It pains us to write this. To our very core. But consider this hastily (so it seems) written item at NRO from the esteemed VDH. Naturally, all the predicates he uses to reach his rather limpid conclusion are delusional, but consider that denouement nonetheless:
Two, billions of people in India, Russia, China, Asi, and Latin America, having copied American business and culture, are now doing better, and demand the same good lives we take for granted.
Our rivals suspect that we are played out, short of energy, long on debt, and hogging the world’s resources. They see no reason to stop pushing just because of our past strength and reputation. They think the future is theirs, the past ours. And so all over the globe they will surely challenge the next president, however nice, to prove them wrong.
The first paragraph is dismissible as mere random thinking — on all three counts: (a) business; (b) culture and even (c), demanding the American lifestyle. In fact, the hallmark of the 21st century so far is a backlash against rootless consumerism and mass market lowest common denominatorism. (It’s interesting from a Kindleberger point of view to see the current financial history being written as well). So we will will not knock down a strawman (if readers think we duck out of the point we can take it up in comments).
He is, however, most assuredly right about the latter. If 40 years ago the phrase on the walls of Shanghai to the dorms of Berkeley was “paper tiger”, surely many international actors see the rubble of Cher Condi’s fabulousity as once in a generation opportunity. International order is still essentially anarchical and governed by self-interest, no matter how much idealists in the U.S. would like to re-assemble the tatters of international law that the U.S. did much to build itself until the Warlord/Cheney’s destructive radicalism.
So who is best positioned to navigate these treacherous times? Most politically aware Americans correctly see that Congress long ago jettisoned the DNA of the Dirksens, etc. There are none there who even remember the responsibilities and greatness that a co-equal branch of government deserves and shoulders. Except Byrd and he is a curiosity for media mockery. We live in diminished times.
2008 promoses little relief on the executive front. Texas and Ohio are looking like the Vistula and Oder to the Stiftung. We could be wrong but the free media in the tank for the Crown Prince looks unstoppable. True, HRC has been a mediocre candidate. Yet she successfully raised a great deal of money this month, only to be surpassed by the Crown Prince again. One can almost hear the outbursts from Over There:
“Nonsense! Whoever is reporting these numbers is a lunatic and needs to be locked up!”
It truly is terrifying when one stops to think about it all. Should the Crown Prince prevail, the world’s undeniably deflating but still preponderant Power will veer from the Warlord’s sociopathic embrace of violence to rapturous adoration of vacuity. Within an historical blink of the eye. Such gyrations are hardly the means of creating the foundation of a stable and rational strategic re-assessment necessary to align ends with means. Our guess? We will witness the usual, such as Richard Holbrooke’s sheer lust and ambition and other squalid scrambles for perches, each thinking they can be the Cardinal to the Crown Prince. The result? Inconsistent policies of personality and lurches. In some ways, more disheartening than Neocon irrational bellicosity — simply because one is trying to grasp cotton candy. At lower levels, we will see in all likelihood an exchange of one ignorant youth cadre (the Evangelicals) for Obama’s (what). With the Warlord’s regime, one at least knew what the ideology was. We could confront it and draw lines and distinctions.
But what the hell is Obama-ism? Besides air.