‘I’m late to the Party!’ Political Observer belatedly reads The Financial Times

How could I have missed Janan Ganesh’s June 3, 2020 essay?

Headline: A divided America cannot compete in a superpower duel with China

Sub-headline: If another cold war is afoot, the US goes into it with less of the cohesion that primed it for the first

The reader can only savor these various expressions of the Ganesh cut and thrust. A carefully ‘curated’ selection: 

America’s internal schisms are being used against it, and used well, with the soft touch and irony that autocrats are meant to lack. But then there is so much to work with. 

The dividedness of the US — racial, material, political — is aired thoroughly enough as a domestic blight. It is the effect on its foreign policy that can get lost in the anguish. If the US is riven, it must also be hampered in its outward actions. And nowhere will it suffer more than in the superpower duel.

The US-China rift is so cheaply likened to the cold war that we forget how much more unified America was back then.

With all the due caveats about silent tensions (and, in McCarthyism, loud ones), the US that set out on the cold war was a nation of almost quaint togetherness. It could be mobilised for an open-ended contest against a far-off rival.

As they consider the inflamed streets, Americans of some vintage will shiver with memories of the late-1960s. 

For reasons of pride or strategy, confronting China might be still be right.

If he wants the US to bed down for an indefinite struggle against China, he must know that it cannot also be so nakedly at odds with itself.


Mr. Ganesh’s History-Made-To-Measure demonstrates his usual literary flair, but that is not nearly enough. As  The New Cold War, with both China and Russia, is not some casual invention. Witness the myth of the hot bed of rivalry in the South China Sea, and the actuality of the Ukrainian Coup.

The moralizing frame for this  New Cold War propaganda, of Mr. Ganesh’s June 3, 2020 essay, is provided by this belated June 5, 2020 essay by the Editorial Board of the Financial Times: 

Headline:America’s battered moral standing

Sub-headline: Donald Trump is handing the world’s autocrats a propaganda coup

America’s state department last weekend called on “freedom-loving people” to hold China to account for its vow to impose a national security law on Hong Kong. A Chinese official instantly tweeted: “I can’t breathe”. The riposte was no less stinging for its sarcasm. Images of US law enforcement breaking up demonstrations after the suffocation of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American, already harm US moral standing. The fact that President Donald Trump describes the mostly peaceful protesters as “thugs”, “killers”, and “domestic terrorists” makes the damage incalculably greater.

Previous presidents have been accused of hypocrisy after similar tragedies. The world is well-versed in US racial inequities. Yet never before has a US president demonised in blanket terms those protesting against injustice. Hypocrisy may be the compliment vice pays to virtue. Mr Trump makes no pretence of siding with virtue.


On June 8, 2020 The Financial Times publishes this ‘news story’ on a warning from  NATO chief  Jens Stoltenberg. Note that this ‘news story’ was cobbled together by Michael Peel in Brussels, Helen Warrell in London, Erika Solomon in Berlin and Katrina Manson in Washington. Call this what it is, propaganda by committee.    

Headline: Nato chief urges nations to stand up to ‘bullying’ as China power rises

Sub-headline: Jens Stoltenberg says threats posed by Beijing demand a ‘more global approach’ 

Nato’s chief has warned that China is “multiplying the threats to open societies and individual freedoms”, as he urged like-minded countries to join the military alliance to stand up against “bullying and coercion”. Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of the transatlantic security alliance, said on Monday that the Covid-19 pandemic had “magnified existing tensions and trends when it comes to our security”. China’s emergence as the world’s second-largest military spender demands a “more global approach” from the 30-country Nato group, he added.


Political Observer






About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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