And why do you feel pessimistic? This is a curious conversation.
Campbell Erickson
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It’s the international picture I am pessimistic about, as well as domestic politics. I fear we are getting to a point of no return in American politics — where Washington is perpetually paralyzed through partisan gridlock. We have a media environment that has created an echo chamber, and it reverberates with the most base instincts of politicians. Local governments, as well as states, will be forced to step into this void of federal leadership. The problem is that not every community is capable, or able, of stepping into this void. Then there’s the federal programs that so many depend upon, like social security, which will have to be fixed at some point.

Internationally, there are many forces at work that will make the golden age of American foreign affairs come to an end (I believe it already has). There’s the demographic fueled instability in the middle east. We have a Europe, with plummeting birth rates, anemic international will, and millions of migrants on its border. We have a Japan that may be incapable of hedging China; again, demographics, and a paralyzed, stagnated economy. There’s Russia being Russia, capable (and willing) of causing problems across a dozen time zones. China is questioning our ability, and with it, international commerce ability of freedom of navigation on the worlds oceans.

Yet, America still has the cleanest shirt. Our problems are problematic to the same degree as others. The problem is, that we aren’t going to be able to stop those problems from becoming international crises, and that will in turn lead to America retreating (again) behind its oceans.

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