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Book Review of Cool War: The Future of Global Competition, by Noah Feldman

Using a breezy, didactic style, Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman’s new book Cool War: The Future of Global Competition, discusses how China’s rise as a globally significant economic superpower has created an increasingly complex dilemma for the United States from both military and economic perspectives. Consequently, Feldman aptly coins the term “cool war,” to describe a far more complex set of cooperation, competition and tension between two foes locked in an uneasy embrace of economic interdependence.

Feldman notes that the two nations’ interrelationship is novel by historical standards. For example, during the entirety of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union were clear military and political rivals, with little or no meaningful economic interactions. In contrast, communist-controlled China is currently the United States’ largest trading partner. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese students study in American universities, and the two nations have become stakeholders in a shared cultural and economic experiment.

Further, China quietly amassed a staggering amount of America’s sovereign debt. Even in the 20th century, Feldman points out that nations never invested significantly in another country’s national debt.

To act as the last remaining global superpower, Feldman correctly points out means having to spend like one. And, after several costly misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. populace is clearly in no mood to spend trillions more on a massive military buildup, especially one that is premised on borrowing from the very nation that you ostensibly seek to defend against, to finance it.

While China has not yet sought to achieve military parity with the U.S., such a strategic goal is not beyond possibility. The end result, Feldman observes, is that a shooting war is not unavoidable, but some form of ongoing conflict clearly is.

He illustrates how Taiwan’s status and independence represents a significant potential flashpoint for both nations, as Taiwan’s current diplomatic posture involves ambiguity that suits both China and American desires. On one hand, chief among Chinese ambitions is to bring Taiwan back within its own orbit. On the other hand, a visible failure to defend Taiwan in the event of a crisis with China would effectively end any semblance of American global hegemony in the Far East. This imaginative moment may actually arrive sooner than anticipated, as many experts have contemplated that the U.S. may have to realistically abandon any hope of continuing to treat Taiwan protectively, in light of larger global realities involving North Korea and other flashpoints.

China’s global ambitions are hidden in plain sight. The populous nation has already invested billions in a conventional military buildup. In practice, China’s outward activities are in line with a government intent on eventually bringing its geostrategic position in line with its economic one.

With respect to China’s weaponry, Feldman astutely notes that such empowerment occurs over decades, not in a few months. And, unlike the U.S., which confers its powers to officials after a publicly visible election in regular cycles of 2 or 4 years, Chinese military plans can be more gradual, and without the need for sudden policy shifts after a contested election.

Further, China needs only to grow its military capacity to the point where it would be large enough to not have to actually use it. China ends up winning a war without ever firing a shot, as America suddenly finds itself disinterested in waging a serious war that it could actually lose.

Feldman also correctly notes that modern acts of “cyberwarfare” are a form of asymmetrical, non-traditional combat that permit the Chinese to exploit non-traditional weaknesses in the American security infrastructure without a realistic threat of military retaliation. Furthermore, covert cyberwar permits intellectual property theft and corporate espionage, where American companies’ trade secrets and other valuable data become compromised and stolen. Feldman predicts that regular, ongoing acts of cyberwarfare arising from within China are likely to continue in this “cool war” phase.

Feldman’s book notably does not explore the prevalence of Chinese counterfeiting as a source of ongoing contention with the United States corporate world. Counterfeit products are widely seen by American corporate interests as a serious covert form of economic espionage that are causing significant harm to business interests. While human rights are most certainly an important source of Chinese criticism from the West, China’s tolerance of intellectual property theft is a sorer spot for thousands of American companies, who routinely lobby for stronger and harsher penalties against such violations of WTO rules.

Feldman also notes that nationalistic sentiment exists on both sides of the coin, with China’s citizens likely to feel pride in China’s ascent to global prominence, and Americans’ frustration with Chinese currency manipulation and a growing trade deficit, equally robust. He notes that economic interdependence does not remove this tendency toward quiet conflict.

Another interesting area that Feldman discusses is the conflict between American and Chinese ideology, such as it is. The core ideology of the Communist Party today represents an odd experimental pragmatism in economics summed up by Deng Xiaoping’s quote: “It doesn’t matter if the cat is white or black; if it catches mice, it’s a good cat.” Even the goal of maintaining the communist party’s apparatus is viewed with such hard-nosed pragmatism, putting China is a very different ideological place than Stalinist Soviet Union in the 1960′s.

China’s ideological pragmatism leads to the result that it will gladly do business with countries such as the United States, as long as the American democracy will respect the way it does things. Therefore, the ideological divide between America and China is far less a moral chasm than the disagreements that separated Kennedy and Khruschev. However, to the extent that Americans perceive China as fundamentally unwilling to compromise on Western values such as human rights and the rule of law, it is difficult to imagine how continuing ideological conflict is not inevitable.

Cool War skirts an interesting issue: Feldman notes that as long as America can preserve the rule of law for itself, it has no absolute need to export it. For example, he notes that Western investors have an interest seeing their investments in China respected, but they would still eagerly invest there if China’s legal establishment were coercion-based (or even overtly corruption-based).

