America bad, America good 1

Conrad Black, writing at American Greatness, sees much that is wrong and bad with the USA but also much that is right and good.

Not every aspect of the onslaught of self-hate that has broken over America, warped its media, and turned most of the academy—and even apparently, most of its elementary and secondary schools—into centers of reorientation designed to convince Americans their national past is loathsome hypocrisy, is bad.

There were wrongs in America’s past, he says, slavery being the worst of them.

And, he goes on to say, there are wrongs in America’s present that need to be righted – in particular, the justice system:

One of the most nauseatingly persistent American delusions is that the American justice system is one of the best in the world. … It is an appalling, disgraceful, terribly unjust 360-degree cartel for the avaricious legal profession, and on the criminal side, it has been so undermined by the corruption of the plea bargain system that it is essentially the right of prosecutors to suborn false inculpatory testimony with no danger of sanctions for their misconduct.

The result is that the United States has six to 12 times as many incarcerated people per capita as other comparable large prosperous democracies: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Its conviction rates are much higher than almost all of these countries and so are its crime rates. Millions of innocent people are convicted and millions of innocent people are over-sentenced and millions are ground to powder in the conveyor belt to the bloated and corrupt American prison system. Everyone who is acquainted with the facts is aware of this.

The Bill of Rights guarantees of due process, a grand jury as assurance against capricious prosecution, an impartial jury, no seizure of property without just compensation, access to counsel of choice, prompt justice, and reasonable bail have been practically expunged.

That being said, he proceeds to condemn exaggerated criticism and unjustified hatred of America:

But with all that said, the flag-waving, anthem-singing, traditional pride in America was and remains substantially justified. All nations have somewhat delusional self-images and though the American star system elevates many who are not stars, the current eruption of Americophobia is vastly excessive, utterly despicable, cannot remotely be sustained, and is propagated, not just by the faddishly and aggressively ignorant, but also by disturbed and often wicked people.

We agree with him that “Americophobia” is excessive, despicable, ignorant, and propagated by wicked people, but we wonder why he believes that it “cannot remotely be sustained”.

He does not explain how it will fail or be made to fail.

He describes how America remains the mightiest power in the world:

The dictatorships of Latin America, the House of Saud, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Syngman Rhee’s South Korea and many other dubious claimants to the title of champions of freedom … became democracies and the world must never forget nor fail to be grateful for the fact that the United States is chiefly responsible for the spread of democracy and the free market. 

Never forget? What we hear, thanks to the academies and the anti-American media, is that those who remember it see it as a cause, not for gratitude and praise, but for blame and accusation.

Unjustly, of course. And sour hatred and envy of America by outsiders will not reduce America’s might  – or its virtues:

No nation in history has made the effort the United States has to eliminate racial discrimination and to assist minorities bootstrapping themselves up to parity. Whatever liberties may have been taken in national rhetorical puffery, there has never been anything remotely like America’s rise from a few million colonists in two long lifetimes after the Revolutionary War to, as Churchill said in his eulogy of President Roosevelt to a position of “might and glory . . . never attained by any nation in history.” 

But hatred of America by Americans is truly destructive:

The right of educators to teach falsely sourced self-hatred and of the media’s righteous replacement of reporting with subversive and defamatory advocacy is now proclaimed as a long-repressed virtue. It does not fall far short of treason and Joe Biden will pay for his endorsement of the false charge against his country of “systemic racism”. 

Well, it is consoling to be assured that Joe Biden will pay for his calumny. But when? And how?

The United States now has an official regime of lies, supported by an almost worthlessly dishonest media, and scores of millions of Americans have been brainwashed into the false view that they live in an evil country.

This lie will not succeed because everyone in America can see that it is not true.

It will not succeed simply because it is not true? The truth will always prevail in the long run? And the truth being that America is good (or at least far more good than bad) is enough to restore it to freedom? To repair its justice system? To punish Joe Biden?

