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December 27, 2012

The Coming Age of the Barbarian Nations

When the Roman Empire declined and fell in the 4th and 5th centuries, it wasn't replaced with peace, love, and understanding among nations, but by what in the bad old days was called the "Dark Ages." I can't find the quote, but I'm sure that Winston Churchill said that the people of England lived better during Roman times than at any point in their history up to the 19th or 20th centuries.

This isn't always the case, of course,with most empires, and it's debatable as to whether the United States even has one. But dwelling on that latter point also isn't useful. What is useful is to consider where the world is going now that in the Age of Obama we're "leading from behind." I'll give you a hint; it ain't pretty.

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Belmont Club
Richard Fernandez
December 24th, 2012

The date on the calendar may almost be 2013, but on history's clock what time is it? Long ago and far away apparently. Robert Kaplan, writing in the Wall Street Journal says that the 'universal values' proclaimed by Western elites at the fall of the Berlin Wall are everywhere in retreat. Nationalist and ethnic rivalries are back.

In country after country, the Westerners identify like-minded, educated elites and mistake them for the population at large. They prefer not to see the regressive and exclusivist forces--such as nationalism and sectarianism--that are mightily reshaping the future.

It is the Moustache Petes who are winning. The metropolitan, hip crowd are on the defensive anyplace one looks. Whether in Tahrir Square, the battered towns of Syria, the disputed seas of Northeast Asia or the sensitive borders of Indian subcontinent, sectarianism and nationalism are resurgent, which is another way of saying that the post-war bipolar and unipolar worlds have collapsed. Welcome to the way things used to be. The future as announced has been postponed.

Kaplan is aghast. He notes that Nobel Committee awarded its peace prize to the EU as "a statement against this trend" but nevertheless acknowledges that "the age of deepening European integration is likely behind us. Get ready to see more nasty and thoroughly frightening political groupings like Greece's Golden Dawn emerge across the Continent."

Paul Bracken in his book The Second Nuclear Age (which I am now reading) believes that not only is sectarianism back, it also will be nuclear armed. We are intellectually unprepared for it lulled into a stupor by a fairy tale of our own making. Bracken argues that right after the Berlin Wall fell Western elites did everything in their power to edit out the role that strategy played in keeping the peace. Why they did this is fertile ground for intellectual inquiry. But my own guess is the rewrite was to hide the fact that social democracy was also on the losing side of history. For if history judged that Soviet bigness would not inherit the earth then some means had to be found to disculpate similar Western institutions from the same judgment.

The way out was to differentiate between the two rival systems in terms of their consciousness, not their institutional likeness. That emphasis on "values" freed every Western government to spend the "peace dividend" on their own special kind of bigness. Moreover, it appealed to the lazy by making further rigorous efforts to keep the new found peace unnecessary. Attributing the fall of the USSR to a deus ex machina reduced international stability to a given. Conflict? That's so yesterday dude.

Except that it's not. There will always be conflicts and wars, although yes they can be limited in size and scope.

In April of last year, the Obama Administration announced that the War on Terror was over: ""Now that we have killed most of al Qaida...now that people have come to see legitimate means of expression, people who once might have gone into al Qaida see an opportunity for a legitimate Islamism."

Too bad no one told Al Qaeda. While Obama and/or his minions were inventing Julia and giving her a lotus-eating life in their brave new world, al Qaeda was taking over an entire country.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. military planners are working closely with African nations in advance of an offensive to wrest control of northern Mali from al-Qaida linked extremists, Obama administration officials said Wednesday.

The cooperation reflects the increasing U.S. and international concern about the political, security and humanitarian challenges in Mali after a military coup ousted the democratically elected government this year. Capitalizing on the upheaval, al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb, the best financed al-Qaida affiliate, now controls northern Mali -- an area the size of Texas.

That makes it "the largest territory controlled by Islamic extremists in the world," said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on African Affairs.

Mali may not seem like much of a country, but we saw what al Qaeda did with Afghanistan. Someone tell the Obama Administration that the War on Terror is back on.

Egypt is gone to the Muslim Brotherhood, a jihadist/terrorist organization if there ever was one. Iran is on the fast-track to getting the bomb. China is building up it's air force and navy like there's no tomorrow. And now Al Qaeda is on a roll. The age of the barbarians is upon us.

Posted by Tom at December 27, 2012 8:30 PM

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