The problem with this observation is that it ignores the reality that in this current state of economic and fiscal interdependence, the American rule of law must be exported elsewhere, under the weight of its own legal system. Take, for example, when an American business executive famously invests in a Chinese-managed factory to make his company’s widgets. His company is bound by, among other things, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and a wide variety of regulatory, contract and tort-based doctrines, that would be applied in U.S. Courts against him and his company.

Assume that his Chinese-managed factory ends up hiring a few underage workers to make a few substandard widgets, which are later imported and sold to American consumers and his manager pays off a Chinese official to avoid any problems. This situation may be de rigeur in Chinese business, but in America, it can lead to that executive being terminated, sued, even prosecuted. This cultural and legal clash is not academic.

Illustrating this culture clash through diplomatic events, Feldman also discusses the anecdotal example of Wang Lijun, the Chinese police chief who sought asylum from the West after uncovering a murder case involving Bo Xilai and a dead British expat involved in a bribery scandal. The story confirmed several widely-held beliefs: first, that senior Chinese Communist Party officials engage in widespread corruption, and second, that these party officials and their family members act as though they are immune from the rule of law.

The modern twist is that the Chinese party ultimately tried to use this scandal to actually strengthen its own party apparatus, by citing the sordid affair as evidence in the alternative narrative that Chinese corruption will ultimately not stand. Whether any one actually believed the party is another matter entirely.

In-Depth Automotive Review – 2008 Mazda CX-7 – Test Drive & Pricing

Wow, I am impressed at what the “New” Mazda has in their stable. This was always the one manufacturer that has been able to stay under the radar. Mazda’s always putting out fantastic cars, just take a look at the popular Mazda-3 and MX-5 (Miata) roadster, the consumers love them. It hasn’t been since the new CX-7, did the company ever have an SUV that compared to some of the best. I had the pleasure to come take a look at the 2008 CX-7 and its stable mate, the nine passenger CX-9. Both variations had a lot to desire, and more to appreciate when you have the ability to get behind the wheel and eagerly push like you would it’s rotary inspired cousins.

First hand impressions of the new SUV was one of complete awe. Never did I see such a breakthrough look of the conventional box SUV, this one has acquired some of it’s streamlined looks from its car lineup. The Front end design kinda had a blend of RX-8 while keeping true to a muscular front facsia. The CX-7 had stunning factory 18″ wheels and a nice low center of gravity to compliment the look. This not only helped with the stability and body roll, but it also made ingress and egress a snap. It’s no wonder all the women had nothing but great things to say about that element. Sleek, bold, and clean were just a few words to describe the CX-7.

Secondly, I was thrilled to drive a nicely loaded touring model with sport cloth seating and navigation. The seats were sporty, they had some nice lateral support and fabric was durable. Something a little different than other car companies. I really adored the way the dash was put together, lots of angular cockpit shapes and anti-glare facing give it a high quality appeal. This model was also equipped with the automatic tranny with active select, a feature I liked even more when I don’t have to mess with the clutch deal. It was easy to transition all the gearing on my own. Additionally, the stereo system sounded great, the XM satellite radio is a plus, and the navigation was clear and simple to operate. Truly an up to date piece of tech-mobile, and would clearly win shoppers over with the controls’ ease of use.

I got up into the back seat, and found the head room just a tad bit small. And that’s easy to understand because from outside, it is one of the shortest looking SUV’s out there yet, so there is the tradeoff. The AWD model I looked at with all the options short of a sunroof and leather put my tally just a smidgin over $33k. And base models click in at a mear $27,990 with about $37k at the peak pricing. Expect anywhere between $1,800-$2,700 of wiggle room from invoice to MSRP, so there is a little negotiation to swing plus you’ll receive any applicable incentives. A modest price range for a midsize and is easily competitive with similar types.

I’m glad I had a chance to review the new CX-7, it ranks high on my list of SUV’s with decent gas mileage and a look that appeals to a younger generation. I’ll soon be doing a review on it’s longer bodied CX-9, and tell you exactly why its the best compromise to the Suburban and Expedition EL. Check back soon for more reviews!!

Prefabulous -The House of Your Dreams Delivered Fresh from the Factory, By Sheri Koones

Prefabulous: The House of your dreams delivered fresh from the factory. By Sheri Koones, Taunton Press, 63 South Main Street, Newtown, CT., 06470, ISBN 156158844X , 978-1561588442 , $25.00, 224 Pages, 2007

Sheri Koones latest book Prefabulous follows on the heels of her three previous shelter books, all considered home runs by those who are in the residential housing industry. Prefabricated homes of today offer features and benefits that place them on equal footing with stick or site built homes. Koones in her thorough and leave no stone unturned style, explores the options in rich from-the-trenches writing detail, coupled with relative photography.

