Thursday, February 14, 2008


I have been woefully negligent in replying to pithy comments in the Growlery and from Mr. Putnam.

The first set of posts concerns waning American hegemony:
It starts with Jim Putnam's comments: Thoughts From "Goodbye To Hegemony"

Followed by the Growlery: End of Empires

Based on the primary article which is by Parag Khanna and was published in the New York Times, 27 January, 2008. Its title is “Waving Goodbye to Hegemony”

I am really impressed by the dialog between the Growlery, in England, and Jim Putnam just south of where I live, about this Gotterdammerung of America. It is uncanny to me how America in her spiral towards obscurity seeks to parlay our plight off as that War between the Gods. It is Us against the ‘turrists,’ putting way too high a value on both. (Please remember that the original terrorists probably numbered less than 1,000 and the Twin Towers death toll, as sad as it was, was less than 3,000.)

Apparently the original Gotterdammerung story is from the Norse legend of Ragnarok. Here the gods do battle with one another (it is Odin versus the Giants; wait a minute, wasn’t that just the Super Bowl?) and it is foreordained who will kill who (how does a god get killed?) and who will be covered with honor. It is all sort of Calvinistic, and, of course smacking of that old time Religion that makes Huckabee warriors clutch their pearls. It involves all sorts of things that Bush touts but doesn't have, like bravery and honor. Gosh!

Let me summarize: America is in decline. We are about to go into an awfully deep recession and many of the people I know are living paycheck to paycheck. Much of what Khanna predicts will happen in the next ten years.

Khanna has quite a bit to say about the underpinnings of this descent from power. He certainly makes a cogent argument and I guess as an American I should be anxious to try and alter what he sees as inevitable. Ironically, we still believe we are gods and involved in the gigantic clash of the universe. But this descent into Hel (yes the Norse had a hell, but I don’t think Dante would approve) will probably pass unnoticed by History with a Capitol H. We'll keep descending until such time as the average American can’t buy a tricycle let alone an SUV.

What is interesting is how brief our little Camelot was. When I lived in Ireland and travelled in Europe and beyond (1970-72), most people were pretty tolerant of “Yanks.” I do admit that I would claim to be an Australian in the outback of Anatolia. Even then, or especially then, America was pushing its exceptionalism. That was only 25 years since WWII and I guess there was a certain feeling of gratitude to America, though one can be cynical about that. Be that as it may, I certainly felt proud of being a “Yank” even though I was raised in the South. I can guarantee you I do not feel that way now.

Unfortunately, there is one, tiny, little fly in the ointment. Or flies in the ointment. They are called nuclear weapons, and W is itching to use them. Stay tuned.

No comments: