"We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down"
We have a forest on our hands. Not just here in the US but across the globe. A dark, foreboding, evil-filled forest.
Unfortunately it's only the individual trees that get any media attention, even as the forest gobbles more of the globe each day. Without recognizing the forest, the individual trees seem unattached to the spreading forest.
By now you're wondering if I've been smoking something. Well, first, none your business. Second, we all may be smoking something, or wishing we were pretty soon.
Let me try to explain by listing some of those "trees:"
United States of America: After nearly seventy-years of unparalleled fiscal growth and domination, Americans looked down and, like cartoon character Wiley Coyote,discoveriing we'd run right off a cliff. There was nothing under us but air - hot air. Add to that a poisonous political climate that's left us with few if any intelligent, mature and courageous leaders, and, Houston, we have a problem. So far widespread civil unrest has not hit the US. So far.
United Kingdom: Austerity is what right-wing doctors prescribe, and the conservative government in Britain decided to take that cure. And so the squeeze is on. Widespread riots last week in London were blamed by one UK commentator as "Britain's growing feral underclass." Imagine that, a feral underclass in 21st Century Britain.
Mass Media: The scandal unfolding in the UK and US over widespread criminality within media baron, Rupert Murdoch's media empire has only sharpened the growing distrust and disdain for media. Once the independent voice of the common man, the corporatization of mass media has incrementally turned media into the voice the disease itself.
The European Union: The EU was seen, when it was launched, as a kind of United States of Europe. Well, good news/bad news: it kind of reached that goal. The EU is proving to be about as ungovernable as the US as individual nationalistic forces stake out their own positions for their own interests. The EU also opened Europe to cross-border fiscal sharpies who gamed the new system, pocketing hundreds of billions for their companies, banks and selves, leaving member nations like Ireland and Portugal, as broke as church mice. And now they want the to repossess the church too. Lacking a central bank able to simply print euros(issue Euro Bonds) in order to monetize their unsustainable (and un-payble) debts, and to also provide fresh fuel to jump-start it's moribund economies, the EU is really in for it. Whether it survives or not is a question now very much in doubt. And, should the EU fail, the shock wave would cause rumble to bounce on the moon.
Libya: You know what's nice about brutal, amoral, disgusting dictators? They're predictable. And as such they offer foreign policy and corporate players something almost as good as stability. Oil companies, for example, had no problem with Qaddafi. He could stay in power forever if it were up to British Petroleum. Oh sure, every now and then he'd cause BP headaches, like when he bombed that 747 full of Americans over Scotland. It took a few years to straighten all that out and get back at that oil. But look now, all that hard work down the drain. And who's to blame? Not Qaddafi, he was playing ball, the oil was flowing again and BP was happy as clam about it. No, it was the Libyan people, who revolted. Now Libya faces instability on steroids.
Syria: Here's another example of a dictator who offered stability to global chess players in return for being allowed to run a country like a family business - a Soprano's-type of "family business." Here again it wasn't the US or European governments or western corporations that demanded change, but the Syrian people. No one knows what will come out of this one. Iran, Syria's biggest backer in the region, has been strangely quite about all this. But you can bet Iran is watching, waiting and ready to make more trouble if things don't go to "Shiite."
India: Is the largest democracy in the world, or so they say. Riots and protests have suddenly erupted from India's gritty streets as that nation's struggling small business class, as well as average citizens, finally got fed up with institutionalize government corruption. Tired of having to pay bribes for virtual any service offered by government, from education, to traffic court, to fire and police protection, Indians are drawing their own lines in the sand. But reforming the humungous Indian system of governance risks reopening sectarian wounds that have never really healed. Muslim v. Hindu tensions - with Muslims in the role of oppressed minority, could send the world's largest democracy spiraling into Iraq-like sectarian chaos.
Pakistan: What can one say about this festering puss-pot? Oh, and remember that, even though most of it's people still live in ways more 12th century than 21st, they possess fully functional nuclear weapons? Pakistan is little more than one giant slow-motion train wreck. It began that way and it will end that way. That wreck will continue, heading straight for the day when a major nation, or nations, with the means and interest to do so, force Pakistan to relinquish its nukes - from cold dead fingers if necessary.
Afghanistan: Oh really? Do I have to explain why this black hole is now and will always be just that, a black hole. Anything "western" that goes in there, rarely comes back out. It's either stolen, kidnapped or killed. Afghanistan is a Venus Fly Trap for those lured into it for whatever reason. If you can get out, do so immediately. The longer you stay, the longer you're gonna stay --like the Roach Motel.
Egypt: Mubarak wasn't the worst stability-dictator we supported in the region, but he was the biggest. And when he fell in the forest of middle east dictators, the earth shook. Now everyone is nervously watching as the Egyptian military tries to figure out if it trusts civilians enough to turn the keys over to them. And, if they do, who will get to drive, secularists or the Muslim Brotherhood? All outside observers know is that secularists are like Obama - they talk a lot. When they don't get what they want, they talk about that too. But when Muslim fundamentalist groups in that region don't get what they want, they stop talking and start shooting. Nothing less than the Suez Canal, one of the world's most mission-critical pieces of infrastructure, is up for grabs.
Israel: With many of it's enemies in the midst of uncertain transition, Israel, a nation already not prone to making quick concessions for peace, will likely become even more reticent and cautious. Meanwhile whatever emerges from Arab Spring revolutions around them, those who eventually take charge of those countries will be paying close attention to how Israel treats their Palestinian cousins. The conclusions they reach in the months ahead will shape their country's political and military positions towards Israel for decades ahead. Meanwhile, within Israel, average citizens have recently taken to the streets as well over rising housing costs and other very pedestrian economic and social issues long ignored by a government pathologically fixated on national security. That fixation causes Israel to do things in the name of national security that only require it to worry more their security.