Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Observations From the Back Row

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De Omnibus Dubitandum!

The Outing of Deep Throat
By Patrick J. Buchanan

As the 40th anniversary of Watergate impends, we are to be bathed again in the great myth and morality play about the finest hour in all of American journalism. Woodward and Bernstein paint Deep Throat, writes Holland, as a “selfless high-ranking official intent on exposing the lawlessness of the Nixon White House.” But this is self-serving nonsense…..When Hoover died, a month before the break-in, Felt…saw himself as Hoover’s successor. But President Nixon went outside the bureau to name Gray from the Department of Justice acting director. ….Felt wormed himself into Gray’s confidence, and then set out to destroy Gray. Felt’s method: Leak discoveries of the Watergate investigation to a cub reporter at the Post, which everybody in Washington read, rather than to veteran journalists known to be FBI outlets. This would cover Felt’s tracks… This would make it unlikely that Nixon would ever send Gray’s name to the Senate for confirmation as permanent director [then] Nixon might turn to Felt.

By ingratiating himself with Gray as he set out to discredit and destroy him, Felt expected that when Gray was passed over by Nixon, he would recommend to Nixon that he appoint…Felt, as director. Even if cynical and vicious, the scheme was clever. Until Nixon found out Felt was the leaker in late 1972, he was considering Felt for the top job…..Mark Felt was a snake. He used the Post to destroy his rivals and advance his ambitions…

Beyond the scandal lies a crisis at the heart of China's legitimacy
Will Hutton

A Chinese Spring is inevitable if the party leadership doesn't reform itself - The house detention of top communist official Bo Xilai, until recently China's most popular politician, now stripped of his titles, while his ambitious lawyer wife, Gu Kailai, is charged with involvement in the alleged murder of ex-Harrovian British businessmen Neil Heywood, is a story with everything. The British class system meets the dark, internal labyrinths of the Chinese communist party to create China's biggest political scandal for decades. The Chinese state media are now in overdrive to portray Bo and Gu as an out-of-control, power-mad couple brought back within the rule of law by the wise, all-seeing party….. The revolution's leaders are long dead and they have been replaced by a competent if rotten administrative elite that looks more and more like the Confucian mandarinate the revolution overthrew….. The Soviet Union's leaders confronted similar dilemmas as they entered the early 1980s. After 60 years, revolutions lose their legitimacy and economic problems become intractable. The group around Gorbachev decided there was no option but acceleration of reform. China's new leadership, set to take over for another 10-year cycle in the autumn, will try to muddle through without much change. But Bo's challenge over legitimacy remains. If there is no change from the top, it will come from below. A Chinese spring is now very likely sometime in the next 10 years. That much we now know. We just don't know when.

Busting the myth of China’s property bubble
James Laurenceson

Five years on, the US economy remains sluggish after the bursting of a house-price bubble. - More recently, the focus has been on China — the world’s second-largest economy — and whether it too might be overwhelmed by a similar event. Reports of ‘ghost cities’ and of property developers facing bankruptcy have become commonplace. Some commentators have even asserted that the bubble may have already ‘popped’.  The stakes are certainly high. The IMF notes that since 2007 China has contributed more — much more in fact — to world growth than any other country, and this is projected to remain the case into the foreseeable future. And Australia now has more to lose than most if China’s economy sours, given the Chinese construction sector is a significant source of demand for Australia’s natural resources.

Pipeline to Nowhere: The Beijing-Moscow Dance Continues
Stephen Blank

Negotiating and then building the proposed Russo-Chinese gas pipeline should be an easy win-win. Russia has enormous gas deposits in Western and Eastern Siberia; China has an omnivorous need for energy and the huge capital reserves that would be required to finance the operation…..Yet despite more than a decade of discussions and negotiations, there is no contract for a pipeline, and the prospect for one in the immediate future is at best uncertain. But that outcome is hardly set in stone. This episode, [reflects] Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s observations a few years ago about how politics are warping global energy markets…..This …illustrates what happens when political factors like a state-run corrupt monopoly essentially deprive a county of future investment and force it to borrow money from a potential customer, then accede to the customer’s stiff terms. Moscow’s games have ensured that very little Russian gas currently goes to South Korea or Japan, and that it makes very little money, relatively speaking, from those sales. Only China benefits from this situation, which continues to hobble Russia’s overall Asian policy. The saga of the pipeline to nowhere (so far) shows that China increasingly can force Russia to yield to it on major economic and political issues. If, as Bismarck said, alliances resemble the relationship between the horse and the rider, it is clear in this story who is riding whom.

Robert Fulford: The return of neo-Stalinism
Sergei Karpukhin

Russian communists hold portraits of the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. The Russian people suffer from a severe inferiority complex, if we can believe the editorial that appeared in Pravda last week. It took the form of a cry from the wounded heart of Mother Russia, a nation wronged by the malicious insults of foreigners. In Pravda’s view, there are people everywhere, particularly East Europeans and Americans, who want “to make the Russians feel guilty for the past.” They accomplish this with reminders of Joseph Stalin’s cruel dictatorship and the decades when eastern Europe was under “Soviet occupation” — a phrase Pravda now prints with quotation marks, as if it were a figment of someone’s imagination….. In one [book], The Mystery of 1937, three authors argue that Stalin meant well in conducting the 1930s purges, which imprisoned or killed hundreds of thousands. Apparently, he just wanted to cleanse the revolution but erred by letting the secret police get out of control. They claim [others would have been worse] As the Institute’s statement says, “The return of neo-Stalinism in education and among many Russians challenges the notion that there were significant changes in the Russian mentality during the 1990s.” It turns out that it’s not easy to set aside this “dominant paradigm of Russian history.”

My take So it turns out that Stalin was doing everyone a favor. Right! H.L. Mencken was right. “No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”




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