"Thank you, Hu Jintao, and thank you, China," said Hugo Chavez, as he announced a $20 billion loan from Beijing, to be repaid in Venezuelan oil.
The Chinese just threw Chavez a life-preserver. For Venezuela is reeling from 25 percent inflation, government-induced blackouts to cope with energy shortages and an economy that shrank by 3.3 percent in 2009.
Where did China get that $20 billion? From us. From consumers at Wal-Mart. That $20 billion is 1 percent of the $2 trillion in trade surpluses Beijing has run up with the United States over two decades. Beijing is using its trillions of dollars in reserves, piled up from exports to America, to cut deals to lock up strategic resources for the coming struggle with the United States for hegemony in Asia and the world.
She has struck multibillion-dollar deals with Sudan, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Russia, Iran and Australia to secure a steady supply of oil, gas and vital minerals to maintain the 10-12 percent annual growth China has been racking up since Deng Xiaoping dispensed with Maoism and set his nation out on the capitalist road.
China has dozens of nuclear power plants under construction, has completed the Three Gorges Dam -- the largest power source on earth -- and is tying the nation together with light rail, bullet trains and highways in infrastructure projects unlike any the world has ever seen.
Contrast what China is doing with what we are about. We have declared vast regions of our country, onshore and offshore, off-limits to drilling for oil and gas. We have not built a nuclear power plant in 30 years or a refinery in 25 years. We have declared war on fossil fuels to save the planet from global warming.
Given the power of the environmental lobby to tie up projects in endless litigation, we could never today build our Interstate Highway System, Hoover Dam, the TVA or the Union Pacific Railroad.
Determined to take America's title as the world's first manufacturing nation, as she has taken Germany's title as the world's leading exporter, China keeps her currency undervalued and demands of those who sell to China that they also produce in China. As America's share of the world economy steadily falls, China's share has doubled. This year, China will overtake Japan as the world's second-largest economy.
Having seen the Soviet Union disintegrate into 15 nations and fearing the ethno-nationalism of Tibetans and Uighurs, Beijing floods her border provinces with Han Chinese. America, declaring racial, ethnic and religious diversity a strength, invites the world to come and swamp its native-born. And mostly poor, unskilled and uneducated, they are coming by the millions.
Before the financial collapse, the U.S. savings rate stood at zero percent of family income. In China, it ranged between 35 percent and 50 percent.
Since the Cold War, the United States has been playing empire -- intervening to punish evil-doers and advance democracy in Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.
We have expanded NATO to include Eastern Europe, the Baltic States and much of the Balkan Peninsula. We have not let a single alliance lapse from the Cold War. And we have fewer friends and more adversaries than at the end of the Cold War. What has all this intervention availed us?
China, having fought no one, has rapidly built up her military power and developed ties to the growing number of nations at odds with America, from Russia to Iran to Sudan to Venezuela.
The Chinese of 2010 call to mind 19th century Americans who shoved aside Mexicans, Indians and Spanish to populate a continent, build a mighty nation, challenge the British Empire -- superpower of the day -- and swiftly move past her in manufacturing to become first nation on earth. Men were as awed by America then as they are by China today.
America seems a declining superpower. She cannot defend her borders, balance her budgets or win her wars. Her educational system at the primary and secondary level is a shambles. In the first decade of the century, she lost one of every three manufacturing jobs. In this second decade, she is looking at trillion-dollar deficits to 2020. The world is losing confidence in her ability to manage her surging national debt.
While we are finally extricating ourselves after seven years from an unnecessary war in Iraq, we are heading deeper into an Afghan war that has lasted a decade, the end of which it is impossible to see.
During the Cold War, China was in the grip of a millenarian ideology that blinded her to her true interests. Today, it is we who are captive to a utopian ideology that is becoming perilous to the republic.