Pic of the day: There goes the neighborhood... (Picture from City of Heroes.)
Today Americans celebrate their Independence Day. And if we look at history, I think it is safe to say that their independence has been a boon for the world. But right now, I think they would be better served if they kicked out Bush Jr and got the Queen of England instead. These are bleak times indeed for a country that once led the world out into brighter light.
Where should I start listing the woes of this stumbling giant? As an economist of some years, I guess I should write about what I know. And I know that each day, the supposedly greatest nation on Earth is borrowing upward of $2billion in fresh money, above and beyond what they need to pay off older loans. Admittedly there are lots of people to divide it on, especially if you count the babies and the homeless and others who don't actually borrow. But it is still several dollars a day for each person, not to mention each family. And you know what happens if a family keep borrowing a few dollars every day for year after year and never pays back. "The borrower becomes slave to the lender" says King Solomon. Surely a land with so many churches should have heard that from somewhere else than me?
And there are other reasons why the lenders abroad may tire of feeding the mouth that barks at them. Quite beyond the tricky problem of who will pay back, there is the image that the USA projects abroad, carelessly or willingly. The nations of the world thinks less and less well about the country as they watch the consequences of America's "War on Terror".
Afghanistan is in a state of unofficial civil war, with numerous warlords feuding for power. The Islamic fighters are seeping back in with fresh troops and new weapons. The opium production has skyrocketed. It seems likely that this poison will kill more young Americans than did the fall of the Twin Towers. (To which you may counter that the death of goddamned junkies is not exactly a loss. I suppose, if you believe in Evolution. And if none of your friends or family are among them.)
Iraq is also in a de facto civil war, where the loss of civilian lives has become statistics, far too many to mention by name. What horrors these people endured under the old tyrant is becoming memories of a golden age compared to their suffering under a new, foreign tyrant. If only this was a horrible end rather than a horror without end. But the Republican majority is fully decided to stay their course, not that it is clear whether things would get better without them. Most likely Iran would "stabilize" their neighbor through a "friendly" government. In any case, in our timeline young Americans will continue to kill, die and above all watch helplessly as Iraq bleeds and burns around them. All for a threadbare lie that even most of America's friends did not believe, and that has long ago been exposed.
On the home front, the USA has hardly been so divided since the Civil War. Accusations of treachery fly from the right and the left. But only one side has the machinery to spy on large parts of the populace, to restrict scientific research and hold citizens as well as foreigners imprisoned without trial. Americans may be getting used to it, but their allies are seeing a nation slowly taking its baby steps toward a totalitarian regime. It is not a pretty sight. It is also winning elections for socialists of various stripes around the world, and making it hard to criticize other nations that have a relaxed attitude to human rights.
Happy birthday, USA; but more importantly: Get well soon!
Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.