biden administration.

I'm being a bit tongue-n-cheek but there is an air-of-truth to it.

American leadership" was a hypocritical joke anyway, well before Trump. At least his absurdity helped to rip the bandaid off and dispel some illusions.

The world is never going back to the post-WW2 order, it's pure fantasy. Relative economic and military power has simply shifted too much.

@Brutus Iscariot, your right.

Nuclear weapons are the panacea (for-want-of-a-better-term) of military strength. Political/financial powers may exert pressure on weaker nations by threatening "men with guns" - but the larger players all have nuclear capabilities, and though America's arsenal is much bigger, countries really only need a couple as a deterrent.

Slavery is illegal in America, but could it be effectively coming back? Hear me out.. no both reasonable and informed person would deny The Fed is intent on continued QE - in all forms. Biden's policies look set to ramp this up further. If the greenback falls out of favor, all those dollars will flood back into America, causing a wave of inflation .. a horrendous situation would ensue. Obviously I'm a Kiwi so cannot examine things in American first hand, but their government is looking shonky from afar.

Slavery is illegal except as punishment for a crime, in that respect it is alive and well.

How is this for New Zealand. Where even young well qualified can't afford a house.
NZers swallowed the line we must increase GDP and get there by remaining a low income people.
How long before voters wake up to the stupidity of that?


I think the technology war is being slowly won by China and Russia, look at the F-35 problems and then Russias new SU-57, the SU-35 has a 10,000ft higher ceiling, holly cow.

How can Russia, a small backward country design and build a better Jet than the USA, better Tanks too. I have a great friend in the UK Airforce and he said Russias military capacity is impressive and they have jets we could never catch. Perhaps they are not as backward as we think.

China will be ramping up EV car production. The USA has States like California which are slowly turning into broke hell holes. CalPERSs may not survives a sharemarket crash.

I suspect the GOP party runs the country, behind the curtain. They were keen to get rid of Trump even though he got more votes than at any other election.
Biden's problem is, he's now sitting on a very weak economy which I suspect Trump was holding up. An economy which could go into recession or depression at a moments notice, it's a confidence trick, welfare for the rich, remember Hank Paulson when he got billions for the banks while middle USA got nothing, how many times can you do that?

What will the Media do without Trump, they ahve been telling us for 5 years he's the devil incarnate.

Great comment Andrew.

Yes, it's the opposite of the Cold War. US military spending is woefully inefficient as it's all about feeding the big companies who dominate the lobby scene around Washington. They spent 20 years chasing insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq while the rest of the world caught up in conventional technology.

Russia and China can't match the US's dollar value military spend, so have to get full value out of every dollar they put in. Their programs end up targeted and efficient while leveraging their own natural advantages.

As aside, how much of a joke is Europe? Collectively they have 3x the population and 10x the GDP of Russia, yet still want to huddle under the US defence umbrella.

Trump was right about Europe & their ineffective defence and expecting the US and UK to fight their battles.

Backward? Moscow's subways will make anything you've ever seen in NZ look like a haybarn.

I haven't followed air force abilities for 25 years but the F35 is a bit of a red herring.

US has had the F22 since the late 80s / early 90's? There's a reason they sell the F35 and not the F22. They've got some pretty advanced drones too.

The USA is going broke, but doesn't realise it. So that's going to impact as a surprise bang.
Remember - the break up of the UDSR has been typified as caused by the inability to afford the arms race.

Who calls in the debt and how? Dont they just print it and abuse their dollars status? Does that equal inflation or not? Or if they print it away and it devalues will other countries stop trading in it? Genuine questions from economically illiterate (well challenged anyway).

@Ahuhyeah think of it like this:

You run a store selling ice-cream, every ice-cream you sell YOU give away a voucher for a free ice-cream. All of a sudden there is a rumor your business is in financial trouble, all the vouchers you printed over the years start flooding in, people want the free-ice-cream before it's too late.

