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Grand Old Polyannas?



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In The Washington Post, David Ignatius writes about the National Intelligence Council’s gloomy prognostications for America circa 2030. The NIC is not quite in the Steynian pit of despair, but they’re getting there. What I found a bit silly was this passage from Ignatius:

This pessimism among intelligence analysts contrasts sharply with the relentlessly upbeat prognostications made by politicians, especially the field of Republican presidential candidates, who describe an America of perpetual sunshine and unchallenged leadership.

“Perpetual sunshine”? What planet is this guy on? The proposals by most of the leading candidates (and, indeed, Paul Ryan) are a bit too weak tea for my tastes, but all of them accept the premise that, unless there’s some serious course correction in the next four years, America is headed for steep decline. Politico identified it as this year’s GOP campaign theme. If there’s a “perpetual sunshine” party out there it’s the one that thinks there’s nothing wrong with America that a few more trillions in “stimulus” won’t cure.

As for his own contribution, Sunny Dave Ignatius offers this:

My own view (I was asked to critique the presentations as an independent journalist) is that the key issue is how the United States adapts to adversity. That offers a slightly more encouraging picture: Relative to competitors, America still has a more adaptive financial system, stronger global corporations, a culture that can tap the talents of a diverse population and an unmatched military. The nation’s chronic weakness is its political system, which is approaching dysfunction. If the United States can elect better political leadership, it should be able to manage problems better than most competitors.

That’s awfully breezy, don’t you think? Almost everything in that list is open to question – from an “adaptive financial system” that includes some of the most dysfunctional banking arrangements in the developed world to an “unmatched military” that, while undoubtedly superior to conventional armies around the planet, wily Pushtun goatherds have nevertheless spent a decade matching rather handily. The complaceniks in this debate are not those of us on the right.



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