After reading Vice President Dick Cheney's spirited defense on September 4 of
the brave Georgian nation and the need to free Ukraine against nefarious
Russian intentions, I listened to old comedy clips on YouTube until I felt well
enough to write. We don't appreciate people until they are gone, and iconic
American stand-up comedian, actor and author George Carlin's death in June was
an irreparable loss for American foreign policy. If only Carlin were still
alive - or even maybe Sam Kinison (another US stand-up comedian and actor) -
none of these terrible things would be happening.
The fact is that there won't be any Georgians or Ukrainians in the
not-too-distant future. By coincidence, Washington's two favorite beacons of
liberty happen to be the two countries with the world's fastest rate of
population decline. By mid-century they will have
barely half as many
inhabitants as they do today, and half of those who remain will be elderly.
Hardly men of military age and women of child-bearing age will remain.
Their economies will implode long before the mid-century mark, as soaring
retirement costs crush state budgets, and young people emigrate to escape the
burden of supporting the elderly.
Four Fastest-Shrinking Countries in the World
Source: United Nations
Who are these countries, and why are they there? They don't seem to want to be
there much longer. The late Kinison's "World Hunger" routine comes to mind:
want to help world hunger? Stop sending them food. Don't send them another
bite, send them U-Hauls. Send them luggage, folks. Send them somebody like me.
I'll walk out there. Send a guy that says, "Hey, you know, we just drove 700
miles with your food and we realized there wouldn't BE world hunger if you
people would live where the FOOD IS! YOU LIVE IN A DESERT!! UNDERSTAND THAT?
YOU LIVE IN A ***** DESERT!! NOTHING GROWS HERE! NOTHING'S GONNA GROW HERE!
Come here, you see this? This is sand. Nothing grows in this *****. Here, eat
some of. Taste it. You know what it's gonna be 100 years from now? IT'S GONNA
BE SAND!! YOU LIVE IN A ***** DESERT! We have deserts in America, we just don't
live in them, *****!
Only in the context of over-the-top black
humor do Americans ask the obvious question, namely: What are certain countries
doing there in the first place? Merely suggesting that some of them might not
need to be there made Kinison, who died in a 1992 car crash, the deepest
foreign-policy thinker of his generation.
I am trying to imagine what Kinison would say about Georgia and Ukraine. Carlin
might have expanded his comedy routine about anorexia and bulimia ("No,
Anorexia and Bulima are not countries in Eastern Europe"). After suggesting
names for Beverly Hills restaurants catering to eating-disorder victims ("The
Empty Plate", "The Fork and Bucket") Carlin drew frantic applause with this: "A
rich ***** who doesn't want to eat? ***** her!" What would he have said about
countries with the demographic equivalent of anorexia? Presumably, he would
say, "***** them!"
Emulating Michael Ledeen, who sometimes channels the late James Jesus Angleton
via an Ouija board, I have asked the late Carlin to comment on this from the
afterlife. This is what he had to say:
"Did you ever ask why countries should be there in the first place? Is it
because they speak a different language? People speak 7,000 different
languages. Does that mean we need 7,000 different countries? That's never going
to happen. That would give us 7,000 UN missions with diplomatic plates, and no
one in New York would ever get a parking spot. Nobody would be able to haul
garbage. The mafia would send an army from Bensonhurst to kill them all.
"Most of these countries don't need to be there. The Georgians and Ukrainians
don't think they need to be there, because they don't have any ***** babies.
Our leaders," Carlin might have continued, "think that Georgia and Ukraine
should join NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization]. NATO is a military
alliance, right? Military - doesn't that involve soldiers? What if we get a
country in NATO that doesn't have any people who are able to be soldiers?
Suppose they were all paraplegics. Would we still let them into NATO? How about
a motorized wheelchair brigade? By 2050, there are only going to be 100,000
guys in Georgia below the age of 35, and if you drafted every ***** one of them
who can walk, you'd still have fewer people in the Georgian army than at an NFL
game. That's not enough testosterone to support a football franchise, much less
"I've got a better idea," Carlin might have continued. "The Mormons claim that
they can pray dead people into heaven after the fact. Why can't we recruit
extinct countries into NATO? I mean, if we can invite countries to join NATO
that are about to become extinct, why not recruit countries that already are
extinct? That really would show the Russians that we're serious! We'll sic the
Scythians and Etruscans on their *****!"
