Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A World Without America

Disparagement of the United States is rife among the nation’s media and educational elite. For example, it's commonplace to hear of elementary and secondary school textbooks that call into question the rightness of American actions in wartime. A preacher in whose congregation our current President sat for many years is noted for his outburst, “God damn the United States of America!” In the eyes of major forces shaping public opinion, the United States has become what Islamic militants call it: “the Great Satan.” Those who believe in American exceptionalism — the idea that the United States has an historic purpose to promote and embody the liberty and welfare of all peoples — are belittled and silenced.

Do we think America is perfect? Of course not — and certainly not under its present leadership. But if America, as we’ve known it for two and one-half centuries, is such a defective and evil nation, let’s rewrite history as though the United States never existed.

After the colonies’ misguided revolt was crushed, Governor-General Benedict Arnold led in the formation of a greater “New England” incorporating all British settlements along the North Atlantic coast. British loyalists, driven out during the abortive revolt, returned to assume their rightful leadership and social position, heartened by the public execution of revolutionary leaders including Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, New England had become a Dominion exercising a high degree of self-rule, though still under the British crown. The southern colonies, never substantially tied to New England, formed their own entity known as Virginia. Eventually, Virginia was able to secure its complete independence from Great Britain and, to this day, maintains its own distinctive institutions such as a slave economy. It is estimated that as much as 57% of the inhabitants of Virginia today are slaves of African descent.

The territories of both New England and Virginia extend as far west as Louisiana, which became independent of France in the mid-1800s. The Louisianian government has resisted incursions into its territory by white settlers from New England or Virginia. Internecine warfare between tribal groups in the upper Mississippi and Missouri basins has rendered the region largely devoid of the agricultural or industrial activities typical of European settlement. Louisianian policy has always been to avoid disturbing the culture of the aboriginal peoples of the region, with the result that many of these native peoples live in a constant state of insecurity and privation.

At the western extent of the continent, along the Pacific coast and inland for some thousand kilometers, stands the Republic of Mexico. This largely agrarian region, where climate and terrain make agriculture possible, is still organized according to the “rancho” system, with aboriginal peoples living in a near-serfdom to the Spanish-speaking aristocracy. Several good ports, such as at Mission San Francisco or near Mission Reina de los Angeles, remain largely undeveloped for trade with the Far East. This is, in part, because no railroads exist across the continent, through Louisiana, to allow goods to reach markets in the populous Atlantic region. Customs regulations across two international boundaries, and unstable conditions in areas not settled by Europeans, hinder other trade by land. Commerce by sea must contend with the lengthy and dangerous voyage around Cape Horn. A canal through the Isthmus of Panama has been proposed, but no entity exists with the resources to construct it.

The Republic of Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836 after a protracted struggle, and exists today as an enclave of European settlement along the Gulf coast and inland. The intervening position of Louisiana renders it difficult for Texas to maintain close ties with Virginia, and it has pursued its own developmental path. Texas mounts the largest military force in the continent, equipped with the most modern assets, due to the constant specter of a Mexican effort to reconquer its lost territory.

Turning elsewhere in the world, we look first to Europe where the situation remains bleak. Great Britain and France, with Britain’s allied Dominions, were able to resist the German Kaiser’s advances in the war of 1914-1917, but the Kaiser’s abdication and subsequent inflationary conditions in Germany rendered the nation ripe for the emergence of a new leader. Chancellor Adolf Hitler led Germany’s resurgence as a military power. His ambitions for “Lebensraum” for the German peoples resulted in another major war which left Great Britain and France in total defeat, and in a state of devastation from which those nations have not fully recovered. Today German rule extends throughout most of Europe. Only the Soviet Union remains outside National Socialist control, free to promote its own Communist ideology which has extended itself through large portions of Asia and Latin America. Jewish people who managed to escape Hitler’s European campaign to exterminate them have been able to find only a few havens of security elsewhere, principally in portions of Africa. Those who, earlier, had hoped to establish a Zionist homeland in Palestine found their hopes dashed through the resurgence of militant Islam in the Near East, and the lack of support from any powerful nation.

As for the Pacific region, the Emperor of Japan holds sway over a vast region that includes China, Korea, Indo-China, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and the islands of the South Pacific. The expansion of the Japanese Empire met with little resistance, especially from the opposite rim of the Pacific Ocean. Mexico lacked both the will, and the naval and air assets, that might have checked the Japanese advance.

In the field of science and technology, physicists are at a loss to know how to fully harness the power of electronics, or to explain the relation of energy, mass and the speed of light. Mysteries about the origin and extent of our universe might begin to be clarified if larger and more powerful telescopes could be designed, or even placed into orbit around the earth. As it is, space is still principally the domain of the Soviet Union, which placed men on the moon in 1972. Recent ventures into space by Germany and Japan only heighten one’s fears that orbiting vehicles could become instruments of intimidation and warfare. With the development of telecommunication instruments and computers for scientific and military use, one hopes to see the day when such technological devices will be applied to the needs of ordinary people. Mechanized vehicles for personal travel (so-called “automobiles”) remain available only for the privileged few. Thus far, few governments have allowed any firm to widely market consumer applications in these areas.

One wonders how history might have turned out differently if there had been, in the place of New England, Virginia, Louisiana, and Mexico, a strong and prosperous nation extending across the continent of North America. Would such a nation have been able to deal with the issue of slavery; produce technical innovators or harbor scientists of the highest caliber; build a “Panama Canal”; rescue and rebuild Europe after Hitler’s devastation; hurl back the aggression of the Japanese Empire; resist the advance of Soviet Communism; allow a free market for the development of consumer electronics, personal vehicles, and other goods; or support an “Israel” as a homeland for displaced Jews? Would such a nation have had the strength to extend its vision for human betterment to the rest of the globe? Had such a nation existed, this would be a much different world.