BTS 8/11/08: Russia-Georgia War; China's Economy; The Wrecking Crew

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While the world watches the Olympics in China, Russia and Georgia are at war -- over Georgia’s two breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia’s ‘Western” orientation and future entry into NATO, gas and oil pipelines, and Putin’s resolve to prevent any continued disintegration of Russian territory. Ron Suny has written extensively on the national question in the South Caucasus and joins us live.

Beneath the spectacle in China, Martin Hart-Landsberg, author of China and Socialism: Market Reforms and Class Struggle, says: "China is ostensibly communist, but it has more billionaires than any country except the United States. There's been a demonization of China as the primary cause of world economic problems. In fact, Chinese workers, like workers everywhere, are facing hard times. The economy has become export oriented and dominated by foreign multinational corporations. Chinese manufacturing employment has actually declined in absolute numbers. Decent jobs are scarce, social services are disappearing, and competitive pressures demand ever greater sacrifices. At the same time, a small but significant percentage of the population is growing fabulously wealthy. China isn't the problem, our global economic system is."

Thomas Frank joins us to talk about his new book The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, and he says that it is no coincidence that the same politicians who ridicule the idea of effective government have installed a regime in which incompetence is the rule. Frank catches the essence of Washington's last eight years. He concludes: "As we make our rounds of conservative Washington, we glimpse something much greater than single acts of incompetence or obstruction. We see a vast machinery built for our protection reengineered into a device for our exploitation. We behold the majestic workings of the free market itself, boring ever deeper into the tissues of the state. Ultimately, we gaze upon one of the true marvels of history: democracy buried beneath an avalanche of money."

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Ronald Grigor Suny is a professor of social and political history at the University of Michigan and emeritus professor of political Science and history at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Making of the Georgian Nation and Looking Toward Ararat: Armenia in Modern History.

2. Martin Hart-Landsberg is a professor in the Department of Economics at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He is the co-author with Paul Burkett of China and Socialism: Market Reforms and Class Struggle, (Monthly Review Press, 2006), and edited Marxist Perspectives on South Korea in the Global Economy. He writes widely on the political economy of East Asia.

3. Thomas Frank is the author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? and One Market Under God. He is the founding editor of The Baffler and a contributing editor at Harper’s. Frank has received a Lannan award and been a guest columnist for The New York Times, and he writes op-eds for the Wall Street Journal.