Wishin’ and Hopin’ 2008: A Global Forecast, Part I
©2008 Debra Rae
Lyrics for What a Wonderful World prompt warm and cozy thoughts of “bright, blessed days” and “dark, sacred nights.” All know by experience that metaphorical light and darkness typify the life cycle. In a very real way, both fan the spark of hope, the reason for which inevitably springs from sobering, oftentimes dismal realities—labor pains as it were. With a view to 2008, it’s as if the entire earth is reeling in birth pangs at multiple levels—be it geo-political, economic, or cultural. In the end, as typically is the case in childbirth, something good emerges. But how can this be?
2008: Geo-Political Transformations
The global trend: Having served during the Reagan administration, Herb Meyer was awarded the intelligence community's highest honor for being the first senior U.S. Government official to forecast the Soviet Union's collapse. In assessing the New Year, Meyer addresses what he calls “four major transformations”—namely, the War on Terror, emergence of China, shifting demographics, and restructuring of American business. Each presents good news and bad (i.e., “light” and “darkness”). First, consider the War on Terror.
The secular reality: No doubt about it. The 21st century will be characterized by wars and rumors thereof. Add proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the outlook is downright bleak. Lack of tangible evidence for Iraqi WMDs has inflamed bystanders to decry “an unjust war.” No matter how well intentioned, naysayers turn a deaf ear to wounded survivors of tyranny. Fact is Ali Hassan al-Majid boasted on Iraqi TV that he gave orders for the Iraqi army to use WMDs against one hundred thousand Kurds. In total, Iraqi weapons of mass destruction killed almost two hundred thousand Iraqi Kurds and more than one million Iranians.
In no uncertain terms, legendary former Israeli leader Ariel Sharon once predicted that “Israel won’t be the first country to introduce nuclear weaponry into the Middle East.” Alarmingly, Muslim Pakistan already possesses approximately fifty nuclear weapons, as well as materials for making at least that many more. Pakistan has joined North Korea and Russia to support Iran’s advances in nuclear technology.
Believe it: Iran is doggedly pursuing nuclear weaponry, as well as advanced missile technology. When (not if) Iran succeeds, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad aims to give rise to “a world without Zionism or America.” His mission is to destroy Israel and fatally cripple Europe and the “Great Satan,” the United States. So confident is he that, days after the Iraq Study Group Report was released, Ahmadinejad evoked “divine promise” that the U.S., Britain and Israel are destined to “disappear from the world like the pharaohs.”
The reason for hope: As early as 1980, the founder of Israel’s intelligence agency warned that postmodern America indulged tolerance for terrorism. While she had the power to fight it, she lacked the will. The 2001 Attack on America rallied the troops in belief that self-perpetuating terrorism can be truncated—but only if we don’t reward it, and we hold terrorists accountable, as well as their supporters.
Referencing the Middle East, New York Times best-selling author and award-winning journalist Mike Evans calls for moral clarity. It is time, he adds, for America to remember its heritage in God. Only then can we find our way, and only then will our nation prevail.
Already, in Kurdistan, one-fourth of Iraq lives in stability. No U.S. soldier has ever been killed there; and for close to two years, no terrorist attacks have disturbed the peace. This, my friend, is progress.
In seeking moral clarity, we must be mindful that it’s not disgruntled Iraqis fighting in the streets of Baghdad, but rather insurgent-terrorists sponsored by oil-rich countries like Iran. Iraqi Kurds are lone supporters of Western democracy, and thirty million living Kurds join their dead in crying for justice. Evans proposes that it’s time to reward our millions of allies in Kurdistan. Instead of continuing to appease our enemies in Baghdad, where Iraqi ministries are helping terrorists, why not release all of the money promised them and enlist the Kurds? Given coalition backup and controlled skies, Iraqi Kurds could fight a victorious war with fewer U.S. casualties.
2008: “It’s the Economy,
Stupid! ”The global trend: China is moving hundreds of millions from farms and villages into highly populated cities. To provide work for relocated people, China is as obsessed with manufacturing as America is to low prices. Given this symbiosis, many in the media refer to the 21st century as “the Asian Century”—but at a dear cost to Chinese “serfs” who earn less than a quarter an hour all the while they are exposed to toxins and hazardous chemicals. China's quest for the oil needed to fuel its transforming economy is a major factor in world politics; hopefully, the Chinese will opt to share responsibility in keeping open the world's oil lanes.
The secular reality: When a company can make a better product by relying on others to perform functions for it, the “fracturing of business” occurs—this, by means of a pyramid of companies that engage, serve and support one another. Remaining stateside is rewarded with strong economic disadvantage, and banks are reluctant to lend money to companies that refuse to move. For these reasons, companies outsource many of their core services and production processes. In the last several years, this trend has cost our producers hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of manufacturing jobs.
Understandably, the restructuring of American business contributes to ongoing decline, and what appears to be deliberate destruction, of the American middle class. Our government’s widely reported “core inflation” rate conveniently and deceptively omits energy and food prices. If truth were told, middle-class Americans are being trounced by taxes—notably, a so-called “tax on the middle class” otherwise known as inflation.
In “The Decline of the Middle Class,” Donald McAlvany reports that over the past several years, as gold and silver have risen some 275% and 225%, respectively, the U.S. dollar has dropped by 375% (The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor, December 2007). For the first time in three decades, the Canadian dollar shares equal footing with ours, now at significant risk for escalating inflation and decrease in growth.
Having dropped to 1992 values, the dollar remains in the world's cross hairs while the Euro is fully integrated as the official currency of fifteen countries. According to the Associated Press, former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan apparently believes that the Euro could replace the U.S. dollar as the primary world reserve currency. Clearly, the European Central Bank is a serious factor in the global economy.
The reason for hope: The sub-prime mortgage fiasco has evolved into serious business; with tighter lending standards enforced, 2008 promises to be very challenging economically. Even so, reports Herb Meyer, the U.S. is progressively building the world's first 21st century model economy; and, he adds, the U.K. and Australia are the only other countries following suit. Though admittedly unstable, this emerging business model promises to be fast, flexible and highly productive.
In all probability, former methods employed to count jobs have contributed to erroneous readings. Increasingly, former employees are launching their own businesses as independent contractors. Herb Meyer contends that the U.S. is still the best place to birth an idea, set up a business and dive into the marketplace. In his view, the economy is perking along better than the numbers indicate.
Debra Rae is an author and educator who has traveled extensively throughout the United States and abroad. Having authored two books—the ABCs of Globalism and ABCs of Cultural-Isms (the latter highlighted at the 55th Annual CBA International Convention, 2004)—Debra contributing columnist for News With Views. Debra has been a speaker on numerous radio shows aired across the nation, the Western Hemisphere, Russia, and the Middle East. This past year, she co-launched and now co-hosts WOMANTalk, a special edition of Changing Worldviews TALK Radio, for which she writes weekly commentaries. www.debraraebooks.com, www.womantalk.us, www.newswithviews.com/Rae/Debra.htm