The passing scene: Links & comments 9/13/2022

Asia’s Future takes shape in Vladivostok, the Russian Pacific by Pepe Escobar for The Cradle.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey)

Putin in Vladivostok

Pepe Escobar, reporting last week on the Russia-hosted Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, says the world’s center of economic gravity is shifting to Asia, with China as leader and Russia and India as its main partners.

 I have my doubts that the Chinese-led new order will be as utopian as Escobar predicts, but the Chinese magnetic pole is a more powerful attractor than the U.S. pole.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, led by China, now includes China, Russia, the Central Asian republics, India, Pakistan and Iran, while 11 more nations, including Turkey, seeking to join.  

The reason is not hard to see.  China promises benefits to its economic partners; the NATO alliance demands sacrifices.  As the old saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.

The Specter of Germany Is Rising by Diana Johnstone for Consortium News.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey)

Scholz meets Zelensky

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz advocates an expanded, militarized European Union with Germany as the dominant force.  

It would include all of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, plus Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia.  It would have a common foreign policy, consisting of a permanent Cold War against Russia, and make decisions by majority vote, not by consensus as now.

Germany dominates the smaller Eastern European countries economically.  The further east the European Union goes, the greater the influence of Germany, the less the influence of France and the stronger the possibility of a war policy being adopted over French objections.

Democratic Party spent $44 million to promote pro-Trump fascists in Republican primaries by Alex Findjis for the World Socialist Web Site.

Pollsters are finding that if the 2022 elections are about President Biden and his record, the Republicans have a good chance to win.  But if they are about Donald Trump, the Democrats have a good chance to win.  

Accordingly Democrat-aligned political action committees contributed to extreme right-wing, pro-Trump candidates in the Republican primaries, figuring they would be easiest to beat.  

How Weed Became the New Oxycontin by Leighton Woodhouse for Tablet magazine.

Cigarette companies used to concentrate the active ingredient in tobacco so as to maximize its addictive properties.  Now the same thing is happening to marijuana.  Corporate cannabis is a $13 billion industry, and its products have a risk of addiction and drug-induced psychosis.

Back in the 1960s, hippies smoked marijuana with about a 2 percent concentration of THC, a naturally-occurring compound that induces euphoria, and scoffed as those who warned of “reefer madness.”  

Plants were bred to increase the concentration, and marijuana sold in the mid-2010s had a concentration of about 20 percent.  But cannabis products are being sold which have no actual plant matter and concentrations of 70 to 90 percent.

Neom is 100 miles of real estate cliches by Henry Grabar for Slate.

City of the future?

Saudi Crown Price Mohammad bin Salman plans to build enclosed city 100 miles long, with the height of the Empire State Building, all connected with high-speed trains and elevators, along the Red Sea.  

It supposedly will run on renewable energy and have a population of 9 million.   It will have, among other things, a floating cargo port and a ski community built around an artificial lake.  Estimated cost: $500 billion.

It goes to show what you can get into if you have absolute power and nobody you trust has the nerve to tell you you’re crazy.

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4 Responses to “The passing scene: Links & comments 9/13/2022”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    We’ll see what happens but I doubt if China has more than a decade more on the stage as an almost-great power before internal forces pulls the rug from under it. I don’t see anything from the Ukraine war that will benefit them at all.

    Unless they plan to retake Vladivostok because the Russian army is so weak. Or maybe they’ll just buy it.


    • philebersole Says:

      Russia, in partnership with China, is well-positioned to develop its Far East, and it will find many customers for its rich natural resources outside North American and Western Europe.

      A new global economic system is coming into existence, with China at its center. China is carefully cultivating nations alienated by the U.S. sanctions war.

      Of course China has internal problems, but so do the USA, Russia, India, the EU countries and many others. To call China an “almost-great” power is to overlook the ways in which it already is overtaking and surpassing the USA.

      I don’t think it is too late for the USA to rebound, but it is getting harder every year.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fred (Au Natural) Says:

        Actually I see Russia withering. If it were not for legacy nuclear weapons and carbon based energy exports, Russia would have no leverage at all.

        China is the greatest military threat to Russia. You’ll notice they didn’t supply weapons? So much for friendship without bonds. China fears secondary sanctions. OTOH, they are busy trying to woo away the formerly Russian dominated “stans.”

        China has maybe 2-300 million people living in a western standard of living while the rest of the country is in 2nd and 3rd world conditions. Their GDP per Capita is 77th in the world. About 2/3 of Russia and a quarter of the US.

        They keep having massive COVID lockdowns because they are incapable of producing a vaccine that works, unable to accept the level of morbidity and mortality that getting natural herd immunity would require, and unwilling to accept one from the west.

        Substantial areas have to be kept under military control or they’d leave in a heartbeat. It is every bit as corrupt as Russia. Social order is maintained by a surveilance system that Vladdy Putin could only dream of. If you look at their demography, it is terrible. Xi jin Ping thinks he’s the new Emperor.

        This is not a country I see a bright future for.


      • philebersole Says:

        There’s no such thing as herd immunity to Covid. Neither do vaccines confer immunity.

        We in the West used to scorn the Chinese Communists for being indifferent to human life. Now we scorn them for valuing human life too highly.


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