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August 20, 2011

Blogging After America - Day Nine
Chapter Eight - After [ArthurK]

Welcome to the Ninth Day of Blogging After America. Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

This chapter's theme is Life in the World After America. It pretty much sucks.

Previously in the series - Day One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight.

Steyn has many interesting observations about this world and predictions of how we get there from here. These are hard to summarize and I don't want to quote pages at a time so the following excerpts are spotty but they'll give you an idea of the oncoming mess.

In the crapsack world of 2030 there is still a country called America - but it's not the America we're familiar with. Greatly diminished ability to project power, economy in tatters... and much of the rest of the world is far worse off.

Steven (Gates of Fire) Pressfield has a new novel that's pretty much set in Steyn's After America world. It's 2032, America and major corporations rely on mercenary armies to secure their interests. Crappy little wars are popping up all over the place. In a week long period an invasion of Iraq by Iran (backed by China) is the fourth wildest thing going on in the middle east and south-west Asia. The novel is called "The Profession" and I liked it.

Page 280 - Major formerly American corporations (Wal-Mart, Google and so on) still exist but have moved to convenient small countries they can control.

P281 - Few Americans travel abroad. (reasons in the previous chapter). America is blamed for everything bad in the world.

P282 - Little medical innovation. Still advanced research being done but if you're not high up in the Chinese govt. you can't afford it. New diseases pop up all the time (like today) but they spread faster and kill more due to lack of central power to fight it.

There's no effective international disaster relief. Smashed by earthquake? There's not going to be any naval task force flying helicopters with relief supplies.

P283 - Pesthole countries like North Korea with WMDs push around wealthy countries with weak militaries.

Musings - Here's a typical problem with "if this goes on" doomcasting. Yes, "if this goes on" then such-and-such will likely happen. But the forecast doesn't allow for a reaction. In this case, wealthy, militarily weak nations can see that America is falling and, if they have any common sense, they'll use some of their wealth and build up their militaries. But "if this goes on" is still useful. You want to know what to worry about so you can do something about it. Also, not every wealthy country is going to have common sense so they'll be some successful threats from NK style pestholes.

P285 - "The future belongs to those who show up for it." Demographics, demographics, demographics. It may seem that Steyn gets carried away with demographics but, so far, it seems to be working out like he says.

P289 - Diplomacy. "Soft Power" doesn't work against hard heads. "The Europeans 'negotiated' with Iran for years, and in the end Iran got the nukes and Europe got to feel good about itself for having sat across the table talking to no purpose for the best part of a decade."

Russia helps Iran with its nuclear and missile programs - then offers to help protect Europe from Iran. For the right considerations...

P291 - Muslims are 1/3 of the world population. Not just from birth - there's been a lot of conversions of convenience in Europe. For a lot of Europeans, who aren't very religious anyway, it's easier to convert in order to get along without a fuss.

Most of increase in the world's population is in Africa and some Muslim nations. But, other than oil, these nations are poorer than ever.

P292 - Their home countries aren't nice - so they leave. In 2010 there were more Muslims in Germany than Lebanon. More European nations become Muslim in political character. The majority of the population is not Muslim but the prevailing culture is.

P294 - More and more entitlements to immigrant Muslims wreck the European economy.

P295-306 - What follows is the key idea of the chapter. After observing the reactions of the West to 9/11 in 2001 and to the Mohammed cartoons in 2006, the radical imams learned what didn't work and what worked. And kept doing what worked.

9/11 - Let's Roll!
Cartoons - Let's roll over!

P315 - Persistence and willpower in Afghanistan. 1,000 German men have 480 sons. 1,000 Afghan men have 4,000 sons. To a German, losing your only son in a faraway war is heartbreaking. To an Afghan, a war gives your 3rd, 4th and 5th sons something to do. This isn't about some human wave attack overwhelming NATO forces. NATO and the US have more than enough military power to handle lots of Afghans. Steyn is pointing out that one side has the psychological edge of being able to tolerate more losses.

Musings - not obviously decisive. As the war drags on, resistance to losing more sons as cannon fodder is building in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But they do have more staying power than you expect because of loss-of-son tolerance.

P310-324 - Much of the world re-primitivizes. It becomes more like Somalia. Steyn gives many recent and gruesome examples. The assumption is it will be worse in 2030.

P321-322 - In 1882 Nietzsche said "God is Dead". This was a prediction of ever increasing mass violence in the 20th and 21st centuries. Nietzsche saw that religion was becoming less important in the west. "But you cannot have an effective moral code, Nietzsche pointed out, without a God who says 'Thou Shalt Not'".

In tomorrow's final installment - a leeeetle bit of hope.

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posted by Open Blogger at 05:18 AM

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