March 14, 2022

AMONG THE RUINS OF THE OLD ORDER: Yes, Ukraine and Russia – but the Varsity Game is China. Plus: “That quote from Zheng is sticking with me. The ‘old order’ really was a historical exception to the normal course of human events and experience. The new order he sees as ascendant is, really, a regression towards the mean. Free nations need to prepare for that.”

The “new order” is “strongman politics.” The trouble is that the “strongman” is actually always weak in crucial ways, and knows it.

Possibly related: China locks down entire buildings and even cities as “stealth Omicron” variant fuels record COVID cases. “Every day when I go to work, I worry that if our office building will suddenly be locked down then I won’t be able to get home, so I have bought a sleeping bag and stored some fast food in the office in advance, just in case.”

Also in the mix, somehow: Chinese think tank: China should cut Putin loose ASAP and make nice with the invigorated west. Yeah, all this Ukraine stuff runs the risk of reminding westerners what they believe in and convincing them to fight for it. Can’t have that!

Once the NYT figures that out, they’ll go from jingoist to pacifist overnight.

Plus: “China may be gambling that the western appetite for punishing Beijing if it sends military aid to Moscow will be weak at a moment of high inflation and sky-high gas prices. Western consumers can stand only so much pain; the U.S. and EU won’t open another front of global economic warfare when they’ve already gone nuclear with Russia via sanctions. But here’s the question: Is China in a position to risk that at the moment? They’re hurting economically already. . . . Putin also believed that the west wouldn’t dare wage economic war on him for attacking Ukraine by freezing his currency reserves or isolating Russia’s central bank. How’s that working out for him? Does China want to roll the dice that it won’t be hit surprisingly hard too at a moment when the U.S. and EU are in a mood to de-globalize? When China and Russia announced their “no limits” partnership against the west just six weeks ago, Beijing hoped that the alliance would be a force multiplier that gained each of them a sphere of influence at the expense of the U.S. Suddenly, to its horror, China is learning that Russia is a paper tiger not just economically but militarily.”

Imagine what trouble China would be in if the United States had a functional presidency.

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