Democracy has spread spontaneously and swiftly in an area of the world generally thought to be immune to political changes: West Asia and North Africa (WANA). An incident of common occurrence in Third World countries—a policeman extorting money from a fruit vendor—sparked this surge for democracy, which spread rapidly from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea in some two months. On December 17, 2010, a fruit vendor, Mohammed Razzack, set himself on fire to protest against a policeman extorting money from him.
Right away I plead guilty to Amitabh Mattoo's charge that I am not sufficiently sensitive to the critique of interdependence. In writing this article, I had in my mind the influential columnists on strategic affairs who talk often persistently, loudly and incoherently, that we are a ‘balancer’ between China and America. What this balance is and how a six-power global balance (US, Europe, Japan, China, India and Russia) has emerged is not explained with any consistency and coherence by these columnists. But they are influential opinion-makers and also decision-makers.
Lawrence Summers, United States President Barack Obama's chief economic advisor and formerly secretary of treasury in the second term of the Clinton administration, once said that there was a ‘balance of financial terror’ between the US and its financial creditors, primarily China and Japan. Today, China, holding some $800 billion in US treasury bonds and some $2 trillion worth of currency reserves wields financial terror against the US.