The Presidency of Teddy Roosevelt is often considered the beginning of “The American Century.” The Great White Fleet circled the world. The US defeated Spain in the Spanish American War, probably instigated by the US as it fought to “free” Cuba and the Philippines “fell” into our Empire. Our iron and steel production had surpassed that of Europe. Problems began in 1912 when leading “Progressive” Woodrow Wilson was elected President. This came about as Teddy Roosevelt, for reasons that were not clear, opposed his own successor, William Howard Taft. Roosevelt formed his “Bull Moose” party and divided the vote, electing Wilson. In 1916, Wilson was re-elected, promising to keep us out of World War I. In 1917, following Germany’s decision to wage unrestricted submarine warfare, Wilson declared war on Germany, thus disclosing his lie.
America entered the war in 1917 at the cost of 53,000 lives lost. The intervention probably led to the 1918 Armistice and the Treaty of Versailles, which French Marshall Foch called (accurately) “an armistice for 20 years.” Wilson’s Progressive rule included many similarities to Fascism that would be come more apparent in years to come. Harding and Coolidge were elected in 1920 and reversed many of Wilson’s policies. The next 9 years were marked by prosperity and a surge of innovation. The German war debts, plus those of the allies, put pressure on the international economic system, which resulted in the 1929 panic and elected Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 as Herbert Hoover’s attempts to cope with the 1929 crash failed. Roosevelt campaigned on a platform of a “balanced budget,” which was quickly abandoned once elected. Roosevelt’s experimentation with the economy produced no better results until World War II provided the stimulus to spending plus the absorption of millions of unemployed and an economic boom followed. The cost of this war was 407,000 American lives but it left us with the only undamaged industrial system in the world. A real Boom followed until Lyndon Johnson got us involved in the Vietnam War plus The Great Society, both of which brought us close to financial ruin.
Richard Nixon took the country off the gold standard in 1971 to avoid the loss of American gold reserves as a result of inflated spending by his predecessor. This was the first sign of American weakness after 25 years of prosperity. Nixon was followed by Jimmy Carter and a huge Democrat majority in Congress, which unleashed massive spending and out of control inflation. Carter, to his credit, hired Paul Volker as Fed Chair and he used interest rates to control inflation. In 1979, Home mortgage interest rates were at 21%. The 1980 election of Reagan revived the economy but deficit spending continued. The Democrat Congress seemed to make a bargain with Reagan that they would let him win the Cold War if he let them spend as they liked. In 1991, the Cold War ended with the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Soviet Union. There were a number of predictions of “The End of History” but history got quite a bit more complicated.
Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and George H W Bush led a military response that evicted the Iraqis but left Hussein in power. The US involved itself in Iraq politics with a “no fly zone” and interventions on behalf of various Iraqi minorities. This resulted, or coincided, with an increase in Muslim terrorism. Some of this was funded by Iran which had expelled the Shah and then expelled the US taking embassy employees as hostages. The hostages were finally released when Reagan was elected but the precedent was set. Bill Clinton was elected as a result of Bush’s lie about taxes and the third party intervention by Ross Perot. Perot had some specific policy issues that were mostly ignored at some later cost. Clinton ignored an increasing tempo of terrorist attacks culminating in the Cole bombing in October of 2000. George W Bush was elected in November 2000 in a hotly contested election. The Democrat Senate, in a tactic to be seen with Trump, obstructed most of Bush’s appointments so that the Defense Department was understaffed at the time of the September 11 attack. Bush concluded that we would invade Afghanistan to punish the Taliban for harboring Osama bin Laden and his terrorist training camps. Bin Laden escaped into Pakistan for 10 years being hidden and protected by Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency.
Bush also invaded Iraq setting off a years long occupation that led to the Democrats taking over Congress in 2006. In 2008, the US and much of the other developed countries’ economic systems had a near collapse as a result of foolish debt restructuring programs. Massive spending was required, it was alleged, to prevent economic collapse. One result of the economic crisis was ensure the election of Barack Obama who promised to “fundamentally transform the country.” Further massive spending followed. Iraq and Afghanistan continued to be bleeding wounds in the economy and the morale of the country. Now, after a questionable election, the Democrats decided to abandon Afghanistan suddenly. The results are being evaluated now. It is early days but some conclusions can be made.
One analysis is that this is a suicide attempt. An argument can be made that the regime in power does not like America as it is and has been for 200 years.
Finally there is the incompetence of the withdrawal itself. It is one thing to decide to end our presence in Afghanistan, and take your chances that the Taliban can be deterred or contained some other way (does anyone think our military-diplomatic complex has a serious plan to do this?). It is another thing to make the announcement that set the Taliban’s timeline in motion. So vagueness and misdirection were called for, but no one seemed to have the guile for it.
I was in favor of leaving Afghanistan 10 years ago.
Others, think it is too late. We have squandered the power and wealth we had 70 years ago. It is probably beyond the capability of this generation which is mis-educated and knows no history.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken picked up the phone on Monday to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi for a discussion on how the two countries could work together to achieve a “soft landing” for Afghanistan. He was told Beijing was willing, but Washington would need to step back the pressure on its greatest rival, according to China’s state media.
The deep state has foolishly pressed China and Russia together with ill-advised attacks on former president Trump. We now face a united opponent, if not enemy. I see no evidence that the regime in Washington, which violated all rules to attain power, now knows what to do next. There are not many things good about getting old but avoiding the coming consequences from this folly is one. However, I do have children and grandchildren and deeply regret what they will face as we enter the post-American century.
