The U.S. as the helpless giant is the long-held dream of many. We’re getting a glimpse of a world in which that dream is coming true as the Middle East erupts. President Obama may look feckless when he appears in front of the cameras from time to time to announce that the “violence” must stop.
But I think he embraces the notion of a weak America that doesn’t meddle. His policies are creating that America. We’re seeing it clearly in the foreign sphere. But his reckless spending is another way to ensure that the U.S. becomes a different kind of country. Columnist Tony Blankley addresses himself to the notion of a world in which the U.S. is a second-tier nation:
In the same weeks that are seeing the Middle East (with all its oil and geopolitical significance) begin to transform itself into we know not what, important economists are predicting that, if current trends continue, not only China, but India also will within a generation have larger economies than ours. And, of course, with strong economies almost inevitably come equivalently strong military capacities.
So as we enter the great deficit and debt fights of this budget season both in Washington and the states, the question that enters my mind is: Will the people of the United States be content to merely settle down and become a relatively affluent, second-level satellite to a great Chinese colossus? Are we Americans prepared to play Britain to a post-WWII America? And is it likely that China is prepared to be so benign a giant as we have been — and are?
Assuming that most Americans are adamantly not willing to roll over into a national economic fetal position, then certain implications, certain actions must follow from our intent to remain on our hind legs, strong right arms uplifted to the world. And it begins with the current deficit fight.
First, and most obviously, we actually have to have this fight. It is economically naive to believe that we can continue to be the world’s strongest, largest economy if we don’t soon get our fiscal books in order. Moreover, huge and painful as that task will be, it will not assure our economic strength — it is merely one of several necessary preconditions to such economic health.
It also is naive to believe it possible for about $10 trillion to be taken out of anticipated federal budgets (and perhaps a trillion or more dollars out of the 50 state budgets) over the next decade without beneficiaries of such spending not organizing to defend their pots of gold. We see a first example of this in Wisconsin, where the public employee unions are going beyond both law and decency in their furious effort to keep a grip on their bounty.
I love that idea: the protesters of Wisconsin as self-interested folks out to protect their pots of gold.
I want to relate the notion of a second-tier U.S. to another phenomenon: It seems to me that our pathetic response to the Somali pirates who killed four Americans in cold blood, and our very quiet response to the deaths this week of U.S. soldiers in Germany are manifestations to a country that no longer protects its own. Indeed, it could be argued that such events are less likely when potential perpetrators know that the America is not afraid to protect her own and her own interests.