American petroleum engineers over the last decade have discovered radical new methods of recovering previously unknown or unreachable reserves of oil and gas. Contrary to all conventional wisdom, America’s natural-gas and petroleum reserves just keep growing. Suddenly, we have enough known natural gas to supply 100 percent of our domestic needs for the next 90 years — a huge window of opportunity in which to transition to competitive renewable energy. That is on top of trillions of dollars’ worth of new oil finds offshore and in Alaska, the Dakotas, and the West, which will create millions of new jobs and help pay down the deficit — if we have the will to extract such energy resources. The real story is not the pathetic machinations surrounding Solyndra, a statist, corrupt model that will never produce competitive power, but a quiet revolution in North Dakota, which is emerging as the new Texas. Within 15 years, North America could reinvent itself as completely independent from Middle Eastern gas and oil. Indeed, from Calgary to Argentina and Brazil, new petroleum and natural-gas finds may soon make the Western Hemisphere the world’s new Persian Gulf. That fact will change the entire global geostrategic and financial landscape in ways that are scarcely imaginable.
We are worried that China may soon deploy one aircraft carrier. Yet the United States now has eleven enormous carrier groups, each one more powerful than all the other aircraft carriers in the world combined. In areas as diverse as drone and space technology, counterinsurgency, battlefield experience, air power, armor, and ship design, the American military is the best-armed, best-trained, and most lethal armed force around — and will be so for decades hence. The American soldier remains the most innovative, disciplined, and adaptive in the world — and surely after Iraq and Afghanistan the most veteran.
We forget sometimes that there are a host of small, vulnerable nations that apparently still assume that the United States, alone, can and will come to their aid. Without America, it is hard to see how Israel can survive, or that Kurdistan would ever have become autonomous, or that bankrupt and vulnerable Greece will have independence of action in a tough neighborhood, or that Taiwan will continue as we have known it. No one is talking about the defense of Europe as it implodes — apparently on the supposition that NATO is de facto American and will continue to protect the continent from outside threats and discourage historical tensions from within. The truth is that in the decades ahead, weak and vulnerable states will look to the U.S. military as never before.
A billion adolescents worldwide are growing up with Apple iPhones, iPods, and iPads; with Facebook accounts, Amazon online ordering, Google searches, and Walmart discount purchasing. These are not Russian, French, Chinese, or Japanese companies, but American inventions that uniquely appeal to the human desire for economy, ease of use, wide choice, informality, and transparency. No other country could have invented them — or the next generation to come. The idea of a Chinese-invented Google is a paradox, a Russian Facebook a joke, a Japanese-inspired Walmart impossible.
Race, tribe, and religion tear many countries apart, notably in the Middle East and the Balkans. Yet at the other extreme, racially uniform nations like Japan and China seem clumsy when dealing with even tiny minorities, since they define their citizens not just by national allegiance, language, and locale, but by the way they look. America alone –albeit often in rancorous and messy fashion — has no particular national ethnic or racial profile. Even in postmodern Europe, the idea of a Barack Obama as president of France, or a Condoleezza Rice as foreign minister of Germany, is the stuff of fantasy. We will see no prime minister of China or Russia who does not look like the majority of Chinese and Russians — much less a Colin Powell. Most of the world will continue to have some sort of practical or romantic claim on America because of the fact that anyone can be not just an American, but a very successful American.
In one of the most amazing transformations in the history of civilization, a tiny East Coast community of predominantly white European Christian settlers developed a system whose natural logic of reform, self-critique, and reinvention over two centuries became the present melting pot of whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, and atheists. As the world is becoming more interconnected through globalization and high tech, it is following the model of a meritocratic America, which remains light years ahead of most nations in defining its citizens by their values and allegiance, not how they worship or the color of their skin.