Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bill Kristol 

Tonight we attended the Fall Briefing of the Center of the American Experiment. The keynote speaker was William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard magazine. The event was well attended and the audience was appreciative of the insights Kristol provided. Main points are summarized below.

He believes recent history will be divided into three earas: 1932-1968, the liberal era; 1968-2004; 2004 forward, an era of erratic, unpredictable events that will last at least another generation.

As for current problems, he believes Social Security can be fixed. The big problem is Medicare. Mr. Kristol believes the generations after the baby-boomers will solve the issue because they will have to. His impression of boomers is not very positive. As an aside, a number of books are starting to address the irresponsibility of boomers and their parents. Agree or not agree, Diana Wests's latest book The Death of the Grown-UP appears to dovetail with Kristol's impression of boomers (of which he is one). Countering this somewhat negative view is Kristol's experience with the majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels of the American military who are currently leading the surge and successful turnaround in Iraq. Mr. Kristol's opinion of these young leaders is very high. He sees them as becoming our needed strong leaders in the years ahead.

He also reminded us of the enormous strides Indians and Chinese have made over the past 35 years. Hundreds of millions of people in both nations have been able to experience a decent life, a prediction no one would have made a few decades ago. How were so many people able to improve their lives? Via free-market ideas and US international policies. Closely coupled with the economics side is the role the US has played since WWII in preventing a major war. We do take so much freedom and safety for granted - it's our military that provides freedom and safety, not just for us but billions on the planet.

Regarding the Bush administration - he believes it deserves credit for keeping us free from another attack and over all, much safer than anyone would have predicted on 9/12/2001 and history will treat Mr. Bush well. Kristol does fault the Bush administration for its inability to get across to the American people the severity of the threats to freedom everywhere posed by our enemy. Europe is still in denial - they simply refuse to take the threats against their societies seriously.

Iran's threats are ignored by Europe and Mr. Kristol is concerned that we are ignoring what the Iranians are doing to our soldiers - we need to become more tough in this arena.

Overall, an informative evening.

John Bolton will be the guest speaker for the Center's spring dinner.

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