Soon you have no ice-cream to sell, your vouchers are now therefore worthless and you're broke! lol

Dollars flowing back into America due to loss of confidence in the greenback would spark massive inflation and impact their ability to import cheap products and fund military excesses.

Wait till the Crypto currencies issued by the State become more in vogue, starting with the one China is working on.
Then it will be clear who is broke and who is not.

The world is actually returning to a more normal status. It was the the British Empires hegemony that was the extraordinary global event, that a small island with little exceptional about it came to rule more than a quarter of Earths land area using mercantilism and technology is something we had not seen since the time of Ghengis Khan. Little did the British know it but when they neutered the Qing Dynasty in China in the Opium wars but their Empire was at its peak. When that Empire was disbanded it fragmented global power leaving the United States was the only super power. That situation was unusual. What is more usual in global history is the situation we are moving towards today with many super states vying for control of land and resources with politics being more internally focused and less globalist.

The US was a nothing until WW2 cemented their place as the "last man standing". They were the only major economy that hadn't been decimated by war. The best thing about Trump, the GOP and the Dem's antics is the bandage has been ripped off the festering wound and we see now the dysfunction that is the "American Dream"


It is time for America to rebuild within if they still want a "United" States. America needs to address its growing polarisation. If people want to fight Authoritarian China, first they need to work on Corporate America first. It is Corporate America who built modern China.

Well said


Wow. Just wow,
She says Trump is a racist and then her link points to the opinion of some random in the Washington Post. I mean that's her proof he is racist?!
She seems to have completely missed the little fact of the opioid crisis in the US which itself is a symptom of a lost generation of people that globalisation has left behind and who repeated Democrat and Republican have failed to represent.
Trump is a moron. But he stood for something outside of the status quo. Outside of the swamp. I do not believe he did that out of idealistic grounds or to help people, I think he mostly wants to help himself.
However people are tired of a very corrupt American ruling class. To ignore those things and just make it about racists and xenophobes (how does she have any idea if it was white nationalists and Nazis who stormed Capitol Hill, there was at least one BLM member there) as if even a significant minority of Trump voters fit that shoe is exactly what makes the polarised politics of the US even more poisonous.
This sets aside that the choice was between a narcissistic buffoon and a senile bastion of the political class.
"If the United States is to transform its rivalry with China into constructive competition, this is the right approach"
Umm since when has China shown itself to be interested in "constructive competition". Ask Australian winegrowers about their "constructive competition" when the Australian government had the temerity to ask for a little bit of a look at that giant viral research lab in Wuhan.
Trump was right to challenge China, it should have been done years ago. The CCP is not our friend they do not agree with our values and they should be treated with extreme scepticism.

Great analysis. I largely blame the US media who seem unable to provide balanced, rational reporting. They are either hysterical in their detest of Trump, or they are Trump/republican cycophants. Have you ever heard CNN praise Trump for a good deed or have you heard Fox condemn him for being a buffoon. On a positive note, I sense that US citizens are fast losing the notion they live in the most amazing country in the world, this may force them to face reality and get their house in order. From a personal experience, most US citizens are great folk.

Hi USA, You can not even run honest election.You are acting like a CCP country now with full corruption and censorship.You become a joke .You and China are good brothers now. Look exactly the same.

English as a second language astroturfer here?

"or worse, a more competent version of Trump could recapture the Presidency in 2024 or 2028".

I find that entirely plausible, particularly if the Biden presidency achieves little for the many millions for whom globalisation has not worked.

With fraud election like this ? no way. USA is going to become one party country- Dem.The system has been tested successfully on Trump this time. Dem will wipe out GOP with 2022 election and 2024 one step by step.

