"If something cannot go on forever, it will stop"
The above quote is from the economist Herbert Stein. Besides being a clever little bit of the obvious, a Yogi Berra-type quote, it is also part of a scary thought about America itself that Mark Steyn points out in After America - America cannot keep doing what it is doing forever and hope to lead the world - it will stop. It cannot keep borrow 40% of its budget forever and hope to keep its economy afloat or offer its children a decent future. America cannot hope that a post-America world will be pleasant - as Steyn notes on page 14 "...it's not hard to figure out how it's going to end."
After America: Get Ready for Armageddon is really the sequel to America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It a book that details how low birth rates, a general cultural malaise and a nanny state stupor threatens to overwhelm the same countries that once led the world in political, military and cultural might. Now, he warns of the same sorts of danger happening to America itself - we will not be "America Alone" but something different - different culturally, maybe more than one country, maybe nothing but a hazy memory.
What are his points? Steyn starts with commentary about the national debt that seems as fresh as if it were a column written today thanks to the government's extended wrangling over the debt ceiling this summer. He also comments about how politically correct thought, excessive regulation and years upon years of erosion of free speech rights and property rights are changing this country from a can-do country to an entitlement country.
Steyn changes his style a bit in a chapter called After: A Letter from the Post-American World. This is a sobering, even depressing chapter As the title suggests, this is a letter from the future and it shows how when the West hamstrings itself, the whole world suffers and it does not become a place you would want your children to live in. Or your Jewish friends. Or your gay friends. Or your culturally liberal Muslim friends. Or perhaps even your Christian friends. It's not like we aren't being warned about this possibility now - Steyn points out headline after headline, trend after trend that should be screaming to us. But, we have Facebook to play with and Jersey Shore to watch. Plus, who are we to judge? So, Steyn predicts on page 306: "...incremental preemptive concession was the easiest option. To do anything else would have been asking too much."
This is not a perfect book. Not all of Steyn's arguments hold water, in my opinion. But, 99% of them do and this is a must-read book for anyone interested in big picture history. In this entertaining and sobering book Steyn predicts that we are at one of those hinges of history moments and we are not going to succeed. Sadly, I can't say that I disagree with him on that point at all.
On a separate note, I criticized America Alone because it had no footnotes or end notes. It didn't even have a bibliography. This book has extensive end notes with bibliographical reference and is meticulously indexed so the reader can easily find this information and articles for him(her)self and inform others.
This book can be found on Amazon.com here: After America: Get Ready for Armageddon