We all hope that the year coming is better than the year past. It is a human desire to want better than what we have had, and new years bring that that idea to full boil. Usually, I try to be optimistic about a coming year, but 2009 is the first year in quite a while where I am not able to muster that optimism. Instead, I will try to be pragmatic.
The United States faces great tests in the next twelve months. We have elected a domestic government in a time of war and international turmoil. Our economy is weak, perhaps even staggering, and a great deal of that effect is our own doing. America’s strength is stretched and tattered, and I believe that the coming year will present more of the same.
Internationally, the kettle is boiling over. A year ago, most people had never heard the term “failed” state, yet now there are dozens of nations that probably deserve that title, including ones that undoubtedly possess weapons of mass destruction. Wars and rumors of wars abound, not as some ephemeral idea, but because they are real.
Looking ahead, I see two great events occurring in the coming year:
First, the United States may well bankrupt itself. The federal government has already committed to spending tens of trillions of dollars in borrowed money bailing out failed businesses whose long-term ability to earn profit is not only doubtful but unlikely. The incoming administration and Congress promises to add tens of trillions of dollars more to that spending. Meanwhile, the people who actually make the economy work will be asked to pay even more to the government who does not earn a dime, taking even more money away from the economy. Someone suggested to me only a few months ago that the United States could default on its debts soon, and at the time I rejected that idea. Now, I am not so sure.
Second, the United States will very likely find its resolve and will tested as the global war expands greatly beyond its current theaters. The potential causes of that expansion are many and varied, but I believe the two greatest potentials are an attack by Israel on Iran’s nuclear capability or the collapse of Pakistan’s government. Either way, despite what so many Americans apparently wanted to happen by voting the way they did last November, 2009 will be a foreign policy year because it cannot be avoided.
The coming year will be tough for all of us. What remains is for us to pray and work to weather the storm. May God grant us his grace, Amen.