Thursday, December 6, 2007

Paper Tiger / Poolside Muse

A "Paper Tiger" is something that seems a lot more threatening than it actually is. In 1956, Chairman Mao introduced this poetic Chinese imagery to the English language, comparing the U.S. to a paper tiger, "unable to withstand the wind and rain".

He suggested that allegedly "imperialist" states, such as the U.S. and Russia, had a tendency to overextend themselves on the international stage, leaving themselves open to pressure from other players, who could cause their collapse.

Fifty years after Zedong's comments, the U.S. is overextending itself in Iraq, while it's sub-prime mortgage bubble collapses, bringing the rest of the economy and currency with it. China, meanwhile, holds massive amounts of US treasuries, and is wielding this economic power to forestall a reevaluation of the yuan. China could crash the US dollar, at a time when the economy is already struggling.

Schadenfreude aside, I really don't know who to root for here. An evil imperialist state that spies on, imprisons and tortures its citizens without trial, and kidnaps foreign nationals in violation of international law, or an abusive human rights trampling police state, king of the counterfeiting heap, and exporter of lead-poisoned children's toys.

In situations where I am forced to choose the lesser of two really quite impressively wicked evils, I find it helpful to ask the question differently, ie: Which victory would most benefit me?

2 uninformed opinions:

Leila said...

until you got to the toys part, i had no idea which country you meant to be which. root for who-ville instead.

Cool Ranch Luke said...

Yeah, that's kind of the point. I threw the toys in later for the readers who don't know the rules.