Conrad Black believes it:

Most Americans are reasonable and fair-minded people most of the time, and their numbers, their patience, and the righteousness of their not-uncritical faith in and love for their country will ultimately prevail. There was no excuse for the secretary of state to turn a meeting with the Chinese on American soil into a confessional for a cringe-worthy recitation of America’s faults. Despite everything, America remains a proud country with much to be proud of, and no person nor any nationality can stand unlimited, unjustified, self-loathing. It will end sooner than we dare think, and it will take down its ghastly and contemptible preceptors with it, including the dismal Pharisees of this administration.

Great! But how will it happen? When?

Tell us please, Conrad Black!

Posted under America, Ethics, Law, liberty, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, April 6, 2021

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The once and future president? 8

Will Donald Trump return to lead America and the world?

Conrad Black thinks that he could.

He writes at American Greatness:

It is a tainted election, with a poor result and a disquietingly unprepossessing presumptive president-elect.

A tainted election it is. And the [probable] president-elect Joe Biden is certainly unprepossessing, but the pejorative is too weak. More to the point, he is senile and corrupt.

The writer goes on:

The current president did great damage to himself by his frequent lapses into boorish self-obsession.

Conrad Black has often criticized President Trump in those terms, lending strength to the unjustified contumely flung at him by his enemies. (Too many commentators who generally support him, feel compelled to ritually note something about him they disapprove of, as if to cover themselves from accusations of poor taste or weak discernment.) Donald Trump is not obsessed with himself, but with the desire to make America more prosperous, more happy, more great. He has a great talent for the comic riposte, with a perfect sense of timing, and often laughs at himself.

Example:

His haters call him “Orange Man”; so he finds fault with the lightbulbs Obama wanted to make state-approved and compulsory by saying, “They make me look orange – has anyone noticed that?”

And when insults are flung at him, as they constantly are in the most vulgar, filthy, vicious, murderous terms, he can and does retort, chiefly by applying apt tags to their names – never vicious, never cruel, never obscene, never outright lies as are those they apply to him.

Examples:

They say he is disrespectful of women (which he is not), so he retorts, truthfully – naming his most persistent female denigrator – “Only Rosie O’Donnell.”

They say he is a misogynist – and yet, with puritan tight lips, they also accuse him of adultery and prurience. True, he indulged in locker-room boasting about his prowess at sexual conquest – as men do. His haters wail that it is an immense stain on his character, making him a threat to all women. Thousands of the loathsome army of feminists put on pink hats and took to the public square to pretend they had been deeply insulted. They are the same sort of women who defended Bill Clinton against justified accusations of actual sexual exploitation and even rape.

They pretend to be appalled that he called Kim Jong-un “Rocket Man”. Considering that no name would be bad enough for that murdering communist dictator, “Rocket Man” was mild enough, and more importantly it stigmatized him for the menace that he was, firing off rockets that could carry nuclear warheads.

The president stood unflinching and unshaken as insults were flung at him continuously as hailstones, and they made not a visible dent in his composure – yet they call him “thin-skinned”! Battalions of haters with powerful means to do him harm hampered and undermined him in every way they could dream up, accusing him of absurd crimes and disgraceful actions which they knew to be pure fiction, yet he steadily proceeded to do great good for his country, and to spread peace in the world at large.

They say he is a racist. But he has worked all his adult life with and among people of many races and has never shown the least trace of race prejudice. To justify this accusation they say he called Mexican aliens entering the US illegally “rapists” – which too many of them, whatever their number, were and are.

They say he is anti-Semitic. But not only are members of his own family including some of his grandchildren Jewish, no American president has ever done as much for the Jews as he has done. No leader of any country has done as much. His amazing achievement of brokering peace between the Israelis and the Arabs alone has earned him a place among the great leaders of history.

They say he called neo-Nazis “good people”, which is a flat lie. That he encourages “right-wing extremism” though he never has and never would. That he welcomes the support of the KKK. He does not. The KKK was founded and manned wholly by his enemies, the Democrats.

Even some of his friends and supporters blame him for habitually writing short messages to his followers on Twitter. How else should he communicate with the millions of them when the media refuse to report the truth of what he says or what he does? Conrad Black grants him that, saying: “In a pioneering way, he used social media to communicate directly with the public and successfully countered the traditional political media.”

