Sometime in the early 1990’s, while attending an event called a “song swap” in Athens, Georgia, I met an extraordinarily gifted songwriter named Patterson Hood. The swap itself was essentially a weekly gathering of aspiring tunesmiths sharing their latest creations; we would sit in a circle and each play our songs, the other musicians joining in if they had the chops or the inclination. Everything was going fine—just another evening of pleasant mediocrity—until the slightly pudgy guy with a five-o’clock shadow and food stains down his shirt had his turn.
The United States has three large economic problems. The overarching one is that the U.S. dollar’s role as world reserve currency is wearing out from continuous and large trade deficits and from government budget deficits that have to be financed by foreigners because the U.S. savings rate is approximately zero. Judging by the dollar’s loss of value in relation to gold and to currencies such as the euro, Swiss franc, and Japanese yen, the U.S. dollar is losing its attractiveness as a currency in which to hold assets.
September 11, 2001, we are often told, “changed everything.” In Washington, D.C., and Baghdad, Iraq, that may have been true. President George W. Bush and a handful of his advisors, who had been itching for a fight with Iraq since before the inauguration, now saw their opening. It would take another year and a half to make the preparations and to go through the motions necessary to whip up public support for the war, but at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Time, when American Airlines Flight 11 plowed into the 94th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, Saddam Hussein’s death warrant was signed. The rest of his life, he was living on borrowed time.
Thursday, June 1—My final American Interest was published today in Chronicles. In the aftermath of the Second Revolution, the column has outlived its purpose. Pontificating on the evils of one-worldism, empire, global hegemony, propositional nationhood, jihadist infiltration, foreign interventionism, and “nation-building” was a necessary and often frustrating task, back in the awful days of George W. Bush and his four immediate successors. It is not so anymore.