Poking… the Chinese Dragon

“May you live in interesting times” is a Chinese saying meant to be taken ironically – it’s better appreciated by another saying, “Better to be a dog in times of tranquility than a human in times of chaos!” And against that background, US Congressional Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit last weekend to Taiwan just made our times much more “interesting”!! After all, look what poking the Russian Bear’s rump in Europe has gotten us into: shortage of flour across the world, since Ukraine and Russia are two of the biggest exporters of wheat.
But from a realpolitik standpoint, your Eyewitness can kinda understand the situation in Europe. There, Putin, the Authoritarian, showed all signs of following in the footsteps of Stalin – or Fredrick the Great, if you will – to build Russia into a “European” power. The USSR had fallen apart through the weight of its own pretentions and contradictions. If you think trying to have a Cadillac lifestyle in a donkey-cart economy is ridiculous, imagine trying to match the US militarily when you can’t even produce a tractor!! The US had become the sole superpower left standing!! But shorn of its restless satellites, Putin has a good chance of building Russia into a power-competitor in the heart of Europe.
He’d already challenged the US in the Middle East, and come out on top in Syria; cosying up with nuclear-ambitious Iran, a card-carrying member of OPEC!! Not to mention undermining the fragile egos of his western peers with his wrestling bare-chested with bears and suchlike!!! Can’t ever trust such a chap to know his place, can you??! So, lo and behold, he took the bait when Ukraine signalled they were going ahead and joining NATO – an alliance specifically to counter Russia – and attacked. Claimed Russia as a budding “great power” needed “strategic depth”!!
And ditto for China – which the US carefully nurtured for 4 decades, so that it’s about to surpass them economically within a decade, and militarily – maybe right now!! Now, Americans know, from the days of Athens and Sparta, their hegemony’s gonna be challenged any day now by China!! So, they’ve been slowly trying to put together strategic alliances to contain the Chinese Dragon with its pretentions of becoming the globally pivotal Middle Kingdom once again. Its latest gambit is the QUAD – comprised of itself, India, Japan and Australia.
And into this, Speaker Nancy Pelosi – second in line to the US Presidency, just behind Kamala Harris – takes it upon herself to show her independence from her fellow Democrat in the White House, Biden!! She visits Taiwan, which even the US recognise is a province of China!! Is she signalling a presidential run in 2024?? To show her “toughness” by raising the temperature??

…the Black Caucus?
One area of American politics we Guyanese don’t appreciate enough – even though half our population lives there – is the role of ethnic caucuses. The Americans have always openly accepted that folks are gonna be influenced when they vote by their identity. Makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, other people deal with you along those lines to impact you in a like manner. So, we have the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) in the Democratic Party. While the Republican Tea Party – now morphed into the Freedom Caucus – identifies ideologically (right wing), it’s totally White.
And here’s where Hakeem Jeffries – who’s been in our news – comes in. He’s the whip of the CBC, as well as Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. If the Democrats win the upcoming midterm Congressional elections – and Nancy Pelosi steps down as she’s promised – Jeffries is favoured to succeed her. Now, that’s real national power.
Your Eyewitness hopes he rises above the petty agenda of a few Brooklyn constituents!

…and handshakes
After the hullabaloo over Opposition Leader Norton refusing to shake President Ali’s hand, your etiquette-challenged Eyewitness looked up the protocols. And discovered, “Ignoring a handshake is deemed to be impolite and rude.”
He normally fist-bumps!!