Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Carter-Clinton Redux: 'The Hollow Superpower' returns

Mark Steyn, a Canadian journalist, is becoming the Elijah of our times, warning America of our pending collapse, our fall from grace, our twilight as we become 'The Hollow Superpower."

Steyn draws an uncomfortable paralell between the decline of GM and the decline of our nation.

As recently as last summer, General Motors Corp.'s filing for bankruptcy would have been the biggest news story of the week. But it's not such a very great step from the unthinkable to the inevitable, and by the time it actually happened, the market barely noticed and the media were focused on the president's "address to the Muslim world."

As it happens, these two stories are the same story - snapshots, at home and abroad, of the hyperpower in eclipse. It's been a long time since anyone touted GM as the emblematic brand of America - what's good for GM is good for America, etc. In fact, it's more emblematic than ever: Like GM, the U.S. government spends more than it makes and has airily committed itself to ever more unsustainable levels of benefits. GM has about 95,000 workers but provides health benefits to a million people. It's not a business enterprise, but a vast welfare plan with a tiny loss-making commercial sector. As GM goes, so goes America?

But who cares? Overseas, the coolest president in history was giving a speech. Or, as the official press release headlined it on the State Department Web site, "President Obama Speaks To The Muslim World From Cairo."

Let's pause right there: It's interesting how easily the words "the Muslim world" roll off the tongues of liberal secular progressives who would choke on any equivalent reference to "the Christian world." When such hyperalert policemen of the perimeter between church and state endorse the former but not the latter, they're implicitly acknowledging that Islam is not merely a faith, but a political project, too...

At a stroke, the administration has endorsed the view of "the Muslim world" of those non-Muslims who find themselves within what it regards as lands belonging to Islam: The Jewish and Christian communities are free to stand still or shrink, but not to grow. Would Mr. Obama be comfortable mandating "no natural growth" to Israel's million-and-a-half Muslims? No. But the administration has embraced commitment of "the Muslim world" to one-way multiculturalism, whereby Islam expands in the West but Christianity and Judaism shrivel remorselessly in the Middle East.

And so it goes. Like GM, America is "too big to fail." So it won't, not immediately. It will linger on in a twilight existence, sclerotic and ineffectual, declining into a kind of societal dementia, unable to keep pace with what's happening and with an ever more tenuous grip on its own past but able on occasion to throw out impressive words, albeit strung together without much meaning: empower, peace, justice, prosperity - just to take one windy gust from the president's Cairo speech.

There's better phrase-making in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, in a coinage of Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Gelb is a sober, judicious paragon of torpidly conventional wisdom. Nevertheless, musing on American decline, he writes, "The country's economy, infrastructure, public schools, and political system have been allowed to deteriorate. The result has been diminished economic strength, a less vital democracy, and a mediocrity of spirit."

That last is the one to watch: A great power can survive a lot of things, but not "a mediocrity of spirit." A wealthy nation living on the accumulated cultural capital of a glorious past can dodge its rendezvous with fate, but only for a while. That sound you heard in Cairo is the tingy ping of a hollow superpower.

Steyn is the author of the surprise Noo Yawk Times best-selling book America Alone: The End Of The World As We Know It.

I hope he's wrong, but I lived through the "hollow military" of the Jimmy Carter administration and the "peace dividend" military and defense spending cuts of the Clinton administration, so it's not a stretch to see we're entering into even more perilous times with Obama in power. If it had not been for the Reagan years of restoring America's power in between Carter and Clinton, our nation might well have not survived those two downturns in security. And now comes Obama and we start the same sorry cycle all over again, cut defense and buy voters with socialism.

Closing Gitmo and turning the terrorists loose on American soil is just the opening act for his reign. After all, they're no longer terrorists, they're just poor misunderstood Muslim "victims."

And while I'm quoting one of the few wise heads in today's media, Victor Davis Hanson is another. He writes there's one sure way to tell when Obama lies. His lips will be moving.

When our President talks about his relatives’ war experiences, his own family’s Muslim connections, or anything much about the past, I expect it to be flat-out ahistorical, misleading, or contextualized by an aide over the next two months. So yes, I do not believe that any of this relatives liberated Auschwitz or knew those who freed Treblinka. I do not believe any of his numbers concerning, or analysis about, Muslims in America. I do not think he has a clue about the Renaissance and its relationship to the flight of Greek-speaking scholars to Western Europe from the fear of Turkish Muslims, or the Enlightenment’s interest in a Greece suffering under the yoke of an oppressive Ottoman fundamentalism.

And how can I quote wise men and leave out Sir Charles Krauthammer? In this Fox News clip, he sums up Obama's foreign policy adventures thus far, turning Iran loose to build its nukes with no fear of intervention and doing more to delegitimize Israel than any president in history.

God help us and save us from Obama.

No comments: