The Obama interregnum is drawing to a close and eight years of follies, shrunken influence and impotence with it. So, will it be Hillary Clinton who mires the Oval Office in more of the impotent same, plus legal woes and scandals? Or is it the candidate who has torn up the campaign rule book?
The 2016 presidential election will determine how the United States responds to the most decisive challenges for more than a century to its wealth, strength, and security. But none of the presidential aspirants have yet to outline a coherent strategic policy. With one exception, Hillary Clinton, all the candidates oppose the actions and policies of the incumbent president but all have accepted the overt and covert agendas of that same discredited president. These include supporting the wrong side in Syria, the demonization of Russia and insufficient attention to China’s irredentism.
The Democratic nominating process is about the top-down imposition of its preferred candidate, and thus the superdelegates who are expected to deliver the pre-determined outcome of Hillary Clinton. If Mrs Clinton falls by the wayside, due to her escalating legal problems or, perhaps, a convenient health issue, then a similar establishment figure will be injected into the process. In its nomination procedure, the Republican Party has produced a couple of candidates who have promised that it won’t be business-as-usual but who have yet to articulate a long term vision, beyond generalities.
Why so much foreboding? Food is at the lowest price in human history, energy is now also cheap, poverty around the world is at the lowest level ever, and technological and medical advances continue apace. Those things are well and good, but two conflicts are going to crash the civilizational party. The first is the war of Islam on the rest of the planet, an offensive that is well underway. An early report on it is the “Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001”, 28 pages of which remain classified. No doubt the content of those 28 pages is embarrassing, so much so unsophisticated readers might get angry should they be exposed to their revelations.
At least one official declaration of war came years later. On January 15, 2016, the authoritative and influential cleric Sheikh Abu Taqi al-Din al-Dari delivered the Friday Sermon inJerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque. In short, the sheikh said that the Muslim world must adopt the traditional teachings in the Koran on the perpetual war between the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. In the way the Muslim world is structured, this is a declaration of war on the West. There have been many similar declarations before and this one won’t be the last, but it is the most influential to date.
The West is aware that there is a problem but has refused to face up to the fact it is engaged in an existential clash of civilisations. To do so would require an adjustment of its belief system – that all cultures are equally good and that there is nothing inherently wrong with any group of people or culture. Just at the moment the pain of the permanent state of emergency in France, for example, is preferable to the effort involved in seeing the world as it really is. Not that France and neighbouring Germany are blameless. Through the EU they made their own attempts at imposing their beliefs on the rest of the World, with Kulturkampf via EU edicts such as penalties on carbon dioxide emissions far beyond their borders. The EU’s attempt at world domination on the cheap requires a stable world to have a chance of working. The world is no longer stable, so while we will not be spared the edicts of Brussels they will be transcribe in the ink of impotence.
The solution to the problem of Islam is simple: don’t have anything to do with it. This solution had its first run after the 9/11 attacks when the Bush Administration restricted the number of visas issued to Saudi nationals. One of the current presidential aspirants has called for barring all Muslims from entering the United States. If put into effect, this policy would significantly reduce the number of terrorist attacks on the US at no cost in to itself. In fact this policy is necessary to shield the US from the fallout that can be anticipated from the ultimate collapse of the Muslim world.
There is a bigger, more immediate problem to which the US should be devoting its attention. That is China’s ambition to dominate the world, one step at a time, with the first leg of that journey being to establish control of the South China Sea. Ideally for the Chinese, the second step will be a short, successful war with Japan and then they will be in full bloodlust, coveting their neighbours’ territory from the equator to the poles (both of them) and much else in between.
The correlation of forces, economic and military, lined up against China suggest that it will lose its chosen war. Beijing needs a short war. The longer it goes on, the more likely it will lose. So let’s make it a longer war. China has short arms – it can really only control the area adjacent to the Chinese mainland. Ships that venture too far out will be sunk or seized. There will be a view that the battle should be taken to the Chinese mainland. That impulse should be resisted. Rain cruise missiles on them, but don’t waste lives by sending manned aircraft into their air space. Foreign trade is the oxygen of the Chinese economy at 25% of GDP. Combined with construction, at 15%, the Chinese economy will shrink by 40% straight up and then by perhaps 60% as the flow-on effects kick in. And when the war is over, China must be dispossessed of its bases in the South China Sea and all the assets owned by its companies and nationals overseas seized.
Russia hasn’t been mentioned yet because, well, Russia really doesn’t matter. To put that into perspective, Ukrainian GDP per capita is about $2,000 annually. Ukraine is the Bolivia of Europe, the poorest of the poor because of a corrupt elite which steals everything it can. Up until the recent oil price collapse, Russian GDP per capita was $7,000 per annum. The difference is all due to Russia’s oil and gas production. It has been estimated that corruption makes Russian manufacturing costs 40% higher than they should be. Until Russia eliminates corruption, they are like Ukraine but with some oil income. When the oil runs out, eventually, on their current trajectory they will revert to being an agrarian peasant society.
The Russian economy, on a population of 146 million, is not much larger than Australia’s with a population of 24 million. Russia’s involvement in Syria is a positive development in that it will keep them fully occupied and provide experience in fighting Islamists on the borders of Christendom. Russia diverged from the West due to double-dealing by Obama and his administration’s officials. The next president will have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to encourage a Westward drift again.
In 1838, Lincoln said that a foreign army “could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years”. That was true in the 19th century. But by the end of the 20th century even small countries could afford nuclear weapons and the missiles to put them on. And for some reason they all wanted to aim their nuclear-tipped missiles at the United States. And not just the small countries. Chinese state television has carried diagrams of the fallout pattern from a nuclear attack on the US, gloating at what the damage would be. It is for this reason that the US cannot disengage from the world, as an attack launched or orchestrated by some resentful miscreant of a country could come out of the blue, just like the 9/11 attacks.
In that same speech of Lincoln’s in 1838, he also said, “If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.” Some conservative commentators think that the fate of God’s almost-chosen people hangs in the balance this year, that the election of 2016 will determine whether or not the US continues its downward drift to Third World status, as per Lincoln’s insight. Yes, the situation is dire yet retrievable.
Nevertheless, as per the words of Italian author Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, “For things to remain the same, everything must change.” One example of that is military procurement. Congress recently voted to increase the production of the F-35 above what the Department of Defense asked for, this at a time when the military budget can’t stretch to pay for weapons that actually work and are needed, unlike the misbegotten F-35. Only one presidential aspirant has had the courage to rile lobbyists, congressional pork-barrellers and the Pentagon’s careerist procurement officers by highlighting that the F-35 is not what it is cracked up to be. That aspirant to the Oval Office is the same candidate who says he will build a wall on the Rio Grande and that the country doesn’t need Muslims. As they prepare to cast their ballots, Americans have much to consider.
David Archibald is the author of Australia’s Defence (Regnery).