I haven't been posting for a while, in part as a result of the flu (the gift of daycare keeping giving) and also because I was preparing to give a talk on the "US and Rising" to the World Affairs Council of Hampton Roads. The talk was last saturday and it went well and was a lot of fun too. Nice to be with a couple hundred people really interested in discussing the impact, intent, and trajectory of American foreign relations. The audience was really diverse, ranging from a variety of active duty NATO sorts and retired military sitting in the front to educators and students in the back to at least one contra dance caller I know from years ago who happened to be attending.

What was I doing talking about the future, you may ask. I'm a historian, after all. Despite appearances, I do not have predictive power. Uncanny hindsight, absolutely. Unusually perceptive abilities for the readily apparent, no doubt, but no ESP or future annihilating vision.

This required me to consult a huge array of sources by various writers of all stripes with a like-inability to tell the future. But arm yourself with enough conflicting opinions and you are more or less good to go.

We spoke a lot about China, as you would expect, and about the clear-eyed assessment of American empire and its costs, goals, intent, and impact. It is interesting to me how different a talk I gave this week than I might have just a few months ago given the combination of a downward spiral in the global economy but (some) heartening signs from DC.

I am going to see if I can figure out how to load my presentation on Nunal.

One rising power I spent some time talking about is the narco power which is in control in Afghanistan and attempting to throttle Mexico.

It helps that the news all week has suddenly decided to focus on the situation in Mexico. Then flow of weapons south of the border has gotten a lot of press coverage, yet somehow, the discussion rarely turns to the insatiable American desire for drugs that is the root cause of the problem.

Drug violence is nothing new, though the scale in Mexico is really astounding. It makes me wonder exactly how violent and unstable it can get before there really becomes something to the notion of cyclical revolution. Also interesting to me is the globalization of terrorist forms such as beheading videos and beheading displays. These have spread from the utterly perverse, deeply ideological, and ritualistic bloodletting of al Qaeda to the utterly perverse but tactical murders undertaken by Mexican drug gangs. I didn'st see any prediction of this. It is really astonishing and worth some consideration, is it not? I don't see suicide bombings being next, but when drug gangs adopt the approaches of apocalyptic terrorist organizaitons it is starting to seem less like a law enforcement issue and more like a systemic crisis.

For the last question of my talk somebody asked me to walk them through the scenario of drug decriminalization. Of course I did with some gusto. The question was almost like a perfect plant.

As I have written here before, it's hard to find a downside to restoring liberty to our twisted and utterly failed system of (non-)interdiction, mass incarceration and property theft. Instead we can open a rich market opportunity for local, US-based growers (many of them in the impoverished Appalchians), utterly eliminate the need for unconstitutional police actions and property seizures, totally eliminate drug gang violence (or nearly so), stop filling the prisons as a form of race and class warfare, stop supporting nasty regimes abroad, allow countries like Mexico (6000 dead and counting) and Columbia (where $4.9 billion in aid = 15% rise in coke exports) to have a chance to live in peace, reign in the prison-industrial and military-industrial complexes, let freedom ring and so on.

Oh, and tax the lucrative cash crop and make a bunch of public money. Virginia, facing a multi-billion budget crisis, could be flush and stable. The spending side is already taken care of...or at least the ideas are in place. Maybe, just maybe, the secret to stabilizing our balance of payments is unleashing ourselves from thralldom to this "war".

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