July 19, 2014 40 Comments
Three years ago this week Nebraskaenergyobserver made its debut on the Internet. So first, congratulations to my dearest friend Neo. Blogs are like Gibbon’s description of empires – they rise and fall and the sands of history cover them and their place knows them no more. It is, as I know myself, easy enough to start up a blog – it is the maintaining it which is the hard part. So, I think three years is something to celebrate.
Neo’s blog is a window on the world. He is part of an America which many of us admire, but which many foreigners (and quite a few Americans) never visit – the ‘fly-over States’. I spent a year in the mid-West twenty years ago, and retain a fondness for it and all it represents; this is one of the reasons I am fond of this place. It is redolent of American virtues: self-reliance; a sense of personal responsibility; but a willingness to do the right thing to help others, even at personal cost. You might say these are human virtues, and I would agree; but they are exemplified by the America which, at great cost, sustained the free world during the Cold War Years, ensuring that the gains from the defeat of Fascism were not lost. Neo, like many of his readers, has an admiration for the ‘greatest generation’ and a keen sense of patriotism. He is proud of America for what it has done and for what it represents. Other countries are countries – America is a dream.
That is why for him, and for so many, the past few years have been ones of grim realisation: realisation that, to use a Churchill quotation, our leaders have failed to ‘rise to the level of events’; we have great events and small men; nor is that a partisan political point; since Reagan and Thatcher the ‘free world’ has wanted a figure of stature.
As we look out from the prairie, the aspect is dark: the ‘Arab spring’ has given way to a winter of discontent, as the whole region is buffeted by the storms of radical Islam, a phenomenon which our secular, liberal elites fail to grasp; yes, these people really do believe women should be neither seen nor heard, they do believe in stoning homosexuals, and they will chop your head off. In Israel, the one democracy in the region is in a permanent state of siege, with only the US really supporting her; and across Europe, the complacency of a political elite is being rudely shattered by the realisation that President Putin is up to something and will not be stopped by being told he is being naughty. Super Powers may want to retire, but when they try, they may find themselves draw back from the plow.
In the meantime, America itself changes, and values which were once universal are relativised; social cohesion, always a difficult thing to achieve, is threatened; and faith in the rule of law is challenged by the rule of lawyers, in whom few place any confidence: the difference between a confidence trickster and a politician is that they both take your money, but only the latter demands you like him for it.
All of these trends Neo covers, but he also provides us with a great historical perspective, good company, good music and great movies, as well as a wry sense of humour which says that even if the world is going to hell in a handcart, it’s five o’clock somewhere – hence the clip – so join me in raising a glass to our friend Neo :)