Via TomDispatch.com comes this essay on Asian powers increasingly declaring their independence from America’s bankrupt hegemony.
By Juan Cole
Blocked from major new domestic initiatives by a Republican victory in the midterm elections, President Barack Obama promptly lit out for Asia, a far more promising arena. That continent, after all, is rising, and Obama is eager to grasp the golden ring of Asian success.
Beyond being a goodwill ambassador for ten days, Obama is seeking sales of American-made durable and consumer goods, weapons deals, an expansion of trade, green energy cooperation, and the maintenance of a geopolitical balance in the region favorable to the United States. Just as the decline of the American economy hobbled him at home, however, the weakness of the United States on the world stage in the aftermath of Bush-era excesses has made real breakthroughs abroad unlikely.
Add to this the peculiar obsessions of the Washington power elite, with regard to Iran for instance, and you have an unpalatable mix. These all-American fixations are viewed as an inconvenience or worse in Asia, where powerful regional hegemons are increasingly determined to chart their own courses, even if in public they continue to humor a somewhat addled and infirm Uncle Sam.
Although the United States is still the world’s largest economy, it is shackled by enormous public and private debt as well as fundamental weaknesses. Rivaled by an increasingly integrated European Union, it is projected to be overtaken economically by China in just over a decade. While the president’s first stop, India, now has a nominal gross domestic product of only a little over a trillion dollars a year, it, too, is growing rapidly, even spectacularly, and its GDP may well quadruple by the early 2020s. The era of American dominance, in other words, is passing, and the time (just after World War II) when the U.S. accounted for half the world economy, a dim memory. Read More…
Instead of signing on to another statement of principles, conservatives ought to rediscover George Washington’s.
By David Franke
The “revival of conservatism” is all the rage right now in the political media. We are told that the Tea Parties are sweeping the nation, that the Republican Party is being forced to the Right in its attempts to woo them, that they are either an independent populist force or (alternatively) controlled by the GOP and Beltway Conservatives. Pundits laugh at the lack of sophistication on the part of these tea partiers (they are inevitably compared to McCarthyites or John Birchers), but then ponder the Deeper Significance of this phenomenon.
Seeking to take advantage of this explosion of grassroots vigor – and to control it – dozens of top conservative muckamucks met on February 17 at an estate that was an original part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. There they signed “The Mount Vernon Statement” with the subtitle: “Constitutional Conservatism: A Statement for the 21st Century.”
A companion statement issued to the press explained that “The Sharon Statement, signed at the home of William F. Buckley, Jr., in Sharon, Connecticut in September 1960, helped launch and define the conservative movement…” Now, 50 years later, “today’s leaders will unveil and sign [a new] declaration of leadership.”
As someone who was there at Sharon, and voted for adoption of the Sharon Statement, I urge you to read and compare the two documents. Then put the two documents into their historical perspectives.
First of all, though, I have to note that a statement written by one competent person will almost always outshine a committee document.
The Sharon Statement was written by one competent person – M. Stanton Evans, a gifted conservative journalist and leader then still in his twenties. Given the responsibility for bringing a statement of principles before the gathering, Carol Dawson and I made some minor cosmetic changes, but it was 99.9% Stan Evans. And it was a real statement, concise but comprehensive in its scope, listing 12 “eternal truths” that “we, as young conservatives, believe.” You could agree or disagree, but you knew where we stood.
While I was not present at the drafting and signing of the Mount Vernon Statement, I have to believe that it is the product of a committee. (You know, “if it quacks like a duck,” etc.) It certainly is not a series of precise principles in the spirit of the Sharon Statement. Rather it’s a short essay seeking to identify modern conservatism with the spirit of the Constitution and George Washington. It’s not bad, given what it attempts to do. It’s just that it’s vague and muddled compared to the Sharon Statement – sort of like the conservative movement itself. Read More…