27 September 2015

Dollar out, Yuan in

This was first published in the 'Daily News' five years ago.  It was was written when the UN General Assembly met in New York.  

I made a comment yesterday: ‘Malinda Seneviratne feels sorry for Barack ‘Monologue’ Obama’. The reference was to the walkout of the US delegation as the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the UN General Assembly.

Ahmadinejad got to speak after US President Barack Obama. Obama had, in his speech, taken issue with Iran’s nuclear program. Not too long after, the US team gave their all to defend Israel’s non-peaceful Nuclear program. Obama knew this was going to happen. Not many were impressed therefore by his school principal cameo.

Ahmadinejad said it as it was. He said that Iran was for nuclear energy for all when it comes to peaceful purposes and for none when it comes to military uses. He also called for a full investigation into the 9/11 attacks. I thought this was a sensible proposition since the USA went to war against two countries and causes untold misery based on CONJECTURE. Ahmadinejad opined that the 9/11 attacks could have been birthed by sections of the US Government itself. That’s a bit too much, I know, but not as ‘much’ as the US Government’s wild claims about weapons of mass destruction. 

Obama had earlier talked about the need for the community of nations to respect one another, to dialogue, to discuss, to work together etc etc. When Ahmadinejad spoke, Obama’s team walked out. Obama’s ‘dialoguing’, then, was about listening to agreement and not wanting to hear that which is distasteful. Hence my re-christening of the man: ‘Monologue’. 

That’s enough ‘preamble’. I stated and a friend asked, ‘When will the US come out of denial?’ I replied, ‘When China decides to appoint a viceroy perhaps...’ Another friend responded, ‘China may appoint a viceroy to Sri Lanka sooner than it has a chance to do that to US’. Here’s my final comment: ‘That would be good, really; I am sick of having Yanks ‘viceroying’ us.’ 

It was all very light banter. I don’t want to be under viceroys of any nationality. I realized however that the world had turned in ways that few thought were possible a decade or two ago. 

There was a time when Uncle Sam spoke tommyrot and much of the world salaamed it all as though what was falling out of that mother-of-all foul mouths was heaven-made and immortalizing. Now, Barack M Obama, educated and slick-tongued, well versed on diplo-speak and oozing with humility and generosity (compared to George W Bush, for example, which of course is not saying much) flourishes word-skills and no one is ready to purchase. Except of course his fellow bullies in the Western hemisphere. If someone given to blunt-speak and rabble-rousing like Ahmadinejad can with a few words undress someone like Obama and spank his bottom Uncle Sam needs to be very worried. 

Some proof of the world having turned arrived last evening. A surgeon friend of mine related a story. He had recently visited Chong Qing, a major city in Southwestern China. Here’s what he said. 

"It was impossible to change a dollar. No one is interested in dollars. I needed to buy some medical equipment and had about 7,000 US dollars with me. Cash. I finally found a bank that was willing to change it all into Yuan, with the greatest reluctance. They weren’t impressed by the dollar and indeed were suspicious of the notes. I came off with the feeling that I might have had an easier time had I taken Sri Lankan rupees!" 

That last line was in jest of course, but it’s pretty clear now isn’t it? Those who worship money have a new god these days. Yuan. 

The identity of the robber counts only to the extent that he/she can be captured and brought before the law. In matters of international political economy this doesn’t happen. It doesn’t matter if I am being robbed by a Chinese or a Yankee. What counts is the fact of robbery. 

Not being spat on while my pocket is being picked is small consolation but it’s still something to be appreciative of. Come to think of it, China has been a friend throughout and by far a no-strings-attached friend. In the very least, with China dialogue is possible. There is respect. I’d rather not get dragged into picking preferred national identities for would-be viceroys, but if I am forced to, I’ve got to say ‘Sorry Barack, no can do’. Come to think of it, I would say the same to Manmohan Singh.