Well, I don’t think the American effort is part of a long history of war of ideas and psychological warfare against China that goes back now 60 years. It’s still ongoing, it’s there in certain ways China is dealt with, it’s there in Tibet, it’s there in Hong Kong, it’s there in Taiwan, these are all parts of ongoing incessant strategies that the US is involved in. But I think that the underlying point in the end is that China, if it is to continue the development and to continue to cope with.
And it’s a reminder the US itself is not exactly a paragon of how to solve certain problems, we have today the greatest extremes of wealth and power the US has ever faced, we have all sorts of basic infrastructure that is not working as it used to. That doesn’t mean the American power is weakening per se, but the quality of life in America is lessening. And the US is not providing any model for how to deal with that, and I don’t believe so much in models for others, people can learn from whatever they wish as a country develops in its own way, you shouldn’t think of I think of the world about copying other people, but you can learn from those people, the US often thinks of itself as the model, and yet one of our greatest historians Charles Beard before WWII, he said you know what the shocking things about the US is, it has its electoral freedoms, and they are important, but those electoral freedoms and it’s more true than ever, have never been to deal with economic inequality, and to ensure that the basic needs of all sorts of Americans are met.
And that should give some humility and pause to Americans, not that there aren’t good things in those systems, but there is certain things they have not accomplished and they are still not accomplishing in a great deal of rethinking that goes on. So rather than propagate such views in a war of ideas about how we are going to quote unquote Westernize China, pull back on all that effort, just stop it, and focus on transforming the US. It’s difficult enough to transform the US; we certainly don’t know how to transform anybody else.
Well, I think I make distinction, there is a very crude, simplistic, individual centric, I’m gonna go out do my own thing, personal interest, that’s what my life is, and if I succeed, great, and its mine. But I don't think that’s what the real American dream was about. The phrase is relatively new, it came in the 1930s, a lot of people think the American dreams goes back to the beginning of the puritans, it doesn’t, it emerged in the great depression, and it emerged among those who were most uneasy about a business civilization in the US after the 1920s, where everything was being reduced to profit, where business seemed to be supreme, where a intensely capitalist culture which of course the US is, had moved further and further away from non-commercial values. The goal of many of these people in the 20s and 30s was to find a dream, a national dream, not a universal dream, not a dream to remake the world but that to remake America, so that it would be a valid civilization, which you don’t hear about much anymore in the US.
But back in those years, we spoke in terms of an American civilization, it was inherently comparative, it was about how the ideals would fit in that civilization, it was how to have greater equality, and how to control extremes of wealth, and in its own way, Franklin Roosevelt was part of that, because when you read Roosevelt’s speeches, part of what he warned against was the dangers of the belief that wealth, simply earning wealth and earning it for yourself, would create a viable society and a meaningful life. While, it’s important to have the personal rights to pursue certain things.
At another level, if you don’t have the textures of society and community around that, then you end up with what the very people who initially articulated the dream warned against, so when people ask me what the American dream is, I’m a little closer to what Martin Luther King said in his I have a dream speech, which is the American dream I want isn’t here yet. There are things to draw on in America that are very positive, but it is not here yet. And that “yet” means the things he struggled for, the greater equality, meeting human needs, focusing in a world where simply pursuing your individual ventures, may be true for a lot of people, but in of itself, for a society as a whole, that was not enough. And so that’s closer to my dream about it, and as part of that, I would like to see America grow up, and stop trying to round the planet, and pull back, I don’t expect to see that in my life time, but that is what I would like because, and until does that, it cannot create a more meaningful national culture it itself.
Well, I would hope, as difficult as the relations are, I think they are difficult, that first, people in the US can be better educated, difficult, but to begin to pull back from the kind of role it has played in the world. There is a sort of an interesting development in the US in this regard, where there is even a divide now, for really first time in my lifetime, and in the Republican Party, between those who are deeply uneasy about American global role and people like McCain and others who favor it. So one element is to see that pull back in the US. The other is, the US can be very fierce about protecting its global role, and part of this effort is going to be to insist, on the one hand, that China’s rights and interest are protected, and on the other hand, that they be very shrewdly and carefully maneuvered so that crises do not get out of hand. And that I think is the risk, it’s nothing inevitable about a conflict between these two countries, but there is always a risk in crises escalating. So when you ask about the way President Xi and President Obama might communicate more directly or how national security would be more coordinated. I think that’s all to the good, but it’s gonna take a certain amount of patience even here, I think, to realize the kinds of changes, that are also gonna have to come from the US, that are necessary for a peaceful world, even though as I said earlier, I do think time is on China’s side.