Belmont Club

The Page Unwritten

Legacy

The outlines of the post-Obama world are becoming clearer.  The unipolar world is gone.  The cherished “international system” has fallen apart. Russia is now in emerging alliance with Iran and working on pulling NATO member Turkey into its orbit.  They are opposed by Sunni powers who are even now celebrating the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey.  They are opposed by an Iran which has boasted that “after Aleppo, we will intervene in Bahrain, Yemen”. Everywhere one looks the old system is failing, torn apart by centrifugal force.  America and China are edging toward conflict in the South China Sea.

Some nations are even fighting ghosts.  Venezuela is committing suicide by fantasy. It is falling apart its leaders claim because America has enviously stolen its precious Bolivars.

After leading the nation with the world’s largest oil reserves into turmoil, food shortages and hyperinflation, Venezuela’s socialist leaders are not widely regarded as economic wise men. …

At a news conference Tuesday, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol used charts and photographs to unveil what he called a vast conspiracy involving criminal gangs, foreign NGOs and the U.S. government. He claimed these groups are trying to strangle Venezuela’s economy and overthrow its government by hoarding millions of 100-bolivar bills in warehouses in Poland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Germany.

Upon the fall of the Maduro government, Reverol claimed, the U.S. Treasury Department would pay currency smugglers about one U.S. dollar for every 100-bolivar note they had spirited out of the country.

America, the once indispensible nation now looms large only in Maduro’s imagination. It has shrunk to the status of Occupied France in the mind of the Left.  Katrina vandenHeuvel’s tweet of an NYT opinion piece compares America to hapless Chile. “Now, America, You Know How Chileans Felt” when the CIA rigged its elections now the KGB has done the same to you.  After 8 years of Obama America has become the 3rd world plaything of a country with a smaller GDP than South Korea.

Henry Kissinger drolly described the world as a place that had lost its operating system.  What used to work doesn’t.  The good news is it leaves everyone with an “extraordinary opportunity” to upgrade.  This is “because every country now has two things to consider,” Kissinger said, “one, their perception that the previous president or the outgoing president basically withdrew America from international politics, so that they had to make their own assessment of their necessities, and, secondly, that here is a new president who is asking a lot of unfamiliar questions …  the combination of the partial vacuum and the new questions … it’s an extraordinary opportunity.”

It is an opportunity and peril of which the outgoing administration is blissfully unaware.  At his last press conference Obama still boasted of passing on to posterity a world intact as if the files on his ruined hard disk were enhanced instead of corrupted.  The world has changed and America’s very enemies — while still remaining enemies — have changed in character.  Kissinger noted even Russia was seeking to escape from oblivion  — the difference being that Putin was aware of the need  — by rebooting its franchise in a world where the Empire of the Czars has collapsed completely. (Emphasis mine)

DICKERSON: You have met with Vladimir Putin a number of times. What do you make of him?

KISSINGER: He’s a character out of Dostoyevsky.

And he is a man with a great sense of connection, inward connection to Russian history as he sees it. And he is a cold calculator of the Russian national interests as he conceives it, and which he believes, probably correctly, has some very unique features.

So, for him, the question of Russian identity is very crucial, because, as a result of the collapse of communism, Russia has lost about 300 years of its history. And so the question of what is Russia looms very large in their mind. And that’s a problem we have never had.

Losing history was a problem America “never had” until the progressive dementia.  Kissinger’s found world was blanked in part by those for whom the destruction of history was an objective.  They are now being challenged by the “populist revolt” who to the contrary want to remember,  to start from something definite not to live in the past but to continue it; those for whom a blank page is something to be filled not a goal to be achieved.

Humanity appears to learn more through choice than the instruction of self-appointed leaders. The fate of the Middle East, Venezuela etc remind us that like the 1940s, ideology has its limits.  Exhortations have their bounds.  Survival is less a function of words than choices.  Societies in error do not learn correctness but rather are rather driven to it by sad experience. It is the school of hard knocks, not the school of gender studies which is the driving force of  history.

The Leftist effort to create a New Man — a completely reprogrammable International creature  — is failing because it destroyed the ability of cultures and nations to try something distinctly different, where if some failed at least some might succeed.  A world where all cultures are equal and all answers are correct leads directly to a world of futility of effort where there is an equality of outcome, either universal success or more likely, universal failure.

Humanity still seems bound to natural selection. Reality hands out the ultimate exam results and there is no guarantee of a passing grade. No one can convince Venezuelans that socialism is defective until they discover it for themselves.  If we learn from our breathless escapes from Darwin then the way to meet a Putin seeking Russia is to create an America seeking America and see who wins.  You can’t fight something with nothing but as Kissinger reminds us the Obama years were a long-winded way of saying nothing.  It was a decade long effort to get lost.

After years of introspective focus on things like gender categories and Global Warming it may be time to try and focus on a much more immediate task.  How do we guarantee that we, our beliefs and our progeny survive the 21st century?  That is no trivial challenge.  It will take an effort.  Perhaps the way is to save the family by having families; the path to retaining values is by having values.  Maybe love and charity and success are preserved by their achievement not by talking about them.  But it won’t happen by itself.

The power of the truth lies in being different from error. America like Russia may be inscribed somewhere on Kissinger’s blank future but someone will have to write it if it is to appear.  It isn’t sitting like a pot of gold at the end of some arc of history.

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The Face Of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme, by John Keegan. In this vivid reassessment of three battles, Keegan examines the physical conditions of fighting, the particular emotions and behavior generated by battle, as well as the motives that impel soldiers to stand and fight rather than run away.

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Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power, Examining nine landmark battles from ancient to modern times – from Salamis, where outnumbered Greeks devastated the slave army of Xerxes, to Cortes’s conquest of Mexico to the Tet offensive – author Victor Davis Hanson explains why the armies of the West have been the most lethal and effective of any fighting forces in the world.

Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story, by John Bloom. This is the story of Iridium, the revolutionary satellite system developed by Motorola in the 1990s, and how it was saved from destruction by Dan Colussy, a former president of Pan Am, in one of the greatest business deals of all time.

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, by Michael Lewis. This new book from the author of The Big Short, The Blind Side, etc. tells the story of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, whose Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality, created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, and advanced evidence-based medicine.


Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with your friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.
The War of the Words, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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