Prefabulous should be required reading for architecture students as it highlights an important coming trend in North American residential housing. Prefabricated homes are being embraced by builders, developers and designers coast-to-coast as starter, custom, primary and secondary residences. Before you sign a site-built new construction contract, read this book and you will discover an option that can dramatically decrease delays, expenses, stress, time and waste in building your dream home.

Chapters cover: Modular, Panelized, Structural Insulated Panels, Timber Frame, Log Construction, Concrete and Steel. Additional features include a forward, an introduction, and a resource appendix. A must-have guide for prospective new-construction homeowners, manufacturers in the factory-built construction industry and those looking for a “green” alternative to site-built housing.

Read more book reviews by Mark Nash including: Elizabeth: By J. Randy Taraborrelli, The Year of Magical Thinking – By Joan Didion, The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and Mississippi Gulf Coast- By Douglas Brinkley, The Importance of Being Barbra by Tom Santopietro, Being Martha: The Inside Story of Martha Stewart and Her Amazing Life – By Lloyd Allen, Real Estate Brokerage: A Guide to Success, By Dan Hamilton, Book Review: Refi-Bust: Mortgage Brokers Gone Wild! by David Lawrence, Savvy Home Buying Tactics; Financing Exposed from the Inside by Thomas L. Dussault, House About It by Sherri Koones, and Every Landlords Guide to Finding Great Tenants by Janet Portman.

Mark Nash is a Chicago based residential real estate author, broker and columnist. His advice, analysis and tips have been featured on: Bloomberg TV, CBS News, CNN, Fox News Channel, NBC News, The New York Time, The Washington Post, Business Week, Parade, and Smart Money Magazines, The Library of Congress, Washington, D. C., HGTV.com, and RealtyTimes.com. Nash’s annual survey “What’s In, What’s Out with Homebuyers” is utilized by more than 500 news organizations in the U.S. and Canada.

Low Interest Rates on Auto Loans: It Can Make Your Life Pleasurable

Every person borrows money on credit. A loan on your name marks your progress. It also shows your appetite towards a luxurious life. Thanks to the lenders, borrowing money for a new car isn’t difficult at all.

Although, what bothers people are the interest rates that the lenders charge. It is inversely proportional to your credit rating. It means the higher your credit score; lower will be the interest rate on the auto loan.

What are the Benefits of obtaining Low-Interest Rates on Auto Loans?

Let’s understand how low-interest rates on auto loans can leave you tension-free and make your life pleasurable.

· You can buy Expensive Cars

You can buy expensive and luxurious cars without any worry. The reason is simple. As you get low-interest rates, you need not take tension of a large down payment in order to minimize the loan amount.

So, you need not to worry about saving up too much money for the down payment. Just pay a nominal amount and obtain an auto loan for the remaining amount.

· You won’t end up paying more Money

Let’s take an example to understand the number game easily.

For a loan of $10,000, with an interest rate of 15% for 10 years, you pay a total amount of $19,360.19. It means you pay more than $9000 in the form of interest. If the rates of interest reduces to 6%, the total amount will come down to $13,322.46.

It is simple to understand how the total payable amount differs with a simple change in the interest rates. Hence, become a credible and punctual credit borrower. In return, you will be able to enjoy low rates on your next loan.

· Lenders will trust you

Every company values a genuine customer. If you make payments regularly, you will never face any difficulty in getting an auto loan. Lenders will stay in touch with you and provide you with special discounts as well as cash benefits for buying a car.

Your punctuality will earn you respect and trust of lenders. They will understand your situation and provide you with other benefits such as relaxed lending terms, higher LTV ratio, etc.

· You can apply for Multiple Loans

The best thing about low-interest rates is that you can apply for multiple auto loans without any tension. Whenever you feel like buying a new car for your family member, you will have no problem in getting approval from a lender. Also, you will be able to make the purchase at affordable rates.

Nobody likes to borrow less money and pay more in the form of interest amount. So your priority should be to lower the interest rates. And, here’s how you can achieve your goal:

1) Always keep a check on your credit score – It is a crucial measure for lenders that enables them to judge your credibility.

2) Convey your sincerity – Be confident when you face the lenders. Also, try to convey your sincerity by explaining your plan of making regular payments.

3) Never miss payments – Making payments on time is the key to become a good credit borrower.

4) Be on the move – Your credit behavior determines your growth. So, apply for multiple loans, make payments regularly and do not let your bank account sit idle.

5) Do you have a low FICO score? -You should start by applying for an auto loan of a smaller amount. Repay it on time, build your credibility and carefully nurture your credit score. Make payments regularly and improve your credit ratings. In return you’ll be able to enjoy low-interest rates on your next auto loan.

Considering the interest rates is a very important aspect of the car buying process. Remember that low-interest rates on auto loans can make your life pleasurable. So, strive hard to convince the lender and ensure that you he provides you with a better deal.

When it comes to obtaining low-interest rates on auto loans, choose the reputed auto financing company of Fast Auto Loan Approval. It has a record of providing easy auto loans to people with low-income. Apply now to enjoy buying car without down payment.