Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Cheer (Humbug)

Anonymous PHD just sent me this interesting vision of the year 2020 by a UK leftie. Of course, my usual disclaimer applies.

The Afganistan operation has gone rather well. There is still an insurgency but the situation is not at all hopeless.

Iraq is a bit of a mess (though again...not hopeless) as that operation suffered from wretched intelligence, and a bit of ineptitude regards both administration and bricolage, but given the elections and the closing of the people shredders I think the US was a force for good there. This is especially true given the result of the two closest cases to Iraq that have been dealt with as per the Iraq war critics preffered method for dealing with Iraq: (ie:carrots...carrots repeat).

Those are, of course, Afganistan 1991-2001 and Sudan today.

Astonishingly, the big foreign policy initiative proposed by many of the advocates of precipitous withdrawal from Iraq is to go into the Darfur region of Sudan (multilaterally of course) to take sides in a race war. Wow. This operation is not without some merit on both a humanitarian and strategic level, but if done by a POTUS with an (R) after his name will surely see its considerable theoretical support dry up in the fires of protest over "no blood for oil"....but I digress....the point is that even the most hardcore Bo-Bo's still see the US as a force for good when they aren't bad-mouthing it.

As to the non-rise of Russia...well, I pretty much agree there, though my assessment is rather more grim.

The EU in its current form may well collapse around 2020 due to demographic pressures from its low birth rate, aging population and the somewhat (but not entirely) overblown "Eurabia" issues. Given its total dedication to socialism, it is hard to see any dynamism really saving them from collapse. Note though they are old nations and there is a tremendous inertia there that can be stabilizing as well as inhibitive. Also, Ireland the UK and Eastern Europe MAY provide enough leverage to pry them out of their self made pit. The brave talk of equity in foreign policy and human rights is a bit laughable when the Europeans tend to support any butcher who mumbles a few egalitarian platitudes irregardless of what they do to their own people. We had some rotten soldiers act like compleat dicks and so we threw them in Levanworth for years....that gets them to care. Perspective is not a European trait apperrently.

I'm more optimistic about India than this papers speaker. It has tremendous potential and has cast off the worst arrestor switches of socialism without going all Randian or Hobbsian the way the former USSR did for a time. A rare case of what was a third world nation in the cold war emerging into first world status. They are a polygot nation but like the old Austria-Hungary they are making it work. There are terrible problems (untouchables ect) but they both acknowledge them and are making real efforts to deal with them. I think they will certainly fill a niche similar to the turn of the XX century USA....a near superpower. we have a LOT of Indian engineering students at ODU of various backgrounds and hues, they are almost universally optimistic and profoundly marked contrast to many of the EU students. (Note: this may reflect different attitudes in their universities and exchange students tend to not be a typical demographic of any nation)

I am VERY pessimistic about China. China's economy is a ponzi scheme propped up by foreign investment on the backs of slave labor and to the exclusion of the peasantry. (Hell, I have real doubts about the ability of any nation to achieve greatness when they even HAVE a peasantry.) They are engaged in a precarious balancing game that will be very difficult to maintain. It is not impossible that China live up to its potential, but I think it is a longer shot than most believe.

There are historical, demographic and cultural precedents that are all working against China. This is not to say that China cannot carry on or succeed....but I don't see it happening in a good way. A peasant/working class uprising would fit perfectly with China's history and would likely be motivated by the darkest angels of Maoism....millions would die capital would flee the nation like a Paris Hilton would a convent...and as in all such revolts, the revolutionaries would grow enraged at the lack of utopia being produced in exchange for spilled blood...they would fall upon one another like a bunch of little Robspieeres.....and thus scores of millions more would die.

If this did not tear the country apart it would end up most likely once again experimenting with another great leap "forward".

Of course the ethnic tensions could divide China into 2 or more states....a return to the warlords of the early 20th century...there is precedence for both of these options all through China's history....they have a LOT of history they've been around longer than any of us.....which dovetails into the more "optimistic" asessment for China...they have been lower than this before and historically, in China it is always darkest before the dawn, China has had cycles of bad luck precipitated by foreigners or peasant uprisings...or both...and those have sometimes lasted 1-2 hundred years....China is VERY old. China is the oldest human civilization to still exist and they see themselves as the middle kingdom. To them we are a bunch of uppity foreigners like the Mongols....and they've dealt with the likes of us before. It is quite possible that China could flex and reform....China's history has several examples of ethical beauraucrats cleaning house, fighting corruption and setting the country straight...then conquering neighboring countries to expand. Given its huge population of military age males and a need for space, mineral and energy sources, it is not inconcievable that China might try to grow out of its problems, vast swaths of Russia and (less likely) SE Asia being absorbed, possibly along with Taiwan in the process. Russia is moribund, mineral and oil rich Siberia is unsexy but it a very tempting target. As for "Elbow room" the taiga might even be an alluring bit of real estate if global warming trends continue....I'm sure that China's being by far the worlds worst polluter is unrelated ;)

Which gets to another point I disagree with. The buggaboo of global warming. Oh it is measurable, it is happening, but given that it is happening on Mars and Jupiter as well, (no really) I think that there are larger forces at work than cow farts and industrial emissions. Kyoto like protocols only serve to inhibit first world economies and these economies are the engines of innovation. With thorium and pebble bed nuclear reactors built in a crash program powering both the grid and thermal depolymerization plants to produce biodiesel from waste and cash crops we could reduce our net emissions to near zero in 15 years...but the people who worry about emissions are largely (though not all of them) opposed to nukes on a visceral and religious level.

We have now facing humanity:
global mercury poisoning
dwindling/polluted drinking water supplies
ozone depletion
increasing vulnerability to pandemics
insect borne diseases (malaria alone kills millions)
acid rain
the potential for nuclear terrorism
Apohis and other wayward space rocks

...and these people are getting the vapours over a longer growing season.

The appeal of Kyoto style agreements has nothing to do with reducing is about putting a brake on capitalism and thus artificially making it less appealing than the train-wreck that is leftism. That is why the left supports it.

I'll do a longer post on that's a pet peeve of mine.

One other thing that I find myself in disagreement with. I'm not sure that the USA will fair as well as they propose. The US is heavily invested in China....very heavily...see above for why that might be bad.
The dollar is going through a phase of considerable vulnerability and both the Arab States and Russia are trying to destabilize it. We suffered near total collapse in the 1840's and the 1930's from similar problems without active meddling. The 1970s saw similar economic problems to what we face today, dealing with them in exactly the same way a democratic congress is likely to deal with them today....that did not go well. The republicans seem to be cherry-picking the worst aspects of the dems as their strategies....which makes it a bipartisan problem.

Why must the Libertarians be such nutjobs?

A bank collapse caused by a sudden precipitous appreciation of the reality of China's actual situation.
A huge energy crisis and vulnerability to petro-blackmail due to an irrational aversion to noookulur power and the concurrent stagflation.
An idea deficit caused by a need to punish those in non-PC industries for existing...rather than see them as part of a solution.

These could all be in our future. And this assumes that the remarkable combination of skill and good fortune since Sept.11 continues and we don't suffer a confidence shattering terrorist attack....or lose a city.

Of course we could turn it around too, though none of the likely presidential canidates from either party give me confidence at the moment.

2020 could indeed be a very interesting year.

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