In China and elsewhere, it’s open season on U.S. corporations. Oct 6, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 04 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
When it comes to military actions, President Obama likes to declare the end of wars, regardless of whether America’s opponents agree that is the case. When it comes to economic wars, he has no need to declare an end, no need for unilateral disarmament, because he never engages in the first place. Indeed, he does all he can to make our adversaries’ task easier by spiking any guns we might have before they can be fired by Congress, his trade union friends, or other aggrieved parties.
Last week China’s Alibaba came to America and raised some $25 billion, topping the previous record of $22.1 billion raised by the Agricultural Bank of China in 2010. At the closing price on the day of the offering, Alibaba’s market valuation came to $230 billion, exceeding the combined valuations of Amazon and eBay. The $25 billion haul and $230 billion market valuation reflect the success of the company so far, and what investors see as its even brighter future. Founder Jack Ma, now the richest man in China with a net worth of more than $16 billion, came here to maximize the proceeds from the initial public offering of his company’s shares. Why not Beijing, or Hong Kong, or even London? Because our capital market’s depth and transparency make it a unique resource, and one he could access even though he didn’t build it, an accusation Obama levels at American but not Chinese entrepreneurs. On the same day a Chinese entrepreneur was availing himself and by extension his country of one of America’s great institutions, China declined to permit Apple to include the People’s Republic among the nations in which its iPhone 6 would be launched.
Meanwhile, Beijing was cracking down on other American and foreign businesses. Microsoft is accused of abusing its market power, although the Economist points out that Microsoft has very little such power in China because most of its products are pirated there. Qualcomm, a U.S. telecom equipment firm, is the subject of an investigation aimed, say some observers, at driving down the prices it charges for equipment vital to the regime’s rollout of 4G mobile phones. These alleged violations have suddenly been uncovered by China’s National Development and Reform Commission, officials of which have raided corporate offices, seized computers, and arrested or threatened corporate executives with arrest for various alleged crimes.
The seizure of computers makes it less necessary for the regime to use its more routine methods of stealing our companies’ intellectual property, or forcing American firms to turn over that IP in return for market access presumably guaranteed by China in 2001 when it joined the World Trade Organization. The New York Times reports that “multinational companies broadly have been under pressure in China. . . . The legal and regulatory system has shown a greater willingness to prosecute foreign companies. . . . Executives have not even been allowed to bring their lawyers to meetings with regulators.” Some trials last one day (a special affront to American lawyers who thrive on multiyear antitrust cases) and are held in secret, the procedure used recently to fine Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline almost $500 million and impose (suspended) prison sentences on several of the company’s executives.
The American companies caught up in this wave of anti-foreign prosecutions are not alone: Chinese officials are raiding the offices of European and Japanese companies as well. But as Yossarian pointed out in a parallel circumstance in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, the fact that non-U.S. companies are also in the regime’s sights is irrelevant to our possible reaction:
Yossarian: Those bastards are trying to kill me.
Milo Minderbinder: No one is trying to kill you, sweetheart. Now eat your dessert like a good boy.
Yossarian: Oh yeah? Then why are they shooting at me, Milo?
Dobbs: They’re shooting at everyone, Yossarian.
Yossarian: And what difference does that make?
Americans eagerly await another “morning in America” moment.12:00 AM, Aug 21, 2010 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
If it were ever true that we Americans are provincial -- the charge made by European elites and pundits -- it no longer is.
Will the last one to leave turn out the Northern lights? May 17, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 33 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
A few weeks ago, Palle Christiansen, Greenland’s minister of finance warned that his country was facing an existential threat from immigration. Yet unlike the far-right politicians of Europe who take up this theme, Christiansen was not fretting over foreigners coming to his country’s shores, but about fellow citizens leaving.
Walter Russell Mead on globalization4:24 PM, Jan 26, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
Check out Walter Russell Mead's take on the American future:
The learned professions in the United States — lawyers, doctors, nurses, accountants, educators, journalists, government bureaucrats — are under the gun. The IT revolution is going to put them all through the wringer — the way it has already put blue collar America through the wringer by a combination of automation and outsourcing. The upper middle class did very well in the last generation, even as blue collar incomes stagnated and in many cases fell. The next phase of change will challenge the institutions and the livelihoods of America’s managers, professors, lawyers and others in the same way that it has already thrown journalism into the maelstrom.
These changes are necessary and in the long run benign. Dramatically and thoroughly restructuring the professions will ultimately make the vital services they provide much cheaper and much more widely available — just as the destruction of the old manufacturing guilds in the industrial revolution eventually made manufactured goods much cheaper. But just as the spinners and weavers fought the new machines, so we can expect a lot of our intellectuals and managers to fight the challenges to a system that has worked very well for them.
