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Fiddling America Away

The last few weeks, the world had been writing off the United States as either crazy or irrelevant as it watches America cannibalize itself. 

Friends tremble at our sudden decline. Enemies rejoice. Neutrals make the necessary adjustments to join the ascendant non-American side.

The symptoms of our decline abroad appear everywhere. The more Joe Biden brags about the crippling oil sanctions on Russia, friends like India and allies like Japan ignore them. And why not, when Biden has no idea how long the war in Ukraine will last, or how much wherewithal the United States can, should, or will give Kyiv, or how its on-to-Red-Square blank check will finally end?

Big Biden talks about more solar and wind farms, and green new deals won’t fill the gas tanks in Munich or heat the homes of Kyoto, or lower the price of imported oil in the United Kingdom. Claiming the Afghanistan mess was a success fools no one.

Allies ask who are our leaders. An impaired Joe Biden who never is quite sure where he is, what he is doing, or whom he is with?

Kamala Harris, whose only interests appear to be demagoguing racial and social tensions with a shrinking vocabulary? 

Senator John Fetterman (D-Penn.), who was elected on the argument it was unkind not to vote for a candidate who was physically and mentally impaired?

Energy Department kingpin Sam Brinton, the cross-dresser in lipstick, now charged with felonies for stealing women’s luggage at airport carousels?

Pete Buttigieg, our transportation secretary, who virtue signals melodramas of the past when he is clueless how to fix crises in the present?

Our Pentagon brass who fixate on saying the correct thing now to ensure the lucrative defense contractor billets later? 

Allies fear that after abandoning billions of dollars in weaponry in Kabul to the terrorist Taliban, and pumping billions of dollars more of arms into the Ukrainian meat grinder, and failing to increase U.S. armaments production, Washington simply does not have the resources to match China in either a looming proxy or head-to-head war.

Browse through any media account of the U.S. military, and the storyline is one of racial, gender, gay, or transgendered wokeism, or a looming manpower shortage—not a new lethal weapon, a new division of veteran soldiers, or a new program to up the level of training, physical prowess, and mental attitude among the ranks.

The men and women, whom Russia and China most fear, feel that they are unwelcome in the U.S. military and so no longer join. Those whom our enemies hope do enlist, sign up to the delight of their quota-driven, identify politics recruitment officers—and our enemies as well.

NATO member Turkey is calling for an ecumenical Islamic effort combining Shiites and Sunnis, Persians and the Arabs, Middle Easterners and all Muslims—to unite against Israel. And why not when Biden had gratuitously insulted and yet begged Saudi Arabia and the Gulf exporting states, ignored the Abraham Accords, ostracized Israel, radically cut back on U.S. energy production capability, and groveled to Iran to reenter the Iran Nuclear Deal?

China now openly talks of war with the United States. Beijing claims the Taiwan Strait as its own de facto territorial waters. It partners with Russia to add to a growing alliance of Iran, and North Korea, and beckons Turkey, ostensibly a NATO ally. 

After refusing to come clean about its birthing in Wuhan of the gain-in-function, engineered COVID-19 virus that killed 1 million Americans, China is unapologetically defiant about sending a spy balloon over key classified sites throughout the continental United States—part of the continual, humiliating follow-up to its inaugural smack down of Biden’s diplomats at the Anchorage mini-summit.

Oil producers, China, hostiles like Russia and Iran, and opportunists like Turkey and India all foresee the end of the dollar as the international currency. After the American humiliation in Afghanistan, the Islamic world, particularly on the West Bank and in Syria, all see the United States as increasingly weak. 

The Biden Administration brags that it has saved NATO by pouring weapons into European Ukraine. But Europe is starving for fossil-fuel energy, about exhausted with emptying its arsenals in aid to Ukraine, and terrified that Biden is just enough a multilateralist to lead the alliance into a confrontation with Russia, but also so incompetent as to ensure either an economic depression or nuclear standoff. 

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador basks in the publicity of helping an ailing Biden mount stairs, as he brags that 40 million Mexican nationals have entered the United States—the majority of them illegally. He prods Mexican expatriates to vote for Democrats to ensure the border is wide open and a perpetual vehicle for Mexican, not U.S. interests, in ensuring billions of dollars in remittances, defusing social tensions at home, and encouraging them abroad in the United States. Do we help defend the borders of Ukraine because we cannot defend our own? Are 100,000 dead Americans due to imported fentanyl mere collateral damage from open borders? 

The more our chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of defense tour the world, sound off on contemporary strategic issues, or weigh in on domestic politics, the more apprehensive our allies become, wondering how the once-vaunted U.S. Armed Forces have descended into some bizarre woke commissariat.

The international financial community is terrified of $33 trillion in aggregate U.S. debt, a record 130 percent of annual American GDP. It was aghast as the Biden Administration blundered ahead printing money to encourage labor non-participation during a supply chain crisis, inciting inflation, inviting high interest rates, and all but ensuring bank collapses.