Some of those friends speak of him as being “flawed”, as if a there could ever be a human being – even that revered Jew who they say lived in the age of Augustus – who is not “flawed”.

Conrad Black is one of those friends. But his admiration for Donald Trump is nevertheless strong. He writes:

He also had an outstanding  term of achievement in the face of unprecedented obstruction and illegal harassment, as well as the almost unanimous and hysterical antagonism of a totalitarian opposition media. And so he’s being evicted.

The new administration comes in for serious censure:

Taking his place is a ramshackle coalition of big media, big money, big tech, big league sports, Hollywood, most of Wall Street, and an odious ragtag of urban guerrillas masquerading as civil rights crusaders. … The Democrats … have been effectively taken over by socialist, self-hating whites, white-hating blacks, and guilt-ridden renunciators of any recognizable version of American history and values. …

The political atmosphere is so charged, it is intolerable.

Donald Trump narrowly won his campaign in 2016 against the bipartisan post-Reagan political class that he and an adequate number of his countrymen believed, with a plenitude of evidence, had thoroughly misgoverned the country. The previous 20 years under administrations and congresses of both parties had been an unsatisfactory time of endless, fruitless war in the Middle East and an immense humanitarian refugee disaster, the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, millions of unskilled immigrants pouring illegally across the Mexican-U.S. border, unfavorable trade arrangements, and China advancing by leaps and bounds at America’s expense. Trump effectively ended almost all of that and eliminated unemployment and oil imports as well. 

Much, probably all, of the good that President Trump did will likely be undone by the corruptocracy coming to power.

Conrad Black, consolingly, declares that the incoming administration will fail:

The celebration of Trump’s enemies will soon bore the public and the media will soon cease to lionize the ungalvanizing Biden and his entourage of political manipulators and faction-heads. There will be little leadership, little unity, and they will be to the left of the country, stalled by the Congress, and generally tedious and ineffectual. The times will not be gentle and the attempt of Anthony Blinken and John Kerry and the other quavering Obamans to sanitize the world and collegialize the Western Alliance will be an almost total failure.

He conjectures that Donald Trump could return triumphantly to power :

If he holds his fire for a year and allows the mediocrity and ineptitude of Bidenism … to be exposed in its infirmity, Trump will make the greatest American political comeback since FDR came out of his convalescence from polio and rolled his wheelchair into the White House, which would be his home for the remaining 12 years of his life.

A return of the great president is deeply to be desired. But the ramshackle coalition of Leftist forces that Conrad Black describes is united in one thing – a passionate determination to take away every existing and imaginable means and opportunity the Right could make use of to regain power.

As our commenter Cogito has several time pointed out, the reign (so to speak) of Donald Trump can be likened to that of the Emperor Julian (361-363 C.E.). Emperor after emperor had allowed the dark tide of intolerant Christianity to spread over the Roman Empire. Julian tried to stop it. But he was killed in battle before he had succeeded. For a little while there was light, but when he was gone the darkness came back and Europe remained stagnant for a thousand years.

We would liken it also to the decade of Margaret Thatcher’s leadership in Britain. She tried, against ferocious resistance, to stop the advance of socialism. For a time the British people were free and prosperous, share-owning and property-owning. Then swamp creatures in her own party and the opposition defeated her and the decay of the kingdom resumed.

While Donald Trump has been in the White House, America has enjoyed prosperity and freedom. Was it nothing more than a brief bright interval in a time of Western decay that is now again gathering pace?

Or will President Trump return?

Neo … what? 19

We had supposed that Neoconservatives were persons who had been on the Left, seen the light, and so become conservatives.

We thought they charmingly but mistakenly considered it possible to spread democracy, love of liberty and Austrian School economics round the world.

But it seems we were largely wrong.

Jack Kerwick explains, at Townhall, what Neoconservatism is all about:

In spite of the ease with which the word “conservatism” is thrown about these days, most people who associate with the “conservative” movement are not really conservative at all. In reality, the so-called “conservative” movement is a predominantly (though not exclusively) neoconservative movement.

