Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A Decade Of Self-Delusion

by Patrick Buchanan - December 29th, 2009 - Human Events

About the first decade of what was to be the Second American Century, the pessimists have been proven right.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the United States began the century producing 32 percent of the world's gross domestic product. We ended the decade producing 24 percent. No nation in modern history, save for the late Soviet Union, has seen so precipitous a decline in relative power in a single decade.

The United States began the century with a budget surplus. We ended with a deficit of 10 percent of gross domestic product, which will be repeated in 2010. Where the economy was at full employment in 2000, 10 percent of the labor force is out of work today and another 7 percent is underemployed or has given up looking for a job.

Buchanan is a writer who can often find the worst case scenario to present. How else could you write a book arguing that World War II was a war planned by Winston Churchill and America was deluded in responding to Pearl Harbor?

He is however a writer who does his homework and whose facts must be addressed.

The two issues on which I am find him most interesting are extending the battlefield against the Islamists into Iraq - as well as George W. Bush's socialist expanision of government programs in a nation already facing huge unfunded commitments from Social Security and Medicare. These are critical questions where Buchanan has some good points.

Though I think Buchanan could be right that Iraq was a mistake on balance, I believe he is wrong to not credit three successes to the neocon strategy; Lybia, Lebanon and Iran's current internal revolution. These have to count as major successes that have changed the Middle East dramatically. For that reason I believe that the final answer is not as clear as he tries to imply.

On the issue of Bush domestic policy, my read is that he is much closer to being right than Bush's supporters. This article notes some of the disasters that have occured duing the Bush years in power. Though Buchanan is far more willing to accept the idea that trade balances harm a nation than I, he is correct that you cannot burden the economy with such government incompetence as Bush did and not pay a huge price.

The question with which Buchanan ends the article is sobering only because it really is a question that needs to be addressed. Can we reverse the huge national decline of the last decade? Nothing Obama is doing will slow the decline. If anything he has accelerated it.


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