America remains a shining city on the hill

The lines of prospective immigrants, tourists, entertainers, and business people in front of US embassies and consulates across the world continue to remain long – longer than for any other country



By Chidanand Rajghatta

Published: Wed 28 Dec 2022, 11:18 PM

Last updated: Wed 28 Dec 2022, 11:19 PM

It is customary for media across the world to come up with year-end packages examining the past 12 months gone by. Occasionally, celebrities are called on to give -- or they volunteer -- their take on the year gone by: Barack Obama's list of best books, movies, and music of the year is much looked forward to. Sometimes, in a dodgy exercise in clairvoyance, the media also takes a stab at what could transpire in the year ahead.

It is in the spirit of the latter that Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's former president and prime minister, and strongman Vladimir Putin's comrade in arms, has put out a rather remarkable series of tweets predicting global developments in 2023. Taken together, Medvedev's ten prognostications can be distilled into one wishful outcome: The decline and end of western civilisation, specifically the United States, as we know it.

But the devil is in the details. Among other things, Medvedev predicts a civil war will break out in the US, with California and Texas becoming independent states, the latter forming a union with Mexico; the largest stock markets and financial activity will leave US and Europe and move to Asia; and the Euro and dollar will stop circulating as global reserve currencies and will be replaced by digital fiat currencies.

He also predicts that in Europe, the UK will rejoin the EU resulting in its collapse and the formation of the Fourth Reich under Germany, which will fight a war with France.

In other developments, Poland and Hungary, which will become Germany's satellites, will occupy the remains of Ukraine (presumably what's not taken by Russia); Northern Ireland will separate from UK and join the Republic of Ireland; the price of oil will cross $ 150 a barrel; and Elon Musk will become president of the remnant USA.

Phew! That's a lot to pack into a year - and a lot to unpack. At any other time, and with anyone else, all this could have been dismissed as the ravings of a delusional fantasist, but Medvedev is no deranged nutcase, although he artfully prefaced his “humble contribution” by suggesting he was competing with the “wildest and most absurd futuristic hypothesis.”

The escape clause aside, he has a well-chronicled record as a thoughtful academic and a responsible government leader whose time at the helm in Moscow - albeit under Putin's shadow - heralded more liberal policies in Russia and warmer ties with the west.

What gave the forecasts a modicum of credibility was the response of (in Medvedev's eyes) America's putative president Elon Musk, who described the outpouring as an "epic thread," to his 123 million followers, leading many to wonder if he was endorsing the predictions and wishing it all came true, although under the current constitution, South Africa-born Tesla-Twitter honcho is not eligible to run for the White House.

Of course, people change - leaders too. There was a time when Putin too was well-inclined towards the US and even sought Nato membership for Russia -- and was rebuffed. Medvedev's apocalyptic forecast now suggests the Russian leadership's total loss of confidence in the west, even as western leaders doubt the survivability of the leadership in Moscow.

Believing in each other's imminent demise is not exactly conducive to any negotiation, so at the very least, 2023 looks like another year of death and destruction on the Ukraine-Russia front.

The problem with Medvedev's predictions is that history moves at a relatively glacial pace even if current events seem turbocharged in the age of social media fever. Although some chroniclers of great events, including America's own - have conjectured about the decline and fall of the USA, the timeframe for such an event is expansive. Empires and great powers rise and fall over a period of years and decades, not months. Even the Soviet Union took a few years to unravel, although 1988-1989 were the pivotal years.

Besides, the United States is nowhere near the state the former USSR was in the 1980s, wracked as it was by goods and food shortages, ethnic strife, and fissiparous tendencies. Of course, political and social tensions in the US are at unprecedented levels, and the economy is a sketchy house of cards. But perhaps more than Americans themselves, the rest of the world continues to have faith and confidence in the United States.

The lines of prospective immigrants, tourists, entertainers, and business people in front of US embassies and consulates across the world continue to remain long -- longer than for any other country. And those who cannot make it legally continue to stalk the border -- not just Latinos, but people across the world.

This does not sound like a country about to fold and easily give up its global primacy. Warts and all, America remains a shining city on the hill. As long as the rest of the world remains invested in the US and continues to underwrite its profligacy, any unraveling will be a long time coming, if at all.

- The writer is a senior journalist based in Washington.

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