Contrary to what some neoconservatives would have us think, “neoconservatism” is not an insult, much less an “anti-Semitic” slur. The word, rather, refers to a distinct intellectual tradition — a point for which some neoconservatives, like its famed “godfather”, Irving Kristol, have argued at length.

To start with then, neoconservatism is not entirely neo; it refers to a tradition. Though not a conservative tradition –

In The Neoconservative Persuasion, Kristol argues for another claim: neoconservatism and traditional or classical conservatism are very different from one another. “Neocons,” he states, “feel at home in today’s America to a degree that more traditional conservatives do not.” Unlike conservatism, neoconservatism is “in the American grain”.  And this is because it is “hopeful, not lugubrious; forward-looking, not nostalgic; and its general tone is cheerful, not grim or dyspeptic”.

Furthermore: “Its twentieth-century heroes tend to be TR [Teddy Roosevelt], FDR [Franklin Delano Roosevelt], and Ronald Reagan,” while “Republican and conservative worthies” like “Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Barry Goldwater are politely overlooked.”

FDR a hero of American conservatism! Coolidge and Goldwater overlooked!

Neocons view the United States as “a creedal nation” with a “‘civilizing mission’” to promote “American values” throughout the world, to see to it “that other governments respect our conception of individual rights as the foundation of a just regime and a good society”.

But what creed would that be? What American values? And what individual rights did FDR nurture, protect, and promote?

Kristol is unambiguous in his profession of the American faith: the United States, given its status as a “great power” and its “ideological” nature, does indeed have a responsibility “in those places and at those times where conditions permit it to flourish”, to “‘make the world safe for democracy”.

Democracy, eh? In its “civilizing mission”. So there we go. We weren’t wrong in all our suppositions.

Here, Kristol articulates the foreign policy vision — “Democratic Realism” is what Charles Krauthammer calls it — for which neoconservatism is known. Yet to Kristol’s great credit, he readily concedes what most neoconservatives readily deny: Big Government abroad is, ultimately, inseparable from Big Government right here at home.

Kristol is refreshingly, almost shockingly honest: Neoconservatism, he informs us, endorses “the welfare state”. Its adherents support “social security, unemployment insurance, some form of national health insurance, some kind of family assistance plan, etc.” and will not hesitate “to interfere with the market for overriding social purposes” — even if this requires “‘rigging’” it instead of imposing upon it “direct bureaucratic controls”.

And this is “really conservatism”, and it “predominates in the conservative movement”?

As Kristol says, neoconservatives are “always interested in proposing alternate reforms, alternate legislation (to the Great Society), that would achieve the desired aims”—the eradication of poverty — “more securely, and without the downside effects”.  Neoconservatives don’t want to “destroy the welfare state, but … rather reconstruct it along more economical and humane lines”.

In vain will we search the air waves of “conservative” talk radio, Fox News,National Review, Commentary, The Weekly Standard, or any other number of mainstream “conservative” publications for a negative syllable regarding Irving Kristol. Though Kristol, like his son, Bill, is commonly referred to as a “conservative”,  he himself not only explicitly embraced neoconservatism as his “persuasion” of choice; Kristol happily embraced the distinction of being “the godfather” of this persuasion.

In other words, if anyone can be said to be the intellectual standard bearer of neoconservatism, it is Irving Kristol.

And yet here he is unabashedly conceding what some of us have long noted and for which we’ve been ridiculed: neoconservatism is every bit as wedded to Big Government as other species of leftism — even if its proponents want to use it in other ways and for other purposes.

Because Obamacare is woefully unpopular, neoconservative Republicans, both in politics and the “conservative” media, have nothing to lose and everything to gain from trashing it. But at this time leading up to the midterm elections, more traditional conservatives would be well served to bear in mind that, in principle, neoconservatives do not object to “some form of national health insurance”, as Kristol tells us.

So now we know. Neocons are socialists.

Is America in decline? 2

Is the world entering a post-American era? Will the 21st century be dominated by some other power, or several others?

In the splendid speech that John Bolton delivered at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2010, he said of Obama, “He is the first post-American president.”

