Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Does it matter?

By Carl

One small step for men,
one small step for mankind:

The United States and Britain have welcomed the Pakistani government's decision to peacefully resolve its political crisis by reinstating deposed Supreme Court justices.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the resolution a first step towards reconciliation.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband separately praised Pakistan's president and opposition leader for putting the country's interests first.

The diplomats had urged Pakistan's leaders to defuse the week-long crisis, expressing concern it would divert Islamabad's attention from the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Truly, this is good news and a positive step for the world.

I'm just not sure what it's going to mean in the grand scheme of things. I did some thinking over the weekend, the kind of thinking that back in 2006 made me realize that the country was going to hell in a handbasket very quickly. Some of my more economically savvy friends laughed at me back then but they ain't laughing now.

Even I had my doubts that I might be overstating the case for a long-overdue collapse.

I think things have hit bottom, now. I don't have any evidence of this beyond some broad sense of things. I called the bottom of the market at around 7,000, and I seem to have been pretty accurate, based on a similar seat-of-the-pants call.

That's not to say the way ahead will be easy. It won't. We won't magically zoom back up to the middling levels of 2005, never mind the levels of 1999. It will be a slog and many people will be hurting, but we'll make it back. 2011, I think, will show some clear and positive signs for this nation. 2010 will show some stirrings. Even Christmas this year will have some reasons to celebrate.

I think.

But...

The longer the U.S. economy is weighed down the way it is, the more dangerous the world will become. Poverty has a way of bringing out the worst in people and if you need any evidence, you need look no further than al Qaeda's support structure. The way they recruit new terrorist foot soldiers is to go to the poorest sections of Muslim populations and talk up life ever after and the promise of jihad.

Sounds like Christian missionaries, when you come right down to it.

The longer this downturn lasts, the more poverty there will be, and the more fertile ground for recruitment. That Pakistan has chosen to make this largely symbolic gesture towards freedom is nice and all that, but the bottom line is, they can't hold back the tide of fundamentalism without a thriving economy and I just don't see that happening anytime soon over there.

Indeed, if we are lucky, and cooler heads prevail over the next decade, it's possible we might avoid another widespread, global conflict that marries itself to our economic recovery. It will require luck. Too many things can go wrong between now and prosperity for us to rely solely on the goodwill and small gestures of men and women in power.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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