Might Show Obama
Inferior to Bush Jr.
By Wang Xiaodong
Translated By Ming Li
23 January 2009
Edited by Louis Standish
China - Sina - Original Article (Chinese)
A Web site editor sent Barack Obama’s new book, “Change We Can Believe In,” to me for some comments. It looks thick but actually doesn’t have as many words as it seems. I flipped through it and found it boring and unreadable, frankly speaking. What counts only is that it provides us a window through which the most powerful man can be known.
The first half of this book comprises Obama’s strategy of governance and the second half addresses the presidential election. We have been told again and again that the Chinese government has empty talks without content, and the speeches of Chinese leaders are insipid. However, this book is worse than those of Chinese leaders. Except for the bragging, there is nothing in this book more solid than those in the reports of the Chinese government and the speeches of Chinese leaders.
In his book, Obama is unrealistic by promising that he will provide this and that to the public, from which I cannot find any workability but slogans. He even said that the U.S. will reduce 80 percent of its carbon emissions by 2050, but is that possible?
Yes! It is because firstly, no carbon can be emitted because oil will run out by that time, and secondly, if there is a nuclear war or these two may come together. By 2050, it will be difficult to keep the annual U.S. carbon emissions at the same level, if the biggest disaster in human history is not there. Does Obama tell the American people about this? Does he think about this? Of course, no one knows where Obama will be in 2050, so now is the time for him to boast. But is it responsible?
I remember that Xiaojun once called me and said that those pro-America people in China have been divided into two groups in terms of Obama’s win. One group is those who have no flesh-and-blood connection with the U.S., or are short-sighted because they are excited for Obama’s win. Another group is for those who are really loyal to the U.S., or have flesh-and-blood connection with the states. The people in this group are knowledgeable, so they worry about the future of the U.S. with Obama as president. In my view, these Chinese people who are really loyal to the U.S. are right to some extent.
An ovation swept through the U.S. for Obama’s inauguration. I checked Chinese TV programs and found that this ovation came also from many Chinese experts who thought that lots of issues related to America could be readily solved. I cast a deep doubt on that. Slogans alone cannot solve the problems America faces today. You have to find the sources of something before you are about to give them out, as the Conversation of Energy and the Conversation of Matter are basic law of physics that nobody can gloss over. Then let’s have a look at Obama’s wishes for American people and his “green” thoughts, and ask where their sources are.
I think the first source can only be found by a request for American people to work together to deal with a hard time by changing their life styles of extravagance to a certain extent. Of course this is difficult as it is easier to live extravagantly than frugally. But Obama would have led the American people toward this path with his high support rate. After all, even if the U.S. can really drop its carbon emission by 80%, it is just on a level of current Chinese per capita carbon emission. Now that the Chinese can live on this condition, why can’t the Americans?
Changing the life styles of extravagance to a certain extent is a basis of any “Change” in the U.S. and any so-called “Change” will be empty talk without it. Both Obama’s strategy of administration and speeches have nothing to do with it but a promise of more extravagance, which means the “Change” that Obama cried at the top of his lung is a fake promise relying on a pie in the sky, and many Americans who believe in such a promise are less prospective.
The second source is found by robbing the rich to help the poor, meaning a “leftist” economic policy taking something from the rich. Obama showed this will and it makes the leftists home and abroad wild with joy. Can this “leftist” police be cashed in after Obama is in office? If not, he betrays those who put hopes on and voted for him. Normally, the U.S. presidents would do some discounts on his commitments made during the election time, but many problems will come out if you are fully not a man of your words. How to honor the commitments? Punish the corporations that move their businesses overseas by increasing taxes? What if the corporations discard their identities as American companies? There are a lot of places taking no “leftist” economic policies in the world, and Obama might scare away the corporations by doing so. Will it worsen the American economy?
Taking a current event as example, the three big car companies will be hopeless if they don’t hack the wages of their employees to a level as that of local car makers with foreign-invested background like Toyota, Nissan and Honda. The salvation can last months, even years, but not forever. Therefore, to save the U.S. economy, leftist policies alone is not enough. It must be that some policies more leftishly applied in some places while some policies more rightist in other places. Has Obama a political wisdom like this? Has he a political capital up to it? I don’t think he has.
Obama had his inaugural address done and the speech, at a word, indicates a “socialism road.” He said that there’s no need to debate “a small government in a big society” as he has chosen a big government, and no need to debate a liberal market either, as he has chosen an intervention from government. What he said has some spirits of Roosevelt. I have mentioned before that the issues the U.S. faces today are not the same as those of Roosevelt’s Age. The U.S. in Roosevelt’s Age was strong throughout and indeed had a problem of overproduction with insufficient effective demands. The indebted U.S. of today, however, has a problem that has nothing to do with a shortage of demand, but unable to meet its desire of consumption throughout. I think it will make a big trouble using the same remedy for a completely opposite disease.
I can’t think that Obama can do better to save America from the financial crisis. The U.S. financial crisis comes out of a deep root cause, which generally speaking, is that the U.S. is aging in every part of it, and the American is becoming a dud. Although the current financial crisis, which is made by the aging American society, is not as violent as that in 1929, it is harder to be solved no matter who is on that stage. People like Hillary and McCain, at least with less brag, are sounder in mind than Obama.
The third source is found in foreigner’s money. One way is to get the money by cheating. But it is more difficult than before because America’s failed financial casino show has taught every one a lesson, also because there is no money to be cheated out---maybe only some Chinese brokers would like to take the money of Chinese people to Wall Street for being cheated. Another way is to borrow money from foreigners. The problem is, allies in Europe are busy saving themselves and they might not help the U.S. even though they have enough money. Even Japan, the firmest and richest partner of America, is continuing to reduce the American debts held in its hand. So, the only country that is still buying American debts is China, a country often humiliated and seen as a potential enemy by the U.S. However, different sounds against the buy of debts is heard and is turning so strong that anyone in China who is deeply in love with the U.S. must be careful when making a decision to spend a great deal of money to help the U.S.
