Asia, Europe,the Middle East and Africa will fulfill Robert Kaplan’s prediction of The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War in which tribal, ethnic and religious conflicts combine with resource depletion to destabilize much of the world order. The key to our survival will be to pull back from our role as the world’s unpaid policeman, rebuild our own production capacity and manage our natural resources with a view towards sustainability. I do not see either political party confronting this possibility, but I do think the Neo-con vision of Romney and Ryan would make a bad situation worse.
Now of course all of this seems to be coming true as the papers are filled with the anarchy in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Libya, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Gaza. Richard Haas, President of the Council on Foreign Relations argues that the Mid East is entering a new Thirty Years War.
Policymakers must recognize their limits. For now and for the foreseeable future – until a new local order emerges or exhaustion sets in – the Middle East will be less a problem to be solved than a condition to be managed.
The implication, of course is that it is our policy to manage. I disagree. First off, the implications of the Thirty Years War will be felt in Europe, Africa and Asia where the migration pressures of people fleeing drought and conflict will be strongest. By contrast the Western Hemisphere is in a period of extraordinary growth and peace. Gone are many of the military dictators in South America. Despite some of the immigration turmoil coming from Honduras and El Salvador, even George Will admits we can handle the influx of immigrants.
“We ought to say to these children, ‘Welcome to America, you’re going to go to school and get a job and become Americans,’” Will implored. “We have 3,141 counties in this country. That would be 20 per county. The idea that we can’t assimilate these eight-year-old criminals with their teddy bears is preposterous.”
Three years ago I wrote about this, without much traction. Perhaps we can re-engage with the rest of our hemisphere.
As the European fiscal crisis continues and political instability worsens across the Middle East, it is perhaps time to rethink our country’s deep embrace of globalization. Instead, we should concentrate our economic and cultural energies on the Americas, the Western Hemisphere of land from Wainwright, Alaska , to Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina. Within this vast territory lies every natural and human resource we need. With vast new energy resources in Brazil, Venezuela and Canada, we would have no need to deal with Petrol autocrats in Saudi Arabia or Russia. The anti-colonial roots of both North and South America stem from both Thomas Jefferson and Simon Bolivar’s reading of Voltaire, Adam Smith and Montesquieu. And while these rooted democracies of the American hemisphere may be flawed, they are strong enough to deal even the toughest of caudillo’s like Chavez, electoral setbacks. From a human capital perspective, while much of Europe is entering a demographic death spiral, the America’s are full of young workers who pay taxes that can provide a healthy safety net for the old and infirmed.
We live in an island of sanity in a world gone mad. As crazy as our own political disfunction is, it pales in comparison to the rest of the world. There is so much we can do to make our own lands more productive and sustainable. The sooner we stop trying to solve the The Thirty Years War, the better off we will be.