A decade and a half back, the late Christopher Hitchens was talking to the then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and brought up my demographic-death-spiral thesis from America Alone. Hitch wanted to know whether, when the PM got together with the Continental bigwigs, it was part of "the European conversation".
Tone replied that it was part of "the subterranean conversation".
By which he meant that nice house-trained EU prime ministers hadn't figured out a way to raise such subjects in public without being damned as racists and becoming electorally unviable, at least anywhere west of the Landstraße, to modify Metternich. They still haven't. Fifteen years on, almost every subject worth talking about remains part of "the subterranean conversation".
But once in a while, even for Mr Blair, the subterranean pokes its head above the surface:
Former British P.M. Tony Blair Rips Biden Afghanistan Withdrawal: Gives 'Our Opponents A Belief Our Time Is Over'
Well, our opponents aren't wrong about that, are they? In fact, Tone is still being semi-subterranean about all this: It's not just "our opponents" who belive "our time is over", but a significant percentage of the west's ruling class. For why else would they have gone over to the other side? Our randomly selected Shill of the Day, Joe Biden's jetsetting climate honcho:
John Kerry echoes China's argument that human rights sanctions threaten climate talks
So many global A-listers are "echoing China's argument" these days, don't you find? Fauci and the public health gang, the stars and administrators of those crappy unwatchable corporate sports, Justin Trudeau, Hollywood, the WHO...
It suits China that climate change is the only Big Picture non-subterranean conversation we are permitted to have. Every minute we spend worrying about whether the Maldives will be washed away by rising sea levels in the twenty-second century makes it less likely we'll notice that America is being washed away by China right now.
This Saturday will provide, one would have thought, a rare glimpse of that subterranean reality. But tens of millions of Americans are so content being spectators in their nation's eclipse that it may well be that the traditional cringe-makingly passive candle-in-the-windiness of 9/11 observances will for a few moments work its usual magic, and on its twentieth anniversary they won't notice that the war on terror is over and America lost. The guys who toppled the Twin Towers have just been rewarded for their pains with a bazillion Humvees, Black Hawks, and more territory than they ever held back in the Nineties.
But, wait a minute, the fellow who masterminded the whole thing, the bloke with the hairy back, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, didn't we hang him?
Er, no. On this twentieth anniversary, there is exciting news:
Mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks heads for trial...
And by "Mastermind heads for trial" they mean "Mastermind runs out the clock until climate change's rising sea levels overwhelm Gitmo and wash away the courthouse":
On Sunday, the new military judge, Air Force Colonel Matthew McCall — the case's eighth...
Whoa, that's impressive. Even Mann vs Steyn is only on its fourth trial judge.
On Sunday, the new military judge, Air Force Colonel Matthew McCall — the case's eighth — signaled a slow start, deciding that an initial hearing focused on his own qualifications will take place on Tuesday...
With scores of motions lined up to demand evidence that military prosecutors refuse to hand over, defense attorneys said the pretrial phase could easily last another year, placing far over the horizon any hope for a jury trial and verdict.
What a disgrace. The planet's most lavishly funded military takes three times the length of the Second World War and still can't bring a guilty man to trial. In Kabul and Guantanamo, this grotesque flailing laughingstock of an institution shames and dishonors the dead of 9/11. But, judging from the boob bait on conservative media, the total dysfunction of the military must also remain part of the subterranean conversation.
With that in mind, the significant anniversary would seem to be not 9/11 but 9/10. On September 10th 2001, the then US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, gave a long forgotten speech:
The topic today is an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America. This adversary is one of the world's last bastions of central planning. It governs by dictating five-year plans. From a single capital, it attempts to impose its demands across time zones, continents, oceans and beyond. With brutal consistency, it stifles free thought and crushes new ideas. It disrupts the defense of the United States and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk.
Perhaps this adversary sounds like the former Soviet Union, but that enemy is gone... The adversary's closer to home. It's the Pentagon bureaucracy.
After noting that the Department of Defense had lost track of $2.3 trillion of expenditures, Rumsfeld announced a series of steps to "shift our focus and our resources from bureaucracy to battlefield".
Twenty-four hours later, a plane slammed into the Pentagon and America launched its war on terror, or at any rate its first pre-trial scheduling motion for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Was that series of steps ever implemented? Or did Rummy put Thoroughly Modern Milley in charge?
If you seek an alternative twentieth anniversary, Don Surber says hang on till December 12th:
12/11/2001 was the date we allowed Red China to join the World Trade Organization as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Bush 43 sold the nation out for the slave labor then-Chairman Jiang Zemin promised. Since then, $4 trillion has shifted from the United States alone to Red China in the form of trade surpluses. The Chamber mocks this as Free Market when it is its opposite.
Red China used the money to buy Western politicians, to build its military, to build highways and coal plants, and to provide foreign aid to bring Africa and Europe into its sphere of influence. It owns the Panama Canal.
China has used these last two decades brilliantly; America has utterly squandered them. This website exists because I got weary of editors and producers and publishers who were Blairily wary of bringing to the surface "the subterranean conversation". But we need to - because there is only a very small window between "subterranean conversation" and "fait accompli".
~We had a busy Labor Day/Labour Day weekend at SteynOnline, starting with my weekend column on our unserious response to a global humiliation. On Saturday, Mark Steyn's Passing Parade presented contrasted chroniclers of our time, and Rick McGinnis' Saturday movie date considered the Lubitsch touch. My Sunday column bemoaned the dishonesty and delusion of much conservative commentary, and our weekly song selection offered a poignant glimpse of the pre-lockdown world, and the Labo(u)r Day edition of The Mark Steyn Show looked at work and life, purpose and dignity, with some help from P J McGuire, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Tennessee Ernie Ford. If you were too busy snitching on your neighbor's unmasked cookout, I hope you'll want to catch up with one or three of the foregoing as the post-holiday work week begins.