Feb 22, 2009

February 1, 2009: America's Bleak and Dangerous Outlook

L.F. Hamp

A very recent nationwide poll indicates fully 80 per cent of Americans will not buy an automobile manfuactured by a company in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, contrary claims of Mutt Romney, Arnold Swarzenegger, Richard Shelby, Lindsey Graham, Sarah Failin, and a now much reduced host of angry Republican governors and lawmakers notwithstanding. These japing, jaded stooges of Wall Street money, Big Oil, AIG, and the Banking (Finance) industry appear more than willing to spread our taxpayer money amongst long-time friends of the party, while destroying the future for millions of auto and related industry employees.

I detest these auto industry execs as much as the next guy. They learned nothing from the crises of '73-74, and '79-80. They did what they had to do to keep up appearances while necessary but relapsed into gas-guzzling conspicuous consumpiton (pleasing the hell out of the oil industry) as soon as public concern and interest waned. Of course all big business is very much aware of the nation's short attention span. They rip for a while, get caught, do a little penance, percieve a lack of scrutiny, rip again.

You'd think we'd learn lessons permanently, but it never happens. As unequivocal evidence, I offer Vietnam and Iraq II; Teapot Dome, Watergate, Iran/Contra, and a continuing, deepening current economic slide reminiscent the aftermath of another Republican free market orgy held in the l920's. Then, auto executives have the brass and gall to show up for hearings in D.C. In seperate private jet aircraft. AIG execs, facing congress, hat-in-hand, held (at least two) sales meetings in posh resorts even while begging sustenance at the public trough. (Fi you see a stinking scandal, you needn't look far to find Republicans.)

I can't pretend to know what Congress will do, bit this I'm sure of—destruction of the American (and Canadian) auto industry will mark a long first stride on ur decline from world super-power to world whipping-boy. And when the industry's laboring millions find themselves on the street, they're going to be very, very angry—maybe even angry enough to start a....(fill in the blank). (It goes without saying the public brought much of this on themselves carrying far too much high interest credit card debt and driving gass-guzzling Hummers, to 'keep up with the Joneses', and allowing themselves to be suckered into mortgages on monster homes they knew they couldn't afford.)

Their predicament and anger will be nothing to the general population's when our many enemies get into harness to knock us down and drag us out to the trash. Their numbers are large, and inhabit almost every continent. There won't be a River Rouge plant to build airplanes or cobat vehicles or tanks. Our shipping industry is already gone with the wind. In a week unfriendly nations could dry-up our oil storage facilities. Most of the American manfucturers who converted to making small arms during WWII (Pistols, Garand rifles, 'Tommy' guns, etc.) are long since gone, as are the skilled workers necessary for the endeavor.

One big concern (seldom mentioned) making strategists uncomfortable is that we may be trading one dependency (oil from unfriendly states and areas like Russia, the mid-East, and South America) for another—pinning our hopes on lithium-ion batteries requiring materials now available from Siberia (Russia), China, and central Africa, particularly the bloody Congo. Ninety (90) per cent of our research on electrically powered transport is being done on lithium-ion batteries.

Another seldom mentioned concern is the ability of the democracies to control sea lanes. The (newly oil-rich) Russians are again expanding their presence at sea. Though collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in the beaching of most of their fleet (including nuclear powered subs complete with reactors) on the shores of the Baltic Sea (turning those waters into a festering cesspool), they've never reliquished their dream, first inspired by Peter the Great 300 years ago, of easy, year around access to the world's big waters.

Meanwhile, quietly, pretty efficiently, and very rapidly, India has developed a navy which includes large modern aircraft carriers, cruisers, frigates, submarines, aircraft and missile-arms. This could conceivably require our entire navy to maintain operations in Eastern waters. India may be a democracy in form, but few Indians have much love for Western democracies and with ample reason.

Ergo China, although far less democratic and open China is now emerging as a military and naval power to contend with.

In short our enemies, and potential enemies, are many, varied and occupy every continent but our own and Austrailia, and we almost certainly have many 'sleepers' here at home.

To face these threats, at home and abroad, here's what President Obama inherits from the failed Bush Administration. A fairly good chance of nuclear terrorism. An intelligence network still more involved with turf wars than protecting the nation. A poorly protected chemical industry. Little progress in seaport security. Little protection against biological terrorism and little done to improve such protection. Little cooperation to date developoing anti-terrorism protection in the world community.

Recent analysis of America's situation leads those studying our problems to believe we're going to be a much diminished entity by 2025, losing power relative to China, Russia, India—perhaps unable to hold our own in global give and take. There's little evidence the nation has the strength of character (a la the 'greatest generation') to persevere in the coming grind.

Face it folks, we haven't won a war since 1945 (the 100 hours war in the Gulf notwithstanding), and those in which we have engaged have been classic case studies of repeated blunders, wasted resources, mis-management, pathetic planning, just plain miserable acquisition of intelligence, and poor interpretation of the intelligence we do acquire. Few troublmakers really respect or fear our military/economic power or honor our claim to world leadership in any moral sense.

Winston Churchill, facing a similar, dangerous situation as Britian alone faced the Nazi juggernaut 20 miles across the English Channel, spoke words America would do well to consider: “This,” Churchill said on the BBC airwaves, “is only the beginning of the reckoning; the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year until, by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in olden time.”

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