Tuesday, August 19, 2008

World At A Crossroads .

In his essay below, Victor Davis Hanson quotes the ancient historian Thucydides famous judgment of the state of the world two and a half millenia ago. "The strong do as they will, the weak suffer as they must." The world Thucydides described was a world with no policeman and no external limitations upon the ruling class beyond calculations of raw power. It is a reality kept at bay in the modern world since World War II by American engagement. But as that changes, Victor Davis Hanson, in a bleak essay, sees us returning to a world Thucydides would recognize.

This from Mr. Hanson, writing at the NY Post:

RUSSIA invades Georgia. China jails dissidents. China and India pollute at unimaginable levels. Gulf monar chies make trillions from jacked-up oil prices. Islamic terrorists keep car bombing. Meanwhile, Europe offers moral lectures, while Japan and South Korea shrug and watch - all in a globalized world that tunes into the Olympics each night from Beijing.

"Citizens of the world" were supposed to share, in relative harmony, our new "Planet Earth," which was to have followed from a system of free trade, electronic communications, diplomacy and shared consumer capitalism.

But was that ever quite true? In reality, to the extent globalism worked, it followed from three unspoken assumptions:

First, the US economy would keep importing goods from abroad to drive international economic growth.

Second, the US military would keep the sea-lanes open, and trade and travel protected. The Americans, as global sheriff, would deal with the occasional menace, like a Moammar al-Khadafy, Slobodan Milosevic, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-il or the Taliban.

Third, America would ignore ankle-biting allies and remain engaged with the world - like a nurturing mom who at times must put up with the petulance of dependent teenagers.

But there've been a number of signs recently that globalization may soon lose its US parent.

The United States may be the most free, stable and meritocratic nation, but its resources and patience are not unlimited. It pays more than a half trillion dollars a year to import $115-a-barrel oil that's often pumped at a cost of about $5.

The Chinese, Japanese and Europeans hold trillions of dollars in US bonds - the result of massive trade deficits. The American dollar is at historic lows. We are piling up staggering national debt. Over 12 million live here illegally and freely transfer more than $50 billion annually to Mexico and Latin America.

Our military, after deposing Milosevic, the Taliban and Saddam, is tired. And Americans are increasingly becoming more sensitive to the cheap criticism of global moralists. But as America turns ever so slightly inward, the new globalized world will revert to a far poorer (and more dangerous) place.

Liberals like Barack Obama speak out against new free-trade agreements and want existing accords like NAFTA readjusted. . . .

Meanwhile, the hypocrisy becomes harder to take. After all, it is easy for self-appointed moralists to complain that terrorists don't enjoy Miranda rights at Guantanamo, but it'd be hard to do much about the Russian military invading Georgia's democracy and bombing its cities.

Al Gore crisscrosses the country, pontificating about Americans' carbon footprints. But he could do far better to fly to China to convince them not to open 500 new coal-burning power plants.

. . . So, what a richer but more critical world has forgotten is that in large part America was the model, not the villain - and that postwar globalization was always a form of engaged Americanization that enriched and protected billions.

Yet globalization, in all its manifestations, will run out of steam the moment we tire of fueling it, as the world returns instead to the mindset of the 1930s - with protectionist tariffs; weak, disarmed democracies; an isolationist America; predatory dictatorships; and a demoralized gloom-and-doom Western elite.

If America adopts the protectionist trade policies of Japan or China, global profits plummet. If our armed forces follow the European lead of demilitarization and inaction, rogue states advance. If we were to treat the environment as do China and India, the world would become quickly a lost cause

If we flee Iraq and call off the War on Terror, jihadists will regroup, not disband. When the Russians attack the next democracy, they won't listen to the United Nations, the European Union or Michael Moore.

We may be on our way back to an old world, where the strong do as they will, and the weak suffer as they must

Read the entire article. I have long thought that we are a nation at a cross-roads. In the short term, our nation will survive. But if we follow down the post modern road, then sooner rather than later, we as a nation will suffer horrendously. The choices really could not be any more stark, nor the forseeable consequences more costly.

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