[Marxism] After Obama Visit, Assessing U.S.-China Relations: Orville Schell on Fresh Air

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Thu Nov 19 23:02:06 MST 2009

This transcript is informative and challenging and worrisome - and well 
worth reading.

With my limited computer skills I haven't figured out how to locate a 
url through my Firefox browser. Google orville schell + fresh air.

Early warning? This administration and those to come trying to run 
things in the US may well be running out of patience with this 
recalcitrant system in the context of prolonged, intractable crisis. 
Also, the growing clout of China must be keenly felt. And successive US 
administrations may even be able as events develop to get electoral 
assent (especially given the tumultuous right wing and the apathetic 
left wing) to an even vastly stronger executive, increasingly bypassing 
the Congress and hog-tying the courts. Schell's perceptions here may be 
prescient and widely felt among US policymakers. And that's either 
extremely alarming or I'm merely an alarmist.

Council on Foreign Relations member Orville Schell, who accompanied 
Obama to China, on Terry Gross's Fresh Air today: "I heard a statistic 
the other day that a couple years ago China had 700 miles of high-speed 
rail, and now they have 7,000 miles. Now, I may have those statistics 
slightly off, but that's a staggering figure. The United States really 
doesn't have one mile.

We have the corridor from Boston to New York to Washington, but that's 
not really high-speed rail. That's sort of faster-speed rail. So you see 
the infrastructure that's getting laid down, the new highways, the new 
airports, the new ports, the new railroad systems. It's extremely 
impressive, and I think, you know, it raises a question that is sort of 
frightening to contemplate for an American, and that's this: _/*Does the 
Chinese system, this sort of autocratic form of capitalism, deliver 
better than democracy?*/_

And as an ardent democrat, I contemplate the answer to that question 
with some trepidation, because I think, you know, we feel in America, 
and in fact I think it's more than a feeling, that _/*in many ways our 
government is paralyzed, paralyzed by a lack of money, paralyzed in 
Congress, paralyzed by sort of vicious partisan politics, whereas China 
is able not only to gather information well but to form policy quickly 
and then, most importantly, to effect it.*/_ And you feel that 
everywhere you look in this country now, that they are on top of things, 
they're able to do things swiftly to meet the very high-speed demands of 
the situation, whereas I think we are kind of languishing in many 
respects, and I'd say climate change is a kind of a metaphor for how 
difficult it is for us to do things, and health care would be another."]

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