In Obama’s eyes, American superpower status is already over. The decline is happening. There’s no reason to regret it, and it would be pointless and unnecessary to try to halt or reverse it. Obama is content to let America be a nation among the nations, no different in any important respect, and certainly no better. “He sees American decline as a kind of natural phenomenon,” Bolton said.

In Bolton’s own view, however, America is still exceptional and still the one and only superpower. If its status as such is under threat, that threat proceeds from Obama himself, who, almost casually – not caring very much, as John Bolton remarked, about foreign and national security policy – is himself weakening it.

What Obama does care about is domestic policy. To achieve his redistributionist goals he has put America into crushing debt; and being determined, it seems, to turn America into a European-style socialist state, he can only make the debt vaster and heavier. That alone weakens America.

China is America’s chief creditor, but that does not mean China is now a second superpower. A China growing in wealth and confidence, and becoming an increasingly significant world actor, may pose an economic threat to America but is not, or not yet, a rival world power. Militarily it is far from a match. Militarily, America is still far and away the most powerful nation.

But there again, if Obama has his way, it won’t be for much longer. He has, in Bolton’s words, an “incredibly naïve idea” that if the US would get rid of its own nuclear weapons, other countries would give up theirs; those that do not have them but want them – such as Iran and North Korea – would abandon their intense efforts to obtain them; and the world would live at peace forever after. This belief or ambition represents, as John Bolton put it, “a pretty deep-seated strain in the left wing of the Democratic Party.” Obama will soon negotiate an arms control agreement with Russia by which he will undertake substantially to reduce America’s nuclear capability. America will not develop new nuclear weapons, or arms in outer space, or even keep its existing arsenal battle-ready by testing for safety and reliability. It is as if America had no enemies; as if America were not under attack; as if 9/11 had never happened; and as if Iran and North Korea would not drop nuclear bombs on America and its allies if they could do it and get away with it.

Furthermore, with the rest of the dreaming Left both at home and internationally, he aspires to another vision of a new earth: one that is not only sweetly irenic but held forcibly in union by a supreme governing authority. Those proposals for world taxes that we hear of; the intricate business of trading in carbon indulgences in the name of saving the earth from being consumed by fire or ice; international treaty regulations that would result in banning the private ownership of guns – all these are measures to realize the tremendous objective of “world governance”. It would mean the end of American independence, the end of national sovereignty. It would mean that the Revolution was lost, as Bolton said.

In a sense it would be the end of America, because America is an idea of liberty. And it is an idea that the world needs. Its loss would be a colossal disaster, a tragedy for the whole human race.

Can America be saved?

In his book titled The Post-American World, Fareed Zakaria asserts that “America is closing down”, but allows that it “won’t be demoted from its superpower position in the foreseeable future” because “it’s not that the United States has been doing badly over the last two decades. It’s that, all of a sudden, everyone else is playing the game.”

America can “remain a vital, vibrant economy, at the forefront of the next revolutions in science, technology and industry, as long as it can embrace and adjust to the challenges confronting it”.

“The challenges” come from other nations, now rising, which he groups together as “the rest”.

China is the first of them because it is becoming an economic giant. The 21st century, he considers, may be the Chinese century.

What if [China ] quietly positions itself as the alternative to a hectoring and arrogant America? How will America cope with such a scenario – a kind of Cold War, but this time with a vibrant market economy, a nation that is not showing a hopeless model of state socialism, or squandering its power in pointless military interventions? This is a new challenge for the United States, one it has not tackled before, and for which it is largely unprepared.

Next in line is India. Poorer but democratic, India is “the ally”. Then come Brazil and Chile (plausibly); South Africa (less plausibly); and (implausibly) Russia. (Russia is a demographic basket case.)

Ironically, Zakaria says, these nations are rising because they learnt from America:

For sixty years, American politicians and diplomats have traveled around the world pushing countries to open their markets, free up their politics, and embrace trade and technology. … We counseled them to be unafraid of change and learn the secrets of our success. And it worked: the natives have gotten good at capitalism.

