Futurology blog: what’s the next trend that’ll disrupt our world, financially, socially or just pointlessly?

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Sarah Palin - the ultimate black swan

When Hilary Clinton warned America about the possibility of an inexperienced President having to answer a 2am phone call in the White House, no-one could have imagined that it could be a complete amateur taking that call.

McCain, if he wins the election, is hardly likely to see out a full term. Ill health, a stroke or dementia could sideline him if he doesn’t actually die in office. Especially since the next American president is going to have to endure a heck of a lot more pressure than George Bush, who had so few real problems to deal with that his cronies had to exaggerate them out of all proportion to scare the electorate into re-electing him.

Imagine Palin being handed the reigns at a moment’s notice. While two new superpowers, Russia and China, square up to each other and America. With India and Pakistan still at each other’s throats. With Latin and South America simmering, a land grab in full swing in the Arctic Circle, South East Asia brimming with paranoia, and the EU united only in its agenda of ramming its version of free trade down the throats of its underdeveloped and powerless victims in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

It’s what Vladimir Putin dreams about. With anyone else as American President, he’ll merely test his limits. With Palin as president, destiny would propel him to reach for the brass ring. Not that his constituency in the Kremlin – and the Russian Federation – would give him any option.

That 2am phone call would be about restricted gas and oil supplies and tanks rumbling into ‘secessionist’ states. A minor Warsaw Pact nation would have been provoked into retaliation. At the same time, there’d be a feint in Latin America, senior American diplomats taken as hostages, who knows.

The situation would be perfectly judged: not enough to justify a nuclear response, but enough to shatter the Warsaw Pact and knock America off its “sole world leader” perch. And every tin-pot tyrant around the world eager to put the boot in in any way they could. By the time Palin finished her term, America would long for the days when there was only the ridiculous ‘war on terror’ to fight.

The sad thing is that it wouldn’t be Mrs Palin’s fault. It would be the fault of an electorate that believes that being the leader of the free world takes nothing more than bludgeoning a few underdeveloped countries into submission, while bullying the rest of the free world into putting up with it. 

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