The timing of China’s entry as a global power at the UN Copenhagen conference on climate change was remarkable.
The simple yet powerful message Chinese premier Wen Jiabao delivered was Beijing will nix any international agreement harmful to China’s national interest.
China, together with India, Brazil and South Africa, put to rest the scam of man-made global warming. In doing this, they tore away another layer of U.S. President Obama’s narcissistic preening that he was in Copenhagen to single-handedly save the planet from overheating.
In this new decade, China will increasingly be a major story in how it conducts its relationship with the rest of the world, particularly the U.S., and how it handles the growing volatility of its population, restless for improved human rights and freedom.
The emergence of China as a global power coincides with the discontent of Americans over the state of their republic.
A generation and more of rising innumeracy and falling literacy – which, among others, the late Allan Bloom of the University of Chicago discussed presciently in his now classic book The Closing of the American Mind – has brought the U.S. to the unenviable situation where its future is befogged by economic uncertainty and pushed by political cynics into preposterous debt that nobody knows how to pay for.
The big political story, therefore, for 2010 will be to what extent the remorse of an increasing number of Americans over how they voted in 2008 will be registered at their mid-term November election.
Europe is a troubled continent. Its shrinking relevance in world affairs will be countered by its feeble efforts to cling to whatever glamour of past decadence it can still offer to the newly rich from other continents.
Africa remains a continent stuck in hopelessness; its best and brightest suffocated to death by the shallow banditry of the likes of Robert Mugabe.
The Arab-Muslim societies will continue to be a sore headache for the rest of the world.
There is no compelling evidence from anywhere in the Arab-Muslim world that Muslims are prepared to strike the hard bargain necessary to reverse their slide into history’s black hole and begin the long steep climb to reconcile themselves with the modern world.
This decade will test – more likely bring to an end – the west’s enduring tolerance or patience with the bottomless politics of Muslim resentment and endless provocations of terror.
The struggle for freedom wherever tyranny prevails, as in Iran or Tibet, demands support. Yet, sadly, the requisite support will not be forthcoming as the west contends with its own diminishing sense of what it means to be free and noble. But the one relatively bright story is about Canada, despite the rancour in the mainstream media. Rarely, as the saying goes, is greatness recognized at home.
This past year was Stephen Harper’s political education and the hustlers gathered in Copenhagen put him to the test. When other leaders of the former G7 were losing their heads, Harper kept his cool, displaying the steel within him to steer Canada wisely past demagogues, despots and thugs who fill the halls of the UN.