By Alan Caruba
This is when “pundits” and assorted “experts” make their predictions about the year ahead. I will spare you that.
There is no way to make predictions because the future is always a great unknown and events always overtake everyone, followed by recriminations that demand to know “Why didn’t they anticipate that?” or “Why were they so unprepared?”
Accidents are called “accidents” because few anticipate or plan for such events. The levees of New Orleans are an example.
The weather, day to day, anywhere on the face of the Earth is unpredictable because it is subject to so many factors over which no one has any “control”. The weather is the result of immense forces at work such as sunspot (magnetic storms) activity, the shift of tectonic plates, vast underwater volcanoes erupting unseen and unknown. And, of course, a massive volcanic explosion in 2008 would transform the weather for years as the result of all the dust it would spew into the atmosphere.
In the same way that the greatest meteorologists in the world cannot explain why clouds do what they do from minute to minute, we could all use a long rest from the idiots who claim to know what the climate is or will be at any time.
As to unknown human events in the world, the only predictable thing is that there will be conflict somewhere. Man is the “killer ape” that says it abhors war and cannot seem to resist its strange appeal.
The result is that we will focus our attention for however long on the Middle East as it deals with its problem of death-dealing, death-loving, and death-seeking lunatics for whom Islam is a convenient excuse to seek political power over others.
The big question on everyone’s mind is whether and when Iran will acquire nuclear weapon status. The answer is yes. At some point Iran will demonstrate that it has these weapons, joining Pakistan, India, and Israel in their region of the world, as well as its neighbor, China. The Bomb makes these nations feel safe, but its use would turn any one of them into a parking lot.
I often talk about “the tyranny of demography” which is a fancy way of saying that population, the sheer numbers of people, determines policies and actions. In 2008, the United States of America will add a new immigrant—legal and illegal—every thirty seconds. The Census Bureau says our total population will increase by one person every 13 seconds. As of January 1, the total U.S. population will be 303,146,284, a 0.9 percent increase since last New Year’s Day.
Frankly, that is too many people in a nation whose bridges are failing, whose roads need repair, whose electrical “grid” is a product of the 1950s, and which resolutely resists the construction of any new sources of electrical power, either coal-fired or nuclear. That is idiocy.
The failure to stem the flow of illegal immigrants across our southern border is an ugly problem that, if ignored, will continue to contribute to a lot of ugly problems that already exist and which the elites that run our government want to ignore. Someone has to pick up the cost of educating their children. Someone has to pick up the health care costs of tending to them. Someone has to pay for their incarceration if they commit crimes.
That someone is you, the U.S. taxpayer. These problems are causing hospitals to close, filling our jails, and contributing to a failed educational system.
Any candidate who promises to build a big wall on the southern border and to put U.S. soldiers on our side to ensure that no more illegals come across will be elected. It would also do wonders to ending the corruption and control of the Mexican drug cartels.
Where would we find those soldiers? We have some 30,000 guarding the South Korean border since the 1950s. Bring them home. We have some 79,000 in Europe. Bring them home. These nations have been getting a free ride on our dollar for two full generations.
It is the U.S. dollar that keeps the United Nations afloat. We have one vote in the General Assembly. So does Togo. We have a veto power on the Security Council. So do the other members, most of whom are leftovers from the nations that won World War Two. China is a member because China has more than a billion people, but India with a comparable population is not.
The United Nations needs to be allowed to fail. It has evolved into a poisonous conglomeration of regional cliques that engage in horrible insults to humanity as a whole. It can and would be replaced.
The first action following the demise of the UN would be to create a U.S.-led alliance of democratic nations. Nations failing to respect the rules would be frozen out of world trade and aid. An example? North Korea needs to be shut down, not negotiated with. Then make a list of African nations that require the same action. Then add to the list others that haven’t gotten the message yet.
The invasion of Iraq was a message to the world that dictators who are real threat regionally will be deposed, even if the U.S. has to spend a great deal of treasure and blood to do it. Historians will look back kindly on George W. Bush for taking this action. It immediately convinced Libya’s dictator to give up his nuclear program. It put Iran on notice. Et cetera.
What is most needed in 2008? Patience. Events in the world are not movies or television shows. They require time and consensus to evolve.
Most people in the world will trade a measure of freedom for stability, but humans inherently want freedom, so we can expect to see them in the streets as in the case of the Buddhist monks of Myanmar. As in the defeat of Hugo Chavez’s dictatorial aspirations in Venezuela. As in unexpected changes that will likely occur in Cuba when Fidel dies.
The United States needs to be far more cunning in our use of statecraft and spycraft. We need to negotiate our way to a better world and, where that is impossible, we need to use all the arts of espionage and infiltration to undermine and overthrow bad governments.
The Chinese probably have enough spies in the U.S. to populate a small city. In a generation, more Chinese will speak English than all the people in the English-speaking world today. If they can take the time to achieve hegemony, we can take the same time to retain it.
We will not achieve this if our schools continue to graduate illiterates and young people who haven’t a clue about our nation’s history, our governmental system, and the values that have made us Number One since the end of WWII. We will not achieve this if we keep electing people to Congress who spend money faster than it can be printed or pass bills banning the incandescent light bulb—which Congress has just done.
Stupid people deserve what they get and we are allowing too much stupidity to govern us and determine policies essential to our future. On that note, I shall rest.