The fourth source can only be found by grabbing other countries. The U.S. is a military superpower, the only strongpoint it has. One of my friends, who has an American boss, left words on my blog: “One time, my American boss talked about America’s financial deficit and the big American bonds. I told him that there are a lot of natural resources in Alaska, and the U.S. can mortgage it for paying the debts. The boss said without any thought that the U.S. has such a big military force that they can be sent overseas to grasp money back if the bad time comes. It is unnecessary to sell the property.” It seems that this American was outspoken, telling his first thought is to use military forces to get money when an economic crisis happens. I feel that it is a typical point of view among American people, just people like reporters, professors and politicians will not tell it in this frank way. But the looting in Iraq has been proved inefficient, so it might not get success if the U.S. is about to rob some other countries far stronger than Iraq. Is Obama about to retreat the U.S. forces from Iraq and put them on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the strategic points that pose more threats to China and Russia? Creating further tension, abetting wars in other countries and then selling ammunition to them are indeed what the U.S. does well. So the tensions in Middle East and South Asia Subcontinent are expected.
In short, the problems are not that simple to be solved, regardless of who is in the office. Obama’s rock star-styled administration will be less workable. In my view, his administration might be worse than that of Hillary, McCain or even Bush Jr. Some might say that the U.S. has a good political system to be able to check and balance a president without administrative experience and political wisdom, even one who works adventurously and randomly. I somehow agree with that. But if it is so, the so-called “Change” turns out to be nonsense.
Some regard a black president as an important change to American society and a downright weeding out of racism in that society. They also consider it a meaningful milestone showing that all nations in the world are going towards a Great Harmony. The “New York Times” complimented that Obama’s victory cleared the racial barrier in the U.S., and some Chinese scholars also agreed that Obama’s win is a proof that American race issues are fading out.
I am not so sure of that. Firstly, the win will not solve racist problems, it might even worsen them. No border would have been set between white and black if the problems were so easy to erase. Even though whites and the blacks have lived on the same soil for hundreds of years and even though they should have mixed well with one another, the conspicuous border is still there. Obama would have lost in this election if the voters were white only.
Some said that Obama this time has earned the highest support in decades from white voters for the Democratic Party. But if we take into consideration Bush’s unpopular domestic and diplomatic policies in recent years, plus the incomparably right time and right condition made by current financial crisis for Obama, I think that he definitely would win among white voters provided he were a white.
Secondly, let’s set our eyes back to the scenes of McCain’s concession speech, whose audience is almost all white. A catcall was what McCain received when he congratulated Obama for his win. Bush in one of his speeches had warned the Republicans not to direct too much hatred towards Obama, which is just the very proof that the resentment toward Obama among the Republican is stronger than that ever occurred in past power transitions. I guess that some white people with strong racism will create more racism because of this failure in this election and likely take their racist thoughts into action. A recent poll shows that many white people are enjoying a moral superiority complex from a fact that a black president can be elected in their country and most of the people polled were willing to give Obama some time to achieve success. But I think this kind of joy will soon convert into disappointment unless Obama can keep them up with handy solid interests. With the disappointment, would their racist instinct flare up?
Internationally, the situation the U.S. is now facing is far more complicated, and I doubt that Obama is able to do better than his predecessor. Europe cheered up more loudly than America as it expects that Obama’s win will make the U.S. discard the wrong-headed unilateralism of Bush’s age. But can the U.S. really solve its problems in terms of international relation by abandoning the unilateralism and hard line policies?
Can Obama honor his commitment that he will take the U.S. army back from Iraq within the first 16 months in office and concentrate on Afghanistan? Now many American who support him are waiting for this, but if he really has it done, what impact will he bring to the American influence and control in Middle East? It is difficult to tell at this moment. What I am sure of is that it might be a right option for the U.S. national interests when Obama strengthen the surrounding to China and Russia by concentrating troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Russia posed an evident challenge to the U.S. when Dmitry Medvedev, the president of Russia, violently criticized the U.S. in his State of the Union Message delivered on the same day Obama was inaugurated. Also, Russia declared that it would not dismiss three regiments of its missile forces and would deploy a Iskander missile defense system in Kaliningrad. The Russian confrontation turns the international situation the U.S. is facing now is more complicated than that in a golden time when the U.S. was the only superpower. This is a conundrum to whoever the president is. Can Obama work better? I doubt it. The fact that Obama is a black from a minority ethnic group is just the very cause that he will receive more criticism and suspicion than any other white president if he does do no well in international issues.
Two millions people went into Obama’s inauguration at a fever-pitch, but I think that the support Obama gets today and the unity of the American will soon change into question, criticism and split, if he is unable to bring instant benefits to American. After all, more expectation there is, more disappointment might occur. In this critical time, the advantage of a president made by minority will soon turn into a disadvantage, and he will not get the understanding and the trust that other presidents made by major ethnic group can get, unless he gets instant success.
The judgments I have made above are views from a vision of America. I have no intention to jinx the U.S.; I just cast my doubts and warn a possibility, though not inevitable, beyond optimism. I heartily hope that America will succeed. From a vision of China, we need to keep in mind that the U.S. might choose wars or instigate wars when it meets a terrible crisis. Therefore, General Zhang Zhaoyin’s suggestion---“We should discard the concept of ‘a peaceful army in a time of peace’ and firmly set up a mind of potential war,” which was published in Liberation Army Daily on December 2nd, 2008, is completely right and timely.
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