Victor Davis Hanson: A New America in a New World Order

Roundup: Historians' Take

[NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, the editor of Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome, and the author of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern.]

The year is quite young, and yet it has already seen a multitude of disturbing events and trends — unrest in Cairo and North Africa; nuclearization in Iran; a growing anti-American alliance among Turkey, Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria; the expansionary designs of a newly unabashed China with attendant repercussions on Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan; calls for the end of the dollar as the global currency; the muscle flexing from an “I can’t believe my good luck” Russia; and the tottering of the European Union. I have no idea how most Americans react to any of the above, and I don’t think the administration has either.

We do know that President Obama wants to borrow another $1.6 trillion this year to ensure expansion of EU-like entitlements. One mystery is why the Chinese — 400 million of whom have never encountered Western-style medicine — apparently won’t mind lending us more of their hundreds of billions of dollars in surpluses to fund Obamacare. Another is why people should risk their environments in Africa, the Russian Arctic, and Asian coastal waters to provide petroleum for a thirsty planet, while we will not take much smaller risks to satisfy our own voracious oil appetite. The only common denominator is our desire to consume more than we produce.

Yet the impending crises on the horizon — so reminiscent of the annus horribilis of 1979, when the wages of another American president’s sermonizing and economic weakness came due — are not foreordained to come at America’s expense. Were we to put our financial house in order, slash our deficits, show the world how we intend to pay down our $14 trillion debt, and make the needed long-term reforms to Social Security and Medicare, the United States would be in a unique position in comparison to an ailing and sclerotic Europe, a demographically challenged Japan, and a China with a rendezvous with social tension, environmental catastrophe, and a warped demography. We are still a more open and transparent society than our rivals — with a more meritocratic ethos, far greater social and political stability, and blessed with vast natural and human resources. Why, then, cannot we regain our exceptionalism?..

comments powered by Disqus