What comes after the Cold War? Sarah Palin?

The headline in George Will’s column this week in The Washington Post was “Is Ukraine the Cold War’s final battle?” The Reykjavik meeting between President Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev might have been the final, fateful meeting. In the cuckoo land of faux history, this might have been the final armistice to the war that never was. But can we live without the Cold War? 

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If it is over for the Cold War, is it not over for us as well? Are we anything at all without our evil twin, Russia, to scorn, smite and despise? China is training up for a “short, sharp war" with Japan, said a headline yesterday in the Financial Times. And today the newspaper asks “US v China: is this the new cold war?” But how long does the East hold our imagination? 

We turned east briefly in the late 1970s around the time Ezra Vogel published Japan as Number One. That was soon followed by TQM management strategies, "The Bride with White Hair," Jet Li and the Dalai Lama. Strangely, the Soviet Union in that period just fell apart. Possibly, continuing East vs. West confrontation requires of America a constant staring in the face like those little dogs who sit on your lap and stare at you when you are trying to eat dinner in front of the TV.

Would America commit to a new neocon-sponsored war in Ukraine today? Seriously? And would America commit to a war against China formed by treaty with Japan in 1952? China understands fully that America's commitment to war in our times is limited. It is considered in their battle plan. Coat carriers and appeasers like Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Joe Biden, who egged others on into Baghdad and voted for the Bush/Cheney invasion, will call for an end within two years. But the inscrutable Chinese will drag it on for 10, 20, 30 years following Sun Tzu’s theorem in The Art of War, just as Gen. Võ Nguyên Giáp did in Vietnam. They have already been at it for at least 10 years.

A bigger challenge ahead here is the very new idea of two New Yorks, six Californias and one Switzerland. The Catalonia and Scotland separatist movements are nice, but they seek only new masters. Switzerland, almost alone in Europe, demands self-government and self-determination.

Today, western New York seeks to divide from New York City. This idea comes naturally as Canton and Potsdam seem closer kin to the Midwest while New York City seems closer kin to Europe. And New York City appears anyway to have come to dislike the America in the 2,800 miles between Jersey Shore and Hollywood. Possibly New York City could seek sanctuary in the EU or as an external province of France, much as the neocons, now gaining Tea Party young'uns, see Israel and Ukraine as external provinces of America.

Had we gone with Jefferson from the first, we might now be an American continent of mature regions of Switzerlands, Singapores, Israels and Norways, to cite the richest, most productive self-governed states in learning and imagination today.

But this is not Tea Party work. That is gone, politicized. It is something different and requires a different intuition, a different courage.

Possibly there is only one who has the true instinct for Jeffersonian America rising. Possibly only one American could see this, take this, advance it and hold fast before they take it away: Sarah Palin, reported to be speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.

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