10 minutes ago - House votes to send Impeachment Articles to Senate.
My prediction - Senate votes it down but it'll be close

I am hopeful that a few will find a spine and a conscience

The comment section on this website have been overrun by alt-right anti-mask, pro-Trump, virus denying types. It started growing 2 years or so ago. And they were just as out of sync with the rest of NZ about the last NZ election as they have been about Trump and the pandemic. Honestly, if you had used these comments as a bell weather for the election in NZ you'd have thought Labour would have lost horribly, but instead they won a historic landslide victory. At the beginning of the pandemic, if you had applied the same bell weather, you'd have thought Sweden had the answer and the pandemic was just hysteria over a bit of mild flu.

This is the thing about human beings. Belief is profound. Our ability to deceive ourselves and influence others is profound. If you'd had asked me 5 years ago whether we should worry about the small group of weirdos with conspiracy theories on QAnon could be a real threat to the solidity of American democracy, I would have laughed, but here we are 2021, (with help some Russian social media interference) and huge numbers of people have been radicalised to post-truth conspiracy belief. It doesn't matter that every prediction ever made by Q (founder of QAnon) has been wrong. It doesn't matter that the Swedish herd immunity theory that they were all SOOOO sure of, turned out to also be utterly wrong. They just keep moving the goal posts, to maintain the belief. And that isn't a right wing phenomena. it's a human phenomena. Extremists on the left are just as bad.

And we don't fall for such obvious untruths in good times. We fall for them in bad times. Some of the conspiracies are truths. The governments are corrupted by big corporations and lobby groups. Power does corrupt. Wealth is becoming more concentrated. Our politicians are failing (in many areas). Globalisation has been a poisoned chalice. Big Pharma and Monsanto are contributing to some ill (and also some good and much profit).

But that is JUST NORMAL. Any kind of glance at history will teach you that. Human beings pull these stunts on repeat century after century. Even though it always ends it disaster. Unless we can break *that* cycle we are doomed to repeat it.

Also lots of commenters absolutely convinced that hydorxychloroquine would be our saviour on the basis of ????

At least they've finally shut up about sweden.

It is indeed staggering how many Kiwis seem to have imbibed the Trump propaganda and even supported his failed Beer Hall Putsch. The nuttery one can see on Facebook, BFD etc. these days...

China is a dead end. By 2050, one third of its population will be over 60. It’s demographically screwed, its geography is unenviable, and it has alienated its neighbours and much of the world.

The United States is younger, has better geography, and is half a century ahead in almost every metric of development.

America has not led since Reagan -- or perhaps Clinton before lewinskigate --- its a dying corrupt culture -- full of self centered individualism, greed, corporate and political corruption -- massive amounts of excess in so many areas -- and its fall has long since started -

Biden has as much energy and charisma of a wet dishcloth - is hardly able to halt the internal decent into madness far less address anything on the global stage -

Happy dance time!!! BBC Trump impeached for 'inciting' US Capitol riot. "The US House of Representatives has impeached President Donald Trump for "incitement of insurrection" at last week's Capitol riot.

Ten Republicans sided with Democrats to impeach the president by 232-197.

He is the first president in US history to be impeached twice, or charged with crimes by Congress."

So he's been impeached - big deal. Senate will vote it down. Remember this is an accusation not a conviction. Every Senator will be mindful of the FBI warnings re: Inauguration Day and Republicans will be especially mindful of their continuing career prospects vs Trumps re-emergence in '24
Bets anyone??

Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham have to come together and agree to the plan to prevent Trump from contesting in election ever for the Senate trail and conviction to happen. Pence is the key again. If they decide to rally behind Pence now for 2024, the three of them together can hasten conviction. But events on the ground (pun not intended) may overtake them in the coming days.

Well that's good news that Mitch McConnell managed to stand up again to Trump. Having come under massive intimidation tactics from Trumps mob. Both McConnell and Nancy Pelosi had their homes vandalized by Trump supporter thugs. BBC Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell's homes vandalised.

Not sure if I'd entirely trust Lindsey Graham he can be a bit spineless at times, I know he's been under fire from Trump supporters if he says a word against Trump. As the old saying goes; "Evil flourishes when good men do nothing".

Well , looks like Helen Clark will have to sort the UN out, and become the most powerful woman in the world.