Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lament for a Failed US

This bit from an article by Brad DeLong and published by Project Syndicate should be meditated upon:
During the run-up to World War II, Winston Churchill, speaking in Parliament, lamented “the years that the locusts hath eaten” – the period during which preparatory action to face the great crisis of his day (the rise of Continental fascism) could have been taken, but was not. Over the past century – with the notable exception of the Great Depression – the US political system has been remarkably good at foreseeing crises long before they have happened, and at least setting the foundation for dealing with them when they have occurred.

But so far in the third millennium, this skill – or simply run of luck – has deserted the US. My view is that the problem would fix itself easily if only the Republican Party of Dwight D. Eisenhower could stage a comeback (though without Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy).

It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that the problem is one not only for the US, but for the rest of the world as well. Since December 7, 1941, the world has in large part been able to rely on global governance by a somewhat-competent hyper-power. That America may be gone for good. If it is, the world needs to develop other institutions for global management – and quickly.
I see more failures in US policy than Brad DeLong:
Yes, having more Eisenhower-like Republicans would be nice, but the ills of the US go much, much deeper. The achingly slow rejection of Jim Crow and segregation, the ineffective "War on Poverty" that was turned about by the Reagan policies to enrich the already fabulously wealthy, and the radical culture wars unleashed by the Republican fanatics at the end of the 20th century are only part of a long legacy of bad politics.

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