What is America`s future?
Prediction is no one`s strong point. A century after the
fall of Rome, no one could have predicted that
Roman armies would reappear to reclaim for the
Empire "that which was lost to neglect" and
destroy the Ostrogoths in Italy and the Vandals in
Africa. Neither could anyone have predicted that
Justinian the Great`s restoration of the Roman
Empire would be undone in the following century by the
rise of an
obscure people united under the
banner of Islam.
It is easier to note that which
America is losing to neglect than to predict the
consequences. Failings are everywhere apparent.
President Bush has led us into a
gratuitous war that has destroyed America`s soft power
and demonstrated the limits of its hard power. In the
name of fighting terrorism, Bush has eroded already
weakened civil liberties. President Bush`s "war on
terror" has inflicted greater costs on America than
that inflicted by the terrorists themselves.
The opposition party does not
oppose. The Bush administration has given Democrats more
opportune targets than President Clinton`s
Monica Lewinsky provided Republicans. But the
Democrats are too weak to capitalize on the political
The failures of Democrats and
Republicans offer chances to libertarians. But
libertarians are politically impotent. Their ideology
and abstract commitments are perceived as taking
precedence over the wellbeing of their fellow citizens.
Libertarians cannot differentiate between the
comparative advantage case for free trade and labor
arbitrage based on absolute advantage that is destroying
the jobs and hopes of Americans.
America is so fractured by
diversity, multiculturalism, organized special interest
groups, and race- and gender-based legal privileges that
the concept of the public interest has simply
America`s intellectual camps have
become boosterish echo chambers that dismiss out of hand
any contrary thought. Preaching to the choir while
demonizing others is a path to intellectual impotence.
The rule of law has been replaced
by the rule of regulators and prosecutors, who interpret
the law to suit their careers and agendas, and by the
rule of plunder in torts.
Faced with these grave challenges
to America`s integrity, the political energies of the
American left are focused on
gay marriage and
abortion; that of the American right on the
opposite. Twenty million evangelical Christians, who
once focused on saving their souls, now seek an avenue
to heaven through war in the Middle East, which they
believe will bring on Armageddon and the Rapture.
A once independent media is now
highly concentrated and speaks mostly with a single
voice in behalf of the interests of advertisers and a
new aggressive American nationalism. To save its
existence, even National Public Radio feels pressured to
partake of the
Karl Rove spin.
Democracy struggles under the best
of circumstances. When the people are woefully
uninformed on almost every subject and totally dependent
on spun news, success must rest on outside events and
the failure of others.
Was America`s 20th century
preeminence the result of democracy and free trade, or
was it the result of two wars, which devastated Europe,
and the rise of communism, which set back the clock in
Russia and Asia for decades?
It is very easy to be preeminent
while every other economy must recover from ruin.
Today America is failing, while
Asia rises as the economic powerhouse and Europe seeks
America`s once powerful
manufacturers are today little more than brand names
with sales forces. Some still assemble foreign made
parts, but many simply market products of foreign
innovation, design, engineering, and manufacture. As
more and more of America`s economy is outsourced,
engineering and design professions
decline, as does the value of a college education.
In the 21st century, America has been unable to create
jobs in export and import-competitive sectors.
discipline children without risk of government
Child Protective Services. Acceptable standards of
behavior decline, and children become
sexually promiscuous and partake of alcohol and
drugs at earlier and earlier ages.
Shame is a lost concept.
University students are stressed to
find a major that
cannot be outsourced. Students are discovering that
outsourcing and work visas have closed many occupations
America`s borders are not protected
illegal immigration that long ago dispelled any
interests, races and values have overwhelmed the
abstract basis of American unity. Patriotism is being
destroyed by the government`s indifference to, if not
immigrant invasion. Patriotism`s place is being
taken by a dangerous nationalism.
Does America still have an edge, or
is America in retirement, living off past
Whither America is a question that
deserves a lot more attention than it gets.
Craig Roberts, a former Reagan Administration official,
is the author of
The Supply-Side Revolution and, with Lawrence M.
The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
for Peter Brimelow`s
Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the
recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.