Decline is a choice

VDH skillfully elucidates the historically obvious:

Does “decline” mean inevitable collapse, like an aging person whose mind and body have become enfeebled? That was certainly the view of the ancients, who felt civilizations had finite life-spans (see Jacqueline de Romilly’s The Rise and Fall of States According to Greek Authors.) Do environmental catastrophes, resource depletion, or foreign armies end societies? They can, as the complex pyramidal societies from the Minoans and Mycenaeans to the Mayans and Aztecs learned.

All that said, decline is far more often a choice, not a preordained destiny. There was no reason that Athens at 338 B.C. needed to lose to Philip at Chaironeia or even that the loss there meant the end of Greek freedom. Macedonian forces were a fraction of the size of a far larger Persian force that had swept from the north into a far weaker Athens in 480 B.C. No law said that drama of the quality of the Orestia, Oedipus, Ajax, Bacchae, and Medea had to give way to the sitcoms of Middle and New comedy of the fourth century B.C. By September 1945, England had far more of its industrial base intact than had Germany or Japan, and had suffered far fewer losses, both material and human, since 1939 than either of the defeated Axis powers whose entire national ideologies had been rendered bankrupt and their people reduced to global pariahs. Why, then, did a country that produced the sort of four-engine bombers en masse that its wartime adversaries could not, or a Spitfire fighter better than any produced by Japan or Germany until the advent of the jet, end up decades later with unsold Jaguars while Mercedes and Lexus swept world markets? And why did a bombed out Frankfurt and Tokyo (200,000 incinerated in March 1945 alone) rather quickly out-produce a less damaged Liverpool (e.g., 4,000 killed in the blitz) or Manchester? Clearly the UKchose a path in 1945-9 that a once flattened Germany and Japan did not.

If Rome was supposedly “doomed” by the 5th century A.D., why did the Eastern Empire last another 1,000 years? Why was 1978 America a very different place than either 1955 or 1985 or 1996?

What the deeply knowledgeable VDH fails to acknowledge is that America does not face a choice because America has already collectively made it. Decline is no longer merely an option, it is a strong probability.

VDH notes two of the most significant factors, but fails to note that they are done deals. The explosion of wealth he cites was largely fraudulent, being based on a massive expansion of debt on the part of the Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, and to a lesser extent Generation X that robbed from the following generations. The inevitable debt-deleveraging, combined with the tens of millions of largely useless immigrants, now all but guarantees decline. It doesn’t necessarily guarantee fall, however, only a retreat from a historically exceptional nation to an unexceptional one where the citizenry is helplessly subject to the whimsical rule of an aristocratic class. That this aristocracy is one of credentials and connections rather than blood and birth does not change its intrinsic lack of regard for the will of its subjects.

An inexplicable burial at sea

Apparently we are going to have to take the U.S. government’s word for bin Laden’s death:

After bin Laden was killed in a raid by U.S. forces in Pakistan, senior administration officials said the body would be handled according to Islamic practice and tradition. That practice calls for the body to be buried within 24 hours, the official said. Finding a country willing to accept the remains of the world’s most wanted terrorist would have been difficult, the official said. So the U.S. decided to bury him at sea.

I’m not saying that Osama bin Laden isn’t dead. For all I know, he’s been dead since 2001, if not before. But it strikes me that if you wanted to make your own words more look suspiciously incredible, you would be hard-pressed to top the recent actions of the Obama administration.

“Hey, here’s an ineptly produced computer file that clearly isn’t a simple copy of the document that supposedly no longer existed in the first place!” “Hey, we killed the bad guy, but we had to ditch the body before anyone else could take a look at it and confirm it’s actually him. Maybe if we just wave our hands and talk about DNA that nobody else has, someone will buy it.”

The whole point of engaging in a helicopter raid rather than simply dropping a daisy cutter was to obtain the body. As one British journalist noted: “The decision to carry out a helicopter assault was incredibly risky but the US Navy SEALS and the CIA pulled it off. The huge advantage is that it means that bin Laden’s body was recovered – any speculation that he remains alive is likely to be shortlived.”

Unless, of course, the body is immediately thrown into the sea…. But whether the most recent reports of bin Laden’s death is real or not, they should at least serve as an excuse to get out of Afghanistan and Iraq before Libya heats up in response to Qaddafi’s likely efforts at retaliation following the reported death of his youngest son. I find myself wondering if the unexpected cancellation of the royal honeymoon has anything to do with the probability that Qaddafi has his terrorist network aimed at Britain and France these days.

I’m not saying they needed to stick bin Laden’s head on a pike at the White House, but providing independent confirmation from a third party such as the Saudi ambassador or one of his family members would have been significantly more convincing than a press release about a body dumped in the ocean.

UPDATE – Bin Laden may well be dead. Presumably photos will soon be released to prove it. But that will not change the fact that the U.S. government lied in claiming that his body was buried at sea in accordance with Islamic ritual. “Muslim clerics said Monday that Osama bin Laden’s burial at sea was a violation of Islamic tradition that may further provoke militant calls for revenge attacks against American targets. Although there appears to be some room for debate over the burial — as with many issues within the faith — a wide range of Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca. Sea burials can be allowed, they said, but only in special cases where the death occurred aboard a ship.”

That’s two known lies in two days out of the Obama administration. They may be telling the truth about other things, such as Obama’s birth certificate or Osama’s death. But one is most certainly not justified in accepting anything they say at face value.

WND column

More Questions than Answers

It is truly remarkable to witness the speed with which the mainstream and conservative media have revised their collective opinion about Obama’s birth certificate. The reader may recall that for most of the last three years, the media have been insisting that Obama released his genuine birth certificate when, in fact, all he had released was the short form “Certification of Live Birth.”