by Victor Davis Hanson
When News is No News
Here are a few important developments that remain strangely ignored. I say strangely, but most readers understand why some news becomes news and some does not.
1) Iraq. The United States military between 2007 and 2009 crushed al Qaeda in Iraq. It destroyed cadres of radical Islamists and Baathists. It stabilized the country. It was one of the most stunning military performances in modern history, and helped to destroy the image of a competent and scary al Qaeda. Yet everything from the recapture of Fallujah to the sheer number of Islamists that were taken out of Anbar Province was largely ignored. It is as if we went to sleep in 2007 with “Iraq is lost” and then woke up in 2010 with “Of course, it is quiet now. Why wouldn’t it be?” — but with little thought of what transpired in between. We know few names, fewer stories of the heroic Americans who turned Iraq around after 2006 — or kept it from imploding from 2003 onward.
2) Chinese Roguery. China’s Communist Party predicates foreign policy on mercantilism — period. Note that Chinese foreign relations favor thugs, especially those with oil or the propensity to do others harm. Most of the world’s bad actors — Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Zimbabwe — are Chinese partners. Yes, almost anywhere there is a crisis, a Chinese diplomat is somewhere in the vicinity. In all the praise of the Chinese miracle and envy of its industry, gleaming airports, and solar panels, few note that to the degree that a nation’s people is unfree and without a say in its governance, that it has natural resources to exploit, and that its government is an enemy of Western-style freedom, so too China will be there in the background. Few care. Maybe it’s all the cash; maybe those old stale Mao suits still win a pass from the liberal media.
3) The Gulf Oil Hysteria. We were told that aquatic life in the Gulf of Mexico would be ruined for generations. Offshore drilling in general was now to become obsolete and synonymous with environmental catastrophe. Drilling was stopped in the gulf. Prophets of doom assured us of the scary Exxon Valdez comparisons. And yet life returned to normal, without much discussion of the absence of permanent damage or why the horror stories proved not so horrific.
4) The Great Obama Flip-Flop. For over a year of hope and change, we were told by Obama that renditions, preventative detentions, and tribunals were anti-constitutional, that Guantanamo was synonymous with a gulag, that Iraq was lost, that Predators were a sort of airborne terror, that KSM and other terrorist killers should be tried in civilian courts — and what happened? Suddenly the world was turned upside down and what was once bad was now tolerable. And not a whimper about why, just the quiet assumption of “that was then, this is now.”
5) The Europe-America Cool-Off. Europe wanted Obama, got Obama, and now its elites are quietly whispering: “Why did you fulfill our childish wishes?” Europe always talks left and anti-American, but silently expects American defense for its own protection, an open economy for its free-trade exports, and our free enterprise private sector to lift the world economy. Now it is being out-Europed by Obama. It is worried that the new US is going to adopt a failed EU socialist model, ignore human rights, cut realpolitik deals with Russia or China, prune its overseas stature, print money, spread debt, substitute UN multiculturalism for the Atlantic alliance, and trumpet a “Pacific president.” There is only room for one Europe, not two — as Europe is learning.
6) The EU Meltdown. Surely the great story of the age is the serial meltdown of Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece and the furor of Germany and more Protestant northwestern Europe — all at a time when the September 15, 2008 ,Wall Street implosion supposedly had proved the triumph of socialism over the free market system. The stock market recovered, the EU has not. Other than lurid stories about Greek riots and demonstrating French, we read little about the nature of the EU’s inherent contradictions, the extent of unsustainable European redistribution, and why and how the Union became near toxic at a time when the US survived Fannie, Freddie, and Lehman Brothers. We may well be on the eve of the end of the euro entirely and yet are not told why and how that will come to pass. Like the case in Iraq, we will wake up one morning and yawn, “Hmmm, there really isn’t a euro anymore, is there?”
7) The Implosion of the Green Movement. Two years ago Al Gore was considered a Nostradamus. This was to be our moment when the seas were to recede. But today? The Volt may well become a boondoggle. Cap and trade is doomed. Al Gore is discredited. Few trust academics to conduct honest climate research. The US is finding huge deposits of natural gas in a way that seemed unimaginable a few years ago. Even Obama wants to build nuclear power plants, or so he says. Yet we read almost nothing about the crackup of Green evangelicalism.
8) The Nexus between California’s Financial Plight and Illegal Immigration. The state has the highest income, sales, and gas taxes and the largest deficits — and the largest number of illegal aliens. While we know these facts are not intrinsically synonymous, there are still connections that are ignored as we celebrate diversity. Instead, we are told illegal immigrants pay sales taxes and payroll taxes that are sometimes not collected — but not so often of the greater costs that surround the millions who do not speak English, the need for bilingual communications, the pressures on the criminal justice system, and the problems of achieving social parity when millions come from the formerly Third World without legality, English, and a high school diploma. It is as if we say “illegal aliens pay Social Security taxes but often don’t collect” and, presto, there is a net financial gain from the entire phenomenon of illegal immigration. The morality of it all — the breaking of federal statutes, the crowding to the front of the immigration line, the transference of $30 billion to Mexico in remittances that requires commensurate make-up subsidies from American state and federal governments — again, all that and more are simply ignored. But think for a minute: surely the Hispanic community would not support the mass illegal influx of Somalis, Greeks, Koreans, or Danes without passports, and the resulting non-enforcement of laws concerning their illegal residencies should they wish to emulate the Mexican experience? Or does the current exemption only apply to Latin-American nationals and not others? But if so, why? Will the DREAM Act extend to Brits, Poles, and Nigerians who overstayed their visas and never went home? Or is the impetus for amnesty primarily tribal and ethnically based, rather than principled?
9) The Implosion of Debt. There is very little said about the failure of Keynesian economics to restart the economy. What the metamorphosing Paul Krugman wrote in 2007-8 against Bush seems not only at odds what he wrote in 2008-9 for Obama, but at odds with what he wrote against Obama in 2010. First, we were told that the New Deal solved the Depression, then it was World War II — and now perhaps the destruction of the world economy that allowed a sole surviving U.S. between 1945-55 a monopoly on providing global reconstruction. The “summer of recovery” never happened in 2009. The entire Keynesian team — Orszag, Romer, Summers — simply left town. Unemployment did hit 10% despite promises that it would not go over 8%. “What might have been” and “it could have been worse” were supposed to supplant hard data on unemployment. In other words, progressive economics was given a not-to-be-missed “crisis” of a lifetime between January 2009 and January 2011, and nearly wrecked the U.S. economy, turning a recession into a near depression.
10) Obama and Race. We read of occasional slips from Obama and his associates, but never of the effect of lots of slips in the aggregate. Think for a minute. In only three years we have heard the following: Rev. Wright’s visceral hatred, Father Pfleger, the “clingers” speech, “typical” white person, Eric Holder’s cowards, the Van Jones racial rants, the “stupidly” acting police, Ms. Sotomayor’s “wise Latina,” the back of the car for Republicans, the “enemies” of Latinos, the tribal appeals for minorities to vote en masse and thereby disappoint Republicans who don’t want them to, the Black Panther/Department of Justice mess, the black farmers/Department of Agriculture wildly escalating payout schemes, the Michellisms from downright mean country and never been proud slurs to our uniformed lives and raise the bar whines, the Arizonans who hunt down ice-cream goers, those who in fear lash out at innocents like the Ground Zero mosque backers, and on and on. If this is healing, what is polarization? At some point, we should say to Barack Obama: “Cut it out. Get over the racial thing, and call off the racialists. This is becoming obsessive: We got your drift already.”
The world we read of increasingly does not resemble the world we see about us.
©2010 Victor Davis Hanson