Marking Time

Much that appears suddenly happens slowly.

The United States has now spent the first fifth of the 21st century more or less acting drunk. And although we were more or less welcomed back to our usual seat at the head of the table in 2008 — in spite of a ginned-up invasion, torture, mercenaries, and a financial crisis — the world started learning to hedge against us.

A dozen years, a handful of government shutdowns, and 200,000 Covid deaths later, it should come as no surprise that we’ve authored much of the instability we struggle to comprehend.

Twenty years is a long time to be out of ideas. The rest of the world is moving on — as best they can in the presence of a drunk uncle who could dynamite the whole party at any time.

[Assuming there is a 22nd century, I’m convinced two histories will be written: one will be a history of the nuclear presidency from Truman to Bush 41. The other will be a history of the post-Cold War nuclear presidency — the story of an institution entrusted with unprecedented powers to meet one threat becoming the prize of a process totally overwhelmed by internecine squabbles.]