Back in January, 2007, your humble correspondent made his RedState debut with an essay entitled “Is Iraq This War’s Guadalcanal? (The Consequences of Victory).”
The core notion of that piece was that too much attention had been paid to the possible consequences of defeat – and that too much attention was being paid only toward forestalling those deleterious consequences.
However, my thinking at the time was that that sort of approach just would not do. We needed to dare to think about the upside – the consequences of victory.
(And, BTW, if you need something to fill that “extra hour” today, go back and read that piece – it’s worn pretty well. 🙂 )
It’s been a tough year to think positively – largely because it has been, well, a tough year.
We’ve had to watch as a vapid zilch, who has done absolutely nothing of any significance in his 47 years on this Earth – and who has mysteriously had everything just handed to him every step of the way – glides toward having the last, greatest prize just handed to him (and he acts as if this is his entitlement).
And what’s been even more disturbing to me is the sudden return of the socialists to the stage. After what seemed to be their final discrediting nearly 20 years ago, even as recently as a few months ago the remnant socialists seemed like a bunch of superannuated fossils. Suddenly, there are “disaster socialists” everywhere, telling us that “See, we were right all along!”
But as in January 2007, I don’t want to belabor the possible downsides – and why we need to avoid them. As then, I want to concentrate on the upside potential.
As strange as it may sound, I actually expect that the most positive consequences of victory will actually occur on the international (rather than the domestic) stage – although if you briefly ponder the true powers of the Executive this becomes readily apparent. And I personally had the coincidental opportunity to visit many of the more vulnerable places last month.
Last month, I was stunned by how many people, after finding out that I was an American, would sidle over and, sotto voce, ask me to please tell them that Senator McCain was going to win the election, since they feared that they would not otherwise survive. (Estonians and Poles stand out on this count.) These are people in the parts of Europe that have crawled out from under centuries of Russian domination – and they fear that the latest break is going to end up being an interlude rather than a permanent arrangement. Like it or not, on Tuesday we hold the fates of nations and multitudes in our hands.
But here’s the upside. Putin’s Russia is a disaster. Russia is weak, and can only look strong when confronted by weakness. Putin’s Russia was puffed up by $150/barrel crude oil, but that’s all a thing of the past now. And Putin’s ham-handedness on both the international scene (the militarily-successful but diplomatically-disastrous invasion of Georgia) and the domestic scene (the above combined with boorish threats against the country’s business sector) has tanked the Russian stock market and led to a catastrophic capital flight. If we can “hold the line” over here, by 2012 Putin’s Russia will have withered to the point of being no threat to anyone, anywhere. If we “hold the line,” time is on our side with regard to Russia – and in the next decade “Russian issues” are likely to be driven by Russia’s weakness (rather than its strength).
The story is similar with China – if we can “hold the line” until 2012. As I’ve written occasionally in these pages, I’ve never bought into the whole “China as the emerging superpower” line of thought. China is mostly still a poor, weak, and backward country. It faces serious issues with what are really old imperial possessions. And, most importantly, China is poised to go off a demographic cliff that is nearly as bad as Russia’s.
The main problem we’ll face is naturally going to be Iran. But that’s another house-of-cards if we can keep them in their box for a few more years.
I think you can see the theme here. There are many problems in the larger world, but they are manageable and containable. More importantly, if we can keep them contained, time will work its own magic in our favor.
My main fear is that I’ve been expecting 2009 to be a rough year on the terrorism front – and I still have that expectation. Our enemies are smart, and they would be smart to lay low (as they apparently have been), hoping that they can lull us into a false sense of security and thus be willing to put a weak and spineless occupant into the White House. Either way, they will have good reason to let fly next year. And having just suffered a humiliating defeat in Iraq, they need to do something to show that they still matter.
Domestically, victory will probably bring fewer tangible benefits – since the system is complicated and it won’t be possible to do very much. But having nothing done will be much better than having something bad done – and again, if we can manage to leave things alone and let the doers go out and do, then there will be progress.
I’m hopeful that there will be a chance at some additional recognition that the driving force for economic public policy cannot be airy and abstract theory about what is “fair,” but must instead be sober analysis of the competitive landscape in the international business world. That a reduction in the corporate tax rate is even in play, for reasons of meeting the competitive challenges, is heartening.
Domestically, the main consequence of victory will be the final discrediting of the self-delusional leftist agenda that they’re right and all they’ve ever needed is the right spokesperson to carry it off. Remember, there are plenty of people out there who still cling (!) to the notion that it was really Mikhail Gorbachev who ended the Cold War, and that no one really agreed with Ronald Reagan – but that he was a great “seller” only. After nearly three decades of that, victory will finally put that nonsense into the trash can.
There’s one last upside to consider. In a post this past Thursday, I mused darkly that in recent years divisions had hardened so badly that I have found myself reprising Lincoln’s famous “A house divided against itself cannot stand” – and worried that like then, the only way out of this problem would be another civil war.
But there’s one last upside to keep in mind for today. The escape from this problem is being provided for us by demographics, and that will further shift by 2012. After the 2010 census, there will be further re-apportionment – and it’s already clear that there will be a further shift of population and representation away from northeastern blue states and toward southern and western red states.
Besides the obvious implications for the electoral college totals, there’s something even more important going on. American vitality continues to shift away from the decaying, Europeanized parts of the country and toward the more clearly American parts of the country. Beyond the migrations of people, jobs, and wealth, even the birthrate statistics are stunning. As many observers have noted, state birthrate was one of the best predictors of voting patterns in 2004 – and this will likely continue on Tuesday. For example, Utah’s birthrate is twice Vermont’s – of the two, which state is more likely to shape the American future?
This may be the best explanation of why our adversaries are trying so hard this year. They also can read the demographic tea leaves, and they know that things will continue to shift drastically against them (demographically) in the next decade. This is their last chance – and they know it.
And that is probably the real consequence of victory for us on Tuesday. Contrary to their narrative of always being “the inevitable future,” our adversaries are watching their strength ebb inexorably away. If we can hold the line on Tuesday, they’ll never be as strong again.
And that, my friends, is quite an upside to ponder.