I hate holliday weekends. There's always a bunch of crap about to happen in the world, and BANG the media takes four days to create "traditionally slow news days" as though the world actually turns a bit slower. Then, the following Monday is like a mad plunge into an icy pool of reality. Amid the flurry, a couple of major events are emerging in a pattern that I've been touting ever since I first noticed it.
China's taking ownership of Asean. By entering into a free-trade agreement (of which this is only a harbinger) with other Asean nations China will fulfill its own manifest destiny as the Asian Dragon. Networks, especially economic ones, tend to aggregate. According to Reed's Law the more utility the network provides the more users it attracts, and China, based on its user base and economic power, is a supermagnet. Here's the better news. As China, already constantly moving towards democracy and freedom, pulls more economies into its orbit it will be forced to loosen its restrictive government faster and faster. China will soon reach a critical mass of users and utility that will make it an economic/informational superpower. Don't get scared. Not only is this not likely to prompt too much military buildup, but as China deregulates its economy and society, Taiwan (our main point of contention) will likely slip into China's orbit naturally, without any military influence, becoming the Chinese equivalent of Puerto Rico.
Asia and Brazil, Sittin' in a Tree... Looks like the Pakistani have figured out the painfully obvious way to exploit their natural resources (something Europe and the US have shown minimal interest in). So, Brazil builds the infrastructure, Pakistan supplys the oil fields, and BANG new broadband connectivity between Asia and South America. If Brazil can get Pakistan to support its bid for a permaseat on the Security Council as part of the package then we're talking about the realization of major economic potential in Brazil. Of course, Brazil needs to speed up its own internal reforms (which it's been doing) to serve as a South American international economic hub. The US should largely sit this one out. This is going to be one of those fast and loose relationships that could only get mucked up by too much US/European involvement. Our systems are much too stable and regulated to route through. Good news is, with all the focus on Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, we probably will.
Time for a new bid for PM. Sharon wasn't the guy to play peacemaker. I never had much hope that he'd pull off this dramatic shift of gears, but the good news is that the political infrastructure that he's created may be able to be used by a follow on. If he bites it over something so ordinary as a budget proposal, don't be fooled. It's because he's alienating his old allies and trying to make new ones out of old rivals. That's a tough bit for anybody. Let's just see how far he can run with the olive branch before somebody else has to pick it up.
More to come...