Alas, Carlin is not as funny on the Ouija board as he was alive, but that was
the best I could obtain.
It's also the case that by 2050, there will be fewer than 100,000 Georgian
women of child-bearing years (between the ages of 18 and 35). The number of
potential mothers who speak Georgian will have fallen so far that Georgian will
be in danger of extinction as a cradle-tongue later in the century. Ukraine
presently has a population of 46 million, which will fall to about 25 million
by 2050. But only 2.4 million of that 25 million will consist of women of
Carlin's humor had a deep premise: the ridiculous things we do stem from our
refusal to take life as it comes. "Why do all these people need help?" he once
said of self-help books. "Life is not that complicated. You get up, you go to
work, you eat three meals, you take one good [vulgar term for bowel movement],
you go back to bed. What's the ***** mystery? ... Why would anyone need to be
motivated by someone else? If you lack motivation, a seminar isn't going to
help you. What you really need is to get smashed in the head thirty or forty
times with a golf club. That will ***** motivate you. Or else it will at least
get you moving around the room, locate your socks, get the day rolling."
Carlin was the closest thing stand-up comedy had to Goethe's Mephistopheles,
who told Faust that he should listen to the race of devils who have been
chewing on this tough biscuit for millennia: from the cradle to the grave, no
one has ever been able to digest this lump of sourdough called life. Everyone
isn't going to make it, Carlin tells us, and those who don't can go *****
themselves - desert countries where there isn't any food and former Soviet
republics where there aren't any babies, for example.
Not everyone is going to make it. That should be America's mantra. America was
settled by people who didn't think that Europe was going to make it, and
decided that the better part of valor was to bail out and start something new.
Georgia and Ukraine are not going to make it. They are past the point of no
return. Nothing will save them. They do not like life well enough to perpetuate
it. ***** them.
America's obsession with a happy ending for all - otherwise known as Wilsonian
idealism - is the ultimate source of the problem. The Georgian crisis began, as
everyone knows - but nobody in Washington will say - with the Bill Clinton
administration's decision to bomb Serbia in defense of Albanian Muslims in the
Serbian province of Kosovo. It was made inevitable in February 2008, when the
Kosovo Muslims declared independence from Serbia, with American support.
Russia, Serbia's ally, warned at the time that it could not allow a sovereign
nation to be dismembered without a penalty. Specifically, Russia warned that
Kosovo set a precedent for breakaway provinces of other countries, such as the
Georgian province of South Ossetia.
Why did America throw its influence behind the gangsters of the Kosovo
Liberation Army, and provoke the present crisis with Russia? Senator Joe Biden
blurted it out in an op-ed for the Financial Times of London on January 2,
2007: "The people of Kosovo - already the most pro-American in the Islamic
world - will provide a much-needed example of a successful US-Muslim
partnership. Stability in southeast Europe would be a welcome bit of good news
and offer hope in a season of tremendous foreign policy challenges."
A "successful US-Muslim partnership" was the centerpiece of American policy in
the Balkans. Why? Because America has not come to grips with the prospect that
the Muslim world may not make it, either. One can blame naivete, or Saudi
influence, or any number of factors, but the fundamental weakness of American
policy lies in the inability of Americans to conceive of unhappy endings for
some important stories. That is what has turned America's foreign policy into a
George Carlin routine.
To say that Russia is brutal is a pleonasm, for Russia is not so much a noun as
a gerund: what is Russian, is the result of Russification, a brutal business by
definition. I hope that Russia will become a liberal democracy resembling the
United States and that it will dispense with men like Vladimir Putin in the
future. For it to become a liberal democracy, however, first it must survive,
and most Russians today believe that they must be led by hard men to survive.
This is not only unpleasant, but tragic.
To influence Russia for the better would take subtlety, skill, as well as good
faith; sadly, America has displayed none of these.