America, then, has not been a malign power, or not always. In Roosevelt’s day other countries believed that “America’s mammoth power was not to be feared”. It was after it had won the Cold War, when it became the only superpower, that it began to go to the bad. “Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has walked the world like a colossus, unrivaled and unchecked”, and this “has made Washington arrogant, careless, and lazy.” Furthermore, he tell us, “people round the world worry about living in a world in which one country has so much power.”

To relieve that worry, America “must reduce its weaponry and work towards a non-nuclear world.” It is hypocritical for the US to insist that other countries should not have nuclear weapons while it is hoarding a nuclear arsenal of its own. By giving them up it would “gain credibility”, an end he apparently considers so desirable that it would be worth risking the nation’s very survival to achieve it.

The summer of 2002, Zakaria says, was “the high water-mark of unipolarity”. The world felt sympathy for America after 9/11. America went to war in Afghanistan, which was not good but not too bad. But then it invaded Iraq, which was very bad, and the world’s sympathy dried up. America was being too “unilateral”, too “imperial and imperious”.

George W Bush and “the nefarious neoconservative conspiracy” antagonized the world. He and his conspirators “disdained treaties, multilateral organizations, international public opinion, and anything that suggested a conciliatory approach to world politics.”

So the world’s dislike, contempt, and fear of America were justified, or at least understandable, in the light of the foreign policies of the “arrogant” Bush administration. Zakaria even claims that the animosity filled the Republicans – already full of “chest-thumping machismo” – with pride.

He asks:

Can Washington adjust and adapt to a world in which others have moved up? Can it respond to shift in economic and political power? … Can Washington truly embrace a world with a diversity of voices and viewpoints? Can it thrive in a world it cannot dominate?

The advice he gives to “Washington” for success in adjusting, adapting, responding, embracing, and thriving is to be conciliatory, apologetic. It must listen more; proclaim universal values”, but “phrase its positions carefully”; be like the chair of a board gently guiding a group of independent directors. America must “learn from the rest”. The president must meet more non-government people, have smaller entourages, rely more on diplomacy. Consultation, cooperation, compromise are the key words. He objects to such accomodations being called appeasement. Consult and cooperate, he urges, with Russia, and with “multilateral institutions” such as the UN, NATO, AFRICOM, OAS, and the International Criminal Court. (Even internally, the US legal system “should take note of transnational standards”.)

The federal government has been “too narrow-minded” about terrorism. When bin Laden got America to “come racing out to fight” him (in response to 9/11) this was “over-reaction.”  Zakaria’s advice: “take it on the chin” and “bounce back”. The government must stop thinking of terrorism as a national security issue, and think of it as criminal activity carried out by “small groups of misfits”. Although Democrats were on the whole “more sensible” about terrorism, both parties, he says, spoke “in language entirely designed for a domestic audience with no concern for the poisonous effect it has everywhere else.” His solution is better airport control round the world. The more urgent problem in his view is that American Muslims have become victims of over-reaction to terrorist attacks. Instead of being “questioned, harassed, and detained” they should, he urges, “be enlisted in the effort to understand the appeal of Islamic fundamentalism.”

Zakaria does not consider himself anti-American. He does not even see himself as a man of the left. He reiterates that he is a free marketeer. It is because America became “suspicious of free markets”, he says, that partly explains its “closing down”.

He wrote his book before the economic crisis. He saw a globalized economy bringing about an increasingly prosperous world in which the poorest nations were rising strongly enough for him to declare that “the world is swimming in capital”, and “there really isn’t a Third World any more “. But even then the dollar was sliding, and America was showing signs of being “enfeebled”.

At a military-political level America still dominates the world, but the larger structure of unipolarity – economic, financial, cultural – is weakening… every year it becomes weaker and other nations and actors grow in strength.

For all its military might, its chest-thumping phase is over and now it is “cowering in fear”. It must, he says, “recover its confidence.” ‘It must stop being “a nation consumed by anxiety”, with a tendency to “hunker down”, unreasonably “worried about unreal threats” such as terrorism, and rogue nations like North Korea and Iran. (Iran, he explains, has good reason to fear the United States, with its armies on two of its borders. It’s only to be expected that Iran would try to arm itself with nuclear bombs and missile delivery systems. He does not explain why America should not fear this as a real threat.)

