Remember the last war in Europe? No, not WWII; it was the breakup of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, two pushed-together assemblages under dictators. Other than those, Europe has been (for Europe) rather peaceful. Historically, that’s a rare luxury and unlikely to last. But nobody’s giving public thoughts to that now, they’re too busy in each E. U. country looking for financial solutions obtainable from the other E.U. countries, preferably, Germany.
Two things stand out: The major E.U. powers and the minor ones have been spending a lot on social benefits. The American Democrats have said that America needs to be more like Europe in that. But there’s a wee little problem: One large reason Europe has been able to spend more socially is that European nations have spent less on their military, counting upon the U.S./ NATO umbrella to protect them. Britain, France and Germany have some military but not a lot. Most of the rest are nominal. It is a truly inconvenient truth that, just as Europe is going broke on its social welfare, so is the U.S. Even more inconvenient, Russia is reverting to its historical type: Aggressive, expansionist bullying just as Europe faces financial weakness to match its military neglect. That’s a bad combination for conditions, historically; it tempts bullies. (Ask Ukraine.)
In Asia, similar conditions are encouraging Chinese bellicosity as Japan continues into another decade of financial weakness. True to form, just as the world needs to address its financial mismanagement, bullies appear to try to take advantage of it. And today’s bullies have nukes. Lest we forget that, Russia’s Putin has been reminding us recently while the Middle East’s traditional bully, Iran, does all that it can to join that club under a fanatical Islamic dictatorship dedicated to destroying Israel.
The militarily lower-tier nations that have been depending upon the Pax Americana see it crumbling with America’s economy; will they continue to eschew nukes as they have been doing? Particularly as they see North Korea, Pakistan and oncoming Iran added to a nuclear club now reverting toward cold (hopefully) war. So prospects seem to present a financially crumbling world economy worsened by re-militarizing and tempted to deal with internal disorder by discovering external enemies. If this sounds like an old script, it surely is. Just as we start to become really productive, we fail to manage it and then, blow it all up.
We will need some real statesmen if we are to hold things together over the coming decades, seems to us. Are there any such visible in present politics? (No response required.) The closest we can come is Netanyahu, and he does it more or less at gunpoint.
In the U.S, following a midterm Congressional election in which disgruntled voters refused to elect many Democrats, Republicans now hold sway as of the next Congress in a little over a moth. Ignoring the bellicosity from both sides’ rhetoric, the first sign of what will come is the present deferral of the next funding bill that will make the Government’s spending priorities visible. The bill will now come up for action at the tail end of the Congress (again) and be rushed through at the last minute, allowing minimum time for understanding and reaction (again). That’s politics as usual, not statesmanship.
We fearlessly predict two characteristics for that very important bill:
1. It will be replete with earmarks, Congressional pork.
2. It will continue the unsustainable pattern of deficits.
Nary a statesman in sight … plus ca change …