Tuesday, June 5, 2007

No future

In a post of 17 January 2007 entitled Therapy, I mentioned my enthusiasm for the blog of Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip. [Click here to see this post.] Lately he has set aside his usual facetious and offbeat topics, as well as his curious naive crusade against the concept of free will, and he has got around to some serious soul-searching about the role of the US in today's world. He has been trying to invent serious and less serious schemes for the US to get out of Iraq, to win back respect and friendship from other nations, and to cease being regarded as a prime target for terrorists. He has even taken a sudden interest in the threat of global warming.

In the piles of comments that Scott's blog attracts, I've often found allusions to the much-celebrated role of the US in putting an end to the Hitlerian catastrophe in the Old World. A bewildered American asked rhetorically the other day (I'm paraphrasing his comment): "If the US could do such a good job in eliminating Nazism, why have we got everything screwed up in Iraq?" I would hope that the fellow who made this comment recalls that Iraq is not the first US military fiasco. There was Vietnam...

This evening, on the Franco-German TV channel called Arte, a series of excellent documentaries tackled the subject of the current image of the US as seen through European eyes. A theme that reoccurs constantly is the notion that the USA felt comfortable on the world scene as long as it had a precise enemy to combat, such as the Soviet Union. But Bush's alleged "war against terror" was a nonsense thing, because there was no longer any explicit enemy to wage war against. And the US is lost in this new world, like Don Quixote setting out on his steed to fight windmills. Another reoccurring theme is that we Europeans might happen to have ringside seats for the imminent fall of a latter-day empire akin to that of Ancient Rome. It's astounding to observe the way in which many serious European observers tend to talk calmly but solemnly about the USA as if its power, global glory and influence were things of the past. In two words: no future.

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