He is certain about what America needs to do to propitiate and serve the world it has alienated. It should ‘‘build broad rules by which the world will be bound’’, rather than pursue “narrow interests”.

What the world really wants from America is … that it affirm its own ideals. That role, as the country that will define universal ideals, remains one that only America can play.

We know Obama has read Zakaria’s book, or at least looked into it, because there is a photograph of him holding it, one finger marking his place. Obama is doing much that Zakaria advises in foreign affairs. But that’s less likely to be because the writer has impressed the president with his arguments than because they have both drunk from the same ideological well.

Obama’s foreign policy lets us see if Zakaria’s theory works. So far it has not.

So is America’s decline beyond all remedy?

It’s a relief to turn from Zakaria’s dull and weakly reasoned book with its uncongenial credo to an article titled The Seductions of Decline (February 2, 2010) by brilliantly witty and insightful Mark Steyn. If America believes it is in decline, he says, it will be. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The view that America has been too arrogant a power; that it is not and should not be exceptional; that humility and apology are required of it; that only endlessly patient negotiation in a spirit of compromise will improve foreign relations and dissuade states like North Korea and Iran from acquiring nuclear arms; that Islamic terrorism should be treated as crime and not as the jihad its perpetrators declare it to be; that Russia should be consulted on, say, the deployment of American missile defense; and that the US should reduce its nuclear arsenal and work towards a non-nuclear world – will bring about the decline.

National decline is psychological – and therefore what matters is accepting the psychology of decline.

His answer to the question “is America set for decline?” is yes, because of the policies of Obama and the Democrats, which arise from their acceptance of decline.

Strictly on the numbers, the United States is in the express lane to Declinistan: Unsustainable entitlements, the remorseless governmentalization of the American economy and individual liberty, and a centralization of power that will cripple a nation of this size. Decline is the way to bet.

American decline, he says, “will be steeper, faster and more devastating than Britain’s – and something far closer to Rome’s.” It will not be like France’s, or Austria’s.

Why did decline prove so pleasant in Europe? Because it was cushioned by American power. The United States is such a perversely non-imperial power that it garrisons not ramshackle colonies but its wealthiest “allies”, from Germany to Japan. For most of its members, “the free world” has been a free ride.

And after “Washington’s retreat from la gloire” as hegemon of the world, when America “becomes Europe in its domestic disposition and geopolitical decline, then who will be America?”

Of the many competing schools of declinism, perhaps the most gleeful are those who salivate over the rise of China. For years, Sinophiles have been penning orgasmic fantasies of mid-century when China will bestride the world and America will be consigned to the garbage heap of history. It will never happen: As I’ve been saying for years, China has profound structural problems. It will get old before it gets rich.

Not China then. Russia?

The demographic deformation of Tsar Putin’s new empire is even more severe than Beijing’s. Russia is a global power only to the extent of the mischief it can make on its acceleration into a death spiral.

Not Russia. How about the Caliphate that the terrorist war is being fought to establish?

Even if every dimestore jihadist’s dreams came true, almost by definition an Islamic imperium will be in decline from Day One.

So what might the post-American world look like? Mark Steyn’s answer is deeply depressing:

The most likely future is not a world under a new order but a world with no order – in which pipsqueak states go nuclear while the planet’s wealthiest nations, from New Zealand to Norway, are unable to defend their own borders and are forced to adjust to the post-American era as they can. Yet, in such a geopolitical scene, the United States will still remain the most inviting target – first, because it’s big, and secondly, because, as Britain knows, the durbar moves on but imperial resentments linger long after imperial grandeur.

But nothing is inevitable, and Mark Steyn offers a last hope. Though “decline is the way to bet”, the only thing that will ensure it is “if the American people accept decline as a price worth paying for European social democracy.”

When in 2008 a majority of the American electorate voted for Barack Obama to be president of the United States, it seemed that the deal had been made. But now Obama is failing, the Democratic majority is under threat, and the Tea Party movement is reclaiming the Revolution.

This could be another American century after all.

Jillian Becker   March 1, 2010