14 thoughts on “The Close of the American Century.”
I read a story this morning about a few school districts in San Diego county that have said they’re going to ignore the state mask mandate. Once you lose automatic deference, you’re in deep trouble. The only question now is what nullification crises will be serious enough to shatter things completely…
In really broad terms it’s a crisis of authority.
Our layer cake of governments has its benefits, but now every level questions the competence and good intent of the others. (Watch your local newsgoobs report on COVID measures and the claims made by posturing pols and yacksperts.)
No one can be made to do their jobs if they don’t want to, and no one is punished for not doing their jobs or sanctioned for doing them poorly–especially the Top Men.
It is a suicide attempt to the extent that the people carrying it out identify strongly as Americans.
To the extent that they do not so identify, and feel contempt for those who do, then it is more of a homicide attempt.
Here is a pretty good account of the state of play right now.
}}} Bin Laden escaped into Pakistan for 10 years being hidden and protected by Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency.
I personally, and seriously, doubt this. My own strong suspicion is that Bin Laden died in the first 3-odd years when a missile collapsed a cave on him.
1 — there were only a couple more “posts” after this event where they “thought” he was killed, and the entire TONE of them was radically different, far less of an “IN YOUR FACE, AMERICA!!” and far more of “Can’t we all just get along?” They sounded more like Michael Moore wrote them after that (and I said that at the time).
2 — America probably knew, and the hoi polloi of Al Queda certainly knew, if so. Why silence? Well, Al Queda probably did not do it for fear it would dismay their supporters. And America probably did not push it because it could have turned him into a martyr and been used to help recruiting.
3 — and after this possible event, Bin Laden steadily faded into the background, with few, if any, pronouncements and almost no attention. This is a radical about-face from before the point where he was believed possibly killed, also a supporting justification for the assertion.
4 — the fact that they “killed” Bin Laden and disposed of his body so quickly and without any chance for autopsy or positive public identification seems suspicious, and also supports the assertion.
So, in summary, I think there is adequate justification to strongly suspect that Bin Laden’s fate was not the Official One. No not proof, by any means, and in order to get any, we’re likely to have to wait 40y for some memoir of one of the troops who supposedly killed him, or some FOI release after everyone involved is D-E-A-D dead.
Maybe more than the American Century is closing … (h/t InstaPundit)
The question is what will replace it?
“we’re likely to have to wait 40y for some memoir of one of the troops who supposedly killed him”
Um, there’s already been multiple published accounts by them…
A pretty good discussion of Afghanistan by Michael Anton.
He was in the Bush admin when the fatal decisions were made.
}}} Um, there’s already been multiple published accounts by them…
And you think, while their career is active, that they are going to deny the Officially Taken Position on Events??
I see no reason to believe Bin Laden was stupid enough to box himself in at Tora Bora when he could simply cross the border to live with all the comforts of home. I find it totally believable that our crack intelligence apparatus would be unable to locate him as long as he didn’t do something stupid like order off of Amazon under his own name or post selfies on Face Book with clearly readable road signs.m
Today is a day that will live in infamy. The pitiful displays by the chairman of the joint chiefs, defense secretary, and president, were each incomparably disastrous in their own ways (I guess the good thing is that the secretary of state and vice president managed to keep quiet). Hard to see Chernenko Joe making it to Christmas at this point.
And of course the GOPe is still as silent as rocks. Not a peep from any of them.
Of course there is silence from the GOPe. They are second string Democrats. We have no organized opposition party.
Thank you, Mr. K., for a thought-provoking piece. When did the lug nuts on the wheels of the American Century start to rattle, before now falling off? There are many elements, but here are a couple of key dates:
The 1960s campaign against smoking.
Whatever one thinks of the evidence, it was the first major event in modern times when we (All of Us!) allowed scolds to tell the rest of us what we would be allowed to do in our own lives. That loss of liberty put us directly on the road to current Lock Downs, mask mandates, near-compulsory treatment with an experimental drug which has not been approved by the FDA. And — unfortunately — we are far from the end of this road on allowing those who enjoy power to order the rest of us around.
The 1970s campaign against nuclear power.
Emotionalism reigned! There was no serious assessment of benefits as well as risks, or of the costs & benefits of the alternatives. We have since repeatedly seen the same failure, such as in the Lock Down response to the CovdScam. Excessive regulation prevented the expected normal continual improvement in nuclear technology. Suppose today we (like France) were getting 75% of out electricity from carbon-free nuclear power — and were freed from reliance on oil producers in unstable parts of the world? That path was closed to us almost half a century ago.
There is a lot of ruin in a nation — perhaps a century’s worth. Consequences can take a long time to become obvious.
The campaign against nuclear power is the most successful KGB operation in their history and continues long after they transitioned to the FSB or whatever the current nomenclature is. It began with “Ban the Bomb” by a group of Fellow Travelers but the seed was planted by the KGB to keep nuclear weapons out of Europe to facilitate a possible Soviet invasion. Reagan overcame intense resistance to place them in Europe but the psychology continues and distorts all the climate hypocrisy.
I see someone has anticipated me in posting a link to the essay on the collapse of the managerial class. I did anticipate this a few years ago. It is much the same problem.
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