Sunday, May 01, 2005

Hillary and Victoria

Okay, necessary caveat here: I've never even heard of NewsMax before, and I have no idea where exactly they get their news. However, they have a story posted a week ago which shows that the Clinton and Bush families are, er, getting long ... and that this may be, at least in part, a calculated effort to re-habilitate Hillary's image in order to soften up the 44th presidency for her.

In a way, this makes sense. With their super-majority, the GOP is likely to succumb to the same arrogance that any party too long in power is prone to. They are already showing signs, as Bush is likely only too aware (and need only look north of the Border to see an extreme example of this principle at work.) The odds of the next president being a Republican are slim. Unfortunately, the front runner for the Democrats is Hillary Clinton, a woman who inspires the same irrational hatred amongst the GOP core that Bush does. That irrational hatred has done wonders to marginalize the Democrats, so it makes sense that Bush would want to keep the same from happening the the Republicans.

This also means that Hillary is all but a shoe-in. One can only speculate what the effect of the first female president will be ... and since we're speculating here I'm going to go ahead and do just that.

Generally, politics is a man's game. This isn't some development of the patriarchy; it's just the way things are. Democracy, dictatorship, monarchy, or village counsel, it is almost invariably men who play at politics. This doesn't mean that women never play; however, it does mean that the women who do tend to be very, very good at it. Think of Queen Elizabeth (I, not II.) Or Queen Victoria. Or Boudicaea, or Cleopatra (okay, okay, so the last two weren't exactly successful in the long run. But you have to admit, they both gave the Romans a run for their money, not something many were able to do during their expansionary phase.) As a general rule, women who get to be head of state are a group of really mean, dangerous bitches.

My guess is that Hillary will prove to be the American Victoria. Think the U.S. empire has been expanding too far, too fast? You haven't seen anything yet.

A lot of people think the U.S. may be on the point of collapse, that the evil American Empire has reached the limits of its power, and that it's all downhill from here. Now, I fully expect this to happen at some point, and probably within my lifetime. But not right away. The U.S. still has too many advantages: demographically, it's far younger than most potential rivals (ie, Europe and China.) It has more experience at the bleeding edge of technological development than all but a handful of small countries, all of which are close U.S. allies. Both of these advantages are far more important than the fleeting powers of economic or military supremacy. The U.S. does have liabilities, namely its dependence on foreign oil (which, we are told is Peaking), and it's massive foreign debt. Neither of these are likely to seriously impede any U.S. expansion. The latter could do nothing, or it could create the sort of short-term economic crisis that is recovered from after a year or two. The former, on the other hand, is unlikely to create serious stress for at least another decade, enough time for technological fixes (hydrogen economy) and social adaptations (keeping to high-density urban living, in order to lower the use of oil) to be made.

So, that clears up the question of the U.S.'s fundamental fitness for continued hegemony.

The situation today reminds me most of two previous times in history. The first, during the second century B.C., when Rome sacked Carthage - it's only major rival - and proceeded to carve out an empire for itself that covered the entire known world and lasted for centuries. And the second, two centuries ago when the British took Paris, removed Napolean, and proceeded to enjoy the nineteenth century as the proud owners of the largest empire the world had ever seen. The parallels with the U.S. and the Soviet Union are almost too obvious to point out.

The British got about a third of the planet, and they didn't even want that much. But things were slower back then: they had sailing ships, not jetplanes and satellites. Historically, each empire has been successively longer, and successively shorter lived: the speed with which information, people, and material can be moved limits both size and lifespan. So now that the U.S. is free to expand, just how far will it expand? Could this be the Big One? The uber-Empire that swallows the entire world?

All that out of one little piece of political reporting. Isn't speculation fun?


Blogger Decadent Leftist said...

Too bad you quoted a newsmax article.

A bizzare website. Did you not notice that ads and "articles" are seamlessly integrated on the site? That and most of its content is right wing ranting.

Never look at it again.

Also: female leaders like Victoria and Boudecia? You don't have to go back that far- say someone like Thatcher, Indira Gandi, etc.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

You're right: Thatcher and Indira Ghandhi are also excellent examples of the Mean Uber-Bitch principle of female leaders.

I didn't look at the Newsmax website too closely, and don't intend to ever go back their again. The only reason I gave the story and credence at all was that I had read some stories before (I forget where, either in the NP or the Globe & Mail) purporting to show a developing friendship between Georgie-boy and Slick Willie.

11:17 AM  

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