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China's Ascendancy and What It Means for the U.S.

China's Ascendancy and What It Means for the U.S.

By Ed Koch - February 9, 2010

The Chinese economy is surging. In every area of endeavor, their influence around the world is getting stronger. Government decision makers and media around the world speculate the Chinese will take the place of the U.S. as the world's number one superpower.

Today, the Chinese are our banker. They own 23.35 percent of our national debt. What if, because of pique, or for strategic or tactical reasons, they decided not to continue to annually buy U.S. Treasury bills, and we were forced to look elsewhere? What would be the effect on our economy?

I'm not an economist, but it appears that U.S. Treasury bond interest rates would skyrocket and rates on all other U.S. business bond offerings would follow. We would then face crippling inflation.

President Obama should tell the American people what he intends to do to combat the threat to our economy, and, indeed, to our national sovereignty and security posed by the Chinese owning such a large percentage of our national debt.

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I have no doubt that if the Republicans were in the majority in the Senate with 59 votes, they would have found a way to end Democratic filibuster threats. I recall that when the Republicans were threatening to filibuster in the voting on U.S. Supreme and District Court justices, there was talk of using existing Senate rules to end filibusters through a "nuclear option" which no one on either side of the aisle wanted. That option involved declaring the filibuster unconstitutional which can be decided by a simple majority. My recommendation would be to bring on the filibusters now and make the Republicans debate 24 hours a day for as many weeks as are necessary before they give up. These Republican Senators standing in the way of an orderly majority rule process will find that some of their colleagues, either out of fear of losing the November election or out of conscience, will buckle and vote for cloture and even a change in rules, substantially reducing the current 60 votes required.

I believe that the Democratic Party will suffer a severe drubbing if, between now and November, it is unable to enact desperately needed legislation required to address the major needs of our country, including jobs and other economic measures.

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Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is a klutz, which to me means a dope, jerk and a bull in a china shop. Why do I say that? Because recently he said, "Syria will have to give up on its ultimate demand for the Golan Heights." That is a ridiculous statement, intended to inflame. If Syria stopped its support of Hezbollah in Lebanon and agreed to the demilitarization of the Golan Heights and genuinely supported peace with Israel in every way, I have no doubt the people and leaders of Israel would willingly return those Heights to Syria.

The New York Times noted on February 5th, "Shaul Mofaz, a former Israeli army chief and defense minister and now a senior member of the opposition centrist Kadima party, described Mr. Lieberman's statements as ‘irresponsible.'"

The Israeli economy is soaring. The Arab economies in Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Egypt are at best floundering. What I suggest to George Mitchell, our extraordinarily able representative and mediator in the Mideast, is that he propose an economic union be formed to include all of these states, similar to that of the European Union.

The most responsible and important of all of the Arab leaders in the region is Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak. I met him in Alexandria, Egypt, for the first time when he was Vice President under President Anwar Sadat after the 1973 war. Of all the world leaders I have ever met - and I've met many - the most impressive was Sadat. Mubarak, who followed him, has done an exemplary job and has kept the peace with Israel for 29 years since Sadat's death. He and Israel's current Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu, who has surprised the world with his reasonableness and vision, should, together with George Mitchell, present to the other states an outline for a new economic union joining these countries together with the promise of a final peace for Israel free of military threats from its Arab neighbors, and a huge upgrade in the economic conditions in the surrounding Arab nations that will benefit their people, so many of whom now live in abject poverty.

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In mulling over the sensibility or common sense of Sarah Palin's objection to the use of the word "retarded" to describe those afflicted with intellectual disabilities, I have come to the conclusion that she is right. The thought of causing pain, particularly to a child, is so distasteful to me and most others, that there should be no objection. The meaning of words change with the passage of time, and what once was innocent can become inappropriate, even if you personally stayed with the innocent meaning. But it is ridiculous for Ms. Palin to continue to hector Rahm Emanuel for having used the word "retarded" months ago. He has apologized. She is calling on President Obama to fire Emanuel. He will not, and should not, and she undoubtedly knows that he won't be fired, but continues to beat the drum simply to keep the issue roiling. Enough already. You won the issue, don't lose by making it all appear political. Those who decry Sarah Palin's speech before the Tea Party this past weekend and her political ambitions are foolish. She was terrific in both delivery and substance. She gave them what they wanted: red meat. She still scares me to death, but I urge Democrats not to underrate her.

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Why do we keep irritating the Russians by seeking to place on their borders anti-ballistic missile facilities, as we are now seeking to do in Romania by erecting an ABM facility. Not long ago, we gave up plans to do so in Poland and Czechoslovakia, which was a wise decision. Placing threatening installations which is how the Russians view such ABM installations on or near their borders is no different than if the Russians sought to place comparable installations in Cuba, Mexico, Central or South America, particularly Venezuela and Bolivia. Instead of irritating the Russians, we should seek to make them our premier international partner. We are both equally threatened by Islamic terrorism. Neither they nor we want China to become the premier world superpower, taking the place of the U.S. The world has basically been safe over the last 65 years because the U.S. and Russia kept it so through the doctrine of MAD (mutually assured destruction). Now we should take our relationship to a higher and friendlier plane: a true partnership on every level.

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Shouldn't Toyota allow those who have leased their cars to be included in its recall so the affected customers can get unrecalled cars until their leased cars have been repaired? I think so. If Toyota refuses to make the temporary switch, wouldn't leasers be morally justified in bringing their leased cars back and let dealers sue for any future balances owed? I have a friend whose wife and daughter are petrified and won't use the family leased car. I bet there are tens of thousands similarly situated. I own my Toyota Avalon which has been recalled, but no date of repair has yet been assigned. I'm worried to ride in that car, but I'm not willing to stop using it.

 

Ed Koch is the former Mayor of New York City.
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