Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Whats in the Future for the US Presidency?
From The Economist print edition
Terror not China
Mar 27th 2008
The next president will still focus on the same problems as Mr Bush. But some of the answers may change
IT IS hard to think of a more miserable way of spending your life than running for American president. Dialling for dollars. Hanging out in diners in Iowa and New Hampshire. Glad-handing people you will never meet again. Living on aeroplanes and in hotels. Getting by on four hours' sleep a night. Delivering the same stump speech ad nauseam.
And what do you get for all that misery? A heap of trouble. America is bogged down in Iraq, the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan and Iran is flexing its muscles, Russian nationalism is on the rise once again and China is getting increasingly bolshy. America's problems seem to be multiplying at the same time as its ability to deliver results is waning.
Russia is becoming increasingly anti-American as well as increasingly autocratic. It is convinced that America is trying to surround it with military bases, worried that NATO is advancing to its borders and determined to become great again. It has resumed the cold-war practice of flying military missions over the North Pole. It has engaged in a cyberwar with Estonia and used its oil and gas supplies to bully its neighbours. It has also shown an increased willingness to thumb its nose at America (for example, by selling military equipment to Syria and Venezuela) and to form anti-American alliances, particularly with China and some oil-rich Central Asian states.
At the same time America is getting more anxious about China's growing economic might. Anti-Chinese sentiment in America is already strong. Democrats in Congress are preparing to hammer China over counterfeit goods, product safety and exchange-rate policy. The media have been a-twitter with stories about poisoned pet food, tainted toothpaste and lead-painted toys. America's trade deficit with China has been rising relentlessly. Many critics argue that China is trying to cheat its way to economic success, keeping its currency artificially low to give Chinese products an unfair advantage, creating barriers to keep out American goods and allowing producers to operate largely outside the law.