The clip below aired on NBC a fortnight ago - August 12th, a couple of days before the Fall of Kabul and America's Suez moment. But it certainly helps explain why a nation that accounts for forty per cent of global military spending can't win anything.
You need only watch the first two-and-a-half minutes, unless you enjoy lame pop culture jokes about "Total Eclipse of the Heart". Total eclipse of America's heart is the issue that concerns us:
I am not sure I entirely buy Fallon's purported bewilderment at the audience reaction. It is a very, very long time since I have been at a Tonight Show taping, but do they still have the big "APPLAUSE" sign that lights up on the director's command? And the arm-flapping floor manager exhorting the crowd?
Assuming, however, that it is indeed a spontaneous reaction, it is a learned one - from years of cultural training. It is difficult to imagine Johnny Carson's audience, or Jack Paar's or Steve Allen's, cheering demographic eclipse. Perhaps they are doing so with what they fancy is "irony", but the statistics themselves are entirely non-ironic. So the reaction is deeply weird and faintly creepy. You might get the same reaction to equivalent demographic decline from an audience in Canada or New Zealand ...but not in China, India, Iran, Kenya, Russia, Estonia, Czechia, Austria, Finland or even France. It is the hollow cheer of a profound cultural sickness.
Let us take as true every charge ever made by Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X Kendi and the other grievance hucksters living high on the hog. Nevertheless, back in the real world, this season's tide of refugees are hightailing it out of Afghanistan and have no desire to wind up anywhere other than nations built by the whitiest of white folks - North America, Scandinavia, Australia... Even the swarthy Mediterraneans are insufficiently white-privileged for fleeing Pushtuns.
~As I've said innumerable times now, if you're a female Afghan telly presenter stuck in Kabul, the Fall of Afghanistan is about Afghanistan; everywhere else it's about America. A week or two back I reprised a line from the late Bernard Lewis whose utterance I have never forgotten - that America risked being seen as harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend. Whenever I quoted it, Bernard would drop me a line expressing a wistful regret about distilling it that pithily, and emphasizing that he had no wish for it to prove an accurate prophesy.
And yet it is: as to America's harmlessness as an enemy, the malodorous mullahs are just trolling us - "Taliban Vow to Tackle Climate Change" - and Chairman Xi, Putin, Kim Jong-un and the Ayatollahs are all rolling around on the floor laughing; as to America's treachery as a friend, the totality of the f**kover cannot be exaggerated.
Nato is a US-led alliance; its mission in Afghanistan is led by a US general, another of those woke wankers buried by diversity ribbons, Austin Miller by name. Nevertheless, at the time of the Yank withdrawal from Bagram last month, three-quarters of the Nato troops were non-American.
True, some commitments were fairly small: There were six Slovenes and two Luxemburgers. Others were there in more force: 1,300 Germans and 895 Italians. So the leader of the coalition flew the coop without warning in the middle of the night, and launched a (short-lived) Afghan civil war on the allies he left behind, Slovene and German alike.
That's why twenty SAS blokes wound up caught behind enemy lines when Kandahar fell. They couldn't exit via the airport because that was in Taliban hands, so they fought their way out of town into the desert and radioed their coordinates back to HQ. The RAF scrambled to find a transport plane that could land and take off from a makeshift desert landing strip, and wound up commandeering a Hercules in the Gulf. The pilot switched off his radar, and headed to Kandahar to land in darkness, rescue the men, and take off again, all in forty-five minutes - the diciest of missions that, at any moment, could have gone the way of Jimmy Carter's helicopters in Iran.
Soft-Serve Joe, Darth Plexi-Visor and Throughly Modern Milley brought this down on all their allies - Danes and Australians, Azerbaijanis and Mongols. As the Germans and Dutch have begun wondering out loud, why would anyone go to war with the Americans ever again? With allies like Milley, who needs enemies?
~Can political change rescue America from the profound cultural sickness revealed by that Tonight Show moment? Only if you have free and fair elections, and the country that purports to be "the leader of the free world" is a huge fraud in that respect. After Arkansas Republican Steve Womack voted in favor of Nancy Pelosi's "January 6th Commission", a chap called Neil Kumar decided to primary the guy. No sooner had he done so than Facebook froze his account, and the usual cancelations followed, including from his hairdresser of many years, the Uptown Barber Lounge of Bentonville: no man is a hero to his stylist, as Mme de Cornuel almost said.
Well, whoop-de-doo. What I had not realized, however, was that in order to enter the Republican primary campaign Mr Kumar has to put up a "filing fee" of $15,000. This is Arkansas, where per capita income is twenty-six grand. So, if you're wondering why a rock-ribbed conservative state winds up with rock-ribbed conservative governors like Asa Hutchinson signing up to hardcore transgender lunacy, well, it's because it's very hard to be a viable statewide candidate in Arkansas without being bought and paid for.
For purposes of comparison, in a Westminster, Scots, Welsh or Northern Irish election a candidate requires a £500 deposit. If he gets five per cent or more of the vote, the five hundred quid is returned to him. That is why, on election-night telly, a Tory or LibDem, ScotsNat or Sinn Féiner who belly-flops spectacularly is said to have "lost his deposit". It happened regularly to Lieutenant Commander Bill Boaks, leader of the Public Safety Democratic Monarchist White Resident Party, who disliked motor vehicles and always campaigned on an electric tricycle.
In New Zealand, the deposit is NZ$300. In Canada, there is no deposit - which is the correct number.
Since the fall of Kabul, several commenters have said they're "not sure if we can vote our way out of this". Not with fifteen-grand filing fees in 26k-per-annum states.
~As to Governor Hutchinson, well, these days we are the Taliban: Our rulers mandate face-coverings in public, issue stay-at-home orders, and are gung-ho for irreversible genital mutilation.
~I'll be back this evening, Wednesday, for the conclusion of our current Tale for Our Time - Jack London's Burning Daylight. And I'll be back tomorrow, Thursday, for another Clubland Q&A, taking questions live from Mark Steyn Club members around the planet live at 11am North American Eastern Time - that's 3pm GMT, but do check local listings for your area.
~We opened The Mark Steyn Club well over four years ago, and I'm thrilled by all those SteynOnline aficionados across the globe - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Surrey to the Solomon Islands - who've signed up to be a part of it. With exterior pleasures still canceled across much of the map (shows, pubs, sports, movies, restaurants) those in search of strictly in-home diversions can find more information about our Club here - and, if you've a pal who might be partial to this sort of thing, don't forget our special Gift Membership.