The Long View 2004-11-24: Regime Changes; Mars

A prediction of John's that did not pan out:

In an uncharacteristic indulgence of wishful thinking, I have been predicting for some time that Kim Jong-il's government in North Korea would just evaporate.

North Korea just keeps going. I admit I have no idea how it works, but it does.


Regime Changes; Mars

 

The New York Times columnist William Safire has endorsed the proposal to amend the United States Constitution to allow foreign-born citizens to be elected president. He acknowledges that such an amendment would allow Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger to run, a prospect Safire greets with little enthusiasm, but he is willing to endure it for the greater good:

When an immigrant is naturalized, his or her citizenship becomes as natural as "natural born." The oath taken and the pledge of allegiance given make the immigrant 100 percent American, with all the rights, privileges and obligations appertaining thereto. All except one - the right to the greatest political success.

This is not actually true. Naturalized citizenship is conditional in a way that native-born citizenship is not. People who lie on their naturalization applications can later be stripped of their citizenship, and occasionally they are. The only way I know for a native-born citizen to lose his citizenship is to start and lose a civil war. Truly equal citizenship would have to be irrevocable.

In the same column, incidentally, Safire speculates about the presidential election of 2008:

One step up at a time. After ratification of the 28th Amendment in 2007, I envision a G.O.P. ticket the next year with Rudy Giuliani or John McCain on top and Schwarzenegger as running-mate. For Democrats, Evan Bayh or Hillary Clinton for president, Peter Jennings (Canadian-born) for v.p.

Long-time readers of my website know how happy I would be if John McCain ran in 2008. Still, I must point out that he would be the grayest of Gray Champions, actually a little older than Ronald Reagan when he was elected. Also, McCain has been the dream candidate of so many people for so long that I dread the jinx that Tacitus ascribed to the short-lived reformer who followed Nero, the Emperor Galba: "By general consensus the most fit to rule, had he not ruled."

Senator McCain himself is in no hurry to make a decision about 2008, as we see here. Polls indicate (yes, polls are already being conducted for 2008) that McCain would tie Rudolph Giuliani for the Republican nomination, but would trounce La Clinton in the general election. Whatever else happens, Giuliani would be a mistake as a presidential candidate: he's a New York City exotic.

* * *

In an uncharacteristic indulgence of wishful thinking, I have been predicting for some time that Kim Jong-il's government in North Korea would just evaporate. Readers who are similarly inclined can no doubt take heart from recent reports like this:

TOKYO, Nov. 21 - After weeks of reports from North Korea of defecting generals, antigovernment posters and the disappearance of portraits of the country's ruler, the leader of Japan's governing party warned Sunday of the prospects of "regime change" in North Korea.

The most reasonable conjecture that I have seen so far is that a slow-motion, pro-Chinese military coup is in the works. Should it succeed, then one scenario is that reunification would become a real issue, but not in the fashion of the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic. China would allow such a thing only if the Koreas completely decoupled from the US alliance system. South Korea might be willing to do that, but they might not be willing to shoulder the costs of reunification. They might raise security concerns they did not really have in order to avoid stating their real objections.

This speculation assumes that the end of the regime is a controlled process. What happens if North Korean units along the demilitarized zone start fraternizing with their counterparts to the South, or just open the border? It is hard to imagine that the South Korean Army would advance into the North, but it is easy to imagine civilians doing so, in search of long-lost relatives. And what about those nukes?

* * *

Speaking of the Germanies, readers who know German might want to glance at the website of Nationaldemokratischen Partei Deutschlands: that's the "National Democratic Party of Germany," or "NPD" for short. This is a right-wing group that has done well in recent local elections. They support the end of multiculturalism, which means the protection both of German culture and that of the growing immigrant enclaves in Germany, which means sending the latter back where they came from. They want Germany to disengage from the EU economic system and to withdraw from NATO. They see American hegemony as one of the great threats to Europe. They want to reopen the territorial settlements of the past half-century in Europe and return Germany to its historical borders. Which historical borders they do not say, but they do say they want to do it by negotiation.

The program of the NPD is not so different from that of other nationalist parties in Europe, or even of some elements of the Republican Party in the United States. Still, despite their electoral successes, the NPD seems to me a curiously lifeless enterprise. There is a great deal about the Volk on their website, but not a lot about God or religion, which suggests that they have not gotten the memo about the theme of the 21st century. Certainly they show no awareness that Europe has become a field of Jihad.

Despite the mooncalf glances toward Silesia Irredenta, the overall impression they give is one of timidity. The website keeps talking about bending private enterprise to the service of the nation. What the German economy needs is a shot of adrenaline. That would not necessarily require a radical libertarian reform, but it does suggest that they should recognize that most Germans no longer work in coal mines or steel mills.

The NPD is not the Nazi Party. Nonetheless, aside from the absence of antisemitism and their disinterest in annoying the Russians, these guys seem to have learned nothing in over 70 years.

* * *

If you want to see some original thinking by a conservative, take a look at the site of the Canadian college student, J.J. McCullough, particularly the essay The Monarchy, the Conservatives, the Future, and Canada: Why the Monarchy must go and the right should support it

Conservatives will likewise have to come to terms with the fact that Canadian monarchism is often at odds with other aspects of their goals, notably the defeat of leftist cultural hegemony in Canada, and institutionalized anti-Americanism. They'll have to realize that monarchist views alone do not a conservative make, and in many cases support for the monarchy is simply yet another tool employed by the hysterical left-wing "nationalist" set.

Robertson Davies used to remark, rather hopefully, that Canada was a socialist monarchy, which at least left open the possibility that traditional elements could tame the modern ones. If I were Canadian, or English for that matter, I would not abandon that hope. Still, one remembers the old witticism that the Church of England is a necessary bulwark against religion: conservative symbols can drive out conservatism.

* * *

We have yet more evidence that Mars stinks:

Speaking this month at the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Louisville, Ky., Dr. Michael Mumma, a senior scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., reported three years of observations had provided strong evidence for methane...Dr. Krasnopolsky's findings, relying on observations from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii, were first reported at a conference in Europe this year and will be published in the journal Icarus.

In January, scientists working on the European Space Agency's Mars Express mission also reported the detection of the methane. A few months later, that group, led by Dr. Vittorio Formisano of the Institute of Physics and Interplanetary Science in Rome reported that the methane appeared to be more plentiful in regions where frozen water is known to exist underground.

As I noted earlier this year, this is all very good news, if you hope that life will be discovered on Mars. Methane is unstable. It must be replenished by geology or biology, and there is no obvious geological agent on Mars to do so. More wishful thinking?

Copyright © 2004 by John J. Reilly

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