The whole post is worth reading. And if you are interested in this topic, be sure to read Gregg Easterbrook's Sonic Boom, which treats the coming changes at greater length. I reviewed Sonic Boom here.
Don DeLillo weighs in on September 11 and comes up short.11:01 PM, Nov 25, 2001 • By DAVID SKINNER
TWO WEEKS AFTER September 11, while the whole world was still checking in with itself, the New York Times called up a bunch of novelists. The paper of record wanted to see if their jobs still had any meaning.
Alas, no.Nov 19, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 10 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
SO NOW WE KNOW: The Saudi Arabian regime is no friend of ours. Sure, they sell us oil and tell us that they keep the OPEC cartel from pushing prices through the roof. But their refusal to go along with OPEC price hawks is self-serving.
Globalization in antiquity.Nov 12, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 09 • By PAUL A. CANTOR
THE ISSUE OF GLOBALIZATION is very much on our minds at the moment--and the experience of the ancient world proves an aid to understanding what we think of as a uniquely modern problem.
It was Jean-Marie Guehenno who argued in his brilliant 1995 book "The End of the Nation-State" that during the age of empire--beginning with the conquests of Alexander the Great--the ancient world embarked on a vast experiment in cosmopolitanism that eerily foreshadows what we are experiencing today.
Politics and culture after September 11.Nov 5, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 08 • By DAVID BROOKS
"A SINGULAR FACT OF MODERN WAR," the historian Bruce Catton once wrote, "is that it takes charge. Once begun it has to be carried to its conclusion, and carrying it there sets in motion events that may be beyond men's control. Doing what has to be done to win, men perform acts that alter the very soil in which society's roots are nourished." Catton was writing about the Civil War, but his observation applies to most wars, and it will likely apply to the war to which we are now committed.
Neither the best nor the brightest.Oct 15, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 05 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
War in a Time of Peace
Bush, Clinton, and the Generals
by David Halberstam
Scribner, 544 pp., $28
THE STORY OF AMERICA'S FOREIGN POLICY during the years of Bill Clinton will be of considerable interest to historians. The United States, having won a stunning and surprising victory in the Cold War, emerges as the most powerful, prosperous, and politically attractive nation on the planet.
The most realistic response to terrorism is for America to embrace its imperial role.Oct 15, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 05 • By MAX BOOT
MANY HAVE SUGGESTED THAT THE September 11 attack on America was payback for U.S. imperialism. If only we had not gone around sticking our noses where they did not belong, perhaps we would not now be contemplating a crater in lower Manhattan.
Oct 15, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 05 • By ROBERT KAGAN and WILLIAM KRISTOL
CAN THE UNITED STATES WIN A WAR ON TERRORISM while winking at some terrorists and cozying up to nations that support them? Can the United States effectively fight terrorism and reward terrorism at the same time? You shouldn't have to ponder those questions very long. The certain answer is no.
But the Bush administration isn't certain.
America from Gilligan's Island to The X-FilesSep 17, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 01 • By DAVID BROOKS
I'D NEVER REALLY CONSIDERED the way George W. Bush resembles Gilligan of Gilligan’s Island until I read Paul A. Cantor’s brilliant book, Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization. As Cantor points out, Gilligan is not the smartest one on the island. He doesn’t have the obvious leadership résumé. Yet the audience instinctively sympathizes with him, and the show’s creators were right to put him in the center.
An exercise in posing and preening.Sep 10, 2001, Vol. 6, No. 48 • By JEREMY RABKIN
IT HAS BEEN A BUSY SUMMER for European diplomats and for the human rights activists who dance to the Euro-beat. They have been much exercised about dangers to global stability. The main danger, they seem to think, comes from the United States.
Europeans want to stop global warming and stand up for global justice. So do the globalist non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, who are their moaning bass accompanists. But the Bush administration has said no to the Kyoto Protocol and no to the International Criminal Court.
Aug 13, 2001, Vol. 6, No. 45 • By DAVID BROOKS, FOR THE EDITORS
MOST PRESIDENTS RETREAT to the bully pulpit after suffering a setback, but George W. Bush has done the opposite. Following the Jeffords defection, President Bush went down into the trenches, conducting detailed negotiations with members of Congress, and visiting the Capitol building to personally move legislation.
This has yielded some startling victories. The Bush administration seemed to have painted itself into a corner on the patients’ bill of rights, but it is now likely to get a bill it can live with.