Exactly 100 years ago, America entered World War I and began a 75-year stretch when history imposed a heavy burden. WWI was followed by the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, Korea and Vietnam. America’s desire for respite from these outsized burdens was understandable; any nation – even Rome or Sparta – would have desired a holiday after such an ineluctable and stygian period in its history.
History cooperated. Circa 1992 we began a quarter-century long party. The Berlin Wall fell; communism collapsed and the Soviet nuclear threat ended; even the Middle East was relatively stable. There was great hope for the EU formed in 1993 and China had just begun its capitalist boom. Pax Americana reigned over a uni-polar world. We received a peace dividend, enjoyed robust economic growth, a booming stock market and had a low public debt to GDP ratio of 33%. But there was drift and indecision under both Clinton and Bush and complete denial of reality under Obama. America squandered its peace dividend and its best hope for lasting peace and prosperity.
Fast forward 25 years to 2017 and the world is uber-dangerous. A revanched and nuclear armed Russia, led by a dictator, invaded Georgia, Crimea and the Ukraine and threatens the Balkans. The Chinese economy has slowed and its expanded military seeks hegemony in Asia. North Korea, led by a maniacal tyrant, threatens nuclear war with missiles capable of reaching the US. Iran, soon to be nuclear armed, has vowed to exterminate us. The entire Middle East is unraveling. Terrorism poses a world wide threat, including an EMP attack that could kill 300 million Americans.
The EU is coming apart economically, militarily, politically and socially amidst failed hope, Brexit, anemic economic growth and the refugee crisis. Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal are de facto bankrupt with others close behind. Europe will neither defend itself nor reproduce; it has outsourced having babies. War in Europe, once unthinkable, is once again a possibility. Japan is a geriatric nation with more deaths than births. The US is on the precipice of a crisis of spending, debt and deficits and has the weakest military since WWII. It is splintering politically, socially and culturally.
We have been living in la-la land for the past 25 years, but reality (the Gods of the Copybook Headings) always, with terror and slaughter, returns. We are on the cusp of potentially existential crises and cannot ignore or temporize any longer. The can has been kicked down the road until there no longer is any road left. We must address threats from Russia, North Korea, Iran, China and radical Islamic terrorism. Europe and Japan must come to their senses and pronto. Economic growth must be revived before the US and Europe enter a spending, debt and deficit induced death spiral.
Our 25 year long debt-fueled binge is over. Reality is banging down our door. Will we answer the call or simply continue to dither over transgender bathrooms? If we don’t answer the call, the next 25 years could be tragic beyond belief. Are we up to it or will we continue blissfully to party until the music stops and all the lights go out?
The May 28th post is: The Revenge of the Gods of the Copybook Headings.