The Maelstrom of Geopolitics
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A briefing session this hour from our strategic special branch, which is to say: the mind of Chas Freeman in the maelstrom of geopolitics. If President Obama had been given his first choice to sketch the state of the world for him every morning, it would have been the same Chas Freeman, the man who knows too much and says what he sees. It’s not what you read in the paper, or hear on NPR. In the coming world order, Chas Freeman is telling us, great empires like ours have lost their grip. China is still rising, and lesser powers too. The US is still hooked on primacy and still Number One, but only in firepower. We’re out of joint with much of the world and, it can seem, with ourselves.
The legend of our guest Chas Freeman derives from the moment in Beijing 50 years ago, when as a young Foreign Service officer, still in his twenties, he interpreted Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong to each other in the breakthrough conversations of 1972. Even then Chas Freeman was a master of languages, history, strategy, and diplomacy. A great career ensued, and it isn’t over. He’s a writer and lecturer online now, often sharper and more believable than the news media: about the quasi-war between the United States and China, for example, becoming a proxy war in the Middle East, of all places, as he wrote this fall. The US is estranged from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel to various degrees, China now the largest trading partner and foreign investor in the Middle East—in Israeli technology, and Saudi arms production, among other things. This is not the familiar beltway picture.
This is the latest installment of In Search of Monsters, our limited-series collaboration with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.