This week’s essay on the consequences of the upcoming energy revolution took on the greens—specifically the recent wail of despair from George Monbiot: “We were wrong about peak oil. There’s enough to fry us all.” Mr. Monbiot and other greens, who profess to be able to understand the maddeningly complex systems surounding the climate, nevertheless have failed to understand the basics of political economy. Environmentalism is a luxury good, and a society’s taste for it will be proportional to how secure it feels about its basic needs being met. Abundant energy is therefore a very good thing indeed—for the environment!
An age of energy shortages and high prices translates into an age of radical food and economic insecurity for billions of people. Those billions of hungry, frightened, angry people won’t fold their hands and meditate on the ineffable wonders of Gaia and her mystic web of life as they pass peacefully away. […] They will butcher every panda in the zoo before they see their children starve, they will torch every forest on earth before they freeze to death, and the cheaper and the meaner their lives are, the less energy or thought they will spare to the perishing world around them.
We also analyzed Mitt Romney’s foreign policy speech ahead of his trip abroad. While the attack points against the President’s record were mostly on point, we didn’t get much of a sense of how Romney would handle real world problems. It was a campaign speech first and foremost, so that lack of specificity could be forgiven. But the subjects he chose to focus on were a little surprising:
From a policy perspective, the most striking fact about the speech was the degree to which it was dominated by the geopolitics of the last decade. The Middle East was the emotional and geographical core of the speech. China got no more air time than Egypt, and the words “India” and “Japan” did not appear. The governor’s criticisms of China were ideological (it crushes human rights at home) and economic (unfair trade, lack of respect for intellectual property). The absence of any reference to the geopolitical contest in Asia will be noted in Beijing and elsewhere.
The first leg of Romney’s trip—visiting the UK—didn’t go as well as he might have hoped. Even before the gaffe over the London Olympics, Team Romney was fighting to distance its candidate from the comments of one of its advisors regarding President Obama’s lack of Anglo-Saxon heritage. Though most of the press rightly dinged the campaign for the thinly veiled racism of the comment, they failed to note a second-order stupidity: Barack Obama’s authentically homegrown worldview is as WASPy as anyone’s in the country.But it’s not been all bad for the Romney campaign. Congressional Democrats have been tying themselves in knots arguing that Romney release his tax returns while they keep their own private. It’s a tough line to walk, but for Democrats, it’s critical:
Just as the occasional sexual indiscretion is less of an issue for an abortion-supporting, thrice-divorced Democrat than for a Bible-thumping, God and Family Republican, a tax return full of complicated tax avoidance strategies is less of a problem for a Republican free marketeer than for a Democratic Tribune of the Little People.
Finally, we had a look at what’s behind Raul Castro’s recent overture to the United States to “mend fences” and “discuss anything”. Most of the media don’t understand that Castro’s offers have no chance of being accepted—and that this is precisely why they were made. On the heels of a suspicious car crash death of a prominent Cuban dissident and on the eve of an election where Florida is a key swing state, neither Democrats nor Republicans will go anywhere near the Cuba issue. And it’s a shame that this is so, because nothing would bring the Castro regime down faster than trade liberalization with America.Other stories we followed this week:
- As Damascus and Aleppo became frontlines, and the Syrian government openly admitted to having chemical weapons, we speculated as to how this will play out. Vali Nasr was no less grim than we were: there will be no winners, and the violence will not stay confined to Syria alone. Signs point to him being right.
- Mali continues to fester, with all sorts of unsavory terrorist groups flocking to it. And no one has any idea what to do about it. At least Libya is going swimmingly… Oh wait.
- The MSM is finally catching on to the Asian Great Game narrative, just as things start heating up in the South China Sea.
- Bo Xilai’s wife was indicted for murder, as the Chinese leadership struggles to figure out what to do with Bo himself. They must tread carefully, as the people are increasingly unhappy with them.
- India, though beset by ethnic tensions at home, is increasingly coming into its own and starting to think like a Great Power.
- As the edX initiative continues to expand, Coursera revealed how it hopes to make money from its innovative online education initiative. Meanwhile, Americans continued to flee the moribund public school system.