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Does Monsieur Krauthammer Know What’s Good for Him?

October 11, 2009

After analysing the “New Liberalism” of Obama and his ilk which wants America to “decline”, ie to end its role as the world’s hegemon, Monsieur Krauthammer explains why such a development threatens chaos and that it would be the result of an active choice that can and should be resisted in the following way:

Decline is a choice. More than a choice, a temptation. How to resist it?

First, accept our role as hegemon. And reject those who deny its essential benignity. There is a reason that we are the only hegemon in modern history to have not immediately catalyzed the creation of a massive counter-hegemonic alliance–as occurred, for example, against Napoleonic France and Nazi Germany. There is a reason so many countries of the Pacific Rim and the Middle East and Eastern Europe and Latin America welcome our presence as balancer of power and guarantor of their freedom.

And that reason is simple: We are as benign a hegemon as the world has ever seen.

So, resistance to decline begins with moral self-confidence and will. But maintaining dominance is a matter not just of will but of wallet. We are not inherently in economic decline. We have the most dynamic, innovative, technologically advanced economy in the world. We enjoy the highest productivity. It is true that in the natural and often painful global division of labor wrought by globalization, less skilled endeavors like factory work migrate abroad, but America more than compensates by pioneering the newer technologies and industries of the information age.

There are, of course, major threats to the American economy. But there is nothing inevitable and inexorable about them. Take, for example, the threat to the dollar (as the world’s reserve currency) that comes from our massive trade deficits. Here again, the China threat is vastly exaggerated. In fact, fully two-thirds of our trade imbalance comes from imported oil. This is not a fixed fact of life. We have a choice. We have it in our power, for example, to reverse the absurd de facto 30-year ban on new nuclear power plants. We have it in our power to release huge domestic petroleum reserves by dropping the ban on offshore and Arctic drilling. We have it in our power to institute a serious gasoline tax (refunded immediately through a payroll tax reduction) to curb consumption and induce conservation.

Nothing is written. Nothing is predetermined. We can reverse the slide, we can undo dependence if we will it.

The other looming threat to our economy–and to the dollar–comes from our fiscal deficits. They are not out of our control. There is no reason we should be structurally perpetuating the massive deficits incurred as temporary crisis measures during the financial panic of 2008. A crisis is a terrible thing to exploit when it is taken by the New Liberalism as a mandate for massive expansion of the state and of national debt–threatening the dollar, the entire economy, and consequently our superpower status abroad.

There are things to be done. Resist retreat as a matter of strategy and principle. And provide the means to continue our dominant role in the world by keeping our economic house in order. And finally, we can follow the advice of Demosthenes when asked what was to be done about the decline of Athens. His reply? “I will give what I believe is the fairest and truest answer: Don’t do what you are doing now.”

I don’t know about you – and I doubt Monsieur Krauthammer himself intended it so – but the French Cowboy can read “Palin 2012” between every line of this text.

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