My friend and colleague Paul Monk last night delivered a speech to the Australian Institute of International Affairs, “Keeping the Insulation from Coming Undone: American Debt, Wall Street and Looming Realities.”
A United States in sound economic order and sound political order would always have been able to absorb any conceivable blow that al Qaeda could have dealt it. The United States, however, is not in sound economic or political order. It has delivered a series of mighty blows to itself, all on its own, and they are far from having been fully absorbed as we gather here this evening. The image of the World Trade Center twin towers crumbling as the sun shone over New York was unforgettably dramatic, but the realities of the US economy being shaken to its very foundations by fiscal mismanagement, corporate corruption and the sheer stupidity of Wall Street bond traders over the past decade should actually disturb us a great deal more. The increasingly polarized and demagogical character of politics in the United States; the dominance of bully pulpit propaganda and irresponsible rhetoric over serious and principled debate are profoundly troubling.