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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Stray thoughts

I tend to look at current events through the longterm lens of history. Not going back ten or twenty years, but going back a hundred. Or a thousand. Since I have a lot of the facts about dates and events on instant recall it gets easier and easier to do this. There's a price to pay for instant recall of ancient facts. More current events get pushed aside. Sometimes I even misremember my own address by transposing the numbers.

America under Obama has two crossroads in our future. I base this prediction upon an analysis of the past, and the way it tends to find fresh new ways to repeat itself.

Napoleon.

Barack Obama is the American Napoleon. This means he will continue to transform a continent in his own image while taking no prisoners, and laying all blame at the feet of the vanquished. This will continue until he meets his Waterloo. After Waterloo, his adherents will scatter, or not. Some will go down with the ship, including many in the party-line press. Others will survive and move on. A man the Romans would have referred to as a god without any irony will turn almost instantly into a mere mortal, and an era will end. How will this happen? I don't know. The debt could ruin us and destroy Obama. Our economic weakness and therefore our declining influence in world affairs could merely fail to stop or contain a big war in the Middle East.

Now we just watch and wait.

The Crusades.

Another future crossroads for us. To explain, let me first present a pair of parallel timelines, one old, one new. 

The old timeline starts with the  First Crusade of 1096. The Crusaders took Jerusalem. Brutally. Roughly fifty years later in 1145 Europe launched the Second Crusade. This one they fought to a draw, but Europe viewed it as an epic failure. The legend of King Arthur arose. About thirty years later in 1187 the Muslims answered by uniting under Saladin. They retook Jerusalem, took slaves and sent Europe packing.

The new timeline began in 1948, when Jewish survivors from the Holocaust founded a new state in the same location as their ancient homeland, more or less. Muslims viewed this as a catastrophe and akin to a renewal of the Crusades. Yet, Israel formed the first real democracy in the Middle East. About fifty years later in 2002, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began because of a terrorist attack on 9/11 and fears about Saddam Hussein's WMDs. The world has viewed this conflict as a military draw, perhaps even a failure, in spite of the emergence of democracy in both countries.

So what's next? The new Saladin of course. Perhaps around 2030, which would put him well past the reign of Obama, unless our economic weakness precipitates an earlier conflict. Right now two forces fight for supremacy in an epic multi-decade long Muslim civil war. Sharia vs. democracy. This is a better dichotomy than the one during the first set of Crusades, where it was Sharia vs. Christianity. Democracy has a longterm chance of winning this fight. If it does, we can start by thanking Israel and George W Bush.

But we also have to win it, contain the conflict to the Middle East, and help democracy along through active involvement. I don't think the current passive approach of Emperor Napoleon Barack Obamapart is helping matters, but he ignores it because he has a continent to remake in his own image.

Then again the historical forces have already been unleashed. His domestic cult of personality won't get him very far in the Middle East.