November 09, 2009

Um... Asia?

Ross Douthat is upset President Obama did not schedule a visit to Berlin to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall:

There will be speeches and celebrations to mark this anniversary, but not as many as the day deserves. (Barack Obama couldn’t even fit a visit to Berlin into his schedule.) By rights, the Ninth of November should be a holiday across the Western world, celebrated with the kind of pomp and spectacle reserved for our own Independence Day.

He then spends the rest of his column wondering what comes next, which is kind of ironic considering he would have found the answer if he had asked to where the president actually is traveling this week instead of lamenting where he is not traveling.

Douthat is looking back to 1989 wandering what comes next (assuming the "what" is a threat), while the president is back in 2009 knowing exactly what comes next (along with pretty much everyone else -- Republican or Democrat, Greek or Barbarian -- who has been awake this century). According to the National Intelligence Council (.pdf):

Demographers project that Asia and Africa will account for most of the population growth out to 2025 while less than 3 percent of the growth will occur in the “West”— Europe, Japan, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In 2025, roughly 16 percent of humanity will live in the West, down from the 18 percent in 2009 and 24 percent in 1980.

I swear I'm not trying to carry the administration's water here, but it seems to me that the president has it exactly right. Why the hell would be travel to Germany this week? Is it 1848 again? 1939? No, as Timothy Garton Ash recently wrote, 1989 may have been the last time history was made in Europe. And so it strikes me as entirely appropriate that the president is going farther east.

Seriously, Ross, just read the NIC's Global Trends 2025 report (.pdf).

This is the kind of stuff, by the way, which makes my officemate pound his head against his keyboard.