The world abroad will tolerate no more lectures from American grandees about the evils of tribal hatred or the benefits of democracy—not when race relations in America are regressing to Balkan-like venom. Anti-democratic rogue regimes indict their former presidents; they put on trial their current political rivals; and they let criminals go free if they serve ideological ends. Now the United States does the same, driven by the Left’s paranoid and irrational hatred of Donald Trump, and its eagerness to destroy all customs and traditions to vent its antipathy to all things Trump.

Foreigners assume that downtown  Baltimore, Detroit, Los Angeles, Memphis, San Francisco, or Washington are medieval—filthy, unsafe, vacant, and malodorous. Western civilization discovered 2,500 years ago how to remove excrement from its city cores; now it has either lost or forgotten that ability along with the knowledge that crime and disease thrive amid sewage and garbage. 

The U.S. media was once the world’s gold standard. The New York Times claimed it was the paper of record. Network news was liberally slanted but often fair. Crusading independent journalists often kept government honest. But all that has now become a global laughingstock: ridiculously wrong about “Russian collusion,” predictably partisan about “Russian disinformation” and Hunter Biden’s laptop, egging on Alvin Bragg’s pathetic indictment of candidate and former president Trump, and giddy when an ex-president’s home is raided by FBI, or he is tried as a private citizen by a partisan Senate.

So as the military, political, financial, economic, and cultural status of the United States reaches a nadir, what is the reaction of a blinkered America? 

What remedies are Americans preparing, as they totter on the abyss of disasters comparable to the U.S. Civil War, Great Depression, World War II, or 1960s-style cultural madness?

Marshall Plans to balance budgets? A 600-ship navy? Two more crack army divisions? A continental missile-defense system? A restoration of the cores of American cities? Plans to secure the border? To ratchet up oil and gas production? To drop the racial and sexual tribalism and restore a meritocracy? To reform higher education? To begin charging criminals with the felonies they have committed? A cleaning of the FBI, CIA, Justice Department, and IRS?

Hardly.

Instead Americans are wondering why a local prosecutor has charged with felonies the first president in history, and currently the leading 2024 presidential candidate, for having a purported liaison 16 years prior and concluding a non-disclosure agreement supposedly to hide it.

A man pretending to be a woman is cashing in on his media-created persona, winning million-dollar advertising contracts from woke corporations for hawking their beer and sports bras. Do these corporations believe that America’s women are so un-endowed that CEOs must hire a man without bosoms to become their national spokesperson for best accommodating cleavage he doesn’t have in a competition he doesn’t enter?

America’s downtowns are reaching a breaking point of vacancy, vagrancy, and violence that makes life there unsustainable, while the country argues over gender pronouns. As violent crime soars, especially hate crimes, interracial crimes, and inner-city crime, a mostly black woman’s championship basketball team stages a media psychodrama of pouting and hurt feelings—as it claims it was “disrespected” by left-wing First Lady Jill Biden and will not go to the White House but prefers instead to be hosted at one of the Obamas’ three mansion estates—a duo not heretofore known for welcoming in strangers, especially of the poorer sort.

What else rises to America’s fiddling attention as the world burns up abroad?

Students in American universities, whether at Stanford Law School or San Francisco State University, shout obscenities at federal judges or seek to beat up invited speakers. Their disruptions are encouraged by their own deans’ silence or active encouragement. The common denominator in both cases is that the disrupters and attackers freely admit they violate university rules and/or the law, and yet assume their ideology and their claims on victimhood exempt them from any consequences for their atrocious conduct. And they are proven right on both counts.

All know that a few expulsions of the elite and pampered lawbreakers would restore sanity to lectures; all know that administrators either side with the culprits or fear their own careers would suffer should they enforce the rules they are charged to uphold

As transgenderism sweeps the country and wins the attention of the White House, the media do their best to hide the facts that the transgendered mass murderer in Nashville wrote a blueprint of how and why she would soon be killing 9-year-olds, that another would-be transgendered mass killer was stopped just in time in Colorado, that another transgender would-be assassin traveled to the home of Supreme Court Justice Kavanagh to murder him. 

To speak the truth that men not just in cross-dress perform sexualized dance skits for audiences that include children, but remain both exempt from legal ramifications and are in hot demand is nearly felonious. Best-selling novelist J. K. Rowling, tennis great Martina Navratilova, and All-American swimmer Riley Gaines—they all cannot go out in public alone without assuming they will be physically attacked by the “peaceful” transgendered community. Their sin? The mere suggestion that those born as biological men cannot declare themselves women and thus assume thereby they are.

So America suffers the sins of omission—squabbling over the nonessential—and commission—losing wars, going broke, ruining its economy, flirting with civil war. We know these are all self-inflicted wounds. But apparently, we believe their remedies are worse than the original maladies. And so we fixate only on the irrelevant that we think we can address while ignoring the existential we know we no longer can solve.

The world is terrified and stunned at the result—and increasingly looking elsewhere to non-American solutions.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump and the recently released The Dying Citizen, and the forthcoming The End of Everything (May 7, 2024).

Photo: Oliver Contreras/AFP via Getty Images